Because I know you love math!! From the “love chapter” of the New Testament, 1 Corinthians chapter 13. We all need to get to know it!!
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. One of the “gifts of the spirit” is speaking in tongues. If we understand multiple languages, can prophecy and proclaim the name of the Lord, but don’t love those people we are speaking to, we are just making noise. If we can speak the language of angels – a higher language than any language of men – but don’t follow the command to love our neighbor, then we are wasting that gift. Corinth being in Greece, people there would have used cymbals to worship Dionysus, the god of wine. So Paul is saying here that having this gift of the spirit, used without love, is no different than pagan idol worship.
And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. Now Paul is saying something! It doesn’t matter if I have a direct line to God to see the future. “On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” Matthew 7:22-23 ESV.
It doesn’t matter if God has revealed all the knowledge of His deepest secrets not yet revealed to me. “Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages” Romans 16:25 ESV
It doesn’t matter if I have the faith Jesus said could move mountains. If I have all these powers, knowledge and abilities but do not love, it is nothing. “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone….For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.”
James 2:24, 26 ESV
If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Jesus, and really the entire bible, speaks over and over of taking care of the poor. “Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”” Matthew 19:21 ESV. If we give simply out of duty, trying to “buy” our way into heaven, we have given nothing. Jesus is not interested in things or what we have. He is interested in our hearts, our soul. If we give all our things but still hold back from Him what these things represent (our very selves) we have given Him nothing.
Even if we follow Him to be burned at the stake, or to the point of beheadings by ISIS today, it can be doing it without love. Men have fought and died for Christianity for centuries, men who were not living in the SPIRIT of Christianity. Many Christians died during the crusades during centuries past. Were they living in the spirit of Christ, loving their neighbors as themselves? Probably not. I don’t have all the answers on this one, this is a HIGH calling. But I can maybe relate it to us today.
If I buy my big dream house, but do not love God with all my heart, soul, power and spirit, I have nothing
If I drive my dream sports car, driving right past the homeless vet who is hungry after serving his country, I have nothing.
If I’m driving my family to the baseball game, like I did this past weekend, driving right past homeless “cities” under the superhighway bridges leading out in and out of Baltimore, and I’m not moved by compassion to do something to help, I have nothing.
If I am in church every Sunday, singing praises to God, giving love and worship to Him, but no one else is there because of me, I have nothing.
“Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love….So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”
1 John 4:8, 16 ESV. God is Love. If we do not love we do not know God. We are called to love others as God loved us. Do we need to be reminded the depths of that love?
So, borrowed from Pastor Brian Zahnd, here is the eternal equation, the mathematics of Heaven –
Everything – Love = NOTHING.
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13 NIV
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.”
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 ESV