Are you a results person? Do you accomplish what is put before you in the allotted time frame at work, home, and in your civic organizations? Our culture is results oriented. We have performance appraisals at work. We set goals, both personal and professional, and then we measure our progress to see if we’re on target or not. We operate from check-lists and criteria in almost everything we do.
God, however, isn’t results oriented. He is relationship oriented. He doesn’t measure success by the number of converts you have, the amount of wealth you’ve given or the works you’ve done. Those things are all important and admirable; yet the thing that matters most to the Lord is how well you’ve loved.
In Matthew 22:36 Jesus is asked, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” This is when we learn what matters most to the Lord. Obviously, whichever commandment He speaks to is what He holds most dear. His response may have surprised everyone listening, even today.
Matthew 22:37-39 hold the key to success in the Kingdom. “Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
We are so works oriented. Christ is relationship oriented. Don’t get me wrong…works are important. As Rich Mullins sang so beautifully, “Faith without works; it’s about as useless as a screen door on a submarine.” However, works should simply be the overflow of the love relationship we have with Jesus, not the goal. If we have any goal we’re striving for, it should be love.
1 Corinthians 13:1-13 reminds us: “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
How are your relationships? Do they reflect the kind of love Paul spoke about? If not, there’s still time. Ask the One who is love to teach you how to love [1 John 4:8, 16]. It’s His specialty. He loves a good romance.