From “Hero” to “zero” — Part 2: Speaking God’s Love Language
1 Corinthians 13:2, “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.”
The Corinthians wanted to be noticed: the gift of tongues should get them noticed, claiming to have deeper knowledge should get them noticed, claiming to know more than the Apostle Paul should get them noticed (chapters 1,2 and 2 Cor. 6,10), moving a mountain would certainly have made them Somebody. In fact, the first two comparisons of 1 Corinthians 13 are the VERY picture of the wrong thinking and motivation by the Corinthian church. Paul tells them that using spiritual gifts in this way will only turn them into an annoying noise (v.1) and make them a Zero(v.2)--literal translation of the Greek word. The lack of Love meant they would accomplish the exact opposite of what they had wanted.
Paul covers this same topic in other parts of this book. In 1 Cor. 8:1 he says that knowledge puffs up but love builds up. The arrogant know-it-all puffs up himself like a bullfrog while love solidly builds up someone else. Some recipes (I think a soufflé) have you cook this thing that puffs up huge but flattens down once you let all the “hot air” out. So it is with people who know a whole lot, talk a whole lot but live very little.
Paul warns them that each man’s work will be tested by God’s fire. What looked like gold and silver burned down to a pile of ash because there was no love mixed in. God’s fire always burns with the test of motive exposing what had been mistaken for the materials of “success”.
The mountain that needs moving is not the mountain of obstacles but the Mountain of my pride. Now there is a mountain that only God and Love can really move. Until we get that, trying to be Somebody we will be Nobodies and trying to be “Heroes”, we will be zeroes.
Pastor Stephen Willoughby
Pastor Steve grew up in Columbia,South America, where his parents served as missionaries for 25 years. After graduating from Capital Bible Seminary, he was invited to serve as Assistant Pastor at FBCP. He has served in that capacity for twenty years before taking on the position of Senior Pastor.