In this sermon, Pastor Neil preaches on the last of his messages on the Fruit of the Spirit– the fruit of Love, a four-letter word God approves. Here are some excerpts:
In The Message it says:
“Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift. Don’t grieve God. Don’t break His heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for Himself. Don’t take such a gift for granted. Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk…. Though some tongues just love the taste of gossip, Christians have better uses for language than that. Don’t talk dirty or silly. That kind of talk doesn’t fit our style. Thanksgiving is our dialect” (4:29-30; 5:4, MSG).
The message is clear: For followers of Jesus, some kinds of talk are out of bounds. Some words are out of place. The way we talk and the words we use are to honor God and to reflect our identity as followers of Jesus. So, there are some four-letter words (and words with more or fewer letters) that God does not like. I trust we’re on the same page about that.
Love is the central core value in the Christian life. It is the main measuring stick by which the genuineness of your faith and mine will be evaluated. It is more important than charisma, visionary leadership, inspirational communication skills, beautiful music, extraordinary talent, or a brilliant mind. More important than all of them put together.
If you read what Paul says in his magnum opus on love in 1 Corinthians 13, you will see that what Paul says there is that even if you can comprehend the incomprehensible, explain the unexplainable, unscrew the inscrutable, and amaze the masses, if you don’t have love, it doesn’t amount to a hill of beans.
Without love, Paul says, the most moving, eloquent words in the world are just noise. We are easily impressed by great communicators. God is not. God takes pleasure not in communication skills but in love.
In the same way, knowledge without love is ultimately worthless. It doesn’t matter what school you went to (or go to), what you got on the SATs, what your grade point average is, or how many letters you have after your name. God is not impressed by how much we know, or think we know. What God cares about is the quality of love in our lives.
In addition, doctrinal orthodoxy, as important as it is, is not enough, if love is missing. Belief in the essentials of the Christian faith is, well, essential. The Bible says in Hebrews 11:6 that without faith (which involves believing the core doctrines of the Christian faith), it is impossible to please God. What you believe matters. But the Bible also says in Galatians 5:6 that the thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
Paul also says in 1 Corinthians 13 that, regardless of how much you give, giving without love does not accomplish God’s purposes. Sometimes people give for the wrong reasons, with wrong motives. They give to a cause to be seen and praised by others. Sometimes people give out of a sense of guilt or duty. God takes pleasure in our giving when we give out of love – for Him and for people. He is more concerned with your heart than with the amount. The Message paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 13:3 goes like this: “If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.”
Pastor Neil has a lot more to say about this topic. Please click on the link below to hear the message in its entirety.