If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have 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 do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.1 Corinthians 13:1-3 NIV
This chapter is likely one of the most familiar passages of Scripture to many people. And indeed, it should be. Paul makes clear in this passage the overwhelming primacy of love. And of acting in love.
I might be gifted by the Holy Spirit to serve the body. But if I do not do it in love, it has no value. I might have great faith or give away all I have to the Lord’s work. But if it is not done in love, I gain nothing from it. I might have a great understanding of the Scripture and be doctrinally sound. But if I speak or teach without love, I am just making noise.
Express Your Beliefs in Love
But all too often, I find that those of us who study and discuss the doctrines of the church fall short in the love department. We can get so caught up in defending a particular point that we fail to demonstrate love to our debate partner. And when that is so, what have we accomplished?
Don’t get me wrong. Right beliefs are important. Many people have been led astray by false doctrine. And I do not mean to suggest that we compromise our beliefs in order to get along. But I do believe that it is essential that we always act in love. And that includes our doctrinal debates with other believers. Whether you hold to the soteriology of Calvin, Arminius, or someone else. Regardless of how you understand end times and Christ’s return. Or any of hundreds of other points of doctrine that divide us today. Don’t forget the primacy of love. Conduct your debate/discussion in love.