“For in Christ, neither our most conscientious religion
nor disregard of religion amounts to anything.
What matters is something far more interior: faith expressed in love.”
(Galatians 5:6 The Message)
There once was a rich man whose lands produced bountiful harvest. He thought, “I don’t have enough space to store all my goods. What should I do?” God had blessed him so much he did not know what to do with all he had.
“Here is what I’ll do – I’ll tear down my barns and I will build larger ones. Then I will rest, eat, drink and be merry,” he decided. But God reprimanded the man, saying, “You fool. This night your life will be demanded of you and then to whom will all your things belong?” (Luke 12:16-21).
This man only thought of making himself happy. It did not occur to him that God had blessed him so he could be a blessing to other people – maybe he received all those blessings from God so he could share with the poor and the needy. In our time, such a man could give in support of orphanages; help to eradicate hunger in the world; help stop the spread of malaria in Africa; support breast cancer research; support the educational dreams of inner-city children; or support the work of the church: spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Instead of sharing his bounty, all the man decided to do was build a bigger barn, today’s equivalent of saying, ‘I will put my extra stuff in storage. I won’t give any of it away. I will keep on adding to what I have.’ The man missed out on what matters most in life – faith expressed in love for others.
In the first two verses of 1 Corinthians 13, God says the same thing in different ways. “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 than can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.”
God says, if I don’t live a life of love, nothing I say will matter; nothing I know will matter, and nothing I believe will matter. Words without love are just noise. All the knowledge in the world cannot compensate for love, and all the faith in the world is worth nothing without love.
“For in Christ … what matters is faith expressed in love.” (Galatians 5:6). Our faith in Christ and our love for Christ is expressed when we seek out ways to help the least, the last and the lost improve the quality of their lives and connect them with Christ. God says if you miss that, you have missed the most important thing in life.
When our days in this life are over we will stand before God, and God is going to evaluate our lives. He is not going to look at our bank accounts, he is not going to look at our list of accomplishments, he is not going to look at our grades, he is not going to look at all our sports trophies nor awards and he is not going to look at our resumes. God is going to evaluate our lives on one basis – our love for Christ and our love for others.
The heart of the matter is to love Christ enough to express his love to others. The Scripture says, “If I say I love God and hate other people, I am not telling the truth.” (1 John 4:20). I cannot say that I am right with God and be out of sorts with other people. My relationship with God affects my relationship with my spouse, children, neighbors, brothers and sisters, in-laws, and my co-workers. My relationship with God affects my treatment of the poor, the homeless, the sick, and even the way I treat my adversaries.
The only thing that matters to God is whether we love Christ and whether that love is expressed in our love for others. The Scripture says, “let us not love in word or speech but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3:18).