Paul tells us emphatically with beautiful language that “if [we] have no love, [we] are none the better.” Other translations render Paul’s statement as “[we] are nothing” if we “do not have love.”
We may have the ability to “speak human or angelic languages;” we may have “the gift of prophecy;” we may “understand all mysteries and all knowledge;” we may “have all faith so that [we] can move mountains;” but without love, none of these abilities are worth much. We are nothing and we gain nothing when we act without love.
Paul even speaks of charity as empty if it is done without love.
“Love is patient; love is kind and envies no one. Love is never boastful, nor conceited, nor rude; never selfish, not quick to take offence. Love keeps no score of wrongs; does not gloat over other men’s sins, but delights in the truth. There is nothing love cannot face; there is no limit to its faith, its hope, and its endurance.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, NEB)
How many of us can say that we “keep no score of wrongs?” How many of us can say we are “never boastful, nor conceited?” How many of us are slow “to take offence?” How many of us are capable of facing anything with no limit to faith, hope, endurance? If this were so, no one would divorce; no one would strike a child in anger; no one would lie to get ahead or hide a wrongdoing to keep from appearing less capable. No one would do good in order to appear good.
“Love will never come to an end.” (1 Corinthians 13:8)