Love has become the forgotten key to every form of success in the life of a Christian. In any area of life where we struggle to make a breakthrough, you can be sure love is not at the centre of it all. Consider the following passage from Matthew 22:
“Teacher, which kind of commandment is great and important (the principal kind) in the Law? [Some commandments are light—which are heavy?] 37And He replied to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (intellect). 38This is the great (most important, principal) and first commandment. 39And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as [you do] yourself. 40These two commandments sum up and upon them depend all the Law and the Prophets.” – Matthew 22:36-40
Think of all the areas in life you would like to excel in or experience success. It could be financial prosperity, physical healing and the ability to pray for others with effective results, to name just a few. From this passage of Scripture, Jesus made it clear all the Law and the Prophets depend upon this commandment of love.
To illustrate this point, picture a coat hanger with many hooks on which you can hang your coats. Each coat represents an area where you would like to see results. You might have a prosperity coat, a healing coat, a prophecy coat and even a preaching coat. The hooks on the coat hanger represent love. If I try to hang my prosperity coat, but it is not done out of love, there will be no hook to hang my coat on and my coat will fall to the ground. If I pray for someone to get healed, but my healing coat keeps falling to the ground, I should inspect my heart and my motives and make sure what I am doing is being done out of love for the person I’m praying for. If I fast for forty days with a selfish motive in an attempt to twist the Lord’s arm, can I reasonably expect to get the same results compared to when I do so with a sincere and affectionate desire for a situation that needs to change on someone else’s behalf?
Love is like the electricity that runs through a long power cord. The cord is fitted with various electrical sockets. If I try to switch on my lamp of prophecy, or my lamp of preaching or healing, but it is not done out of love, I will only experience a reduced current or perhaps even none, and my lamps won’t work the way they should.
Love is the catalyst for everything I try to get to work and on it hangs all the Law and the Prophets. Whether we tithe, whether we witness to someone, whether we pray or apply the seven habits of effective Christians, none of those things will work as they should without love being the driving force behind it all.
For years I tried to avoid this truth. I followed every teaching that promised prosperity, healing and marriage advice, just to name a few. In fact, if there was a teaching on the significance of the two hundred foreskins which David collected from the Philistines in exchange for Saul’s daughter and how they could be the cure to my problems, I probably would have pursued it as well. None of those teachings carried the message of love effectively and I tried every ‘formula’ for success in vain. All this I did in an attempt to avoid the message of love, a quality which I am sad to say I had none of. If only I had looked at my love-walk sooner, I could have saved a lot of people a lot of pain and heartache. The bottom line is love is one of the pillars of biblical success and without it everything we attempt in life, even if it is for a noble and eternal cause, ends up failing with no eternal value at all.
The Bible very clearly defines the basis for success in 1 Corinthians 13, and we can see it as the blueprint for successful Christian living:
“If I [can] speak in the tongues of men and [even] of angels, but have not love (that reasoning, intentional, spiritual devotion such as is inspired by God’s love for and in us), I am only a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2And if I have prophetic powers (the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose), and understand all the secret truths and mysteries and possess all knowledge, and if I have [sufficient] faith so that I can remove mountains, but have not love (God’s love in me) I am nothing (a useless nobody). 3Even if I dole out all that I have [to the poor in providing] food, and if I surrender my body to be burned or in order that I may glory, but have not love (God’s love in me), I gain nothing. 4Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily. 5It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong]. 6It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail. 7Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening]. 8Love never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end]. As for prophecy (the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose), it will be fulfilled and pass away; as for tongues, they will be destroyed and cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away [it will lose its value and be superseded by truth]…
13And so faith, hope, love abide [faith—conviction and belief respecting man’s relation to God and divine things; hope—joyful and confident expectation of eternal salvation; love—true affection for God and man, growing out of God’s love for and in us], these three; but the greatest of these is love.” – 1 Corinthians 13:1-8; 13
In verse 13, we see the definition of love: true affection for God and man, growing out of God’s love for and in us. It is essential to recognise this love is beyond human love and originates from God Himself. If we operate from human love, it is a false and wrong degree of love. This brings us right back to the purpose we were created for. You can only operate from this love when you are in a relationship with God. It also brings us back to our primary callings in life. This love only flows in and through us when we are in right-standing with God, pursue holiness and shun evil, and have a deep and genuine concern for the lost.
This forms the basis from where God’s love in us originates, but how do we make God’s love practical for us today? We only need to look at ourselves and how God demonstrated His love for us, to get a clear and valid answer. For example, human love says I love you because of how you look. When God looked at us, he did not see a pretty picture. Even if Adam and Eve had good physical appearances after they had sinned, God looked at them spiritually and saw they were dead. In John 8:44 God said those who are not born-again are children of the devil. Ezekiel 37 draws an ugly picture of a valley of dry bones, requiring a great miracle to be made alive again. Yet God loved us in spite of our appearances and spiritual condition and paid the ultimate price for us. He saw our potential – who we could be in Christ – and paid the fine for those who would choose to be made spiritually alive again.
Jesus Himself defined the love with which we ought to love in John 13:34, “I give you a new commandment: that you should love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you too should love one another.” Jesus loves us with one concern in mind: our eternal salvation! This commandment to love others the same way gives a new perspective on everything in life. Since Jesus paid the ultimate price for our eternal well-being, are we willing to pay whatever is required for the eternal well-being of others? No wonder everything hinges on this commandment of love. God made us for Him, not the other way around. Since He asked us to fulfil the Great Commission so all can have the opportunity to realise the purpose for which they were created, there is no reason why anything should work for us if we are not willing to be faithful to this calling – in Christ-like love!
True biblical success is only achieved when we are operating from these four foundational principles:
2) Know what is of eternal value by knowing your true calling
3) Redefine your definition of success to line up with your purpose and calling
4) Let God’s love through you be your driving force behind everything you do
As we continue to look at more success secrets from the Bible, it should be noted they are only as effective as the intensity with which we allow God’s love to flow through us.