If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.
I Corinthians 13:1-3 (NLT)
In this life, it is so easy to be run away with ambition. We make plans for ourselves: to learn, to achieve, to possess. We spend money, time, and effort obtaining degrees and raises and promotions. Scholarly wisdom is increased; medals and trophies are won. We raise children who repeat this cycle, and we set them up as awards on our shelves. At the end of life, what do we have? A string of titles after our names and zeros in our bank accounts? There must be more to this path than trophies which rust and degrees which turn to dust.
Years ago, a life was lived which seemed to most at the time to be just one among many. This life progressed and rose to no prominence. This soul walked, ate, spoke, and smiled among the average multitude of his day. Yet this life was different: it was saturated in love. Jesus Christ was a carpenter, a common Jewish man. His life, however, changed humanity forever…. Because of His love. This is the “more” which each of us seek at some point or another. This is the life which can change ours to become meaningful, lasting. Through Him, we can leave a legacy.
Society teaches that ambition should be our ambition – we should always be striving for higher goals. While this in itself is a worthy goal, the obsession with and elevation of it has left us lacking. I have felt ambition tear apart relationship. I have seen it create a void within families. We are fooling ourselves if we seek to achieve and never seek to love. We may pass through life, but will we ever really live it?
Living in love may not elevate us to important positions or pay our debts, but it will create a legacy that stretches beyond our monetary inheritance. The smile we choose to greet a stranger with may be that one spark of kindness which reminds them “there is hope”. The times we sit and listen to a hurting friend may just start the healing in their heart. Those moments in which we push aside our cell phone to play with a child, talk with a loved one, sit with a coworker (Lord, help me to live these out) – these mean more to the souls of those around us than our money, status, or achievements.
Jesus lived. His love stopped Him in His tracks to heal a bleeding woman, restore sight to the blind, speak life into a dead man, and spark the flame of hope and redemption into the soul of an adulteress. His love knelt Him down before His disciples to wash their feet; His love led Him to the agony of a criminal's death. Most of all, His love bridged a gap that had left us separated from a righteous God. because of His love, we can live in freedom and pass into an eternity with our Creator. Truly, Christ's love created and sustains a legacy.
In the span of a lifetime, what matters most? The money we make, or the people we choose to love? When the cash is gone, the fame fades, and the possessions rust and break, God’s love – true love – remains. Let us live in love.
Jaime V. O'Donnell is currently a full-time college student studying Christian Counseling and a resident of the West Essex area.