Consequences of Not Loving
Jerry A. Collins
There are an awful lot of consequences in this world resulting from not having loving relationships. An obvious example is the broken family relationships where a lack of love contributed to the breakdown of a marriage and family. A lack of love is what contributes to the hate crimes we have witnessed recently in our country. Not loving can motivate a person to murder, to steal, to cheat, to gossip, to hate, to be jealous and envious. An unwillingness to love breeds suspicion, selfishness, vindictiveness and misunderstanding. When we choose to not love we will have behavior that sabotages our relationships. We will even justify the destruction we are causing by rationalizing that the other deserves it or we are incapable of giving love for some reason. This is not good or godly. The Bible spells out a number of specific consequences we can expect personally and spiritually when we are not loving the Lord and one another. These are serious consequences and strike a warning for us.
1. OUR SERVICE IS FUTILE WITHOUT LOVE 1 Corinthians 13:1-3
This passage engages in hyperbole to make a point about the need for love. If we render service to others by teaching, speaking or conversation that is void of love, it may make an immediate impact because of its eloquence and forcefulness, like the clash of a gong or cymbal, but then vanishes just as quickly vs. 1. If we provide service that displays the power of God by means of the spiritual gifts of prophecy, wisdom that brings complete understanding, knowledge of all there is in it’s entirety, and all the faith to make what seems impossible possible, without love, we are nothing, an absolute zero vs. 2. If we give away everything we own, even including the ultimate self-sacrifice of our lives to death or slavery, without love, this sacrifice brings no benefit to us vs. 3.
(1) Without love our service becomes a show. It puts on a good front and looks like it will accomplish something but like the conclusion of a show, it’s curtains shut, with no more effect than a momentary one. For instance, a person can initiate service that at first serves us significantly but because they were not motivated by love did not sustain it and have disappointed us.
(2) Only love makes our actions and service useful. As we serve one another, we must determine to be motivated by the desire to do the best good for the people we are serving. For instance, if I am serving you for what I might get out of this arrangement or a husband or wife serves each other in such a way as to get something for themselves out of their relationship, or you serve your boss with motivation for what you might get out of that relationship, then your service as a pastor, as a marriage partner or as a worker is futile with God. It is futile service because it is selfish service, void of love. Your ministry, your marriage and your career are ultimately unprofitable because more important than your success, your marriage happiness or your bank account is the need to love. God says so. We must replace our concern with success, happiness or prosperity with a concern to love!
2. LOVING THIS WORLD MEANS WE HAVE NO LOVE FOR GOD 1 John 2:15-16
The ‘world’ here is thought of as an entity hostile toward God. It refers to the seductive influence of a mindset that competes for the love of believers and we cannot love both this world and our heavenly Father simultaneously. James 4:4 says, "Friendship with the world is hatred toward God". Whether you feel like it is or not God says you have set yourself against Him because this world in which we live, work and raise our families is incompatible with love for God. It is incompatible because this world system is conceived of values and goals that exclude God. ‘All that is in the world’ includes three spheres of influence.
(1) Lust of the flesh represents desire for pleasure. It is a preoccupation with gratifying physical urges of all kinds. The temptation for Eve was that the fruit was good for food and she caved in. The temptation for Jesus was that the stone could be turned into bread and He did not. We, too, can be tempted to be gluttonous and overeat or sexually promiscuous and commit adultery or overspend and in debt or impoverished because of the list of the flesh. God says when you do that you do not love Him because you are caving into a system of thinking that leaves Him out of the equation.
(2) Lust of the eyes represents desire for possessions. It is the craving and the accumulation of things--the god of materialism. The temptation for Eve was that the fruit was a delight to the eyes and she caved in. The temptation for Jesus was all the kingdoms of the world and He did not. We, too, can be tempted to overwork and neglect our marriage and family to get more or we can cheat and steal and gamble in hopes that we might accumulate more but not consider trusting God. God says when you do that you do not love Him because like the world system, you are ignoring Him and His ways for you.
(3) The pride of life represents desire for power. It is an obsession with one’s status in this world and in the eyes of significant others. The temptation for Eve the fruit could make one wise. The temptation for Jesus was to cast Himself down from the heights that He might display His power by angelic rescue. We, too, can be tempted by material security, financial wherewithal and abundant possessions to be overconfident with ourselves. When we think we have enough wealth or property to protect ourselves and insure our security then we sense that we have no need for God or anything outside of ourselves. God says that when you think this way you do not love Him because you have replaced Him with yourself and that is what the world system motivates you to do. The world tempts you to live for this side of the grave. God tells us to live for the other side of the grave. So, loving this world means we have no love for God.
3. WE CAN HAVE NO ASSURANCE OF SALVATION WHEN WE DO NOT LOVE 1 John 3:14-15
To begin with, we learn that there is no question about the sphere of life we have been translated into when we love one another vs. 14a. Love for fellow believers is evidence that we have entered into God’s sphere of life. When we are genuinely giving in such a way that another’s greater good is being served, then we have the assurance that we have been saved. The contrast is with the one who does not love his brother. He remains in the sphere of death not life vs. 14b. If we do not love one another, then we are in danger of hating one another, which is equivalent to murder in Vs 15 from God’s point of view. No person in this condition has ‘eternal life’ abiding in him. He is not saying that this person does not possess eternal life but rather he does not have it abiding in him. His hatred makes it unclear as to whether he is a believer as he claims to be. Until he deals with the hatred by repenting we cannot give him the assurance that he is a believer since God has commanded us to love one another. Hatred is the equivalent to moral murder and so failing to love his brother he ‘remains in the sphere of death’. In other words, he is living in the same sphere in which the world lives. Because he is a murderer at heart he can make no real claim to the kind of intimate fellowship with God that the word ‘abide’ suggests. Eternal life is not at home in his heart so long as the spirit of murder is there in its place. Such a person is disastrously out of touch with the Lord. The reason is because Romans 8:13 says, "For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die". Our old nature is still on the prowl. It is just as bad at death as it is at birth. The sin nature cannot be fixed or reformed. When we choose to live by it’s direction, we live in the sphere of death. You can only expect the death-dealing consequences of sin. Such a person in such a state should not have assurance of his salvation. For instance, if I choose to be resentful toward another believer and figure out ways to not love him then I have a problem God says. The problem is that I am living in the sphere of death where only death-dealing consequences instead of life-giving consequences will unfold. I might break off the relationship with gossip, slander or lies. The spiral is downward. While living in this downward spiral of thinking, attitudes and actions I should not be given assurance that I am saved because I am choosing to live in a sphere that does not characterize one who walks in eternal life. Loving one another is absolutely essential to have assurance that we are saved.
1. It is too costly to not love.
The price we will pay for not loving (futile service, no love for the Father, loss of assurance) should provoke us to love one another.
2. Our lack of love jeopardizes our spiritual growth and vitality.
It seems that not loving spawns much of the sinful activity in our lives. We will have to repent of not loving as a basic criteria for overcoming, say, the sins of adultery, rage, jealousy or lying.
3. We must repent of not loving.
The remedy is the same for all of us. To choose to change our thinking and attitudes to correspond to what God wants for us.