“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” -1 Corinthians 13:1-2
Within the church, all external actions, done apart from love, avail nothing. You may speak well, give away all that you have, understand every orthodox Christian doctrine, but if these things are not done in love you have done nothing. What we do must always come from a disposition of love. Otherwise, it really is a selfish endeavor. Like the old preacher once said, “Do you really do what you do out of love for God? Or is it all about you, in God’s name?”
The bottom line is this, what we do should benefit others. If we truly love others, we will seek their welfare above our own. Our speech, our gifts, our faith, our giving, and our greatest sacrifices should be done for the well-being of others. To truly love someone, is to give yourself away for them. The fruits of our faith, should be enjoyed by our companions on this pilgrimage. A tree never bears fruit for it’s own appetite, but for the appetites of those around it.
An example of this is preaching. Preaching should always be faithful to the Word, truthful, and done in love. You may speak dynamically, with an edge, with a zeal, and with a passion. But if your edge, zeal, and passion do not include love, you would be better off stepping aside and hitting the cymbal on the drum-set for 45 minutes. It will avail nothing.
When truth is spoken in love it can be likened to a sword and a scalpel. The truth spoken springs forth like a sword, and attacks the heart of the hearer. Piercing through sin, doubt, and unbelief. Then the love of the speaker is sharp, and precise like a scalpel. The love from the heart of the preacher does not want to leave the pulpit while the congregation is wounded, so their scalpel seeks to heal the wound. Preachers must never wound the hearer, simply to wound them. Preachers must wound the hearer in order to heal them. You must love who you are preaching to, if not, bring a gong on stage and strike it for 45 minutes. You may get more engagement out of your hearers that way.
Outward deeds mean nothing without inward love. God requires the heart. God requires love.