What’s the Only Thing That Counts?
Paul tells us that faith and love is what matters most
In Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he opens chapter five with a discussion about freedom and slavery, about following the law and not following the law. He says that in Jesus these things have no value.
His explanation of this is a bit confusing. It’s a passage we need to go back and reread to try to understand what this prolific biblical writer is trying to tell us. But if we don’t quite grasp it, that’s okay. He summarizes his point in one succinct line: “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love” (Galatians 5:6, NIV).
The only thing that counts is love expressed through faith.
Think about it.May we use our faith to express our love to others. It’s the only thing that counts. Click To Tweet
Faith is the starting point. We have faith in God the father through Jesus the son as revealed by God’s Holy Spirit. We have faith that God lives in us and is through us. We have faith that a better tomorrow awaits us, both in this world and in the next. We have faith that God is with us in all circumstances and at all times, that he answers our prayers aligned with his sovereign wisdom.
But faith alone fall short. James tells us that faith without action is dead (James 2:17). While action could mean many things, let’s go back to Paul. He says that through our faith we are to express love. That’s what matters.
If faith is the starting point of the one thing that counts, love expressed is the outcome. Love is a confusing word in today’s modern society, covering the full gamut of emotions from preference to passion. But to understand the kind of love that Paul is talking about, we should go back to the Bible, we should go back to the words of Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church. He starts out by saying, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud” (1 Corinthians 13:4, NIV).
He ends his explanation of love with these words, “Now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13:13).
Did you catch this? In Paul’s trio of traits, he starts with faith, and he ends with love. Hope is what connects the two.
May we use our faith to express our love to others. It’s the only thing that counts. Paul says so.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical spirituality, often with a postmodern slant. He seeks a fresh approach to faith and following God through the lens of scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.