“If I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing” (1 Cor. 13:2).
Loveless faith is useless faith.
In Matthew 17:19 the disciples came to Jesus wanting to know why they couldn’t cast a demonic spirit from a child. Jesus responded, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it shall move; and nothing shall be impossible to you” (v. 20). He repeated the same principle in Matthew 21:21: “Truly I say to you, if you have faith, and do not doubt, you shall . . . say to this mountain [the Mount of Olives], ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ [and] it shall happen.”
Those passages have puzzled many people because they’ve never seen anyone move a mountain. But Jesus wasn’t speaking literally. Moving mountains would cause all kinds of ecological problems and would be a pointless miracle. The expression “able to move mountains” was a common figure of speech in that day, meaning “to surmount great obstacles.” Jesus was speaking of those who have the gift of faith—who can move the hand of God through unwavering prayer.
The gift of faith is the ability to believe that God will act according to His will, no matter the circumstances. People with that gift are prayer warriors and tend to stand as rocks when others around them are falling apart. They see God’s power and purposes at work and trust Him even when others doubt.
But, says Paul, even if you have such faith, if you don’t have love, you are nothing. That’s a harsh rebuke, but it places the emphasis where it belongs: on our motives. The Corinthians’ motives were evident in their selfish pursuit of the showy gifts.
What motivates you? Remember, without love it doesn’t matter what gifts you have, how eloquent your speech is, what you know, or what you believe. Only love can validate your service to Christ.
Suggestions for Prayer
Ask God for a greater capacity to trust Him, and the motivation to pray more fervently.
For Further Study
Read Hebrews 11, drawing from the examples of the people of great faith mentioned there.
From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993.