Am I A Clanging Cymbal?

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.”

I am nothing, I have gained nothing and for 57 years, I have been nothing more than noise…this is the conclusion that I have come to when I realize how unloving a man I am. I want to be something, but it will only be through the transformative experience I have with the Holy Spirit and nothing of my own. This is both a liberating and frightening realization. Frightening because it means that I have to let God change me.

For 33 years I have been in the church and I am nothing. I have listened to countless messages, most of them loveless and they have had the same impact as listening to music…I am nothing. I have studied the scriptures and learned many things, but I am nothing. For the last 15 years, Deirdre and I have acted out faith, that seemingly moved mountains and still I am nothing. Deirdre and I moved to Asia, gave all we had, gone through significant health challenges and still, I am nothing. I have had incredible successes in my career, but I am nothing. Without love, I am nothing. I am a loveless man. I have to change.

For many years, I have stood fast with 1 Timothy 4:16 on watching my life and doctrine….trying to live out what I believe as truthfully as possible… When I first started this study, I believed that love was a life issue: That we were not living out the way that our doctrine stated. But as I started digging deeper, I realized that it is first and foremost a doctrinal issue. We do not have a doctrine on loving. I think back to my early years where I developed my core convictions on salvation, faith, sin and repentance, the church and baptism however never did I study out love and consider it essential to my salvation. In 33 years, I have never really studied out love before now. In short, I need to develop a “Doctrine of Love”. I need to both understand love and I need to live out love…then I can watch my life and my doctrine.

I don’t think that I am alone in this. All denominations have “core beliefs” that represent what they believe and I am not aware of any group or church that directly addresses the need to love in their core doctrines. Many of you come from the churches that I grew up in. You will remember “First Principles” which laid a foundation of core convictions and expectations on how to live my life. Where in First Principles was there a in-depth teaching on Love? My conclusion is that I need to develop a “Doctrine of Love” for me… and to what end? So that I can live it out. So that I can be a man of love! This is not to change the church, the family group, house church, friends, my wife Deirdre or my children. This “Doctrine of Love” is about changing me.

I have enjoyed the journey these last two weeks and having the opportunity to share my journey with you. I also would like to share my ongoing journey as I develop this doctrine of love, but I want to be mindful of you. Many of you have mentioned that my posts are a little too long for Facebook and would be better suited for a blog. I don’t want to be presumptuous but if you would be interested in a blog as I continue my journey on becoming a loving man, please let me know by emailing me at bartow.daniel3@gmail.com. I cringe on one hand because I am not looking for followers, only fellow pilgrims in this walk together. Because we are human, we will get things wrong, but hopefully, we all can grow in love.

Thank you for joining me for the last couple of weeks. Thank you for reading my posts and giving me the opportunity to share my life with you. “We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing.” 2 Thessalonians 1:3

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