There is a legend from history that Captain Hernán Cortés ordered his men to “burn the ships” upon their landing in South America. The meaning behind this, of course, was that there was to be no turning back, no giving up, no backing down, and to finish what they started.
There’s a song by For King & Country titled “Burn the Ships.” I confess, I listened to it, enjoyed it, and felt inspired to write this article based on it before really listening to the lyrics. All it took was knowing the meaning behind “Burn the Ships” to get me going on a spiritual application. So this article isn’t based exactly on the same premise as this song, but our purpose is the same: to encourage believers to move forward with God’s will and to leave behind anything that might tempt us to turn back.
So what am I talking about? I’m talking about love, the passionate, prayer-filled pursuit of the lost in the name of Christ. At the 2019 IF: gathering, Angie Smith spoke about love. I had trouble with some of what she said, but there was one point that she emphasized which really did strike home with me. She talked about looking at people and thinking or even saying out loud, “I love you.”
For some of you, this may be no big deal, but for me… it’s a very big deal. Even when I was young, I had the belief that saying “I love you” was a very serious thing. I believed that if you said, “I love you,” you better be willing to back it up with your actions. So, for much of my life, I’ve been very careful about who I said “I love you” to, and by very careful, I basically mean that I said it to no one. I didn’t want to speak those powerful words if I wasn’t willing to back them up. I didn’t want to lie.
This is my command: Love one another as I have loved you (John 15:12, CSB).
Do you recognize the power and seriousness of love? Jesus didn’t just tell us to “love one another” He also specified that we should do it “as I have loved you.” How did He love us? He came, lived among us, taught us, set an example worth following, and died for us. How many of us are willing to do that to the lost around us? Are you?
Are you willing to love people as Jesus loves you? Are you willing to go in their midst? Are you willing to teach them even though the majority will reject your teaching? Are you willing to set an example as you live among them in how to handle all of the frustrations and difficulties that come with living among sinful people? Are you willing to die for them? Am I?
Loving people like Jesus loves us is not a light command. Loving people like Jesus loves us demands that we “burn the ships.” Burn the excuses, reject the fear, commit to staying, commit to pursuing, commit to prayer, don’t let your heart be hardened, but let it break again and again for the lost. Don’t protect yourself from getting “too invested.” Don’t protect your heart from “caring too much.” Do it! Apathy is a silent evil within us that must be repented of and purged.
“We only have to study a passage like 1 Corinthians 13 to recognize that to have everything else but to be void of love is to be and to do nothing.” -Stephen F. Olford, Heart-Cry for Revival
If I speak human or angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so that I can move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give away all my possessions, and if I give over my body in order to boast but do not have love, I gain nothing (1 Cor. 13:1-3 CSB).
Think about the things mentioned above:
- speaking in human or angelic tongues
- the gift of prophecy
- the ability to understand all mysteries and all knowledge
- faith that can move mountains
- selflessness that is willing to give away all of your possessions
- a willingness to sacrifice your very life
How many of those describe you? Now, I’m being honest when I say that if I heard of someone who lived out the things mentioned above, my first thought would probably be amazement. I might think, “Wow, I would really like to meet this person.” I would want to hear what they had to say, I would want to see their faith and selflessness in action. But, if I witnessed all these things, I hope and pray that my spiritual discernment would help me to recognize that the most important quality, ability, and decision of all was missing.
Without love, truth leaves a bitter taste in your mouth. Without love, faith that moves mountains is powerful but still lacking. Without love, words can be powerful in the worst of ways. Without love, prophecy is nothing more than empty information. Without love, selflessness and even sacrifice are empty. For something that cuts really deep, without love, you are not a child of God. Without love, people will not recognize you as a follower of Christ.
Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love (1 John 4:7-8 CSB).
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35 CSB).
So will you obey Him and His command to love others as He has loved you? Will you burn the ships? I don’t know what your specific “ships” are, but I hope that you will truly find out and burn them. Life is short, your time here is limited, live sold out, and live all in. For you to live is Christ; to die is gain. As for King & Country sings, “Burn the ships, cut the ties. Send a flare into the night. Say a prayer, turn the tide. Dry your tears and wave goodbye.” My cry to you is, “Burn the ships!”
Featured Image by Yevgeniy Gradov