Fiery loeDo you know Tim Sanders? He is the chief solutions officer at Yahoo. In a recent article in Fast Company magazine (Feb. 2002), Sanders writes:

“The most powerful force in business isn’t greed, fear, or even the raw energy of unbridled competition. The most powerful force in business is love.”

Sanders goes on to define what he means by love in the world of business:

“Love is the act of intelligently and sensibly sharing your knowledge, networks, and compassion with your business partners.”

He concludes his challenge with the following exhortation:

“Behave this way not because you expect something in return—a quid pro quo—but because it’s the right way to behave. The less you expect in return for acts of professional generosity, the more you will receive.”

What’s wrong with this picture? Shouldn’t Christians be applauding this champion of love in the dog eat dog world of business? Well, yes and no.

Yes, because God knows we need more genuine warmth in the hard world of business. And no because we run the risk of seeing love reduced to another tool, something to be used for an end.

What Tim Sanders is championing for the world of business can be found in most church growth handbooks. How to ensure that your church enjoys healthy growth? Make sure you show love to your visitors. Make sure you show love to your community. Love becomes a servant of pragmatism. (Instructively, Sander’s article is entitled, “Love is the Killer App”.) And that is precisely the problem.

Love in the Scriptures is always a matter of substance not method.

Love is the very nature of God Himself. 1 John 4:16b tells us that God is love. Nowhere are we told that God used love to achieve His purposes. God loves because it is an expression of His nature.

And if we claim to be children of this same God than we too are to be people of love. Which is why love is a key component of the fruit of the Spirit, something that reveals our nature. (Galatians 5:22,23)

When Sanders quotes Milton Mayeroff’s definition of love, he is on safer ground. Myeroff defines love as “the selfless promotion of the growth of the other.” Unfortunately, when Sanders tries to apply this definition to the world of business, something is lost.

Don’t misunderstand me. I applaud any attempt to see more love in the marketplace and in the church.

As long as we don’t forget that love is something that we are. Not something that we use.