Summary: The sermon examines the fifteen qualities of love found in I Cor. 13:4-7.
Today we look at the last four qualities of love found in I Cor. 13:4-7. Instead of examining these four individually I want to make three connecting statements about love. These three statements connect the four and give clarity since they are all interrelated.
The first statement is: Love has faith in other people.
Real love sees the best and believes the best in other people. It bears all, believes all, hopes all, and endures all.
Illustration: This quality was displayed by Barnabus when Saul was converted to faith in Christ. Saul had ravaged the members of the early church. He had encouraged and approved the brutal persecution of some of those early believers. One man, Stephen, was stoned to death, with permission from Saul. When Saul was converted the believers were skeptical of his conversion. I suspect they saw his conversion as a ploy to incite further persecute. Due to their skepticism they were reluctant to open their hearts to receive him into their Christian fellowship. Barnabus was not that way. He instantly became an advocate for Saul. He believed in giving a person a second chance.
Poem: Years ago I picked up a poem named “The Choice”. I do not know where I got it nor the author but it illustrates the importance of building others up. This poem raises the question of whether we will “tear down or build up.”
“I watched some men tearing a building down, a group of men in my home town. With a heave and a ho and a mighty yell, They swung the ball and a side wall fell. And I said to the foreman, are these men skilled, the type you’d hire if you want to build.
And he smiled, then laughed and said no indeed, common laborer is all I need. For we can tear down in a day or two, what it took a builder years to do.
As I turned, I shook my head, I knew there was truth in what he said.
And I thought to myself as I walked away, which of these roles am I going to play?
Am I a builder as I work with care, measuring life by the rule and square. Am I shaping my deeds to a well laid plan, carefully doing the best I can. Or am I a wrecker as I walk the town, content with the labor of tearing down.
Exercising faith in other people means we see the best in them but it also means we trust them. Jesus did this with His disciples. While He lived among them they were definitely a contrast. Some days they looked like super saints while on other days they looked like miserable failures. However, as Jesus prepared to leave earth and return to Heaven He assigned those disciples the task of spreading His name throughout the whole world. He trusted them.
Illustration: Several years ago I went with a group of men to an obstacle course in Northport. Some people call these a “ropes” course. The goal is for your group to move through a series of obstacles as you build trust and a spirit of team work. For me the most challenging obstacle is the “trust” platform. At this obstacle each person must take turns climbing up to a platform that is located 5 or 6 feet above ground level. Once you get on the platform you are to fold your arms, turn your back, and fall from the platform into the waiting arms of your friends. That requires a great deal of trust. That is what occurs in healthy relationships. We trust the other person with our lives.
I realize there are many factors that affect our ability to place faith in other people. Sometimes trust is abused. Sometimes trust is stolen. There was a horrible story on the evening news, this week, about a young lady who was sexually abused as a baby and into her elementary years. As a teenager she had trouble trusting. Sometimes trust is betrayed. There was a story in the news this week about another millionaire who betrayed trust through a financial scam.
A second general statement is: love displays a spirit of fortitude. Love bears all things. Love believes all things. Love hopes all things. Love endures all things.
Fortitude requires that we forbear with others. To forbear is to hold back or be tolerant. When we forbear we tolerate another person’s behavior.
- Have men call out items they must tolerate with their wives. (Example: too many pillows laying around)
- Have women call out items they must tolerate with their husbands. (Example: leaving things laying around)
- Have parents call out items they must tolerate with their teenagers. Example: a dirty room)
- Have teenagers call out items they must tolerate with their parents. (Example: too many rules)