Summary: The last of a three part series on faith, hope and love.
The Remaining Three
A Sermon on Love
Once a young man proposed to his girl as they sat looking over the beautiful lake. “Darling, I want you to know that I love you more than anything else in the world. I want you to marry me. I’m not wealthy; I’m not rich. I don’t have a yacht or a Rolls Royce like Jimmy Brown, but I do love with all my heart.”
She thought for a minute and then replied, “I love you with all my heart, too, but tell me more about Jimmy Brown.”
Over the years, many people have been “inspired” when it came to the topic of love. Poems and songs have been dedicated to what love is. Some of the best songs are about the great aspects of love. According to the Beatles “All you need is love.”
People flock to weddings because they are, in one sense, a celebration of love. We enjoy seeing the woman in white pledges her undying devotion to the man in the tuxedo. We swoon when the “I do’s” are said, the rings are exchanged, and they stand before us as husband and wife.
On the other hand, we use the word “love” is some of the oddest fashions. The late 60’s and early 70’s were known as the “Free Love Era.” Bell bottoms, flowered vans, and sex with as many people as possible was considered love.
Even in innocent ways, we use the word love in obscure ways. We love our spouses and our children. We love our sports teams. We love our food. We love our clothes. There are a lot of different ways to say that we love something or someone, but that is never on the same level. You do not love a friend like you do a turkey dinner at Christmas, unless you’re a cannibal.
Many languages, other than the English language, use different words for the word love. In the passage we are looking at today, the word AGAPE is found for this type of love. This is an everlasting love, the love of God Himself.
1 Corinthians 13 is often read at weddings because love is so abounding that day. While everything here is applicable to a newly wed couple, or for a husband and wife celebrating 50 years of marriage, it was not Paul’s intent for this passage.
This so-called hymn to love was Paul’s prescription for solving the sickness in the church body in Corinth. The believers had spiritual gifts, but they lacked spiritual graces and needed to be reminded why love is so important in the Christian life.
It is from that point of view that we look at it this morning. If love is the greatest of the three graces, we need to know why.
Love puts quality into service (vv. 1–3).
“God hates the great things in which love is not the motive power; but He delights in the little things that are prompted by a feeling of love.”
D. L. Moody
It’s rather ironic in a sense. This section of Paul’s letter comes directly after his discourse on what it means to be a part of the body of Christ. Moreover it deals with the topic about speaking in tongues. This message is not about whether I believe in tongues or not. I’m neither condoning nor condemning the practice. That is not the issue. What is the issue is what Paul has to say about the whole thing.
Read 1Corinthians 12:27-31
For years, the Evangelical Church has been ripped apart by one very prominent issue and that is the gift of tongues. Some people have condemned certain “charismatic” and people because of their staunch beliefs attached with the issue. A war of words and attitudes has been fought because of an issue that really wasn’t an issue to Paul.
In a round about way, Paul was looking at this church and Corinth and saying, “Guys! You are the body of Christ! Forget your differences, and reach towards the greater things, the things that unite you... Faith, hope and love!”
Paul would go onto to say that it didn’t matter if I speak in tongues, or prophesy and preach until I am blue in the face. That all counts for nothing if LOVE is not in the picture. If they would act in love toward one another, the problem would be largely solved. It is not a problem that calls for excommunication or division; it calls for love. When you have love, your words and actions amount to something and help other people.
The same goes for us today. Some people may complain that I introduced two songs that were not found in the hymnbook. So what? I do not preach from the King James Bible, so what?