Summary: Our days are numbered, so please take nothing for granted. Stay wide-awake in prayer. Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything.
Who put the bomp
In the bomp bah bomp bah bomp?
Who put the ram
In the rama lama ding dong?
Who put the bop
In the bop shoo bop shoo bop?
Who put the dip
In the dip da dip da dip?
Who was that man?
I'd like to shake his hand
He made my baby
Fall in love with me
Back then, song lyrics were so much deeper, weren’t they? This morning we’re going to talk about love for a few minutes. We are going to reflect upon a very familiar passage of scripture. It will be a good review, at a time I believe when we need it most.
In between chapter 12, which discusses the gifts that the God has given to His church, (we are all one body with different parts, unity in diversity) and chapter 14 which deals with the use of those gifts, chapter 13 reveals the spirit in which these gifts are to be exercised. And although this wonderful chapter does tie the two together, I believe it can and should stand on its own. Keep in mind, when the Apostle Paul wrote this letter to the Corinthian Church, he didn’t include chapters or verse numbers. It was written the same as if we would write a letter today. And I believe this chapter 13, well known as the “Love” chapter, is the finest definition of love we not only have in scripture, but in all published works throughout time.
What is the importance of love? H.A. Ironside, one of the twentieth century’s greatest preachers writes that the word translated “charity” in the King James Version refers not only to the good works and kindness that we associate with charity today, but to the root and source of those good deeds: love. I have mentioned this before; there are three well known Greek words that we translate as “love.” “Eros”, “Phileo” and “Agape.” If you are familiar with Greek mythology, you’ll recognize “Eros” as the name of the god of love, the son of Aphrodite. Eros is the word used in classical Greek for love of sweethearts and love between husband and wife, wife and husband. Phileo is a broader word speaking of a kindly, friendly affection such as the love between friends, or love between children and parents, parents and children, the love of citizens for the country to which they belong. The third word, Agape, speaks of a higher type of love, a love that is all-absorbing, a love that completely dominates one’s whole being. Guess which word Paul uses in chapter 13?
It is interesting that in the writing of the New Testament, the Spirit of God seemed to forbid the use of the word Eros. It is found frequently in the writings of the Greek poets and philosophers, but never in the New Testament. This word has been so abused and degraded by the Greeks that God, as it were, stood over His Book and said to those who were writing, “Do not put that word in here. It is too capable of being misunderstood.” Phileo occurs many times in the New Testament, but only in reference to human friendliness, kindly feelings or brotherly love.
In reference to what is most divine, God carefully chose the word Agape. God is Agape. God’s love is agape love, in the highest, most unselfish sense. This love comes only through God, and not through our own hearts. Listen to the words of the Gospel writer John, Christ’s disciple, the one who Jesus loved. When John wrote his three letters, he was well advanced in age and was the sole remaining apostle who had intimate, eyewitness association with Jesus Christ throughout His earthly ministry, His transfiguration, death resurrection and ascension. John writes in his first letter, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God, and everyone who loves (with Agape love) is born of God, and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love (Agape love) , not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to take away the sins of the world. If God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. Agape love. Unconditional love that can and does only come from God. So what is love?
In many of the temples there was hanging at the entrance a large cymbal. Often, as the worshippers entered the temple, they struck it, causing a loud noise. Some said the noise was for the purpose of rousing the gods. By the time Paul wrote this letter, the loud ‘gong’ made from striking the symbol had become a symbol for superficial oratory. With this picture in the background, Paul is saying that without love, the finest oratory is nothing more than an empty pagan rite. Our worship should match our conduct and our conduct should match our worship.