Summary: Message 34 in our exposition of 1 Corinthians. This is the first of 6 messages exploring the meaning and practice of love.
Chico Alliance Church
Pastor David Welch
Love makes the world go around. What is this powerful driving force that motivates people to do some pretty weird things? We hear the word “love” tossed around indiscriminately in our culture. A cursory browsing through the card rack at Hallmark will reveal a multitude of little markers categorizing cards by the simple label “love.” As evidenced by the messages in the various cards labeled “love” I am not sure those poets completely understand this thing called love. It doesn’t help that our English word suffers a seemingly insurmountable broad application and usage. I found at least seventeen different variations in meaning in the English dictionary. Since the command to love is a central command in Scripture and lies at the very core of God’s nature, perhaps we should seek to understand it a bit more. What does it mean to love God and love one another as ourselves?
I. Terms of Endearment
Love can be a verb (action word) -- “love one another”, “God loves me.”
Love is something we do.
Love can be a noun (word referring to a person, place or thing) “God is love.”
Love describes a state of being of someone else or myself.
It can also be an adjective (descriptive word -- “God does loving things”.
Love is a term used to try to describe a connection with another person. It is a relational term. It mostly applies to the relationship between two people although it is used between a person and a thing or animal. “I love my dog.” “I love pizza”
Our English term can be divided into at least four basic categories The Greeks differentiated the four categories by using four distinct terms.
Feeling Love (eros) – celebration love
Describes a relationship based on the pleasure of closeness or sexual stimulation.
Married couples can “make love”
Married couple can enjoy sex.
Things could be called sensual or sexy.
Family Love (storge) – community love
Describes a relationship based on a sense of loyalty and togetherness
We “cherish” our children.
We enjoy “connection” with our children.
We have a “loving” family
Friendship Love (philos) – companionship love
Describes a relationship based on a sense of friendship and comradeship.
I really “appreciate” my friend.
We have a wonderful “friendship” between us.
They were really “friendly” to us
Foundational Love (agape) – covenant or commitment love
Describes a relationship based on personal commitment to unconditionally care
I love my spouse.
I seek to develop a deeper love for my spouse.
I try to do the “loving” thing.
A strong marriage will pursue simultaneous development of all four of these aspects of love. The Bible addresses the love of companionship and the love of commitment primarily. Covenant love serves as the foundation block to all the other aspects. It is the only one not dependent on a response from the one being loved. It is solely dependant on the committed love of the one loving. It is not dependent on feeling or sense of family or even a sense of companionship. It describes a decision to care for and pursue relationship with the other person no matter what. It describes God’s relationship with the world.
God so loved (agape) the world that He gave His only begotten Son.
You cannot command someone to be friends with others.
You cannot command someone to drum up a fuzzy pleasurable feeling for someone.
You cannot command someone to treat someone like family.
All of these aspects of love require a reciprocal response to continue. God does not use any of these terms when He commands us to love one another and even our enemies and those who treat us badly. He does however command us to care for one another deeply and move toward relationship if not strongly pursue it. He commands us to do what demonstrates a committed care for the other person. It is what drove God to sacrifice His own Son. It is what drove Jesus to offer up His own life.
II. A better way to go
Paul spent the last chapter describing the work of the Holy Spirit in every Christian.
In the first section Paul identified how the Holy Spirit works through Christians for the sake of building up the body through individual spiritual aptitudes, ministries and effects. In the second section he describes the prevailing attitude we should have toward our individual part in the body of Christ.
• We are all called, enabled and placed by the Holy Spirit under one head.
• We all have differing aptitudes, ministries and effects.
• We are all interdependent or mutually dependant on one another in order to function well.
Paul warns them in the last verses of chapter 12 to guard against trying to pursue a particular aptitude, ministry or effect for the purpose of self-glorification. Paul affirms that the supernatural body-building work of the Holy Spirit is great and it is an honor to employ those gifts in serving the body but unless we demonstrate love, it will not bring lasting fruit or personal fulfillment. The greatest work of the Holy Spirit in the body of Christ is Love. Love unmistakably identifies us as followers of Christ who embodied God’s love for us. The Holy Spirit put this impossible love in our hearts at salvation.