Summary: A look at 3 things that love is not.
Seven weeks ago we began a series titled 3 on 3, inspired by 1 Corinthians 13:13; "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love." I told you then we’d spend three weeks talking about each of those powerful internal concepts.
Today, we begin our final three week look at an internal reality that can change your life forever.
Paul said that faith and hope were two powerful concepts that would stand the test of eternity. But the greatest force of all, he wrote, is love.
Nothing motivates like love. I remember when Trista and I were dating in college. I came back to the dorm room one night and said to my roommate, "I think I’m in love."
He said, "How do you know?" I said, "Well, we were out driving with the windows down, just listening to the music, and we came to this romantic little spot near an old church on the outskirts of town. She said, Jeremy, if you’ll put the top down on the car, I’ll give you a little kiss.’"
I told my roommate, "Man, I had the top on that car down in five minutes. "
"Five minutes?" he said. "I can put the top down on my car in thirty seconds. "
"Yeah," I said, "But you have a convertible. "
Love will motivate you. The problem is, though, that we’re confused about what love really is. We have a strong, positive passion about something or someone and we just call it love.
So the first thing we need to be clear about is what love is and isn’t. Look with me in 1 Corinthians 13. If you want to know what love is, this is where you go to learn.
Read l Corinthians 13: 1 – 13 Let’s pray.
Let’s start this first look at love by dispelling some myths about love. Let’s talk about what love is and isn’t.
1. Love isn’t a spiritual gift, but rather a fruit of the Spirit.
In chapter 12, Paul began addressing some questions the Corinthian church had about spiritual gifts. In verses 7 - 11 he mentions the gifts of wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment, and languages. This is by no means an exhaustive list. In other parts of the book and in other books he mentions many more spiritual gifts.
But a common mistake is to assume that since Paul has been talking about gifts of the Spirit in chapter 12, love is just another in the list. But love is not a gift. You can’t excuse unloving words, behaviors or attitudes by saying, "Well, love just isn’t my gift."
In Galatians 5 Paul discusses the fruit of the Spirit; that is the behaviors and character traits that are produced by the presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer. Love is the first thing he mentions. So what’s the difference between a spiritual gift and a fruit of the Spirit?
A gift of the Spirit enables a believer to be effective in some ministry of the church. You can have the gift of encouragement, or the gift of teaching, or the gift of administration.
A fruit of the Spirit is evidence of the Spirit living in your life. If you are a spirit filled believer it will be shown by the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control in your life.
In John 13:35, Jesus said, "By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
He didn’t say, "They’ll know you are my disciples if you have the gift of administration or the gift of compassion or even the gift of ministry." He said, "They’ll know you are my disciples if you show evidence of the number one fruit of the Spirit -- love."
If you want to follow Jesus, then love must be in your repertoire.
Now the good news here should be obvious; if love is a spiritual gift, there isn’t anything you can do to get more of it or grow better at it. You either have it or you don’t. But if love is a fruit of the Spirit, then it can be cultivated.
In Philippians 1:9 Paul wrote, "And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight."
In 1 Thessalonians 4:9 he said that we had been taught to love by God. Love can grow. Love can be learned. Love isn’t a spiritual gift. It is a fruit of the Spirit.
2. Love isn’t a fuzzy feeling, but rather a focused action.
Jerrie Barber used to say that “Love’s not a felling you get when you feel a feeling that you have never felt before.”
We all know how powerful our emotions are.