Summary: Paul tells a church which is divided that they need to live and act in love because this is the most excellent way to serve God.
“Love is the Greatest”
Opening Illustration: Open with the Jars of Clay video, “They will know we are Christians by our love.”
Thesis: Paul tells a church which is divided that they need to live and act in love because this is the most excellent way to serve God.
I Cor. 12:31: “…And now I will show you the most excellent way.”
I Cor. 13: 1-13: “1If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
We have talked a lot over the last month about the importance of creating a healing church here at New Life. Today’s text is going to give us more insight and wisdom into how a church becomes known for the power of healing. Paul tells us that there is a way to live as a Christian which is called the “most excellent way.” This is the optimum way to act and to function as a Christian and as a church of Jesus Christ. The premise and the methodology of living excellently is “the way of love.” Paul tells us that this path is greater than all the gifts he just spoke about.
John tells us in I John 4: 7-21 that those who genuinely know God walk in His love. Their life is filled with acts of love toward others. They love because they themselves have experienced the love of the Father through Jesus. This love encounter has transformed their lives and their minds and they therefore live a life of love so as to please their Heavenly Father. John tells us as Christians that we are to love because of the experience of love. He also tells s that God is love so when we live the way of love then we are acting and being like God. This is why Paul in chapter 12 called this the most excellent way to serve God. John goes on to warn the church of Jesus Christ that if they do not live lives of love then the Lord is not in their life. He at the end of his section says, ‘Whoever loves God must also love his brother.” John makes it clear that love is not an option it is a must. We are to love one another in the church as well as the lost of this world. If we choose to forsake the path of love then we chose to forsake God himself.
Love is a subject that is near and dear to my heart. When I first became a Christian I spent a year studying about one subject in the Bible and that subject was love. I was fascinated by the subject and drawn to it like a magnet because I felt unloved and clueless to what love looked like or acted like. Yet the Bible kept telling me that God was love and He loved so much he sent His son to die for us. I learned that to be a Christian meant to act and be like Christ and the first description of Jesus was - He loved the people.
Growing up in the McCartney home was difficult and even hurtful at times. My dad was a man lead by anger and rage. You never knew if in the evening he would walk into the house happy, angry or even a raging lunatic. At different times in my life I observed him beat my mother up mercilessly. He was cruel to her both physically and emotionally. He in my view was very abusive to her and to us. My dad inherited his character traits from his own family that was filled with anger and rage. So I existed quietly in this house until the age of 11 when I went after my dad for beating up on my mom. He picked me up by the throat and threw me into wall for trying to stop his rage on my mother. It was at that point in my life when I choose to take on the rage of anger in my own life and that anger and rage was primarily directed toward my dad. But this anger did take over many parts of my own life. I made a vow to myself to become stronger and to one day pay back my dad for His bursts of anger toward us and my mother. I was going to give him a dose of his own anger with my own fists of furry. So I went into body building, I signed up for the martial arts and I began my training for revenge.