Summary: Love is the key to all we do in the Christian life. It is the key to our ministry; the key to our relationships; and the key to our victory.
Love Is The Key
Text: 1 Cor.13: 13
Intro: Have you ever thought about how easy it is for people to misrepresent themselves to others? I suppose a certain amount of that is normal under certain conditions. For instance, I may feel like death warmed over. But if I’m walking through the mall, and someone asks me how I’m doing; I’m not going to say, “Oh, I feel about half dead. Thanks. And yourself?” No, I’m going say, “Fine! How are you?” Why would I do that? Because I realize that the passing stranger isn’t really interested in knowing how miserable I feel at that moment. He is simply extending a common courtesy—he is merely practicing a social grace. In other words, it is a matter of courtesy to acknowledge a stranger when our eyes meet, but often their inquiry, as well as our response, is mere sentiment without substance. Both of us were simply being polite, and no more.
The truth of the matter is that we humans can practice “sentiment without substance” with our actions, as well as our acknowledgments. The fact is that we can do all the right things for all the wrong reasons. I dare say that we’ve all been guilty of this at some time or the other.
Paul contended that there should be one foundational reason for all the Christian does in their service for Christ, as well as for others: Love. Christian love is the key to acceptable service for the Savior. Let me reiterate: Service apart from Christian love is little more than sentiment without substance. That doesn’t mean that we should stop doing good things, or stop serving others, but that we should evaluate our motives for doing what we do. God’s Word says, “Blessed are the pure in heart…” (Matt.5: 8a). We are also exhorted to, “…see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently” (1 Pet.1: 22b). As we look at First Corinthians 13, which is commonly referred to as the “Love Chapter” of the Bible, we will come to understand just how important a godly love is to all that we do for Christ.
Theme: The importance of love in the Christian’s life is seen in…
I. THE VALUE OF LOVE (Love Is The Key to Our Ministry)
A. Loveless Preaching Is Prattle. (Love is the power of our preaching.)
1 Cor.13: 1 “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.”
NOTE:  That verse could be paraphrased as follows:
“Though I can speak ever so eloquently, using such beautiful words that my oratory is ranked with the best of men and of angels, and yet I do not speak from a heart of love, my words would be nothing more than noise. What I said would be without strength.”
 The idea behind the phrase “…sounding brass and tinkling cymbal” (v. 1b) is, “that of a man all sound and noise, without any genuine worth.” “This meant originally to sound the war-cry, and then came to be used of other loud, harsh sounds.”
 Folks, there are men mounting pulpits these days who possess magnificent oratorical skills, and who preach what might sound like a biblical sermon. But they preach with hatefulness and haughtiness. They tend to browbeat the backslidden, and the lost sinner, rather than preaching from a heart of love and concern. Let me illustrate what I mean with this true story:
Years ago I was the Associate Pastor of a church in Camden, Arkansas. Shirley and I were asked to go to Triple S Bible Camp with the young people of the church. The preachers asked to preach to the teens and youth workers were very abusive in their approach. One preacher referred to women who wore slacks, as heifers, and even labeled some of the women there as such. It was all I could do to keep from jumping up and taking my heifer home, right then and there.
Another one of the preachers spotted a 15 year-old boy in the audience with rather long hair, while he was preaching. He publicly made fun of the young man from the pulpit, and humiliated him before the crowd. I’ll never forget how sorry and embarrassed I felt for that young man.
B. Loveless Piety Is Pretense. (Love is the T.N.T. of our spiritual gifts and talents.)
1 Cor.13: 2 “And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.”
NOTE:  Verse two could be paraphrased like this:
“Though I have the ability to preach, and understand all the mysteries of salvation, and have enough faith to perform miracles, and yet, do not have love, I am nothing.”