Summary: Love is the catalyst that brings value to the believer’s God-given spiritual gifts.
Living in Chapter 13 and Loving It (Part 1 of 4)
1 Cor. 13:1-3
Feb. 4, 2007 FBC, Chester Mike Fogerson, Pastor
1 There is a story about a man who was walking down the street.
He passed a used-book store, and in the window he saw a book with the title, "How to Hug."
He was taken by the title and, being of a somewhat romantic nature, went in to buy the book.
To his chagrin, he discovered that it was the seventh volume of an encyclopedia and covered the subjects "how" to "hug."
Everyone knows that the church is a place where love ought to be manifested, and many people have come to church hoping to find a demonstration of love—only to discover an encyclopedia on theology.
2 Jonathan Swift (author of Gulliver’s Travels) said, "We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another."
a No matter how exciting or wonderful a spiritual gift is, they are useless (and destructive) if they are not ministered in love
b The church is the BODY of CHRIST.
aa Many members, gifts, functions
bb Love is the "circulatory system" of the body
B 1 Cor. 13 is often misinterpreted/misapplied
1 Divorced from its context it’s a "hymn to love" or a sermon on Christian brotherhood.
a Paul’s writing a church that’s dealing with lots of problems: the abuse of tongues, division in the church, envy of other gifts, selfishness, impatience with one another, & disgraceful behavior.
b To this church he writes: If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. 1 Cor 13:1-3 (NASB)
2 The spiritual gifts exercised in Corinth were empty because they lacked love (essence of the text in a sentence).
a Love is the catalyst that brings value to the believer’s God-given spiritual gifts (essence of the sermon in a sentence).
b I pray you’ll ask God to grow your love for Him, His people, and lost souls (objective).
3 What motivates you to do what you do for God? (Probing question)
a Let’s look at two paths we can take as we deal with loving bankruptcy (transitional sentence).
I The first path is one that is leading to loving bankruptcy.
A The church at Corinth were using their spiritual gifts in a spirit of competition.
1 The spiritual gifts that were supposed to be building up the church were doing more harm than good!
a The five spiritual gifts named in 13:1-3 were tongues, prophecy, knowledge, faith, & giving.
b Paul is not minimizing these gifts; he is simply saying they do no good to individuals/the church unless there is love in their lives.
aa Paul’s not saying the answer to abuse of the gifts is disuse of the gifts.
bb The gifts were worthless, empty, useless, nothing, no profit, bankrupt without love.
cc Tongues were a bunch of noise, prophets were nothing, faith, miracles giving=ALL NOTHING!
2 We, too, face the problems Paul warns about in verses 1-3.
a Some tongue-speakers insist you imitate them, very unloving towards those God hasn’t so gifted.
b Christian intellectuals who criticize & destroy their brothers/sisters from another denomination in the same style as a lost cynic would.
c Folks who throw money at causes, but never shoulder the cost of a loving, personal involvement.
d Look at the Middle East, thousands of young people sacrifice their lives in battle (or in terrorism) as in Islam, in hopes of a quick passage to heaven.
aa 70 virgins, etc.
bb Tragically, all those young people are doing is speeding up their trip to hell.
e There is a missing piece in all of these, & that is the fundamental love for Jesus.
B (IL) Picture it this way: write a string of zeros...tongues alone zero, prophecy alone zero, mysteries alone zero, knowledge alone zero, faith alone zero, giving alone zero, martyrdom alone zero.
1 0,000,000: what’s that add up to?
b Put a "1" to the left & now every zero amounts to something!
2 Love is the thing that must be added to every gift of the Spirit (without love you gift is worthless).
II The second path is one that is leading out of loving bankruptcy.
A Christians are "taught of God to love one another." Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another 1 Thess 4:9 (NASB)