Summary: This sermon looks at 1 Corinthians 13 and considers agape love and what that means for marriage and the 5 love langages
Love Is More Than a Tingle
1 Corinthians 131-8a, 13
In a survey of couples nationwide, when asked what makes a good marriage, the answer “Being in love” was given by 90% of the respondents. When asked to give the essential ingredients of love, no one characteristic was given by more than 50% of the respondents. In other words, we can’t agree what love is or more accurately, we don’t know what love is. As one person said, “Love is like lightning- you may not know what it is, but you do know when it hits you.” You also know it when you see it.
A group of professionals posed this question to a group of 4 to 8 year-olds, ’What does ’love’ mean?’ And these are the responses they received:
’When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You just know that your name is safe in their mouth.’ Billy - age 4
’Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs.’ Chrissie - age 6
’Love is when my mummy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK.’ Danny - age 7
’Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more. My Mummy and Daddy are like that. They look gross when they kiss’ Emily - age 8
’Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.’ Bobby - age 7 (Wow!)
’Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well.’ Tommy - age 6
’Love is when Mummy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken.’ Elaine-age 5
’Love is when Mummy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford.’ Chris - age 7
And Rebecca- age 8 says, ’When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That’s love.’
What is love and what does it truly mean to love someone? In our Scripture passage today, Paul is writing to the church at Corinth which is experiencing arguments and division among its members. In 1 Corinthians Chapter 12, he talks about how they are called to serve God and serve one another. The last two weeks, we talked about the 5 Love Needs of Men and Women and how you can meet your spouse’s needs. In Chapter 13, Paul moves into talking about how we should serve each other, primarily through love. Now in English, we have one word for love. You can see an elderly couple go into Wendy’s and hear the man says, “I would love a triple cheeseburger.” Then when they get to their seat, you can also hear that same gentleman turn to his wife and say, “I love you.” Same word but two completely different meanings, or so we hope. The Greeks understood this perplexity and so they had more than 14 different words to describe the different nuances and meanings of love.
Author and pastoral counselor H. Norman Wright has identified three of those Greek words for love which he says are absolutely critical to a Christian marriage. The first is eros. Most couples begin their relationship and marriage with a preponderance of eros. Eros is desire, passion, romantic and sexual love. It is the type of love which dominates your thoughts, time and energy early in the relationship. According to Hollywood, this is the only type of love in relationships. But marriage cannot be sustained by eros alone. For it is like a hot burning fire whose embers eventually burn down. Sociologist Elaine Webster in a study of over a 100,000 persons has found that eros lasts anywhere from 6 months to 2 1/2 years in a marriage. Eros while exciting and thrilling is not lasting and sustaining love.
For marriage to last, it must include the next type of love, philia. Philia is friendship love. In a good marriage, a husband and wife are the best of friends. We learned the past two weeks friendship is one of the 5 love needs of both men and women. Yet, they look at it differently. For men friendship is about doing things together: hunting, fishing, golfing or watching the game. For women, friendship means heart to heart communication. It’s about opening up and sharing confidential parts of yourself. It’s making yourself vulnerable through revealing your heart and soul to each other, your hopes and dreams as well as your frustrations and disappointments. Philia is companionship, intimate communication and cooperation, that is, working toward a common cause or goal. Philia carries love forward when ersos dies down.