Summary: Everyone is searching for love. But many people are listening to the wrong definition of love. The only one qualified to define love is God for He is the source of all love.
November 10, 2002 I Corinthians 13:4-7
¡§The substance of Love¡¨
I think that I would be safe in saying that everyone wants to be loved. And in their desire to be loved, they will try almost anything. ¡§A young man was determined to win the affection of a lady who refused to even talk to him anymore. He decided that the way to her heart was through the mail, so he began writing her love letters. He wrote a love letter every day to this lady. Six, seven times a week she got a love letter from him. When she didn¡¦t respond, he increased his output to three notes every twenty-four hours. In all, he wrote her more than seven hundred letters. And she wound up marrying the postman.¡¨ ¡V Tale of the Tardy Oxcart, p. 354
Almost every day when I check my e-mail, there will be an advertisement for a matchmaking service. When I go on the internet, the home page of my internet server will have several places listed where a person could go to find pornographic pictures of women. When I go to the checkout at the grocery store or Walmart, I am surrounded with magazines that have headlines about the latest romance, breakup or affair. People are looking for love. Amazon.com lists 2,652 book titles regarding ¡§Heaven,¡¨ 10,304 for ¡§Money,¡¨ 16,765 for ¡§Sex,¡¨ 18,818 for ¡§God,¡¨ and 30,066 for ¡§Love.¡¨ Love is one of the deepest human needs of all, yet it is also a very misunderstood and misused word. It is this misunderstanding about love that causes people to look for it in all the wrong places.
Some people think of love as an emotion. It is not. Others think of it as sex. It is not that either. One person defined it using an acrostic of the letters of love:
L ¡V listening when another is speaking
O ¡V overlooking petty faults and forgiving all failures
V ¡V valuing other people for who they are
E ¡V expressing love in a practical way - Denis Waitley, Seeds of Greatness
I suppose that if I was to ask each person here for a definition of love, you probably all would give me something different. We all have our own idea of what love really is. We try to define it in terms that we can understand because defining something helps us to get a handle on it ¡V to control it. But how do you get a handle on love? Who is qualified to define it? Who has ever experienced it in its purest form? The only one who meets that requirement is God.
God wants us to know what real love is, so he directed the apostle Paul to record His thoughts on the subject. They are recorded here in 1 Cor. 13. There¡¦s a reason that God would choose to include this chapter about love in his letter to the Corinthian church. They were confused about love. Not only were they not expressing love toward one another within the church, but what love they were expressing was totally outside the confines of God¡¦s will. There was prostitution going on, and they thought nothing of it. Divorce was rampant in the church because of marital unfaithfulness. It even went so far as a man having a sexual relationship with his step-mother. And instead of the church being shocked by it, they were proud of it. They were searching for love, but they didn¡¦t understand what real love is. So Paul wrote them this chapter to give them just a glimpse of God¡¦s kind of love. In order for them to be healthy people and a healthy church, they had to understand God¡¦s kind of love, and they had to learn to express that love to one another.
This morning, we are going to look at two principles of love, we are going to quickly see the 16 characteristics of love that Paul wrote about, and then we are going to learn from the greatest example of love.
1. Principles of love.
a. Love is active.
Though some of the characteristics that we are going to look at in a minute are expressed as adjectives in English, they are actually verbs in Greek which is the language that they were written in originally. True love is more than just a feeling on the inside. If it stays on the inside and is content to remain just a fuzzy emotion, then it will never grow into real love. Real love causes you to reach beyond yourself to impact the life of the one that you love. As we saw when we looked at vs. 3 last week, you can do kind actions without love, but you cannot love without acting on that love.
b. Love is decisive.