Summary: Sermon of the greatest of Gods Gifts
“The Greatest of These”
February 5, 2012
“So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law. The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”
February is the month of love. I guess, for most people, it’s because of Valentine’s Day on the fourteenth. For me it is because forty years ago this Valentine’s Day, I asked Julie to marry me. According to her story of the event, I didn’t ask – I told her she was marrying me. So on about our 15th anniversary, I got down on my knee and made it official. I asked her to marry me. She agreed. This June we will celebrate 40 years of marriage. We are not those young kids we once were. Our hair is grey, our waist line has grown, we have gotten a little weak. But we still can see the spark of that young love once in a while in each other. The other night, when Julie took off her glasses, I said, “Honey, when you take off your glasses you look just like you did when you were young.” She said, “When I take off my glasses YOU look pretty good, too.”
If this Valentine’s Day is like Valentine's Days of the past, over $1 billion was spent on chocolate, $1 billion on cards, and 218 million roses were sold in the pursuit of, or in an attempt to demonstrate love. It’s nice to express your love in tangible ways like we do – but real love – God’s love – is expressed a little differently. Someone said,
Love is the key. Joy is love singing. Peace is love resting. Long-suffering is love enduring. Kindness is love’s touch. Goodness is love’s character. Faithfulness is love’s habit. Gentleness is love’s self-forgetfulness. Self-control is love holding the reins.” Donald Grey Barnhouse
I really like that. In our Scripture today we have listed the fruits of the Spirit. And they are so important. They describe what God is like. They describe what WE are to be like. And we are going to look at them in a little bit. But I want to look at the context of these verses. I think there are some important lessons for us. First, let’s define love.
The Dictionary defines it like this: 1. a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person. 2. A feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend. 3. Sexual passion or desire.
The Greek Word for the kind of love we are talking about is ‘agape’.
1. The love of God or Christ for humankind. 2. The love of Christians for other persons, corresponding to the love of God for humankind. 3. Unselfish love of one person for another without sexual implications; brotherly love.
I think to simplify it would be to say ‘agape’ love is a giving kind of love.
The Bible says, “God is love.” So if we want to get an idea of what God is like – we need to understand love. To do that, we need to go to the Love Chapter in the Bible – 1 Corinthians 13. I’m not going to read the entire chapter – but let’s look at a few verses.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Love never fails! That’s God! Read that again with God in place of Love or It. To love – to really love – is when we are most God-like. It is when we are most Christ-like. Read that Scripture again and put your name in it.