Summary: In order to have a blessed marriage we must be centered on Christ and founded on love.
The Greatest of These
Text: 1 Cor. 13:1-7
1. Illustration: Rick Warren in his book The Purpose Driven Life says, "Life is all about love!" "Because God is love, the most important lesson he wants you to learn on earth is how to love. It is in loving that we are most like him, so love is the foundation of every command he has given us; ‘the whole Law can be summed up in this one command; ‘Love others as you love yourself" (123).
2. Since love is the foundation of the Christian life, it is, therefore, the foundation of Christian marriage. Without it nothing else will work.
3. But what is love?
a. Love Is The Utmost Value
b. Love Is The Firm Foundation
4. Let's stand as we read together 1 Cor. 13:1-7
Proposition: In order to have a blessed marriage we must be centered on Christ and founded on love.
Transition: Paul begins by telling us that...
I. Love Is The Utmost Value (1-3).
A. But Didn't Love
1. This is one of the great passages of Scripture. It is often quoted, and frequently read at Weddings.
2. Paul begins with, "If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal."
a. The opening sentence of this chapter is is the purpose for Paul's argument.
b. It is pretty evident that the "languages of the earth" refers to regular human speech.
c. Whether it be English, French, German, Spanish or whatever it may be, human languages, while important, are secondary when it comes to love.
d. Then Paul refers to the "tongues of angels," and this definitely is referring to that heavenly language that is a gift of the Holy Spirit.
e. This gift was one that the Corinthian's thought very highly of, and you could easily say, too highly.
f. It had become a source of pride and arrogance among them, and this is the issue that Paul is trying to deal with here.
g. There tongues were not edifying the church, and were not allowing unbelievers to respond to the Word of God.
h. That is why Paul says "of I could speak in all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn't love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal."
i. "Clanging" (alalazon) is rather clashing like the sound of heavy cymbals. The sound may be attractive and entertaining; it may even grab your attention. But if action is not motivated by love, it is only noise, "sound without soul" (The Complete Biblical Library – Romans-Corinthians, 428).
j. In other words, if I don't love others I am simply making noise!
k. However, we must indicate what we are talking about when we say love.
l. In English we have one word that defines love - love.
m. However, in Greek there are several words. There is phileo, which is a brotherly love, and eros, which is a sexual kind of love. But the word that Paul is using here is agape. It is the kind of love that God has for us.
n. Agape is a selfless and sacrificial love; a love of the mind, of the reason, of the will as well as of the heart and affections. It is the love that goes so far...
1) that it loves a person even if he does not deserve to be loved.
2) that it loves the person who is utterly unworthy of being loved.
3. Paul continues his line of reasoning by saying, "If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing."
a. In this verse Paul moves beyond the gift of tongues to three other gifts of the Spirit; prophecy, knowledge and faith.
b. Paul adds emphasis to these words by, in the Greek, using the word "all" before each of the gifts.
c. In other words, "all prophecy, all knowledge, and all faith."
d. Prophecy is a genuine gift. Understanding with supernatural insight all the mysteries that were not revealed in Old Testament times but are revealed in what is now the New Testament, receiving all kinds of supernatural knowledge, and having a gift of faith that can move mountain after mountain—all are genuine gifts of the Spirit.
e. Yet, without love, without acting in love, the person who ministers such gifts is nothing, of no value to the Lord or the local assembly of believers
(Horton, I & II Corinthians, 125).
f. What he is saying is that if you could possess the complete capacity of the gifts of the Spirit in their entirety, but did not have love, that person would be nothing in the sight of God (Fee, 632).