Summary: Message on 1Corinthians 13.

“The Greatest of These”

February 16, 2003 (1Corinthians 13:1-13)

ILL: Ole and Olga lived on a farm in Iowa. Olga was starved for affection. Ole never gave her any signs of love, and Olga’s need to be appreciated went unfulfilled. At her wit’s end, Olga blurted out, "Ole, why don’t you ever tell me that you love me?" Ole stoically responded, "Olga, when we were married I told you that I loved you, and if I ever change my mind, I’ll let you know."

That is not enough. Daily we need to express our love for one another just as God does for us daily in His Son, Jesus Christ. Love is new each day.

--James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988), p. 323.

ILL: A man in his middle years was on a Caribbean cruise. On the first day out he noticed an attractive woman about his age who smiled at him in a friendly way as he passed her on the deck, which pleased him. That night he managed to get seated at the same table with her for dinner. As the conversation developed, he commented that he had seen her on the deck that day and he had appreciated her friendly smile. When she heard this she smiled and commented, "Well, the reason I smiled was that when I saw you I was immediately struck by your strong resemblance to my third husband."

At this he perked up his ears and said, "Oh, how many times have you been married?"

She looked down at her plate, smiled demurely, and answered, "Twice."

--James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 290.

ILL: There once was a very popular song, "Love Is a Many Splendored Thing." The experience of some is that love is a many splintered thing.

Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997).

ILL: Husbands who kiss their wives every morning before leaving for work usually live five years longer than those who do not. A kissing husband has fewer automobile accidents, loses up to 50 percent less time from work because of illness, and earns 20-30 percent more than a nonkissing husband. No statistics were available for benefits to kissing wives. Perhaps along with special rates for nonsmokers and nondrinkers, there’ll soon be a special policy for kissers.

--James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988), p. 340.

The Corinthian church had an abundance of spiritual gifts operating in the church. They were like kids with new toys. Although they had the spiritual gifts to do the work of the ministry, they did not have the spiritual grace of love in which to perform the ministry. The result was a decadent church. The gifts of the Spirit without the grace of love are like holiday trinkets: they are only useful when in season.

Spiritual gifts seasoned with love are highly effective, but gifts without love are showy and shallow.

BI – “Love is the greatest quality we can possess because it best resembles the character of God in His relationship with us.”

Let me share two things with you about the greatest quality that we can possess.

I. The Deficiency of Love – (13:1-3)

In these verses Paul makes it clear that the absence or the deficiency of love is a dangerous thing. We can have the most sought after spiritual gifts in the church. We can be loaded with talent to the gill. We can be humanly endowed with every attribute respected and desired. But, if we don’t possess the simple attribute of love all of the other is useless! Paul broke it down in four categories. In his manner of speaking, he said one could be a:

A. Gifted Communicator – “tongue of men and of angels”

Paul was a master of the languages. Just how many, I do not know, but I have read that he had master over eight languages. That is quite an accomplishment. The idea here is being able to communicate with men and angels. That’s quite a span. Paul communication skills were out of this world. And yet, Paul said that was nothing if he did not possess love for those with whom he communicated.

B. Glorious Prophet – “understand all mysteries and have all knowledge”

Don’t you marvel over some of the modern day Elijah’s who seem to have an inside track to God? They understand things that we just cannot. They unfold some of the great mysteries of life and the Bible itself.

Some of you have read the Left Behind Series by Tim LaHaye. Even though these are supposed to be Christian fiction, they are very realistic. It’s as if God has given them a preview of the movie before it comes to town.

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