Summary: If we are to exercise our spiritual gifts and Holy Spirit empowerment to the glory of Christ and the fullness of His purposes, they must be exercised in divine love.
SERIES: PRESCRIPTIONS FOR A HEALTHY & HOLY CHURCH:
A Study in 1 Corinthians Applied To The Church Today
III. MAINTAINING PROPER DIET & EXERCISE
D.) ROLES & EQUIPMENT (Offices & Gifts)
“THE GREATEST OPTION” (1 Cor. 13:1-13)
Rev. Todd G. Leupold, Perth Bible Church, July 5, 2009 AM
Ever notice how the more gifts you give your children and the more valuable they are, the quicker they seem to grow tired of them and/or cease to appreciate or use them anymore? One minute they are so thrilled with their own gift that it’s everything in the world and nobody else can touch it. The next minute, they throw it aside and try to take another child’s gift instead. Sadly, adults too often do the same thing – even with those things given us by our Heavenly Father.
In the previous chapter, the emphasis was on the gifts which the risen Christ has given to His Church through the Holy Spirit in order that we may be empowered to represent and serve Him to the completion of His purposes. Now, the inspired Apostle Paul presents a full chapter to boldly underline HOW (in what spirit) these gifts are to be exercised if they are to glorify Christ and fulfill His purposes.
I.) THE SUPREMACY OF LOVE (vv. 1-3)
More excellent even than any spiritual gift, supreme among the spiritual fruit, primary over all emotions and attitudes is Love.
NOT love as a physical sensation, nor friendly bond, but love in it’s fullest and purest form as exemplified by the character of God Almighty Himself!
The Koine Greek in which Paul first wrote this text had three distinct words to express different forms of what we simply call ’love.’ The first, eros, refer specifically to romantic and sexual love. The second, philia, indicates a special affection between brothers or friends. The third and least common, agape, is used to refer to a supreme kind of love that is all-absorbing, dominates one’s being, and is demonstrated through a self-less commitment to benefit others.
Throughout this text, Paul uses the term Agape Love. Throughout Scripture, this is further understood to mean a divine love – that which is embodied in Christ and only possible for those who through faith by grace are in Christ and living His love.
This is NOT a natural love. It is not a type of love that anyone can simply will or learn to feel or live out. It is a unique, divinely-empowered love that is only genuine when it is purely lived (acted) out in one’s life!
Any kinds or expressions of love that do not conform to these standards are shallow and of the flesh – not the spirit.
Romans 5:5 This hope does not disappoint, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Essentially, Scripture is here exhorting us: “In so much as you have (by grace and through faith) been redeemed and reborn in Christ, He has blessed you not only with new and eternal life but the filling, indwelling, and empowering of His Holy Spirit. All of this has been given you as an act of Almighty God’s divine love which pours through you that you may graciously share it with others as He has graciously shared it with you.
Therefore, since you have this capacity to divinely love others, DO IT! Here, then, is why this is vitally important and how true agape love can be recognized . . .”
A.) In Speech (v. 1)
Read verse and clang the cymbal.
Loud and widely heard, but hollow, unpleasant by itself, even grating.
This was also the instrument commonly used in the local pagan cults to worship the gods who were not really gods.
Our speech – formal or informal, private or public - no matter how loud, widely heard, impressive, physically powerful or even exquisite and ’spiritual’, is absolutely meaningless, empty and alone apart from this divine agape love!
B.) In Gifts (v. 2)
Even the greatest of spiritual gifts given and exercised in their fullest capacity are “nothing” if they are not shared in divine agape love!
Our gifts, abilities and even the impressive things we accomplish with them are meaningless before God unless they are a true expression of His agape love.
C.) In Actions (v. 3)
Even the greatest personal sacrifices, if performed with a motivation other than pure, divine, self-less love is meaningless.
II.) THE CHARACTER OF LOVE (vv. 4-7)
Agape, Godly love is NOT an emotion but a willful be-ing. It is not ethereal, but practical. It is not a matter of how we feel, but of who we are and how we behave.
A.) Love IS (v. 4a, 6b)
The essence of this divine, agape love is simply defined for us, though impossible to demonstrate apart from denying our flesh and living absolutely according to His Spirit!