Summary: Why is love greater than Faith or Hope? As Christians the faith is the reason we are who we are. Hope is the assurance of where we are going. So what makes Love greater than these?
The Importance of Love
(1 Cor. 13:1-3)
A. For many people, the 23rd Psalm is written in such a way that it not only expresses the heart of David as he reflects upon God, but it express your heart also. It is why is so beloved. Those opening words speak of our union with God in such a personal manner, “The Lord is MY shepherd.”
B. Yes, I love the 23rd Psalm. I love how God leads me by green pastures, to the quiet waters, He restores my soul. Yes, if there is anything you can say about the 23rd Psalm it is that God cares for and loves me beyond what I ever dreamed or hoped for. He walks with me and protects me in the valley, he set me up as special and prepares a table for me in the presence of those who don’t think I am worthy.
C. Near the end of those few verses is this phrase, “my cup overflows.” If there is a summary of the words of this Psalm, that phrase summarizes it well. God overflows my cup. How do you respond to an overflowing love?
D. The churches in Macedonia did not have much financially, but they had something that Paul wanted others to know. They had an overflowing joy found in God. Paul speaks about that ministry (READ 2 Cor. 9:12).
E. What causes our cup to overflow? God loves me. What causes Christians to give beyond what others thought was possible? The love they had for Jesus. This month we want to look at Love in marriage, Love in the church, and Love to those outside the church. But before we study those areas, I want to give an overview of why love is important.
I. Corinth and the Love Chapter
A. There is no perfect congregation. Every church is filled with imperfect people who are united in their love for God and their salvation through Jesus.
B. Too often our personality differences cause us to look at each other differently that God looks at us. While we will examine our church relationship in a few weeks, I wanted to start by hearing Paul make a statement that really convicts me on the topic of the importance of love.
C. Listen to what Paul says (selecting the “if I” portions of 1 Cor. 13:1-3). Think about this. Paul is telling a church that had great miraculous gifts that gifts alone are not what is important. If I speak in tongues (men or angels), if I have “all” faith so as to move a mountain, if I die a martyr’s death… Think about the type of Christians they are who would be able to do such things. I would tell you, fill this church with such people!
D. But Paul throws on the breaks of these super Christians with one phrase “but have not love.” I have to reflect upon this. Those gifts presumably come from the Holy Spirit of God, but when I take the greatness of God indwelling me, and not let it be filled with love, Paul convicts me and says, “I am nothing.”
E. Meditate on that today. If I don’t have love I have zero spiritual benefit – either to God or others. You can look at the list that seeks to help define love in the following verses, but if your reason for doing so is to prove someone else isn’t very loving, then missed the point entirely.
F. Love is paramount to all other things. Even in this passage Paul would say, “Love never ends.” He concludes this section by saying, “now faith, hope and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
II. What Makes Love The Greatest?
A. As we reflect upon verse 13, we often forget a truth. We spend a great amount of time dealing with faith, and how important it is to have faith and grow in faith. The Bible tells us “without faith it is impossible to please God” (Heb. 11:6). Paul is not down playing faith or its part in our life.
B. Neither does he down play hope as a part our spiritual benefit and life. But he makes a point that those two spiritual blessings are limited to this world.
C. Paul doesn’t tell us to abide IN faith, hope and love, but that those three things abide, exists, are current in this life and world, and of those three, love becomes the supreme.
D. What makes love the greatest? Love is the very core of the image of God. It is love that brought about creation. It is love that gave us salvation even though we didn’t deserve it. Think about it this way. By faith we receive from God all the blessings in Jesus. In hope we expect the eternal good that he has promised us called heaven. But living in love is how we resemble God.