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Summary: I Corinthians 13 is often used as a text in weddings, quoted in Valentine’s Day cards and applied to the love between a man and a woman. However, this passage of Scripture is primarily is speaking of how love is to be demonstrated within the church betwee



INTRODUCTION: I Corinthians 13 is often used as a text in weddings, quoted in Valentine’s Day cards and applied to the love between a man and a woman. However, this passage of Scripture is to be understood in light of its context. Paul is writing to the church at Corinth and is addressing the problems in the church. While the statements in this passage can and ought to apply to the love that a couple have toward each other, it primarily is speaking of how love is to be demonstrated within the church between believers. It is important to note that there are four Greek words which are translated “love” – Eros, which refers to passionate love including love between the sexes, the fervent patriotic love of a citizen, and ambition for power, wealth, or recognition; Storge, which is the affectionate love between a parent and child; Phileo, an endearing love between husband and wife, closest of friends, and brother for brother; Agape, divine love that loves even if a person does not deserve it or is completely unworthy of being loved. Agape love is a gift from God and can only be possessed by born-again believers. Paul says in the closing verse of I Corinthians 12 that he is going to show the church a more excellent way of conducting church – the agape way. In I Corinthians 13, Paul then stresses the necessity for the believer to demonstrate agape love in the church as a way of life.

I. The Importance of Love (1-3)

A. Talk without love is meaningless – 1

1. Ephesians 4:15 exhorts us to “Speak the truth in love.”

2. More people have been brought into the church by the kindness of real Christian love than by all the theological arguments in the world, and more people have been driven from the church by the hardness and ugliness of so-called Christianity than by all the doubts in the world. - William Barclay, Leadership, Vol. 9, no. 3.

B. Spiritual Gifts without love are worthless – 2

1. Paul says without love the exercise of supernatural gifts amounts to nothing. Note that he does not say he is a nobody but that he is an absolute zero.

2. All courage, skill and faith are nothing, if they are not judged according to love. - Ulrich Zwingli

C. Giving without love is profitless – 3

1. 2 Corinthians 9:7 Every man according as he purposes in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loves a cheerful giver.

2. Without love, almsgiving is no more important an action than brushing your hair or washing your hands, and the Pharisees had just as elaborate a ritual for those things as they had for alms, too, because all these things were prescribed by law, and had to be done so. But love does not give money, it gives itself. If it gives itself first and a lot of money too, that is all the better. But first it must sacrifice itself. - Thomas Merton in Run to the Mountain: The Journals of Thomas Merton

II. The Performance of Love (4-7)

A. Love suffers a long time without resentment, anger or seeking revenge whether by wrong or neglect - 4

1. Colossians 3:13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.

2. Never does the human soul appear as strong as when it foregoes revenge and dares to forgive an injury. - Edwin Hubbel Chapin

3. Luke 17:3-4 Take heed to yourselves: If your brother trespass against you, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turns again to you, saying, I repent; you shall forgive him.

B. Love is courteous and helpful – 4

1. Love is not communicated in the big event but in the small acts of kindness.

2. Ephesians 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

3. Kindness consists in loving people more than they deserve.

C. Love does not envy nor attack another’s abilities or successes – 4

1. Galatians 5:26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

2. The man who keeps busy helping the man below him won’t have time to envy the man above him.

D. Love does not seek recognition or applause – 4

1. Romans 12:3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

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