Summary: Being a people who love with Jesus’ love is the God’s highest ideal for His people.
THE MISUNDERSTOOD GOD: LOVE NEVER FAILS**
Big Idea: Being a people who love with Jesus’ love is the God’s highest ideal.
Listen as I read 1 Corinthians 13 to you this morning. Paul is saying there is nothing more important in the whole world for God’s people to pursue than Godly love. Paul is saying that anything else deflects and distracts us from being what God really wants us to be – loving people. Notice he installs no brakes on love. He makes no caveats like we want to.
1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12 Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
“LIKE RED DIRT LOVE IS DISTINCT AND RECOGNIZABLE”
There is not much you can do about it. Once you have been around it everybody else knows. I’m talking about the red dirt of western Oklahoma. It’s caused by the iron in the soil that, after being oxidized, turns to rust.
It seems that nothing can erase or clean the stain from that red dirt on your shoes once you have walked there. If you have new shoes – everyone knows – because they are not red … yet. If you are from the city (OKC or Tulsa, for example) and you make your way into the western ranchlands everyone can tell “you’re not from these parts” simply by looking at the color of your shoes.
The inverse is also true; if you go to the city and are wearing shoes that you have previously worn out “out there” everyone knows where you are from.
It’s not a judgmental thing. The cities in Oklahoma are intimately connected to the ranches and open lands; no one thinks they are better or inferior; it is simply a recognizable and distinct line of demarcation. There is simply no getting around it.
Godly love (Agapé) is like that too. It is such a contrast from the world’s love that it becomes immediately recognizable and “different.” The world looks at the sacrificial, serving, grace-filled love of God and says “You’re not from around these parts.” It cannot be duplicated, at least not for long, it can be “faked” for a little while (vv. 1-3) but even the masquerade is evidence that it isn’t Godly love.
When it has been poured into your hearts it cannot be hidden; that’s the nature of God’s love. It’s just there and influences the lives of those it touches.
6 Love 7 always perseveres.8 Love never fails.
What have we discovered about God and God’s love through this series?
• We have discovered that God’s love steps in when everything else is stepping out.
• We have discovered that God’s love seeks solution when everything else says the situation it’s hopeless.
• We have discovered that God’s love remains steady when everything else has shaken loose.
• And we have discovered that God’s love is perfect and eternal while everything serves a purpose and then fades away.
You see, we cannot end a series on divine love – the character of God – without looking at its permanency. Because love is the nature of God, and God is perfect and eternal, love is too.
Think about all the things we focus on and spend our energy trying to do. It seems to me that it behooves us to pursue that which is eternal – we should be seeking God’s character. We should be allowing the Spirit of God to pour His love into us. After all, everything else we are fidgeting with will evaporate one day. But the greatest of these is love.