Summary: Focus on the love of God.
“The Preeminent Passion”
1 Corinthians 13:13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
Introduction: When I was a teenager there was a popular song recorded by Jackie DeShannon and later by Dionne Warwick entitled “What the World Needs Now” and the first verse
What the world needs now is love, sweet love
It's the only thing that there's just too little of
What the world needs now is love, sweet love,
No not just for some but for everyone.
I agree with this sentiment wholeheartedly but I also believe that the world needs the right kind of love. The right kind of love is more than physical attraction, infatuation or sentimentality. The world needs the love that that we find in our text from the Word of God. The Apostle Paul is the greatest theologian in the history of the church and is responsible for authoring 2/3 ‘s of the NT. Let’s see what Paul had to say about the kind of love that this old sin cursed, sin soaked world needs.
I. Paul’s Argument for Love
I think that most of us would say that 1 Corinthians 13 is one of the greatest chapters in the entire Bible. It is the most important biblical teaching on the subject of love and Paul clearly defines what love is not and what love is. The Corinthian church was made up primarily of a few Jews and converted pagans who had worshipped in a very immoral and idolatrous way. Speaking in the first person, in verses 1-3, Paul speaks of the futility of life without love. Let me clarify something else before we start. The love that Paul speaks of comes from and emanates from God Himself.
Romans 5:5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
A good translation of this verse would sound like this; God’s love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit!
a. He first states that a life without love is an “annoying distraction” like a noisy gong or clanging cymbal. (1)
b. He states that a religious service without love is empty, meaningless and unprofitable. (2)
c. He states that benevolence and even martyrdom without love does us no good at all. (3)
Matthew 7:22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
II. Paul’s Analysis of Love
a. This kind of love responds with patience and serenity (4a)
b. The kind of love is empathetic, thoughtful and kind (4b)
c. This kind of love is not envious or jealous. (4c)
d. This kind of love is not inflated with pride. (4d)
e. This kind of love is not ill-mannered or selfish or irritable; love does not keep a record of wrongs. (5) GNB (List of 28 things)
f. This kind of love rejoices when truth and right prevails. (6)
g. This kind of love covers things that need to be covered. (7)
Adam Clarke’s Commentary: Beareth all things - ?a?ta ste?e?. This word is also variously interpreted: to endure, bear, sustain, cover, conceal, contain. Bishop Pearce contends that it should be translated covereth all things, and produces several plausible reasons for this translation; the most forcible of which is, that the common translation confounds it with endureth all things, in the same verse. We well know that it is a grand and distinguishing property of love to cover and conceal the fault of another; and it is certainly better to consider the passage in this light than in that which our common version holds out; and this perfectly agrees with what St. Peter says of charity, 1Peter 4:8 : It shall cover the multitude of sins; Some of the versions have ste??e?, loveth, or is warmly affectioned to all things or persons. But the true import must be found either in cover or contain. Love conceals everything that should be concealed; betrays no secret; retains the grace given; and goes on to continual increase. A person under the influence of this love never makes the sins, follies, faults, or imperfections of any man, the subject either of censure or conversation. He covers them as far as he can; and if alone privy to them, he retains the knowledge of them in his own bosom as far as he ought.
1Peter 4:8 Have fervent charity - ??ap?? e?te??? Intense love; for love shall cover a multitude of sins. A loving disposition leads us to pass by the faults of others, to forgive offenses against ourselves, and to excuse and lessen, as far as is consistent with truth, the transgressions of men. It does not mean that our love to others will induce God to pardon our offenses.