Summary: A partial narrative sermon, weaving the solid exposition of John MacArthur commentary with the "The Story of Victor" (which asking the question of is it better to be loved or to love?)

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"The Way of Love"

1 Cor. 12:31b-14:1a

vacMidway 3/26/2005

{Intro: What is love, according to our culture?}

“I love [computers]. Really? The same way I love my wife? What’s up with the word “love”? It doesn’t have much meaning when we use it so loosely. Maybe we don’t really get it. Maybe we don’t understand what real love is. What it involves to really love somebody. What it means to give yourself to someone else. We mistake things like friendship, commitment, or lust for love…”[i]

A few years ago, there was a popular song asking, “What is love? Baby don’t hurt me! Don’t hurt me! No more!” There was even a movie accompanied it. But we are as clueless as ever about love.

The epitome of love often portrayed as the wedding of a couple in love. And this 1st Corinthians 13 is often cited during the marriage ceremony as the “love passage”. It was a beautiful passage. Many believed that it was the most polished and poetic prose St. Paul had ever written. The only problem is, it has nothing to do with the romantic notion of love as we often think. Most people, including many Christians, seem to think of it only in terms of nice feelings, warm affection, romance, and desire. When we say, “I love you,” we often mean, “I love me and I want you [to love me].”[ii]

{Background and context}

From the context, you will see chapter 13 was sandwiched between chapter 12 and 14. What Paul was addressing at this point is the multitude of problems in the Corinthians church. It seems like they had plenty of knowledge, plenty of talents, plenty of spiritual gifts, but also plenty of sins. Divisiveness was rampant among the church. Everyone followed their own ways and believed that their way is the right way. In chapter 12, Paul made a point that the gifts and talents they received from God were not for their own use but for building up the body of Christ, the church in unity. At the end of chapter 12, Paul introduced Love as the greatest, beyond the greatest gifts and talents they were striving for:

“...And now I will show you the most excellent way.”

{Read the rest of the text}

...And now I will show you the most excellent way. 1If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If 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. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. 4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8Love 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. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11When 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. 12Now 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. 13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1Follow the way of love...



{Story: Fateful childhood} I came accross this powerful parable recently. Christian Anderson was born in a small town. When he was a month old, his father died of an accident. The town’s folks, who were deeply concerned over the plight of the poor young widow, held a shower for the baby. People brought over all sort of stuff, from an old crib, to baby clothes, to even meat and potatoes for her pantry. The mother was moved by the gestures and she wept openly, “Thank you for your wonderful support,” she said, brushing back her tears. “You have made a most difficult time much easier.”

After all of the guests had left and the young widow was putting things away, she heard a knock on the door. She opened it to find an old man who lived in the corner house by himself. He was quite short in stature, wore glasses, and had white hair. Everyone called him Doc Ted, though he didn’t seem to be a doctor in any normal sense. Few people had ever talked to the reclusive old man, though he often waved at the widow as she walked past his home.

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