Summary: Paul gives us the meaning of true love in I Corinthians 13.
INTRO.- ILL.- Here are some children’s ideas about love.
- Glenn, age 7 - If falling love is anything like learning how to spell, I don’t want to do it. It takes too long.
- Tom, age 5 - Once I’m in kindergarten, I’m going to find me a wife.
- Kenny, age 7 - It gives me a headache to think about that stuff. I’m just a kid. I don’t need that kind of trouble.
- Regina, age 10 - I’m not rushing into love. I’m finding fourth grade hard enough.
- Angie, age 10 - Most men are brainless, so you might have to try more than once to find a live one.
- Dave, age 8 - Love will find you, even if you are trying to hide from it. I’ve been trying to hide from it since I was five, but the girls keep finding me.
- Ava, age 8 - One of you should know how to write a check. Because, even if you have tons of love, there is still going to be a lot of bills.
- Manuel, age 8 - I think you’re supposed to get shot with an arrow or something, but the rest of it isn’t supposed to be painful.
ILL.- A young man said to his father at breakfast one morning, “Dad, I’m going to get married.” “How do you know you’re ready to get married?” his father asked. “Are you in love?”
“I sure am,” said the son.
“How do you know you’re in love?” asked his father.
“Last night as I was kissing my girlfriend good-night, her dog bit me and I didn’t feel the pain until I got home.”
Brethren, we know that love is not just something that happens between a man and a woman. Love reaches out to all people, regardless of sex, age, rank, etc. And it is the way that all Christians should live!
ILL.- In the 1986 “Crocodile Dundee” movie, Dundee is, of course, from Australia and visits New York City for the first time. As best I recall, he is being accompanied by a female newspaper writer and suddenly finds himself cornered by a gang of young thugs. When Crocodile Dundee does not give them his wallet, one young hoodlum pulls out a switchblade and threatens Dundee.
Crocodile Dundee simply reaches behind his back, while saying, “that’s not a knife,” and pulls out a large Bowie-type knife, saying, “THIS IS A KNIFE!”
As we read I Corinthians 13, we can almost hear the apostle Paul saying to the Corinthians about the world, “That’s not love...THIS IS LOVE!” The world’s version of love is not love! Most of the time it deals with lust.
The world is all messed up about a lot of things, including love. But we must admit that Christians are not without problems in the love department and in other departments. The church at Corinth was plagued with all kinds of problems. If you ever thought our modern day churches were the first to experience problems, think again. The church at Corinth had plenty of problems. THE CHURCH WAS SOMETHING OF A MESS!
The apostle Paul wrote to them saying, “And now I will show you the most excellent way.” I Cor. 12:31b
In a sense, Paul was saying, “You’ve followed the way of the world and now I’ll show you the most excellent way, the way of Christ, the way of true love. The world does not offer true love. This is love.”
PROP.- Let’s examine this “most excellent way” of love in three ways:
1- The preeminence of love (vs. 1-3)
2- The performance of love (vs. 4-7)
3- The permanence of love (vs. 8-13)
I. THE PREEMINENCE OF LOVE
Vs. 1-3 The word “preeminence” means that which is superior, the best thing in life!
ILL.- A certain husband was really downhearted. He said, “Everything in my life has gone wrong. My house just burned to the ground. My daughter eloped with a bum. My wife has left me. All my credit cards are maxed out. My checking account is overdrawn. My cholesterol is sky high. I’m about to have a nervous breakdown. The bank is foreclosing on my mortgage. AND THE CARDINALS JUST LOST TWO TO THREE IN THE NINTH! Imagine that! Two to three in the ninth!”
It sounds to me like all those bad things happened to that man because his priorities were mixed up! Baseball was the most preeminent thing in his life.
The Super Bowl is over. Now it’s basketball season. And then before we know it, it will be baseball season. Then fishing. And gardening. And golfing. And, of course, eating and shopping all ways “in season” and important to people.
We all have our own priority list in life. We have our own ideas as to what is most important in life. But Paul is saying in the first three verses of I Corinthians 13 that love should be the preeminent thing in our lives! Loving people should be one of the most important priorities in our lives!