Summary: Love is not always easy to explain, or even to understand

“Understanding Love”

1 Corinthians 13

OPENING JOKE: Illustration “Love-letter lament”

Dearest Jimmy,

No words could ever express the great unhappiness I’ve felt since breaking our engagement. Please say you’ll take me back. No one could ever take your place in my heart, so please forgive me. I love you, I love you, I love you!

Yours forever, Marie.

P.S. Congratulations on winning the state lottery.

INTRODUCTION: How many of you today are in love? (You married people better get your hands up!)

How many of you are not in love today, but you have been in love sometime in your life (You married people better get your hands down on that one!)

[Taken from comedy act by Mark Lowry]

Monday is the day that we celebrate “Love”

Yes, it’s Valentine’s Day, the one day out of the whole year we all are expected to be just a little more mushy, a little more loving and a little more sentimental

Illustration: “Charlie Brown Can’t Explain Love” Once asked to explain love by Peppermint Patty, Charlie Brown answered, “You can’t explain love”. She insisted that he try, so Charlie Brown said, “Well, let’s say I see a pretty girl…” “Wait Chuck” replied Peppermint Patty, “Why does she have to be pretty, why can’t she be full of freckles with a big nose?” Charlie Brown said, “OK, let’s say I see a girl walk by with a great big nose and freckles…” to which she again said, “Wait, I didn’t say, ‘a great big nose’” Finally Charlie Brown said, “NOT ONLY CAN I NOT EXPLAIN LOVE, I CAN’T EVEN TALK ABOUT IT!”

Love is not always easy to explain, or even to understand

More songs have been written about “love” than any other topic in history, as well as some of the best and worst poetry

But the greatest exposition of love ever written is found in Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth

***There has been no song ever sung, no poem ever spoke and no book ever written which so apply describes ‘Godly Love’ than in these few verses


a. QUESTION: How important is love?

i. I have heard of Christians who say we don’t have to love everyone

ii. They will often site obscure passages to prove their point

iii. But our passage for today gives us the truth about what our love for others should be

b. This passage says our love for others is more important than:

i. Spiritual gifts (v.1 “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.”)

ii. Wisdom (v.2 “And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing”)

iii. Sacrifice (v.3 “And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.”)

c. These verses are telling us that love takes priority over everything else

i. In very simple terms Paul explains here that anything we do, absent of love, is useless

ii. This goes for the physical family as well as the church family

iii. Basically he is saying this:

1. It is impossible to be a good parent without love

2. It is impossible to be a good Sunday School teacher without love

3. It is impossible to be a good sibling, cousin, aunt, uncle or even friend without love

iv. Love is the priority for all relationships

d. Jesus affirmed Love’s priority in the Gospels

i. After being asked what is the greatest of all commandments He said:

ii. Luke 10:27 “…You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ’your neighbor as yourself.”

iii. Jesus basically said that love is second to none

e. Love is a choice we all have to make

i. People often say, “I just can’t help falling in love”

ii. But this isn’t really true

1. Because we choose what we love

2. Before you argue, listen to my reasoning

a. I do not choose to like pizza, funny movies and the color red – I just like them

b. And I didn’t choose to like my wife Jennifer – When I met her, I just did

c. BUT I DID CHOOSE TO LOVE HER – I chose to put her in the most important part of my heart, and it was easy because I liked her

3. What becomes hard is when we have to ‘choose to love’ those around us who we don’t really like

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Harold Anderson

commented on Feb 11, 2007

outstanding outline, thanks

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