Summary: Christian parents need to teach and model what it means to love as God loves.
As we conclude this series, I want us to think about how Christian homes to value charity - love.
The word for love that Paul uses here is "agape," which is "God’s love." It is a love that is unconditional, a love characterized by an attitude which says, "I want the best for you." it is the word used in John 3:16, for example, where Jesus says, in essence, that because "God so ‘wanted the best for us,’ He gave his one and only Son."
This love is unconditional. It is not earned or deserved.
This love is proactive. It takes the initiative to develop a meaningful relationship, instead of waiting on the other party to act first.
This love is sacrificial. It leads to one being willing to give sacrificially of himself for the sake of the relationship.
This love is transformational. Its purpose is to bless and benefit the one who is its object.
As Christians, we should value this kind of love in our homes, love that is unconditional, proactive, sacrificial, and beneficial - the kind of love God has for us.
1. The supreme value of such love - 12:31b - 13:1-3
The value of love is such that without it, all we do is meaningless. Only allowing God’s love to flow between us in our relationships within the family can find true meaning in anything and everything we do. Let’s notice what Paul tells us about the supreme value of love.
A. Love is more valuable than spiritual gifts - v. 1
Paul is says that if God gave him the gift of speaking every human language, & even the heavenly language of the angels, but he didn’t have love, then he would be nothing more than a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. Now what did he mean by that?
In the 1st Century, you would find a big gong or cymbal hanging at the entrance of most pagan temples. When people came to worship, they hit them to awaken the pagan gods so they would listen to their prayers.
Paul says that even if he were blessed to speak with great eloquence in every language, but didn’t have love, then his life was as useless as this ridiculous act of pounding on a gong to awaken non-existent gods.
B. Love is more valuable than knowledge - v. 2a
Paul says that even if you know it all - if you know everything there is to know about nuclear science; if you know everything there is to know about medicine; if you know everything there is to know about philosophy & psychology & theology & every other kind of "ology" - if you know it all, but have no love, then you are nothing at all.
Many look at our society’s problems and say that the ultimate answer is education. But education, as good as it is, and as much as I believe in its value, is not the ultimate answer. We need more knowledge near as much as we need more love. And the kind of love we need that will change the world is the kind of love that God revealed through Christ, and which He now calls on us to reveal through our lives as believers.
C. Love is more valuable than faith - v. 2b
Paul isn’t telling us here that faith is not important. He just says that love is more important than faith. The Scriptures tell us that faith is so important that it is impossible to please God without it.
But when it comes to the kind of faith that makes life worth living, it must be a faith that responds properly to God’s demonstration of love through the cross - a faith that brings me to a personal encounter with God’s love.
You see, it is possible to have a faith that doesn’t do you any good.
"You believe there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that - and shudder."
- James 2:19 (NIV)
Demons have faith. But their faith does them no good.
The priest & the Levite in the story of the Good Samaritan also had faith. The problem was that they had no love. So they walked by on the other side & just left the man lying there to die. Their faith did them no good, either.
"What good is it, brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?"
- James 2:14 (NIV)
"The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love."
- Galatians 5:6 (NIV)
D. Love is more valuable than generosity - v. 3a
Notice Paul doesn’t say, "If I give 10%." He says, "If I give everything, if I empty my bank account, give all my retirement funds, sell my house, cash in my insurance policies, and end up on a corner with nothing but what I’m wearing, because I’ve given it all to the poor, but I don’t have love then I am nothing at all."