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The Basic Need

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WHAT REALLY MATTERS

HADDON ROBINSON SAID: MANY THINGS MATTER IN LIFE,

BUT THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IS TO DO EVERYTHING IN LOVE.    

TEXT: 1 CORINTHIANS 13:1-13 (NIV)

IF I SPEAK IN THE TONGUES OF MEN AND OF ANGELS, BUT HAVE NOT LOVE, I AM ONLY A RESOUNDING GONG OR A CLANGING CYMBAL. 2 IF 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. 3 IF I GIVE ALL I POSSESS TO THE POOR AND SURRENDER MY BODY TO THE FLAMES,B BUT HAVE NOT LOVE, I GAIN NOTHING.

4 LOVE IS PATIENT, LOVE IS KIND. IT DOES NOT ENVY, IT DOES NOT BOAST, IT IS NOT PROUD. 5 IT IS NOT RUDE, IT IS NOT SELF-SEEKING, IT IS NOT EASILY ANGERED, IT KEEPS NO RECORD OF WRONGS. 6 LOVE DOES NOT DELIGHT IN EVIL BUT REJOICES WITH THE TRUTH. 7 IT ALWAYS PROTECTS, ALWAYS TRUSTS, ALWAYS HOPES, ALWAYS PERSEVERES.

8 LOVE 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. 9 FOR WE KNOW IN PART AND WE PROPHESY IN PART, 10 BUT WHEN PERFECTION COMES, THE IMPERFECT DISAPPEARS. 11 WHEN 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. 12 NOW 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.

13 AND NOW THESE THREE REMAIN: FAITH, HOPE AND LOVE. BUT THE GREATEST OF THESE IS LOVE.


TOPIC: WHAT MATTERS MOST IN LIFE IS LOVE.

INTRODUCTION

T. S. ELLIOTT, IN ONE OF HIS POEMS,

ASKED A PENETRATING QUESTION

HIS QUESTION WAS:

WHAT REALLY MATTERS

AND WHAT JUST SEEMS TO MATTER.

HOW DO WE DECIDE WHICH IS WHICH?

THAT QUESTION WILL DOG YOU YOUR WHOLE LIFE.

HOW DO WE DECIDE, BETWEEN WHAT MATTERS

AND WHAT ONLY SEEMS TO MATTER?

__________________________________________________________

IF YOU'RE MARRIED YOU HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY TO YOUR SPOUSE.

IF YOU HAVE CHILDREN YOU HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY TO THEM.

IF YOU HAVE A JOB YOU HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY TO THE PERSONS WHO PAY YOUR SALARY.

IF YOU SERVE AT A CHURCH YOU HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY TO THAT BODY OF BELIEVERS.

HOW DO YOU DECIDE BETWEEN WHAT MATTERS AND WHAT     JUST       SEEMS TO MATTER,?

FOR EXAMPLE, IF YOU'RE A PASTOR YOU'RE ALWAYS DOGGED BY THE TYRANNY OF THE URGENT.

THERE ARE SO MANY THINGS TO DO.

I READ SOMEWHERE THAT

BEING THE PASTOR OF A LOCAL CONGREGATION

IS KIND OF LIKE TRYING TO EMPTY THE ATLANTIC OCEAN WITH A TIN CUP.

YOU DIP AND DIP AND DIP,

AND THERE'S A PUDDLE AT YOUR FEET

BUT THE ATLANTIC OCEAN IS ALWAYS THERE.

AT THE END OF THE DAY YOU WONDER IF YOU'VE DONE ANYTHING WORTHWHILE.

AT THE END OF A WEEK, AT THE END OF A MONTH,

AT THE END OF A MINISTRY, AT THE END OF A LIFE.

YOU WONDER      IF YOU HAVE DECIDED WELL     BETWEEN WHAT MATTERS     AND WHAT JUST SEEMS TO MATTER.

_______________________________________________________

THERE'S A SIMILAR QUESTION THAT GOES EVEN DEEPER THAN

WHAT MATTERS AND WHAT JUST LOOKS LIKE IT MATTERS.

IT'S HOW DO YOU DECIDE BETWEEN WHAT MATTERS AND WHAT REALLY MATTERS?



IF I WERE TO ASK A UNIVERSITY EXEGESIS PROFESSOR,

"WHAT DO YOU THINK MATTERS?"

HE'D SAY THAT LANGUAGE MATTERS.

THE CHRISTIAN THOUGHT PEOPLE WOULD SAY THAT

IDEAS MATTER.

THEY'D SAY THAT

IDEAS THAT HAVE COME DOWN TO US THROUGH HISTORY, MATTER,    AND

THE IDEAS THAT WE WRESTLE WITH TODAY ... MATTER.

IF YOU WERE TO GO TO A PREACHER,

HE'D TELL YOU THAT PREACHING MATTERS.

 

WHAT GOOD IS IT TO HAVE ALL THAT INFORMATION STUFFED IN YOUR HEAD

IF YOU CAN'T GET IT ACROSS TO SOMEONE ELSE?

MORE SERIOUS PEOPLE WOULD SAY THAT

FAITH MATTERS.

BECAUSE

WITHOUT FAITH IT'S IMPOSSIBLE TO PLEASE GOD;

THEY'D SAY YOU'VE GOT TO CREATE AN ENVIRONMENT WHERE FAITH CAN THRIVE.

YOU MIGHT SAYTHAT THE POOR MATTER.

THE BIBLE HAS ALL KINDS OF THINGS TO SAY ABOUT THE POOR.

SOMEONE ELSE MIGNT SAY THAT COMMITMENT MATTERS.

JESUS DIDN'T SAY COME FOLLOW ME

AND WE'LL GO TO A SUNDAY SCHOOL PICNIC.

 

HE DIDN'T SAY THIS IS A WAY TO A GOOD CAREER.

HIS CALL WAS: COME AND DIE.

SO THEY'D SAY THAT COMMITMENT MATTERS.

AND THEY'RE RIGHT,

THEY'RE ALL RIGHT.     IT ALL,     DOES MATTER.

SO THE QUESTION ISN'T: DOES IT MATTER?

THE QUESTION IS: WHAT MATTERS MOST?

IN 1 CORINTHIANS CHAPTER 12 PAUL WAS TALKING ABOUT SPIRITUAL GIFTS, AND I'VE GOTTA TELL YOU THAT

PAUL NEVER WAS A MAN TO PUT DOWN SPIRITUAL GIFTS.

IT'S THE GIFTS

THAT THE SPIRIT GIVES

THAT ENABLES THE CHURCH TO THRIVE.

 BUT AFTER TALKING ABOUT THE GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT, PAUL GOES ON TO SAY,

" I'LL SHOW YOU A MORE EXCELLENT WAY."

IT'S THE WAY OF LOVE;

HE'S TELLING US THAT LOVE REALLY MATTERS.

IF YOU DON'T SEE IT HERE THEN YOU CAN GO TO THE

FIRST VERSE OF CHAPTER 14 WHERE PAUL SAYS,    

FOLLOW THE WAY OF LOVE

AND EAGERLY DESIRE SPIRITUAL GIFTS,

 

EARNESTLY DESIRE THE SPIRITUAL GIFTS

BY MINISTERING IN LOVE.

IT'S THE LOVE THAT REALLY MATTERS.

 

 

MANY GIFTS ARE GOOD, BUT THEY'RE WORTHLESS

IF THEY'RE DONE WITHOUT LOVE.

PAUL SPELLS IT OUT IN THE FIRST VERSE OF

 1 CORINTHIANS 13.

HE SAYS, IF I SPEAK IN THE TONGUES OF MEN AND OF ANGELS, BUT HAVE NOT LOVE, I AM ONLY A RESOUNDING GONG OR A CLANGING CYMBAL.

PAUL IS IMAGINING SOMEONE WHO'S ABLE TO SPEAK EVERY LANGUAGE ON EARTH.

TALK ABOUT THE GIFT OF TONGUES.

NOBODY'S EVER HAD THAT GIFT TO THAT EXTENT.

I HEARD ABOUT A MAN WHO COULD READ 34 LANGUAGES AND SPEAK IN OVER HALF OF THEM.

WHAT IF YOU COULD SPEAK ALL THE LANGUAGES OF EARTH.

IMAGINE WHAT A WONDERFUL MISSIONARY YOU COULD MAKE.

ONE OF THE DIFFICULTIES MISSIONARIES HAVE,

IS THAT THEY HAVE TO LEARN THE LANGUAGE.

IT CAN TAKE YEARS TO DO THAT.

NOW WERE IMAGINING A PERSON WHO COULD LAND AT ANY AIRPORT IN THE WORLD, AND

HE COULD IMMEDIATELY WITNESS TO ANYBODY HE MET.

AND IF OUR IMAGINARY PERSON GOT A CHANCE TO WITNESS HE'D BE ABLE TO SPEAK ELOQUENTLY.

AND YET PAUL IS SAYING THAT IF YOU HAVE THIS GIFT

AS NO ONE HAS EVER HAD IT BEFORE

AND YOU DON'T HAVE LOVE,

YOU'RE NO BETTER THAN A RESOUNDING GONG,

OR A CLANGING CYMBAL.

THE WORD FOR A GONG HERE IS

THE GREEK WORD CHALKŎS.

A CHALKŎS WAS A HUGE GONG

THAT WAS USUALLY PUT IN PAGAN TEMPLES.

IT WOULD STIR THE WORSHIPERS INTO A FRENZY.

THE CYMBALS, WERE ALSO USED IN PAGAN WORSHIP,

AND THEY WERE MUCH LIKE CYMBALS USED IN A SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA OF TODAY.

THE GONG AND THE CYMBALS HAD ONE THING IN COMMON:

THERE WAS NO MUSIC IN THEM.

ALL THEY MADE WAS A LOUD, SENSELESS DIN.

WHAT  PAUL IS SAYING IS THAT,

WITHOUT LOVE YOUR GIFT OF LANGUAGES,

YOUR GIFT OF ELOQUENCE, IS JUST A LOUD NOISE.


 

THERE WAS A LONG-TIME MEMBER OF A CONGREGATION THAT WAS PASTORED BY A WELL-KNOWN PREACHER.

SHE ONCE SAID MORE WISTFULLY THAN CRITICALLY,

"WHEN HE'S IN THE PULPIT AND WE LISTEN TO HIM PREACH WE WISH HE'D NEVER LEAVE.

BUT WHEN HE'S OUT OF THE PULPIT AND WE FEEL THE CAUSTIC NATURE OF HIS LIFE WE WISH HE'D NEVER GET INTO THE PULPIT AGAIN."

PERHAPS THAT WAS WHY JONATHAN EDWARDS RESOLVED EARLY IN HIS LIFE:

"I'M DETERMINED TO PREACH NO SERMON OR EVEN TO WRITE ONE UNLESS I AM MOTIVATED BY THE GLORY OF GOD AND LOVE FOR THE PEOPLE TO WHOM I SPEAK."

HEAR IT WELL: WITHOUT LOVE OUR GIFTS ACCOMPLISH NOTHING.

________________________________________________________

AND NOW PAUL TURNS FROM THE GIFT OF TONGUES

AND TALKS ABOUT THE OTHER GIFTS.

HE SAYS IN VERSE 2:

"IF 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."

IF SOMEBODY CAME ALONG WITH THESE GIFTS AND ASKED TO BE IN OUR CHURCH, WE'D SIGN HIM UP RIGHT NOW.

WE'D GET HIM ON STAFF.

THIS GUY HAS ALL KNOWLEDGE.

YOU COULD PUT US ALL TOGETHER,

AND WE WOULDN'T HAVE ALL KNOWLEDGE.

THIS PERSON HAS ALL KNOWLEDGE

AND HE UNDERSTANDS ALL MYSTERIES TOO.

THE CONCEPTS OF SOVEREIGNTY

AND RESPONSIBILITY ARE A SNAP FOR HIM.

ESCHATOLOGY?         HE'S GOT IT DOWN TO A SCIENCE.

AND WHAT'S MORE,     HE HAS THE GIFT OF PROPHECY.

HE CAN SPEAK TO A CONGREGATION SO THEY QUICKLY UNDERSTAND WHAT HE'S SAYING.

THIS GUY CAN COMMUNICATE.

I'VE KNOWN PEOPLE WHO UNDERSTAND IN THEIR HEADS HOW TO DO SOMETHING,

BUT WHEN IT COMES TO TEACHING SOMEONE ELSE HOW TO DO IT,

THEY'RE JUST NOT ABLE TO GET IT ACROSS TO THEM.

OUR IMAGINARY PERSON CAN DO IT ALL.

AND WHAT'S MORE,

HE HAS FAITH THAT CAN REMOVE MOUNTAINS.

THIS IS THE KIND OF PERSON WHO STARTS A SEMINARY, FOUNDS MISSIONS MOVEMENTS, STARTS CHURCHES,

HE CAN SEE WHERE GOD WANTS HIM OR HER TO GO,

AND ALTHOUGH THERE ARE MOUNTAINS OF DIFFICULTY THEY HAVE A FAITH TO SEE THEIR WAY THROUGH IT.

TALK ABOUT A LEADER.

THIS IS THE KIND OF PERSON YOU WRITE BIOGRAPHIES ABOUT.

AND YET PAUL SAID, IF YOU CAN DO ALL OF THAT,

EVEN THOUGH PEOPLE MIGHT BE STARTLED AT WHAT YOU'RE ABLE TO DO,

IF YOU DON'T HAVE LOVE YOU'RE NOTHING.

IMAGINE THAT YOU HAVE THIS $50 BILL,

YOU GO TO BUY SOME GROCERIES.

THE CLERK TAKES YOUR $50 BILL,

PUTS IT IN THE CASH REGISTER.

A LITTLE LATER THE MANAGER NEEDS SOME MONEY TO PAY AN ELECTRICIAN

AND TAKES YOUR $50 BILL, LEAVES AN IOU,

AND PAYS THE ELECTRICIAN.

THE ELECTRICIAN REALIZES HE NEEDS SOME GAS FOR HIS TRUCK,

SO HE GOES OVER TO THE GAS STATION, FILLS IT UP,

PAYS FOR THE GAS WITH YOUR $50 BILL.

THE MAN WHO RUNS THE STATION HAS YOUR $50 BILL

AND HIS LANDLORD COMES OVER AND WANTS TO BE PAID.

SO HE TAKES YOUR $50 BILL AND SEVERAL OTHERS

AND GIVES THEM TO THE LANDLORD TO PAY THE RENT.

THE LANDLORD IS GOING TO MAIL A LETTER TO HIS DAUGHTER DOWN AT OLIVET NAZARENE UNIVERSITY IN ILLINOIS.

SO BEFORE HE GOES TO THE POST OFFICE TO SEND THE LETTER, HE TAKES THE 50 DOLLARS AND TUCKS IT INTO THE ENVELOP AS A TOKEN OF HIS LOVE FOR HIS DAUGHTER.

A DAY OR TWO LATER THE YOUNG LADY GETS THAT GIFT AND, GRATEFUL TO HER DAD, SHE TAKES THAT $50 BILL, GOES TO THE BOOKSTORE, AND BUYS TWO TEXTBOOKS.

THE MANAGER OF THE BOOKSTORE TAKES YOUR $50 BILL AND SEVERAL OTHERS TO THE BANK,

AND AS THE TELLER IS COUNTING OUT THE MONEY,

HE COMES TO YOUR $50 BILL

AND DISCOVERS THAT IT'S COUNTERFEIT.

NOW THAT BILL HAS GONE ALL OVER MICHIGAN AND INTO ILLINOIS, DOING GOOD THINGS—

IT'S BOUGHT THE GROCERIES,

PAID FOR AN ELECTRICIAN, PURCHASED GAS,

BECAME A GIFT FOR A COLLEGE STUDENT,

BOUGHT BOOKS.

BUT WHEN IT COMES TO THE BANK WHERE ONLY REAL VALUES COUNT, IT'S DISCOVERED TO BE WORTHLESS.

IT'S THE SAME WAY WITH GOD,

IT'S POSSIBLE TO MINISTER THE GIFTS GOD GIVES YOU,

DO ALL KINDS OF GOOD THINGS WITH IT,

BUT WHEN WE STAND BEFORE GOD WHERE ONLY REAL VALUE COUNTS,

IF WE HAVEN'T MINISTERED WITH LOVE

WE'RE COUNTERFEIT,    WE'RE NOTHING.

________________________________________________________

THEN PAUL TAKES IT A STEP FURTHER.

NOT ONLY DO YOUR GIFTS WITHOUT LOVE ACCOMPLISH NOTHING,

NOT ONLY DO YOUR GIFTS MINISTERED WITHOUT LOVE MAKE YOU NOTHING,

BUT PAUL SAYS,

"IF I GIVE ALL I POSSESS TO THE POOR AND SURRENDER MY BODY TO THE FLAMES BUT HAVE NOT LOVE, I GAIN NOTHING."

HERE'S AN INDIVIDUAL WHO'S CONCERNED ABOUT THE POOR, OR AT LEAST IT SEEMS THAT WAY.

HE GIVES ALL THAT HE HAS TO THE POOR;

NOT JUST THE INTEREST, HE GIVES THE PRINCIPAL TOO.

AND THEN PAUL SAYS, "IF I SURRENDER MY BODY TO THE FLAMES."

I'M NOT QUITE SURE WHAT THAT MEANS.

PERHAPS PAUL IS THINKING OF THOSE THREE HEBREW YOUNG MEN BACK IN THE OLD TESTAMENT WHO WENT INTO A FIERY FURNACE RATHER THAN DENY GOD,

OR MAYBE IT'S SOMEBODY WHO RUNS INTO A BURNING BUILDING TO SAVE SOMEBODY FROM DEATH.

I DON'T KNOW WHAT IT MEANS.

BUT THE POINT,     IS CLEAR.

THE POINT IS:

IF I GIVE MYSELF IN SACRIFICE,

IF I GIVE MY MONEY TO FEED THE POOR,

IF I DO ALL THAT AND DON'T HAVE LOVE,

WHEN I STAND BEFORE GOD ON THAT DAY

I'LL GAIN NOTHING.

IT'S THE LOVE THAT MATTERS MOST.

AMONG THE THINGS THAT MATTER,

LOVE REALLY MATTERS.

IN FACT, IF YOU DON'T HAVE LOVE,

ALL OF YOUR CHRISTIAN SERVICE COMES TO NOTHING.

IN OUR CHURCHES,  AND IN OUR MOVEMENTS

WE PUT A GREAT DEAL OF EMPHASIS

ON SINCERITY AND SACRIFICE AND SERVICE

AND THE USE OF OUR GIFTS,

BUT THERE CAN BE A KIND OF SERVICE

WHERE ALL THE LOVE HAS BEEN SQUEEZED OUT OF IT,

THERE CAN BE A KIND OF SACRIFICE THAT'S DONE BECAUSE SOMEHOW YOU THINK

THE MORE YOU HURT YOURSELF,

THE MORE CONTROL YOU HAVE OVER GOD.

THERE CAN BE THE KIND OF SERVICE THAT'S SELF-ADVERTISING:

I'LL GIVE TO THE POOR

IF YOU NAME THE MISSION AFTER ME.

BUT PAUL IS SAYING THAT OF ALL THE

THINGS THAT MATTER, LOVE REALLY MATTERS.

I'D LIKE YOU ALL TO TAKE A BULLETIN AND DRAW A ROW OF ZEROES ON IT.

NOW ADD IT UP.


IT ADDS UP TO NOTHING.

NOW DRAW ANOTHER ROW OF ZEROS

AND ANOTHER ROW

AND THEN ANOTHER ROW AND ANOTHER ROW

AND ANOTHER ROW.

YOU CAN FILL THE WHOLE PAGE WITH ZEROS AND

THE WHOLE THING ADDS UP TO NOTHING.

BUT YOU TAKE ONE ZERO AND PUT A ONE IN FRONT OF IT, AND IT COUNTS FOR TEN,

PUT A ONE IN FRONT OF TWO ZEROS IT MAKES A HUNDRED,

A ONE IN FRONT OF THREE ZEROS IS A THOUSAND,

A ONE IN FRONT OF SIX ZEROS IS A MILLION.

_________________________________________________________

THAT'S KIND OF THE WAY LOVE IS.

GO AND MINISTER USING ALL YOUR GIFTS WITHOUT LOVE

AND IT ADDS UP TO NOTHING.

BUT TAKE THE SMALLEST GIFT

AND MINISTER IT IN LOVE, AND IT COUNTS.

IT COUNTS WITH PEOPLE,

AND IT COUNTS WITH JESUS CHRIST.

 

CONCLUSION

 

I'LL SAY IT AGAIN;

OF ALL THE THINGS THAT MATTER,

LOVE MATTERS MOST.

TAKE JOY IN THAT.

IF YOU'RE A CHRISTIAN YOU'RE BETTER AT LOVING THAN YOU THINK YOU ARE.

THE SAME GOD WHO'S GIVEN YOU GIFTS IS THE SAME GOD WHOSE LOVE CAN FLOW THROUGH YOU.

IT'S THE WORK OF THE SPIRIT THAT PRODUCES LOVE.

YOU GUYS ARE A GIFTED BUNCH.

AND GOD GAVE YOU THOSE GIFTS.

AND HE'S THE ONE WHO ENABLES YOU TO LOVE.

SO I SAY TO YOU,   LOVE HIM AND LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

BECAUSE

OF ALL THE THINGS THAT MATTER,

LOVE MATTERS MOST.

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