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The Greatest Gift 1 Cor.13

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                   THE GREATEST GIFT

1 COR.13

INTRO: DAVID HELLER WROTE BOOK, LOVE IS LIKE CRAYON, BECAUSE IT COMES IN ALL COLORS—IT HAS ONE-LINERS  FROM ACTUAL INTERVIEWS WITH CHILDREN BETWEEN 4-10

          10 YR OLD TAMMY ON KISSING: IT’S NEVER OK TO KISS A BOY. THEY ALWAYS SLOBBER ALL OVER YOU & THAT’S WHY I STOPPED DOING IT

          9 YR OLD BOB WAS ASKED IF HE KNEW ANY ORIGINAL LOVE SONGS: HE SAID, YES I DO—“I’M IN LOVE WITH YOU MOST OF THE TIME BUT DON’T BOTHER WITH ME WHEN I’M WITH MY FRIENDS”  (SOUNDS LIKE A HOT NEW COUNTRY MUSIC HIT)

KIDS AREN’T THE ONLY ONES CONFUSED ABOUT LOVE. THERE ARE ALL KINDS OF FUZZY, DISTORTED IMAGES OF WHAT LOVE IS LIKE.  FROM CH.12 PAUL WANTED COR. TO KNOW THERE WAS SOMETHING BETTER THAN SEEKING SPECTACULAR GIFTS—IT IS WAY OF LOVE. THIS IS “AGAPE” UNSELFISH CONCERN/RESPECT/VALUE GIVEN TO OTHERS. IT RESTRICTS SELF FOR THE GOOD OF OTHERS.  (EROS: PASSIONATE DESIRE/EMOTIONS/SEXUAL---PHILEO: COMPANY OF PEOPLE WE LIKE (BROTHERLY LOVE)  BUT AGAPE LOVE IS PART OF FRUIT OF SPIRIT & IS FOR ALL CHRISTIANS TO CULTIVATE & LIVE OUT.

I.                  THE GREAT NEED FOR LOVE

THERE IS TENDENCY IN MODERN/WESTERN CHURCH TO GET CAUGHT UP IN BIGGER/BETTER SYNDROME---TEMPTATION TO IMITATE & COMPETE WITH SECULAR WORLD & EVEN COMPETE WITH OTHER CHURCHES. WE CAN GET TOO FOCUSED ON PROGRAMMING/INNOVATIONS/TECHNOLOGY. BUT LOVE MUST BE KEPT IN CENTER OF ALL WE DO. LOOK AGAIN AT JESUS’ WARNING TO CHURCH IN EPH. (REV. 2:4,5). HAVING RIGHT TRUTH/HAVING GIFTS WITHOUT LOVE IS EMPTY/COLD. (EX: SOUTH POLE IS ONE OF HEALTHIEST PLACES ON EARTH TO LIVE—NO POLLUTION/SWINE FLU/DUST/FEW PEOPLE—FRESH CLEAN AIR. BUT WHO WANTS TO LIVE THERE? ITS TOO COLD! NOW WE DON’T WANT THE SPIRITUAL TEMP. OF CHURCH TO BE SUB ZERO. (EX: ONE SURVEY FOUND MOST PEOPLE LEAVE A CHURCH BECAUSE IT WAS COLD OR IMPERSONAL) LOVE MUST BE KEPT ALIVE & SO OFTEN IT NEEDS TO BE REKINDLED (ALSO TRUE FOR MARRIAGES!)

LOVE IS NOT JUST A FEELING—ITS NOT SOMETHING YOU FALL INTO OR OUT OF—THINK OF SOME SONG TITLES: “I CANT HELP FALLING IN LOVE WITH YOU”   “YOU’VE LOST THAT LOVING FEELING”  “HELLO I LOVE YOU TELL ME YOUR NAME” ---WITHOUT LOVE I WILL OFFEND/HURT. SOME IN COR. TURNED SPIRITUAL GIFTS INTO COMPETITION—INSTEAD OF BUILDING UP THEY DIVIDED & TORE DOWN. NOW NOTICE THE CONTEXT FOR THESE VERSES IS NOT A WEDDING BUT THE CHURCH IN WORSHIP WHERE ADULTS WERE BEHAVING LIKE KIDS ARGUING/COMPETING/COMPARING.

SO LOOK AT THE POINTS PAUL MAKES HERE ABOUT THE SUPREME IMPORTANCE OF LOVE:

SPEAKING IN LANGUAGES WITHOUT LOVE IS JUST NOISE—ITS LIKE A PAGAN WORSHIP—THE GONG OR CYMBAL REFERRED TO HERE IS WHAT HAPPENED IN DIONYSIUS CULT—TURMPETS & CYMBALS WERE USED TO GET THE GOD’S ATTENTION & DRIVE AWAY DEMONS—IT WOULD ALSO EXCITE WORSHIPERS & THEY WOULD OFTEN TALK IN ECSTATIC SPEECH. THE GONG IS REF. TO LOUD ORATORS WHO MADE A LOT OF NOISE. EVEN GIFTS OR PROPHECY/KNOWLEDGE/FAITH WITHOUT LOVE CAN LEAD TO PRIDE (EX: BALAAM WAS PROPHET BUT HE DIDN’T LOVE GOD’S PEOPLE—READ NUM.25 & SEE HOW HE LED ISRAEL INTO IDOLATRY/IMMORALITY)  WE MAY BE SUCCESSFUL/HAVE RESULTS & BE ADMIRED BUT IN GOD’S EYES HAVE NOTHING (JER. PREACHED & WEPT FOR ISRAEL—NONE LISTENED—PAUL MINISTERED WITH HIS HANDS/HEART/TEARS—HE WAS CHASED & PERSECUTED ALL OVER EMPIRE.  JESUS WEPT OVER JERUSALEM & FOR HIS PEOPLE WHO TURNED FROM HIM & REJECTED HIS LIFE & MESSAGE. EVEN GIVING YOUR BODY AS A MARTYR CAN EMPTY WITHOUT LOVE. (EX: IN PAUL’S DAY PAGAN WORSHIPERS WOULD OFTEN SET THEMSELVES ON FIRE TO SHOW COMMITMENT—THEN SOME CHRISTIANS DID THE SAME---“GIVING THE BODY TO FLAMES” COULD ALSO REFER TO BRANDING AS A SLAVE—SELL SELF AS SLAVE & GIVE MONEY TO POOR—BUT EVEN THE ULTIMATE SACRIFICE WITHOUT LOVE IS EMPTY. YOU CAN HAND OUR BULLETINS/WORK IN NURSERY/GIVE YOUR TAX RETURN MONEY AWAY BUT YOU STILL NEED LOVE. (EX: MISS. TO EAST AFRICA NOTICED HOW MANY OF THE PEOPLE WALKED PAST THE GOV’T HOSPITALS & WOULD TRAVEL EXTRA MILES TO RECEIVE MEDICAL TREATMENT AT THE MISSION. HE ASKED SOME OF THEM WHY THEY DID THAT WHEN THEY COULD GET THE SAME TREATMENT AT THE GOV’T CLINICS. THEY SAID “THE MEDICINE IS THE SAME BUT THE HANDS ARE DIFFERENT”  LOVE IS THE REAL STIMULUS PACKAGE!

II.               LOVE MUST BE EXPRESSED  (V.4-7)

THESE VERSE SHOW THAT LOVE MUST BE APPLIED/PRACTICED

LOVE IS PATIENT/KIND: LOVE GOES THE EXTRA MILE WITH THE UNLOVABLE. (EX: NO ONE TREATED LINCOLN WITH MORE CONTEMPT THAN WILLIMA STANTON—HE CALLED LINCOLN A LOW CUNNING CLOWN. HE NICKNAMED HIM THE ORIGINAL GORILLA & JOKED THAT IT WAS FOOLISH FOR EUROPEAN TO GO TO AFRICA TO TRY TO CAGE A GORILLA WHEN THEY COULD GO TO LINCOLN’S HOME IN ILL. LINCOLN SAID NOTHING & WHEN LINCOLN WAS ELECTED PRES. HE CALLED STANTON TO BE HIS WAR MINISTER—HE KNEW HE WAS MOST QUALIFIED FOR THE JOB. WHEN LINCOLD WAS SHOT BY BOOTH—STANTON STOOD IN THE ROOM WHERE LINCOLN WAS LYING & SAID WITH TEARS “THERE LIES THE GREATEST RULER OF MAN THE WORLD HAS EVER SEEN”---WELL JESUS WAS THAT BUT WE UNDERSTAND HIS CHANGED HEART BECAUSE OF SIMPLE PATIENCE & KNINDNESS.

LOVE IS NOT JEALOUS: JEALOUSY EATS UP & DESTROYS. IT SAYS “I WANT WHAT THEY HAVE”—IT IS NEVER SATISFIED. IT OFTEN RESENTS OTHER’S SUCCESS/BLESSINGS. IT COMPETES FOR MORE HONOR. (EX: WOMAN GIFTED IN WORKING WITH KIDS WANTED TO BE SINGER—BUT HER SOLOS WERE PAINFUL FOR THE CHURCH TO ENDURE—YET SHE INSISTED SHE HAD GIFT OF MUSIC. THIS BROUGHT PROBLEMS BETWEEN HER & OTHERS IN CHURCH. SHE KEPT RECORD OF HOW OFTEN SHE WAS ASKED TO SING & OTHERS TOO!  ALL HER EFFORTS BROUGHT HARM & LOSS OF LOVE IN BODY)—WILL WE BE CONTENT TO SERVE WHERE GOD HAS GIFTED US & BUILD UP OTHERS IN THEIR GIFTS?

LOVE DOES NOT BOAST: (PRIDE) MANY PHARISEES HAD SPIRITUAL PRIDE (WORE SCRIPTURES ON HEAD/WRIST—HAD LONG TASSELS—SOME IN COR. ACTED LIKE THE HAD ARRIVED SPIRITUALLY—BUT AGAPE DOESN’T DEMAND RIGHTS—TODAY ALL SORTS OF “RIGHTS” GROUPS (ANIMAL, GAY, WOMEN, EARTH)  (1 PET.2:23—THEY HURLED INSLUTS AT HIM HE DIDN’T RETALIATE;WHEN HE SUFFERED HE MADE NO THREATS—HE ENTRUSTED HIMSELF TO HIM WHO JUDGES JUSTLY)—WILL I LET AGAPE OF GOD HELP ME FACE TRUTH ABOUT MYSELF?

LOVE IS NOT RUDE: IT IS NOT PROVOKED/TOUCHY OR EASILY ANGERED—SO EASY TO BLAME OTHERS FOR OUR ATTITUDES/ACTIONS  (EX: JONATHAN EDWARDS DAUGHTER) JESUS LOVED THE 12 TO THE END (JN.13:1)-EVEN WHEN THEY FLED IN THE GARDEN & WHEN PETER DENIED HIM—AND HE STILL LOVES ME WHEN I BETRAY HIM & ACT IN UNLOVING WAYS—HELP ME LOOK FOR POTENTIAL IN OTHERS & IGNORE THE PETTY THINGS THAT DON’T MATTER.

LOVE DOESN’T KEEP RECORDS: THIS IS BOOKKEEPING TERM. IN ROM.4:8 THIS WORD IS USED “BLESSED IS MAN WHOSE SIN THE LORD WILL NEVER “COUNT” AGAINST HIM” LOVE OF CHRIST WAS CREDITED TO OUR SPIRITUAL ACCOUNT. SOMETIMES WE GLOAT IN OTHERS FAILURES BECAUSE IT GIVES US MORE ROOM TO SIN. MAYBE THAT IS WHY WE ARE PRONE TO GOSSIP  (EX: LADY TOLD MINISTER “I DON’T KNOW WHY EVERYONE SEEMS TO SHARE WITH ME ALL GOSSIP ABOUT OTHER PEOPLE. HE SAID “DO YOU SEE THAT TRASH CAN OVER THERE—ITS USED FOR TRASH BECAUSE EVERYONE KNOWS THAT CAN WILL ACCEPT IT. PEOPLE SHARE THEIR TRASH ON OTHERS WITH YOU BECAUSE THEY KNOW YOU WILL RECEIVE IT. STOP BEING A TRASH CAN”)

LOVE REJOICS IN TRUTH: THAT ISN’T ALWAYS EASY. SOMETIMES WE DON’T WANT TRUTH—BUT WE CANT COVER IT UP—TRUTH HAS NOTHING TO HIDE—IT DELIGHTS IN LIGHT—JESUS (LIGHT) WAS REJECTED BECAUSE MEN LOVED DARKNESS RATHER THAN TRUTH (LIGHT)

LOVE ALWAYS PROTECTS: THIS MAY BE “LOVE CAN COVER ANYTHING—IT WILL NEVER DRAG OUT FAULTS & MISTAKES OF OTHERS—IT SEEKS TO HEAL/RECONCILE (EX: JN.8 PHARISEES DRUG OUT WOMAN IN ADULTERY—NO LOVE OR CONCERN FOR HER WELL BEING OR HEALING—JUST EXPOSE HER TO GET TO JESUS.. LOVE CAN BEAR UP UNDER INSULT/INJURY/DISAPPOINTMENT.

III.           THE ETERNAL POWER OF LOVE (V.8-13)

A.   NO NEED FOR GIFTS: AT NO TIME WILL GODS LOVE EVER FAIL (FALL DOWN, DECAY, COLLAPSE)—WHEN WE ARE IN  HEAVEN THERE WILL BE NO NEED FOR SPECIAL GIFTS—THEY ARE TEMPORARY/PARTIAL (V.9)---AS GREAT AS LOVE IS IT WILL NEVER OVERPOWER THE HUMAN WILL OR CHOICE. JESUS WAS NOT LOVED BY ALL—BUT LOVE IS AN ETERNAL QUALITY BECAUSE GOD IS LOVE (HIS VERY NATURE)—PROPHECY/KNOWLEDGE WILL AT SOME POINT NOT BE NEEDED (SOMETHING OR SOMEONE WILL CAUSE THEM TO STOP)—PAUL SAYS IT IS THE COMING OF THE “PERFECT”—ALSO LANGUAGES WILL CEASE—HAVE DEFINITE STOPPING PLACE

B.   WHAT IS THE “PERFECT?”--  V.10 SHOULD READ “WHEN THE PERFECT COMES THAT WHICH IS TEMPORARY (IN PART) WILL DISAPPEAR”—WHAT DOES PERFECT REFER TO? SOME THINK THE 2ND COMING BUT THERE IS NO OTHER REF. LIKE THAT IN N.T.—OTHERS THINK THE COMPLETED BIBLE—BUT T HE WORD IS NEVER USED LIKE THAT TO REFER TO BIBLE ITSELF.  THE WORD MEANS “MATURE/COMPLETE”  --THE IDEA OF MATURITY/COMPLETENESS SEEMS TO BEST FIT CONTEXT. MATURITY IN CHRIST IS OUR GOAL (EPH.4:11-16)—KNOWLEDGE/PROPHECY ARE PARTIAL GIFTS—THEY WILL PASS BECAUSE CONTENT WILL BE INSIDE PERSON WHO IS CHRIST-LIKE. PAUL DOESN’T SAY WHEN THESE GIFTS WILL END BUT THEY ARE TEMPORARY—LOVE IS PERMANENT—IT IS MOST EXCELLENT WAY (NOW WE SEE THINGS DIMLY (MIRRORS THEN WERE OF METAL-BRONZE-AND STILL GAVE BLURRED IMAGE)  WHEN WE SEE JESUS WE WILL BE LIKE HIM—SEE HIM FACE TO FACE. TO PRACTICE & LIVE IN LOVE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN ANY GIFT.

CONCLUSION:  (EX: CHAPLAIN & AHTEIST PRISONER)

 

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