21 Sept, 2003 AM
Tree Of Life Wesleyan Church
Weddings Need Love
1 Cor. 13:1-13
We have been talking about weddings over the past few weeks and about how Jesus used them to illustrate that we need to be ready when He comes to call His bride, the church, home. But how can we continue to talk about weddings without looking at love. A couple had been married for fifty years. “Things have really changed,” she said. “You used to sit so close to me.” “Well, I can remedy that,” he said, moving next to her on the couch. “And you used to hold me tight.” “How’s that?” he asked as he gave her a hug. “Do you remember you used to nuzzle my neck and nibble on my ear lobes?” With that the man jumped up and left the room. “Where are you going?” “I’ll be right back,” he said. “I’ve got to get my teeth!”
An insurance man was settling up with a woman who had just lost her husband. He had brought a check for $50,000 to present to her. She looked at it and said (with a little catch in her throat), “You know, I miss him so much, I’d give $25,000 of this to have him back.”
A mentally impaired youngster seated himself on the floor in a drugstore and began to play with some bottles he had taken from the shelves. The druggist ordered him to stop, then scolded him with an even sharper tone. Just then the boy’s sister came up, put her arms around him and whispered something in his ear. Right away, he put the bottles back in place. “You see,” his sister explained, “he doesn’t understand when you talk to him like that. I just love it into him.” Those six words, “I just love it into him,” deserve to be mounted on the walls of every home in America.
In the church, whenever we talk about love it doesn’t take long before 1 Cor. 13 comes up. This chapter is often referred to as the great love chapter, and rightfully so. And this morning we are going to look at this passage that Paul has given us. But we need to back up just a little because Paul had just been writing about spiritual gifts – in chapter 12 and closed out that chapter by saying, “But eagerly desire the greater gifts. And now I will show you the most excellent way.” He had just told them about the spiritual gifts of wisdom, knowledge, healing, prophecy, speaking in tongues and even the gift of interpreting someone speaking in tongues. He says these are great gifts but we should eagerly desire the greater gifts – and I will show you the most excellent way.
“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. 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 I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.”
How often do we think about love as being a gift? In the Greek language, the order in which words are placed tells us a lot. In Galatians 5, Paul says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (vs. 22-23a) Did you notice which fruit of the Spirit Paul places first? Love! That’s how important love is!! Going back to our passage in 1 Cor., Paul 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.” The Corinthian church was somewhat divided when Paul wrote this letter. There were some who said that if you did not speak in tongues you did not have the spirit. Now Paul let them know that having spiritual gifts were great, but if you did not have love you had nothing. He said, if I speak in the tongues of men and angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
In many of the temples there was hanging at the entrance a large cymbal. Often, as the would-be worshipers entered the temple, they struck it causing a loud noise. Some said that the noise was for the purpose of rousing the gods. By the time Paul wrote this letter, the loud “gong” which was made from striking the cymbal had become a symbol of shallow speech-making. So using this as a background, Paul was saying that without love, the finest speech is nothing more than an empty pagan rite, we’re just making noise!!
He continues on and says that even if we have the gift of prophecy and know everything, or have faith that can move a mountain, but if we don’t have love – we’re nothing. Even if we go through the motions and give money to the poor or give up our lives for a good cause – but don’t have love, we gain nothing. Are you getting the idea that love is important?
Keep in mind that the word for love that Paul is using here is the word ‘agape’. This is the kind of love that had been defined by God’s action in sending His Son into the world. It was a love that reached out to those who did not deserve it; a love that put the interest of others first; a love that forgave people and started over with them; and a love that sacrificed itself for others. It means that caring, forgiving, spontaneous, redeeming love which is the essence of God’s nature. That’s the kind of love that Paul is talking about here. And he’s saying that if we don’t have it, we don’t have anything!!
This is the same kind of love that we are to have with others and especially with our spouses. A love that forgives, a love that starts over, a love of putting the other person first. Without this kind of love, we are not showing the true God to anyone, and this is the kind of love that is expected from the bride of Christ – the church.
It may be hard for us to really define this kind of love, but it is easy to recognize it by the way it acts. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
In fifteen to the point phrases Paul defines this principle for relating to others which will transform all human life. He is not describing a natural human kind of love that we could have come up with on our own, he is describing that kind of love which was defined by God’s gift of Himself in Jesus Christ. If we were to go through these four verses and everywhere the word “love” appears we substitute the word “Jesus,” they would still be true because the kind of love being described is love that has its source in God. Let’s try it -- “Jesus is patient, Jesus is kind. He does not envy, He does not boast, He is not proud. He is not rude, He is not self-seeking, He is not easily angered, He keeps no record of wrongs. Jesus does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. He always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
We are to be reflecting Jesus in our lives and these are the things that others should be seeing. Are they? Are they seeing you as patient? This isn’t talking about being patient with circumstances around you, it means being patient with people. I really struggle with this! I love people but I am not as patient as I should be – I believe we are living in the end times and we need to be spreading the gospel to all we come in contact with – and yet – I don’t understand when someone doesn’t get it – when they don’t see the need for Jesus and salvation – I become very impatient – But God’s still working on me. We need to be patient with others, both in the church and outside the church.
Love is not only patient, it is also kind. It’s not just passive; it is actively engaged in doing good to others. It’s the picture of a person who spontaneously seeks the good for others and shows it with friendly acts. Love is the best antidote there is for jealousy because love does not envy. We should not be in want for someone else’s earthly goods, or their positions, or even their spiritual gifts – because God has given to each of us those things that He wants us to have – and we should be thankful for them.
Love does not boast or brag, it does not seek recognition, honor, or applause from others. It does just the opposite, it seeks to give, to recognize, to honor, to applaud the other person. Married couples should learn this passage, not just read it, but apply it to their lives. Husbands and wives alike, should put the other first! We should be patient with our spouses, and work at it! We should not brag on ourselves but brag on our spouses and lift them up – honor and applaud them!
Love us not proud. We should never see ourselves as being better or above others. Jesus never gave the impression that He was better than us – even though we know He was – He was modest and humble and recognized and honored others. It is not rude. Love does nothing to shame oneself. It is orderly and controlled; and it behaves and treats all people with respect, honoring and respecting who they are. Makes no difference the color of their skin or their education level, or if they are male or female. Love honors and respects all.
Love is not self-seeking or selfish; it does not insist on having its own way. Love seeks to serve, not have others serve oneself. Love is acknowledging others, not insisting that others acknowledge oneself.
Here’s a good one! Love is not easily angered. In other words it is not ready to take offense; it is not quick tempered or touchy. Love controls the emotions and never becomes angry without a cause! And to go right along with this is the fact that love keeps no record of wrongs. It does not think about them, never even considers the wrong that has been suffered. Love suffers the evil done to it and forgets it – remember – exchange the word Jesus for the word love – Jesus suffers the evil done to Him and forgets it – and so should we.
Love never delights in evil. It does not take pleasure in the unrighteousness and sin of others; it does not pass along stories of sins and wrong. Man’s nature is too often fed the tragedy of evil. Whether personal sin or natural disaster.
But love rejoices with the truth. It rejoices with others are recognized and promoted for whom they are and for what they have contributed. Love rejoices when the truth is rooted and grounded in a person and among the people of the world. Keep in mind, love never covers nor hides the truth; love is courageous in that it faces the truth.
It protects and bears all things. Love stands up under the weight and onslaught of all things and it covers up the faults of others. It has no pleasure in exposing the wrong and weaknesses of others. And love always trusts. It is completely trusting. Always eager to believe the best. Love sees and understands the circumstances and accepts and forgives and believes the very best about a person.
It never ceases to hope. Love expects the good to eventually triumph and to gain the victory. It refuses to accept failure. Jesus expects the good to triumph and gain the victory – that is what He told us would happen – and that IS what’s going to happen. Jesus wins the battle – He will triumph!!
And lastly, love ALWAYS perseveres. The word perseveres is a military term meaning to stand against the attack of an enemy. Love actively fights and endures all attacks. Love is strong, full of fortitude and fight. No matter what attacks love, named or unnamed, it endures the attack and continues to love.