Love - The Greatest Gift
Heavenly father be with us this evening and guide us through this lesson. Let the words that come from my mouth be your words and your thoughts. Let the Agape Love of Christ indwell us. Let the Love of Christ come upon us. Let us see that through this lesson that it is your love that we should strive to exemplify and trust in. In Jesus’ name,
The Book of 1 Corinthians was written about 55 A.D. while Paul was on his third missionary journey. The authorship is not in question as it was written by Paul the Apostle, as the book states in its opening. The city of Corinth was found in southern Greece, in the Roman province of Achaia. The church in Corinth was founded by Paul during his second Missionary journey, with the help of Priscilla and Aquila. Who were two Jewish believers that he stayed with and worked for as they were in the same trade that he knew. Corinth was a beehive of the Roman culture. It was unable to separate this culture from its new religion. They were unable to separate themselves from the world around them. This is the reason that the book is more a correction of behavior then doctrine. This became extremely evident with the use of sign gifts. The church was caught up in the use of them and not the love that should be behind them.
Paul shows the Corinthian church that they are missing something in their practice of Christianity. They have become caught up in the sign gifts and there practice. They were missing an element that was needed, Love. Agape love. We will see that we can do many things in our lives but they will all amount to nothing if we do them without love. Pure loves that is void of selfishness, a perfect love that was demonstrated by Christ.
What is Love
Love is a complex word. As we look at 1 Corinthians 13 we see an example of
Love but not a definition. It shows us what true love does and does not do. Many times this verse is said at weddings as the bride and the groom are getting ready to start a new life together. Most probably do not realize what they are hearing. Paul is giving us an example of total love. Today we see love so distorted and sometimes perverted. We hear the word love so much that we become desensitized to what love is. From television to movies we see love as erotic not as pure holy love that Christ exemplified. The Greeks also had trouble with love. They were caught up in the worldliness of the day. There love was also distorted. So much in fact in the Greek there are three words that mean Love in the Greek. I will examine these three meanings and how they display a different Meaning of the Love.
This is the Love that most people are acquainted with. It is the most sexual of the meanings of Love. It is represented in the mythical Cupid and Aphrodite’s. In today’s language it would be the word Sex. We are bombarded with this type of love in our lives. One only needs to turn on the television to see this kind of love. Our children are surrounded by this in movies, music and more. Hence the word Erotic comes from this root word. An interesting note is that this meaning of love is never used in the New Testament. The Love that Christ gives us is a pure love. It is not a sexual love but a devoted love.
This is the love found between friends. We get such words as Philadelphia and philanthropist from this meaning of love. We can see this as a brotherly type love. This can be seen as a love we have for a friend or a pet. But Christ wanted us to love one another not as a friend but as he loved the Church. Christ died for the church what have we done?
This is a divine love, pure love. This is the type of love that God has shown to us and expects from us. When Christ was scourged and beaten and placed upon the cross he showed us this Kind of love. This Love goes far beyond the others. This is the Love that should drive us as Christians. It should be the center of our lives. Christ commands us to Love one another as he loved the Church. This is the love that will be the topic of this message.
1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 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. 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.
4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.
11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.
13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
The three phases of Love.
Paul again is speaking of Agape love here. Agape love is a special love that is offered to Christians and should be practiced by them. I will now look at the three phases of agape Love. In order for one to know divine Love they must know love in its fullness. Love is alive it is always changing, but it always honors God. This is the perfect love that was shown to us by Christ.
Love is Essential - It’s Value
In the King James Version you will see the word Charity in the place of love. Charity in facts means love. This was a carry over from the Latin Vulgate and the Wycliffe bible that the King James was derived from. In today’s world Charity has a much different meaning. What do you think of when you hear the word Charity? Do you think of giving things to others? Maybe some old clothes or giving a gift to a charitable institution. It gives it an idea that we have to do something. But Agape love goes far beyond this meaning of today’s charity. Love is pure and holy.
In verses 1-3 of 1Corinthians 13 we see the need for love in all we do. At the time of its writing many of the sign gifts were still being used and Paul uses these to show how without love even they were useless. Look at tongues, if it were done without love it was just a noise, a clanging cymbal. He then goes on to show that prophesy without love makes the prophet nothing. Knowledge is nothing without love. Finally he strikes the core of belief, Faith. Faith without love is really not faith. It is nothing.
The Corinthian were practicing their faith as a competition. This left their faith empty. How many times do we act without true love in our Christian walk? Do you give out of duty or out of love? Do you come to church because you have to or because of the love of God? Do you pray out of the love of your father in heaven or because it is the right thing to do? Paul clearly shows that without Love, true Love, all things are nothing. We need to do all things for the glory of God and the Love of God. When we start to do works for the benefit of man we have missed the mark. But when we do because of the love that flows from us we are in tune with Agape, Love.
Love is Effectual (13:4-7) -It’s Virtue
A. Love suffers long and is Kind (V.4) NIV
Love is impossible without Kindness. It goes above all the petty things in life and envelopes your life. Love without kindness is like a lawn without grass. In Ephesians 4:32 Paul reminds us that "and be ye kind to one to the other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you."
We see this type of love in Christ when dealing with Peter. Several times Peter sinned against him but Christ still loved him. Christ did not through him aside and forgets Peter. On the contrary, he builds upon Peter. Ending in John 21:15 asking Peter do you Love me?
B. Love does not envy (v.4)
Envy is a killer. Cain envied Abel and it enveloped him and he killed Abel. Do you envy the blessings of other Christians? Do you allow the spark of envy to burn into a raging fire?
Envy is a sickness that starts as a small bitter seed and if left to blossom it will overrun your heart and kill your love.
We need only look at John the Baptist to see this principle in action. In John 3:30 he says of his ministry that, "He, Jesus, must increase, but I must decrease."
John shows no envy in the ministry of Christ. He knows that the true Love, the pure love has entered the world and he must allow it to replace him.
C. Love does not parade itself, is not puffed up. v.4
In this me centered world we live in this is a struggle for all of us. Should we be proud of things we do, yes? But not to a point that it hurts others. Modesty is what the Christian should practice. In a commentary by J.Vernon McGee that I read preparing this message he spoke of a young minister who stood up and said, “I want you to know that I’m not a trained minister. I am an ignorant minister, and am proud of it. The bishop answered him, “I can see you have a lot to be proud of and, young man it is dangerous to boast even about ignorance."
D. does not behave rudely, does not seek its own. v.5
Love does not make snide remarks or comments. It does not look down upon others or ridicule them. It is courteous and uplifting. It seeks only the good of others. It is unselfish.
E. is not provoked, thinks no evil v.5
True love never gets its dander up. Christian love shows no irritation as the flesh often does. It does not keep the account of wrongs a person has done. It is incapable of thinking any evil thoughts or deeds. Love is saddened by evil.
F. does not rejoice in inequity, but rejoices in the truth.
True Agape Love is Victory. It gives us power to endure. Christ’s love in us allows us to have faith and Hope. It does not like wrong things, but loves the truth.
Love is Eternal - Its victory v. 8 -13
Love always leads to victory. The Corinthian were spiritual infants that were striving for the temporary and neglecting the permanent. They looked to sign gifts and not to lasting Christian character. Love will never fail. It will never cease to have force or authority. Paul shows us that some of the gifts will pass away, such as prophetic utterances being replaced with the inerrant written word of God. Tongues would no longer be needed. Special knowledge would be put aside for the teaching ministry. But Love will endure for ever.
The Corinthian church was looking for signs and these sign gifts were necessary for the early church. They went wrong when they forgot Love. They got caught up in the small baby steps that they forgot to grow.
Likewise today we need not get caught up in the small stuff. We need to practice the love that was demonstrated by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Examples from the Life of Christ
The first Example of the divine Love of Christ is that he came to the earth and took our sins upon himself so we would not suffer ultimate death in Hell.
And when she had said these things, she went her way and secretly called Mary her sister, saying, “The Teacher has come and is calling for you.” 29 As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly and came to Him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come into the town, but 2was in the place where Martha met Him. 31 pThen the Jews who were with her in the house, and comforting her, when they saw that Mary rose up quickly and went out, followed her, 3saying, “She is going to the tomb to weep there.”
32 Then, when Mary came where Jesus was, and saw Him, she qfell down at His feet, saying to Him, r“Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”
33 Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled. 34 And He said, “Where have you laid him?”
They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.”
35 sJesus wept. 36 Then the Jews said, “See how He loved him!”
In John 11:35 we see the extent of the love that Jesus had for his friends on earth. Though he knew that Lazarus would be raised he Wept. Why did he weep? Was it because of their unbelief or was it because of the total love that God has towards his creation. In this 2 word passage Christ said more about love than we can ever say. Jesus, the God of the universe stopped and wept. He showed his love and cried over the state of the human condition. He was not just weeping over the death of Lazarus, he was weeping because of the unwillingness of the people to trust and believe in him.
Another example I would like to look at is found in Luke 23:39-43.
kThen one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, 1“If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.”
40 But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done lnothing wrong.” 42 Then he said 2to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”
43 And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in mParadise.”
Christ was at the time of his death. Yet he is still willing to accept a believer into his kingdom. This was a criminal that was justly being put to death. This was one who hours earlier blasphemed Christ. He was his enemy. This puts things in perspective when we look at those we do not get along with. Are we to dislike them or show the love that Christ showed this criminal? Christ tells us that we are to love others as he loved the church. This sometimes is hard to do but we must strive to do so.
Jesus Feeds 5,000
Mark 6:31–44; Luke 9:11–17; John 6:1–13
13 eWhen Jesus heard it, He departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself. But when the multitudes heard it, they followed Him on foot from the cities. 14 And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He fwas moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick. 15 gWhen it was evening, His disciples came to Him, saying, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is already late. Send the multitudes away, that they may go into the villages and buy themselves food.”
16 But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”
17 And they said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.”
18 He said, “Bring them here to Me.” 19 Then He commanded the multitudes to sit down on the grass. And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, hHe blessed and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitudes. 20 So they all ate and were filled, and they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments that remained. 21 Now those who had eaten were about five thousand men, besides women and children.
Here we again see an example of Christ’s true love. He has retreated to be by himself and pray. The people follow him and intrude upon him. Does he send them away, no. He had compassion upon them. Why would he have compassion upon them? He had compassion on them because he loved his creation. When it comes time to eat he tells his disciples to feed them, knowing that they would be unable to do this. He then shows his love by feeding all of the people.
Christ constantly shows his love through his miracles. God did not have to do miracles. Jesus did not have to come to earth, but he did. But because he has a true, pure love he did. Again I ask what have you done for his church?
Christ’s entire life is an example of the love we are to have for one another. He came to earth and took on a human body. Suffered as we suffer, hurt as we hurt. He then went beyond that which one could imagine. He took our place and bore our sin. What love God must have for his creation to save it from what it justly deserves.
God does not want much from us. He just wants all of us. Our love for God should be a pure Love. Like the love of Christ for his church. Christ demonstrated this love and we should all strive to develop this love. God showed his perfect love when he sent his only begotten son to earth to save His creation. Parents know this love when the look at their children. Could you imagine sending one of your children to their death to save people who clearly did not deserve saving. So as we get ready to take part in the elements of the Lord’s Supper, I urge you to think of the Love that was shown for you and me by Christ. I urge you to get in tune with this Agape love that we all should practice in our lives.
Shall we pray?
Heavenly father you came down to this earth and demonstrated the most perfect love. May we learn from your example and demonstrate this perfect love in our Christian lives. In Jesus name,
2 NU was still
p John 11:19, 33
3 NU supposing that she was going
q Mark 5:22; 7:25; Rev. 1:17
r John 11:21
s Luke 19:41
The New King James Version. 1982 (Jn 11:28-36). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
k Matt. 27:44; Mark 15:32
1 NU Are You not the Christ? Save
l [2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 7:26; 1 Pet. 2:21–24]
2 NU “Jesus, remember me
m [2 Cor. 12:4; Eph. 4:8–10; Rev. 2:7]
 The New King James Version. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1982, S. Lk 23:39-43
e Matt. 10:23; 12:15; Mark 6:32–44; Luke 9:10–17; John 6:1, 2
f Matt. 9:36; Mark 6:34
g Mark 6:35; Luke 9:12
h 1 Sam. 9:13; Matt. 15:36; 26:26; Mark 6:41; 8:7; 14:22; Luke 24:30; Acts 27:35; [Rom. 14:6]
 The New King James Version. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1982, S. Mt 14:13-21
Wade Wood. (2007). Sermons of Wade Wood.