Love is Necessary (1 Corinthians 13:1-13)

July 16 2023

Series: 1 Corinthians

All right, guys. I got something I got to say. I’m grateful to be back in Orlando. We’ve been doing a lot of traveling. The most recent thing was the International Campus Ministry Conference. I know that’s long. ICMC. Which is the time when all the campus ministries around the world get together. They get to grow in their faith, stay up late talking about who knows what and experience a glimpse of heaven. So it was a great time. It was a 20-hour drive to Oklahoma. Yeah, so it was great. It was a great time overall. But as I said, I am glad to be back this morning with you all as we continue in 1 Corinthians. So let’s go ahead and turn with me to 1 Corinthians chapter 12. Now, before we dive in, I want us to think about how we live in a world where the term love is a hot topic. We see movies, we see shows that have a character who may be searching for love or has a love interest. There are apps for people who are looking for love. I’m sure before you leave today, you might hear a brother or sister say, love you, bro, love you, sis.

As we just heard, there are tons of songs that talk about love. And real quick, first service, we did this. I got to see if you guys are going to bring the same energy. We’re going to play a quick game of finish that lyric. So I’m going to start singing and I got to hear you guys’ angelic voices. Are you all ready? I’m going to start singing. All right, cool. Okay, you all hear? You all hear? All right. All right. I know it’s been fun so far. I’m going to do one more song. All right. But I can’t help falling in love with you. Me? Thank you, Eddie. I appreciate it. Awesome. You guys sound great. So today we’re going to be diving into the importance of love. And if you don’t take away anything else from today, remember that love is necessary. That’s our title for today, Love is Necessary. As you’re here with me in 1 Corinthians 12, verse 27, we’re going to work our way toward our main text. It says, Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

God has placed in the church, first of all, Apostles, second prophets, third, teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. Are all Apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing, speaking in tongues? Do all interpret? Now eagerly desire the greater gifts, and yet I will show you the most excellent way. And now we’re in our main text here in 1 Corinthians 13. If I speak in the tongues of men or women, of angels but do not have 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 do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is a patient. Love is kind. It does not envy. It does not boast. It isn’t proud. It doesn’t dishonor others. It is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered.

It keeps no records of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophesies, they will cease. Where there are tongues, they will be stilled. Where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child. I thought like a child. I reasoned like a child. But when I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now, we see only a reflection in a mirror. Then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part, then shall I know fully, even as I am fully known. And these three remain faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love. Amen. Amen. So I know that was a mouthful. But we started off with 1 Corinthians 12, and Marcus did a great job of guiding us through God’s design of the body and how all parts of the body are invaluable. Each and every one of us in this room has been blessed with certain gifts and different personalities.

That allows us to build God’s church. Amen? In Chapter 12, Paul says that he will show the Corinthians Church the most excellent way. It’s an amazing cliffhanger. As we’ve gone through 1 Corinthians, we’ve seen Paul guide the Corinthians in this way over and over again. And what this way is, is love. When we look to Jesus, we see he demonstrates love in many ways, right? Compassion, empathy. But he also has high expectations for us. Jesus never shied away from calling out sin or having that tough love. Paul imitates Jesus in his multifaceted love for the Corinthians. What Paul has been doing throughout this letter is helping the Corinthians grow and be more mature as disciples. He does this in the most loving way possible. In what we’re covering today, rather than the Corinthians boasting in themselves or boasting in their own abilities, Paul wants to shift the focus to love. And if anyone knows any passage from 1 Corinthians, it’s 1 Corinthians 13. Today, we’re going to spend some time putting this chapter in context with everything that we’ve learned from Corinth and how it relates to us. And I want to say, too, that this chapter is very straightforward, unlike most of Corinthians, but the question is if this type of love is shown in our lives.

In chapter 13, Paul mentions possessing these different gifts and the necessity of love. As we read verses 1 and 2, Paul takes the time to consider some gifts that are evident among the Corinthians. And these were some things that we’ve even covered in the past on our journey through this book, this letter. Now, speaking in tongues of men, this is something Paul refers to in Chapter 12 as a gift provided by the Spirit. The ability to speak in different languages as the Spirit enables you to. Just imagine today, right? Imagine being able to speak a different language without Duolingo. God just blessed you with the ability to speak different languages, an amazing gift that can be used to bring glory to God. The gift of prophecy, something we also find in Chapter 12 that Paul refers to as a gift given by the Spirit, being a spokesperson for God and giving the people of God what God desires for them to hear. Fathoming all mysteries and knowledge. This, too, is also a gift from the Spirit. And we saw how in 1 Corinthians 10, Paul warns them that knowledge puffs up. Having faith. And I’m sure when we consider having great faith, we can think of some people in our lives whose faith inspires us.

There’s the saving faith that all of us Christians have. And then those with supernatural faith. And that’s a true gift to the church. And all these things, speaking in tongues, prophesying, fathoming all mysteries, all knowledge and faith. Again, these are amazing gifts. We see them throughout the scriptures, and we can even see some of these things today. And as we are on the topic of gifts, I want us all to just take a second and consider, what are some of the gifts or talents that God has blessed you with. Maybe you’re a master, an encouraging, someone that does a great job of just building up others and giving other people courage. Or maybe you’re a great organizer, and I may not be able to speak for every man in here, but I’m grateful for my wife who’s a master organizer, and planner. She’s able to put things in. They can happen in the back. I see you. Thank you. Thank you. Maybe you’re gifted at singing or playing an instrument or public speaking. It’s always good to just think about the ways that God has blessed you. But as Paul says, if I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I’m only a resounding gong or a clanging symbol.

If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, if I have faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. Without love, our gifts, our talents, amount to nothing. And Paul even goes into verse 3, which says, I f I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. And when we think about giving to those who are in need, we consider that a noble task. It’s something that is even a plotter. In our world today, being willing to sacrifice for the sake of others, puts others’ needs above your own. And when I read this, I can’t help but think about the story of Jesus encountering a rich young ruler in Matthew Chapter 19. Just to sum that up, essentially what happens is that this rich young ruler asks Jesus, What do I do to inherit eternal life? One of the things that Jesus mentions is that he has to give all his possessions to the poor. And this rich young ruler went away sad.

Now, man, he got all this wealth and he doesn’t want to give it up. But let’s just imagine this rich young ruler’s response else being different. Let’s say he did give all of his possessions to the poor, and it indeed would have been a great thing that he’s done. But if he were to give all he had to the poor but did not have love, he gains nothing. Paul then mentions giving his body over to hardship that he may boast. And the thing is that many Christians during his time saw being persecuted for their faith or sacrificing their body as a spiritual credential. Now, the thing that would get them in good standing before God. But as Paul says, without love, even dying under persecution would bring them no gain. In our world today, people are constantly characterizing themselves based on different things. Gifts, talent, academics, how much money is in the bank, their job. But I must say that as disciples of Jesus, the marker of a Christian is our love. Can people, a part of the Church, or even outside of these walls, characterize you as a person who loves? The way that we love is a display to the world that our kingship is to Jesus and that we are in submission to his way of life.

Love is necessary. Paul then goes on to define what love is, but also what love is not in verses 4 to 7. And honestly, I don’t have too much time to cover each and everyone, but you could study those things out on your own. I want to share with you guys some of the things that stood out to me. He says that love is patient. What this means is that you are long-tempered, refusing to retaliate with anger. Being patient and bearing the offenses of others. Now, I know that as I share that love is patient, some of you guys, your skin might be crawling. You might be like, I know this one person runs my patience so thin. Oh, my goodness. But we must consider ourselves as disciples of Jesus if we are patient with other people. When we have the love of God within us, we will show patience to those who either hurt us or even those who annoy us. Love is kind. Love being kind is being full of service to others or being gentle. And as I sat, I thought about it. I’m like man, who are some people that I think are kind?

And I thought about our ushers, honestly. I thought about those who are literally willing to serve God’s people. Do you need a seat? Our ushers are going to do the very best they can to try to find you a seat. They pass around a basket so that we’re able to give to build up God’s church. They pass around the Communion Cups to help us connect to God in a special way. And I don’t know about you guys, but for me, they are the guardians of the peppermints and the water bottles in the back. For me, I go back there every Sunday, I grab what I can. I grab my mints, I grab my water bottle. I almost feel like they do it for me. But these men and women, they choose to be full of service to their brothers and sisters. And the cool thing about love, being patient and kind is that these are both fruits of the Spirit. The Spirit God has given us allows us to live these things out. Us being people who are patient, people who are kind. Love does not envy. When Paul uses the word envy, what he is describing is striving after something or having a zeal for what others have, or wanting to be like someone.

And it isn’t necessarily or specifically desiring that other person’s possessions, but literally desiring to be that person themselves, and everything else encompassing that. Wanting to be like someone or belonging to certain groups was a part of the church life in Corinth. If we look back to 1 Corinthians 3, verse 3, I could read that for us, it says, You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? And the Greek word for jealousy and envy is extremely similar, both meaning to have this burning zeal, but for what others have or, again, to be like someone else. And this is something we definitely see in the culture of our world today, especially with social media. We see people post pictures or post on their Instagram stories and we see them living this amazing life full of luxury, full of fun. And we either don’t realize or we forget that people are just posting their highlights. We see all the good and, man, I want this already got this. I want that. We want their life. But church, we must remember that we were made in the image of God.

And what we should have zeal for is to live the way Jesus did. Love doesn’t delight in evil, but rejoices with truth. In 1 Corinthians 5, there was a situation where Paul had to address a brother in the church that slept with his father’s wife. And this was something the Corinthians were said to be proud of. In church, the moment we begin to be proud of or delight in sin is the moment we truly see if the love of Christ is in us. For the Corinthians, they could have been bragging about their status, eating food offered to idols in idol temples, or maybe even ignoring their poor brother or sisters at the Lord’s Supper. What is it for us? What evil or what sin can you delight in? Can you delight in your pride and your greed? What is it for you? Church, we can’t delight in what is evil, but rejoice in the truth. The one who rejoices at the truth is the one who sees God at work and in and through people. The one who rejoices in truth sees God being honored and obeyed. Rejoicing in truth is rejoicing in what can be a stumbling block to some and folly to others because it is true.

As Paul says in Chapter 1, we must stand and rejoice in what is true. Love always protects. And the church, look around real quick. I know we do this every now and then. Just look around. We are a family. We are a family. And Paul says, love always protects. He’s not talking about protecting each other’s sin or covering or hiding each other’s sin, but what we should be doing is seeking to protect one another from sin. How can we be our brother’s or our sister’s keeper? Think about that. Love always trusts, always hopes. What Paul isn’t saying is to be naive and just trust any and everybody or just let people walk over you. Even in other versions, it says that love believes in all things. And what this implies is that love will never stop having faith, believing in, and will never lose hope. And this means having a deep and total commitment to God. And this should characterize all Christians even awaiting this great hope that God will protect us now as we await this amazing eternal blessing. Love always perseveres. It is with totally believing and having hope that we can persevere and make it to the end.

We must run this race with perseverance. Amen. And I just want to point out how as we look through some of these different descriptions. We can also see God in them. God is patient with us. God is kind to us. We were created in the image of God, so why envy another person? God is slow to anger. The truth is found in God. God is willing to forgive us for our sins. He won’t hold our sins against us if we choose to make Jesus the Lord of our lives. Church, we need love and not the type of love that the world lifts up and elevates, but we need this love. 1 Corinthians 13, love. Love is necessary. Up to this point, Paul draws a clear distinction between the different gifts and love. Now, I want us to read again 1 Corinthians 13, verse 8, which says, Love never fails, but where there are prophesies, they will cease. Where there are tongues, they will be stilled. Where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. We see Paul referring back to these gifts, and the point he is making honestly is amazing.

He says, Where there are prophesies, they will cease. Where there are tongues, they will be stilled. Knowledge will pass away, but love will never fail. Remember that each of these gifts was things that the church and Corinth, held on to. These are things that they were proud of. Paul, shifting their focus onto the most excellent way tells them that these gifts will cease. They won’t last forever, but love will never fail. He starts to flip the switch a little bit in verses 9 and 10. We know in part and prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. I want you guys to hold on to that. I want to read verses 11 and 12. When I was a child, I taught like a child. I thought like a child. I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now, we see only a reflection 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. What Paul is doing in verse 11 is making an analogy to help the Corinthians understand their attitude in all of this.

What Paul is not saying is that speaking in tongues or prophesying is childish, or that the Corinthians should grow out of these gifts. He’s not saying that if we are spiritually mature, then we won’t need these spiritual gifts. But if we are mature, we will not over-emphasize spiritual gifts at the expense of love. The Corinthians have misplaced their security in their gifts rather than being men and women who love. And this really sets the stage. It is connected to verse 12, Paul says that now we only see a reflection in a mirror. Mirrors during this day and age were made out of metal. So just imagine trying to look at yourself in the mirror then. It’ll be a little bit difficult. It’ll be a bit blurry. I want to read it one more time. Now we only see our reflection in a mirror. Then we shall see face to face. And this is convicting for the Corinthians, they are so caught up in their gifts and again misplacing their security, which led them to have a poor reflection of what’s ahead. Those gifts will mean nothing when we get to stand face-to-face before God in heaven.

And remember back to verse 9, we know in part, we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. Church, we cannot allow our gifts to blind us from the gift giver. And Paul ends beautifully in verse 13, these three remain faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love. And these three things are completely different than speaking in tongues, prophesies, and knowledge. As Paul says, those things are going to pass away. But faith, hope, and love are what will carry us into eternity. And when we get to heaven and we actually get to spend eternity with our Father, there won’t be a need for hope or faith, but there will be nothing but love. It is extremely evident that love is the bridge that Paul walked on as he writes this letter to the Corinthians. And he does an amazing job at teaching the men and women in Corinth and also us, the absolute necessity of love. And as we are living and breathing here on earth, let’s live with hearts filled with love. Amen?

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