THE GREATEST OF THESE IS LOVE
1. 1 Cor. 12:31 – The apostle pointed them to “a more excellent way.”
2. 1 Cor. 13 – That “more excellent way” is love:
a. The first & great command – Matt. 22:37-28.
b. We must love one another for God to accept our love – 1 Jno. 4:20-21.
c. Love is an essential part of obeying the truth – 1 Pet. 1:22.
d. We are to “put on love” to bind the body of Christ together – Col. 3:14.
3. 1 Cor. 13 – Division & carnal thinking in Corinth grew out of their failure to understand love & to live in love toward each other – cf. Eph. 5:2.
I. LOVE: ITS MOTIVE – 1 Cor. 13:1-3.
A. Love Is An Act Of The Will Which Must Motivate Every Spiritual Deed In Our Life – 13:1-3; cf. Gal. 5:6.
1. Emotional pleasure or attraction is not agape (cf. Jno. 3:16 – Nothing in sinful man which gave God pleasure). Agape is seeking the highest good of another; “unconquerable benevolence, undefeatable goodwill.”
2. Using miraculous spiritual gifts without love gives it a shallow, hollow ring – it is nothing but a loud noise…no real essence.
3. The Corinthian problem: Using tongue-speaking w/o anyone who could understand & w/o an interpreter to give the meaning – USELESS! Not acting out of love!
4. Miraculous spiritual gifts were worthless without love!
B. We Must Stop Saying We Love, & Start Showing We Love – 1 Jno. 3:16-18; cf. Eph. 3:17-19. Sacrifice, service & spiritual growth are only beneficial when our deeds are driven by love for:
1. God (Matt. 22:37-38; Jno. 14:15).
2. Our neighbors (Matt. 22:39).
3. Our brethren (Rom. 12:10).
4. Our families (Eph. 6:1-4).
5. Our enemies (Matt. 5:44).
II. LOVE: ITS CHARACTERISTICS – 1 Cor. 13:4-7.
A. Love Is Active (Verbs used to designate what love is like).
1. Longsuffering – long-tempered; does not hastily retaliate when wronged by another (Col. 3:12 – a heart which is longsuffering).
2. Kind – Good, mellow (not caustic, bitter – Lk. 5:39) – Eph. 4:32.
3. Does not envy – “heated hatred” – “the feeling of displeasure produced by witnessing or hearing of the advantage or prosperity of others” (Vine, 204). 1 Pet. 2:1. (Bitter resentment of good in others.)
4. Does not brag (parade itself) – Arrogance of speech, to boast (self- display), wounding others & causing unrest & discord – 1 Ths. 4:11.
5. Is not puffed up – an inflated opinion of one’s own importance; love is not arrogant – Rom. 12:16.
6. Is not rude – Love doesn’t behave disgracefully, dishonorably or indecently – Mannerly & decent – cf. 2 Cor. 8:21.
7. Is not selfish (does not seek its own) – Love looks out for things of others instead of itself – Phil. 2:4.
8. Is not provoked – Love is not irritated, it does not go around with a chip on its shoulder – cf. Eph. 4:31.
9. Thinks no evil – Love does not keep a running account of offenses with a view toward revenge; does not dwell on offenses against it – Eph. 4:32.
10. Does not rejoice in iniquity – Love cannot find pleasure in sin. Sin grieves love and tries to overcome it – cf. Eph. 5:11; 1 Pet. 4:8.
11. Rejoices in the truth – Absolute truth, gospel truth – Love takes joy in the truth of God – Eph. 4:15.
12. Bears all things – Love is able to bear whatever troubles come upon it – cf. Gal. 6:2.
13. Believes all things – Not suspicious, believes the best of others, grants the benefit of the doubt in the absence of evidence – Contrast with 1 Tim. 6:4. (Not saying that love is gullible!)
14. Hopes all things – Love hopes for the best in others even when the evidence leads one to believe otherwise. Cf. Phil. 1:15-18
15. Endures all things – Steadfast endurance, the Christian who has love perseveres in whatever circumstances life throws at him. – Jas. 1:12
III. LOVE: ITS PERMANENCE – 1 Cor. 13:8-13.
-(Here is the superiority of love over the miraculous spiritual gifts.)
A. Love Never Fails (Ceases) – 13:8.
1. The transitory nature of miraculous spiritual gifts vs. the permanency of love – 13:8-12.
a. 13:8 – Love never ceases In contrast to the miraculous spiritual gifts which would cease (12:8-10).
b. 13:9-10 – He is discussing the manner in which God revealed Himself to man through spiritual gifts – Hence: Partial revelation vs. completed revelation.
c. 13:11-12: Partial & complete knowledge illustrated with (1) childhood vs. adulthood, & (2) mirror vs. face to face.
2. Now abide faith, hope, love – Love is the foundation of all.
We must understand love & live in love, else our Christianity is worthless!