1Corinthians 13:1-3 The Power of Love This is St. Valentineís Day. Some are actually surprised to find out that it is a religious holiday. Valentineís Day is not religious in nature like Christmas and Easter. It doesnít have anything to do with Jesus or the Bible, and but it is a religious holiday none-the-less. I suppose the reason the ACLU doesnít file lawsuits to stop its celebration is because it has lost all of its religious flavor. History says the day is named after a Christian who lived centuries ago. There are several legends about St. Valentine, but all of them have the same element of sacrificial love. Valentine literally gave his life to aid others. Christians recognized that act of sacrifice and set aside a day to remember it. Somewhere along the time trail, the element of sacrificial love was replaced with the element of romantic love. Even so, I think having a day to focus on love is a good thing. The Bible certainly makes much of love. John 3:16 sets forth love as the reason Jesus came to this world to die. John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. Anything that could move God to give so much is worth a few moments of our attention. I. \\#1Cor 13:1-3\\ We must love. A. Paul is speaking as a Christian to Christians. 1. Lost people probably are not going to understand this message because they are not going to know the power of God. 2. For the most part, you have to experience the love of God before you are going to comprehend it. B. Paulís point is that Christians who do not love can not be anything for the Lord at all. 1. He illustrates this truth in three ways. a. \\#1\\ Paul says that if he were the most gifted preacher, but did not love, he would be nothing. b. \\#2\\ Paul says that if he were the most powerful person in the world, but did not love, he would be nothing. c. \\#3\\ Paul says that if he made the greatest of all sacrifices, namely to give his life, but did not love, he would be nothing. 2. We need to consider what Paul is saying. a. The feats being used in these illustrations are not minor accomplishments. (1) How I would love to preach with the power, authority, and understanding of an angel! (2) Who would not like to be so close to God that you could cast mountains into the sea? (3) What greater sacrifice can a person make but to give his one and only life? b. Yet, God would take no note of any of these accomplishments unless love is the motivation behind them. 3. Paul is telling us that we must love. a. Love must motivate everything we do, everything we are. b. Without it, we are nothing. c. I want to wander for a moment. C. What do you consider to be the opposite of love? 1. Think about that for a moment. 2. Some have a tendency to say that the opposite of love is hate, but I donít think it is. a. Hate is an emotion and I donít suspect that you have much love in your heart when you hate someone. b. However, I donít think hate is the opposite of love. I think that mainly because of what I have observed in some married couples. a. Some seem to both hate and love their mates. b. It is like two water lines running side by side. They seem able to tap into either of them, not at the same time, but seemingly instantly. c. I believe that hate is a totally different emotion from love, one related to love but not the same as love. 3. I believe selfishness is the opposite of love. a. The reason I say that is because selfishness is love directed the wrong way. b. A selfish person is a person very much in love, the problem is he or she is in love with self. c. The thing about love is that it must be directed outward, toward others. d. Directing love any other way, distorts and destroys it. e. Now, keep this thought in mind while I get back on track and ask you another question. D. I have to ask, "Why is love so important to God?" 1. There is no Bible verse, at least not one that I know, to give an answer to that question. That leave me to guess. 2. My guess would be that love is the attribute that best defines God. a. By that I mean, of all the attributes or characteristics of God, love is the attribute that best defines Him. b. God has many attributes. (1) One of Godís attributes is power. (a) In fact, God is all powerful. (b) Yet, the Bible does not say, "God is power." (2) Another is wise. (a) Again, God is all wise. (b) And yet, the Bible does not define God as wisdom. (3) Merciful, just, and gracious all describe God. c. Yet, when God defined His own self, He defined Himself as love. 1John 4:8 ÖGod is love. \\#1John 4:16\\ 3. You and I were made in the image of God. a. I really donít think we understand what that means to God. b. He made us with the qualities to be like Him. c. Sin has certainly busted the mode and ruined the design, but it is obvious that Godís desire is for us to behave like Him. That is why He made us in His image. d. I suspect that when we do things for selfish, self-serving reasons (the opposite of love), instead of for love, it really bothers God! e. God loves others at the price of self. We love self at the price of others. f. God created us to be motivated by the same attributes that He is motivated by. II. \\#1Cor 13:4-7\\ We must let love work its work. A. Again, this is Paul talking as a Christian to Christians. Lost people arenít going to understand this kind of love. B. I see three truths about love. 1. Love is an emotion. a. From this chapter, we learn that love is not just an emotion, but we must not forget, love is an emotion. b. It is a glorious, satisfying, warm emotion. c. It is an emotion that you should cultivate, and I think, one of the main reasons Valentine Day is celebrated today. d. But love is more than just an emotion. 2. Love is a work. a. Paul lists some of the things that love does. (I counted 15 items.) (1) \\#4\\ Love will suffer for a long time. (2) Love will be kind. (3) Love will not be envious. (4) Love will not promote itself. (5) Love will not become proud. (6) \\#5\\ Love will not behave improperly. (7) Love will not seek selfishly. (8) Love will not anger easy. (9) Love will not think the worst in others. (10) \\#6\\ Love will not be happy when bad things happen. (11) Love will rejoice in truth. (12) \\#7\\ Love will bear everything hurled at it. (13) Love will believe that anything is possible. (14) Love will hope for the impossible. (15) Love will endure. b. The catch to love doing its job, performing its work, is to realize that love is not a person. (1) That means any thing that love does, it has to do it through a human being. (2) So Paulís message here is not that love is going to do all of these things, but that if you have love, you do these works. c. Who might you do these works with? (1) You might do these works toward your wife or your husband. (2) You might even try to practice these works toward your neighbor, your co-worker, even your enemy. Matthew 5:44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; (3) This means that love is not just an emotion and not just a work. 3. Love is also a choice. a. It is the choice that you must make every day and with every person you meet in every decision. b. Often when I meet with a couple who is to marry, I take him to this chapter and go over each item in this list, reminding him that he must choose to do these things with his wife. (1) You ask, "Do you not go over this list with the wife?" (2) The answer is, "No." (3) Why? Because God commands the husband to LOVE his wife. Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; Colossians 3:19 Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. (4) God only commands the wife to submit to her husband. (5) I know of many women who think they have the harder role in marriage, but it shouldnít be. (6) God charges, expects, and will hold the husband accountable for a whole lot more than the wife. (7) By the way, husbands, understanding this chapter is what has lead me to say to the men, "You have no right to expect your wife to obey you as the Bible commands until you love her as the Bible commands." c. Men, you must choose to love your wife as this chapter teaches. d. By the way, wives, just because there is no specific commandment for you to love your husbands doesnít mean that you cannot. (1) Believe it or not, to submit to your husband is not the highest honor you can give to him. (2) Even an animal can be trained to obey its master. (3) The highest honor you can give to your husband is to love him. (4) If you love your husband as you should, submitting to him will not be a problem. III. \\#1Cor 13:8-13\\ Love must endure. A. One last time I remind you that Paul is talking as a Christians to Christians. B. On numerous occasions, I have poked fun at the English form of the word LOVE. 1. It is not a very accurate English word. 2. People speak of loving their wives, their mothers, their cars, and their pets all with the same word. C. In the Greek, the language of our New Testament, there are several different words used for the different kinds of loves we might have. 1. In this list of words, there is one word for sexual love. The Bible teaches that should be practiced within the marriage. 2. There is a word for the kind of love between friends, 3. There is a word for the kind of love between family members. 4. And the highest form of love, which is the kind of love that God loves with. 5. These loves are not exclusive to each other. You can mix some agape love in with any of them. D. Do you know how to tell which kind of love you have? For it to be the highest form of love, it must last forever. 1. Some people think they love their car and their dog, but that will fade. 2. Some of you may remember that last August, the founder of Papa Johnís pizza, John Schnatter, was reunited with his 1971 1/2 Camaro. He sold the car in 1983 to help his father who was on the verge of bankruptcy. He always wanted to get the back and had a friend look for it during most of the 1990ís. He even hired a former FBI agent to locate it, but he came up empty. So Papa John posted a reward. It started at a mere $25,000 but rose to $250,000. It took 26 years for him to retrieve his long lost love, but he did. http://jalopnik.com/5344739/how-jalopnik-reunited-papa-john-with-his-camaro 3. All of those temporal loves will one day pass, but the kind of love that God loves with, will never fade. E. That is the kind of love that God has for us. 1. Even those who will never be saved, those who must be damned to an eternity of damnation, God will love them forever. 2. What privilege to be loved by God so much. As I close, I ask you to stop and consider how blessed you are. 1. You have an eternal God who loves you with an eternal love. 2. And perhaps, you the joy of being loved like that by some other earthly person - a mother, a father, a child, maybe a husband or wife. 3. And as Jesus said, "Go and do, thou, likewise."
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