(1 Cor 13:13 NIV) And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
We have covered the 20 characteristics of God’s love found in 1 Corinthians 13.
- Paul closed out the 12th chapter with a statement that set the stage for the supremacy of God’s love.
- Paul, after going into such detail about spiritual gifts and the composition of the Body of Christ in chapter 12, closed out the chapter by saying, “But eagerly desire the greater gifts. And now I will show you the most excellent way.”
I felt led to point out this morning that Paul not only led us into this chapter by exalting love, but he closed the chapter the same way.
- Paul concluded that the major facets of Christianity can be summed up into faith, hope, and love.
- Furthermore, Paul made it clear that the greatest of the three is love.
The word greatest in the text means exactly what you think it means.
- Love is superior to any other quality of Christianity.
- Being an usher, singing in the choir, or wearing a clergy collar; means nothing to God if you do not operate in love.
- Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and having pity on the poor; means nothing to God if you are not doing it because of love.
- Preaching on Sunday morning, teaching on Wednesday night, and even knocking on doors on Saturday afternoons; means nothing to God if you are not compelled with love towards those that you are seeking to minister to.
God is love (1 John 4:8) and operating in His love is:
1. The greatest requirement
2. The highest goal
3. The ultimate achievement
1. Check your heart to ensure you are growing in God’s Love.
a. Who are you (really)?
b. Is who you really are close to who God is?
2. Check your motives to ensure that you are doing what you do out of Love.
a. Why do you do what you do?
b. Do you do it because you love God, or because you want to impress people?
(1 Cor 13:6 AMP) It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail.
Webster’s definition of truth: That which is considered to be the supreme reality and to have the ultimate meaning and value of existence and righteousness, among other things, it is applied to God, the perfection of His nature.
Moreover the Bible states:
- God is a God of truth (Duet 32:4)
- Jesus was full of truth (John 1:14)
- The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth (John 14:17) who guides us into all truth (John 16:13),
- The Word of God is truth (Dan 10:21; John 17:17)
- And God made Jesus to be sin for us so what we might be made righteous (2 Cor 5:21).
I know that was a lot to digest, but the bottom line is that God expects us to be different when we are Born-Again and start walking in His light and His love.
Living in Darkness:
- Before I became a Christian I rejoiced in unrighteousness.
- I remember growing up in Brooklyn and how we hated cops. The police officers were there to establish order, but we rejoiced in disarray.
- We loved to see people fight. If a fight broke out, a crowd quickly gathered.
- We loved to hear arguments. If a couple broke out in an argument in the street, others quickly chimed in and instigated the argument to go further.
- We were not operating in light and truth, we were operating in deception and darkness and we rejoiced in the things that we participated in.
- Paul explained it well when he told us that we were children of disobedience and by nature, children of wrath (Eph 2:2,3).
Living in Light and Love:
1. Be light in the midst of darkness.
2. Be love in the midst of selfishness.
3. Be different… be God’s representative everywhere you go!
(1 Cor 13:6 AMP) It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail.
To rejoice: simply put, is to experience joy; an intense feeling of happiness.
- Love does not break out into this intense feeling of happiness over the misfortune of another.
- Have you every met someone who loved to see others fail or hurt?
- These people are simply not walking in the love of God.
- Christians should not take the opportunity to celebrate the fact that others are going through tough times. As a matter of fact, we should sympathize with and show compassion towards those who are “going through.”
- We should seek to be a blessing and not a burden.
Jesus had an intense meeting with a family that he loved in John chapter 11. Mary and Martha were crying because their brother (Lazarus) was dead and he had been dead for four days. They sent word to Jesus while Lazarus was still alive. Jesus got there and would later raise Lazarus from the dead, but before He did, He encountered a hurting family. What did He do when He met with the family that was grieving? What did He do when He saw their tears? Did He break out into a dance and celebrate the fact that they were hurting? Of course not! The Bible says, “Jesus wept” (John 11:35).
- He cried with them.
- He shared their feelings.
- He shared their pain.
- Why? Because He was operating in the love of God.
(Romans 12:4,5 CEV) A body is made up of many parts, and each of them has its own use. That’s how it is with us. There are many of us, but we each are part of the body of Christ, as well as part of one another.
(1 Corinthians 12:26 CEV) If one part of our body hurts, we hurt all over. If one part of our body is honored, the whole body will be happy.
(Romans 12:15 AMP) Rejoice with those who rejoice [sharing others' joy], and weep with those who weep [sharing others' grief].
1. Be considerate. Put yourself in their situation.
2. Celebrate with others when they are celebrating, but also be compassionate towards those who are hurting.
3. Never take pleasure in other’s pain; but rather seek to be a blessing while they are down.
(1 Cor 13:5 AMP) It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong].
Touchy: This is a person who tends to take offense for the slightest reason. They are oversensitive.
- This person requires special tact to deal with them.
- Any insignificant event may cause them to fly off the handle.
Have you ever met a person like this? I am sure you have. Walking up to a touchy person is like walking into a mine zone. You may say something like, “I like your shoes. Where did you get them?” And they might reply, “Why do you want to know where I get my shoes? I can’t stand copycats! I am tired of people trying to copy me! Why can’t you just find your own shoes?”
Fretful: This person is inclined to be displeased or troubled. They look for things to go wrong and looking for ways to be upset.
- This person seemingly likes being upset, they are looking for ways to be displeased, and if you are not careful, they will pour their fret into you!
Resentful: This person keeps a persistent ill will towards those who have wronged them.
- Even after an apology has been rendered, a resentful person will harbor ill feelings for a long time.
The Major Point is: When you walk in God’s love you learn to Rule Your Emotions and you don’t allow your Emotions to Rule You!
- Emotional people are touchy, fretful and resentful.
- Emotional people are unstable, unbalanced and insecure.
- Emotional people live their lives like a roller coaster (a continual series of ups and downs).
- Develop in God’s Love and you will be able to live a Strong, Stable, and Secure life!
(1 Cor 13:4 AMP) Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily.
Haughty: To be condescendingly proud or to believe others to be inferior.
- People who walk in the love of God do not put people down and make them feel inferior.
- Have you ever met a person that seemed to talk down to everyone?
- People who talk down to others often cause bitterness, resentment; and offense.
When you are haughty you:
1. Destroy your witness.
- Far too many believers leave church, only to treat people with disrespect.
- When you look down and mistreat others, you hinder your ability to reach them.
- Jesus said, “In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Mat 5:16). Instead of allowing light to shine, you are become a conduit for something else.
2. Put yourself on the wrong side of God.
- Jesus said, “Woe unto the world because of offences! For it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!” (Mat 18:7). Never be the one who causes offenses.
- Never be the person who causes offense.
- Haughty people cause harm and not help.
- They lower other’s self-esteem, instead of helping raise it.
- They tear down instead of building up.
- They put down instead of encouraging.
*** When you walk in His love you seek to be a blessing and not a burden.
- You seek to build up and not tear down.
- You seek to walk in peace and not offense.
- You seek to make others feel superior and not inferior.
3. Miss a golden opportunity.
The old adage, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” is simply not true. Words can hurt.
- When you talk down to people you can actually help destroy their dreams!
- Be cognizant today of how you talk to and deal with people.
- When dealing with a Private or a General, a pauper or a President, your subordinate or your superior; always remember to treat them as God would have you to treat them and to be a blessing and not a burden!
(Prov 18:21 KJV) Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.
(Prov 15:4 MSG) “Kind words heal and help; cutting words wound and maim.”
- Purpose is predetermined and fixed, vision is incremental and progressive.
- Vision is sight, birthed from insight, with the benefit of hindsight (progressive).
Abraham’s Purpose was fixed:
- God visits a 75yr. old man and tells him his purpose.
- The Lord was going to start a family through Abraham and through this family; ALL the families of the earth would be blessed.
- Blessed TO BE a Blessing!
- From the time Abraham received his purpose, to the time he died, the purpose never changed and he was continually in pursuit of it.
Abraham needed vision (insight) in order to accomplish the purpose:
- When Abraham couldn’t SEE it, the Lord had him look up to the stars and look down to the dust. Just like the number of stars and the grains of dust cannot be counted, that’s how many children would be in his lineage.
- Abraham had to SEE IT before he could BE IT.
- The Lord needed Abraham to SEE IT on the inside.
Don’t be afraid of using your imagination:
- Vision is birthed from anointed imagination.
- Free yourself to allow God to show you your future.
- Walk around in your future, see the people you are going to impact, shake their hands, touch them, see the change, and then come back and get ready to go there.
- Abraham received it ON THE INSIDE well before he ever saw it ON THE OUTSIDE.
A few nuggets in closing:
- Purpose will give birth to vision.
- If you allow yourself to imagine, with God involved in the process, He can show you your future. Your job then is to come back to the present and make plans to get there.
- Your plans will not experience Godly success unless they line up with God’s purpose.
- When God gives you vision for your future He is also confirming what He has already implanted IN you – He will never tell you to do something you can’t do! The goal then is the outworking of the internal.