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!