July 14, 2021

July 14, 2021

Author: Pastor Gordon Cook
July 14, 2021

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong doing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

1 Corinthians 13:1-13

Not so long ago we had an exposition of 1 Corinthians 13. This past Sunday we touched on love in connection with Christian praying. We are to pray for one another and when we do we put on display the greatest of graces and I believe that is agape love. Love is the preeminent grace for living the Christian life. Look at 1 Corinthians 13 when he compares it with those two other graces in that trio of faith, hope and love. Paul does that more than here; he does that in maybe three or four other places where he brings this triplet of graces to the fore.

Faith, hope and love; those are the three big graces, but love is the greatest. We shouldn’t forget that love shapes the greatest commandments: to love God, to love our neighbor. Love defines the cross, “Herein is love,” says John. Love to the brethren is the most frequent ‘one another’ commandment given in our New Testament. Just the word ‘love’, that one commandment, and those other ‘one another’ commandments could be subsumed under this one commandment. But the command to love is used 11-13 times, depending upon the English translation. The NIV has it 12 times, another one 11 and another has it 13 times; so it depends on which translation you have. But that is considerable. At least 11, 12, 13 times we hear it from Jesus- three times in the upper room discourse. It shouldn’t surprise us that the apostle called the apostle of love, which is John, speaks of loving one another at least five or six times- 1 John 3:11, 1 John 3:23, 1 John 4:7, 1 John 4:10, and 2 John 5. So no question, it is the premium grace, the pinnacle grace or the Mt. Everest grace.

Notice in 1 Corinthians 13 when he describes it, he doesn’t talk a lot about feelings. There might be one reference to feelings in terms of rejoicing, but really the dominant emphasis is upon action. You have 16 verbs all total. Love is always on the move; love is initiating; love is looking for ways to give, ways to help and ways to serve. No one did that better than Jesus. He put perfect love on display. He did it by his miracles, by his preaching, and by his praying. To love like Jesus will require taking upon ourselves inconveniences and even sufferings. Love is costly. But it is love that pushes us past our comfort zones; it is love that will propel us to minister to others.

One pastor gives some of these particular descriptions of love and you could give a hundred or a thousand or a million more. “Love greets strangers when we feel shy. Love speaks to our colleagues about Christ when we are timid. Love invites new neighbors to a Bible study or to our church. Love creates a new ministry for alcoholics. Love spends time driving a van or babysitting children of a church family. Love invests in prayer for one another.”

We can never love too much. We can never love God too much and we really can’t love one another too much. Remember how Paul describes the Thessalonians in 1 Thessalonians, he talks about them growing in love. Then the next time he writes he said, “You are abounding in love; you are increasing in love.” That is something we should pray for, that we would always be increasing in love for one another.

That was one of the reasons we gave last Lord’s Day as to why we should come to a corporate prayer meeting. It is one of the ways we put on display the greatest of graces, Christian love. There were three more reasons why we should pray together: to enjoy and know the greatest person, God Himself; to fulfill the greatest purpose in life to glorify God; to give us opportunity to be involved in the greatest kingdom work or gospel work.