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How to be loving
1 Corinthians 13

I am constantly amazed at how the LORD works- helping us, giving us the right words, carrying us, giving us strength, and supplying our needs.

This past week I marveled at the thought that, this week, here we in our Bible reading schedule in 1 Corinthians 11-15 (which includes 1 Corinthians 13- a passage that "puts the meat on the bones" as it regards what love is)- all coinciding with today- Valentines today.

Before we dive into 1 Corinthians 13 and ponder together how to be loving there is 2 things we need to do

1. Review the key verses and theme of the Book of 1 Corinthians

"To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ-their Lord and ours." 1 Corinthians 1:2 NOTE our position in Christ and our calling- to be HOLY

"He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Corinthians 1:8 NOTE the security of the believer - even though they totally messing up


2. Note the context of 1 Corinthians 13

Despite popular use, I Corinthians 13 was not written for the purpose of serving as a key passage for every Christian wedding- though it is a great one.

1 Corinthians 13 sits at the heart of 1 Corinthians 12-14 which as a whole concerns the subject of spiritual gifts and their use in the body of Christ.

Throughout 1 Corinthians 12-14 the subject at hand is that of Spiritual gifts

It was necessary for Paul to write to the Corinthians regarding the use of the spiritual gifts the Spirit had given to them because of- the Divisions, squabbles, and disunity that existed in their church- strangely exacerbated by their use of spiritual gifts and the grid of importance they built around the gifts- -(oddly enough they placed a heavy emphasis on speaking in tongues (1Corinthians 14) seemingly elevating it above all other gifts.

On spiritual gifts

-Their are many different spiritual gifts
-Every follower of Christ has been given at least one
-The Holy Spirit is the giver of them all
-The gifts of the Spirit are for the common good (unity emphasis). We are to use the gifts given in the service of each other, that we might grow in our walk with Christ
-The Holy Spirit gives gifts as He pleases - 1Corinthian 12:11 (note that Holy Spirit is God/a person and not an impersonal force)
-Paul places an emphasis on the gift of prophecy (over the gift of tongues which the Corinthians elevated as the supreme gift)-saying in 1 Corinthians 14:4 "Anyone who speaks in a tongue edifies themselves, but the one who prophesies edifies the church." To prophesy means to speak forth, to declare the will of God, to make known the truth of God. In 2 Peter 2:1 the teaching gift is equated to prophesying. It is not about new revelations from God.
-Every person and every gift is necessary for the proper function of the church. We need each other. We must all commit to service and to using and developing the gifts God has given us. --- If you are not aware of how you are gifted the key to discovering it is to start serving, to say "Here am I, send me"- your giftedness will soon become evident to those around you


Now that we know the context that 1 Corinthians 13 sits in, we can go to the text.

READ 1 CORINTHIANS 12:27-13:13

LESSONS, PRINCIPLES, OBSERVATIONS

1. LOVE IS AT THE CORE OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH

Note what Paul says about love in 1 Corinthians 12:31 "Now eagerly desire the greater gifts" and then in 1 Corinthians 13:1 "And yet I will show you the most excellent way"

-A key point Paul makes regards how essential love is. Love is a key ingredient. Love and unity go together
-The church of Corinth was divided because they weren't loving each other
-The church of Corinth was on the verge of collapse because the love of Christ was absent

Note what Jesus says about love in Matthew 22:36-40

Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: "?'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

Note also what Jesus says to his disciples about love in John 13:34

"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.


2. THE ABSENCE OF LOVE renders whatever sacrifices we make and whatever service we offer, empty and eternally useless. Read 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

a. It doesn't matter how eloquent we are- if no love in our heart for those we speaking to, we might as well be whacking away away on a metal garbage can- for our words are empty
b. It doesn't matter how skilled and gifted a person is in interpreting and declaring the Word of God. If the love for Christ and of our brothers and sisters in the LORD is not what fuels us then it doesn't matter how skilled we are. It's empty.
c. No matter the sacrifice- even if it is martyrdom (dying for our faith). If we don't have love in our hearts for our brothers and sisters in Christ and for others, there is no gain for us. There is no reward or commendation from God for that if love is absent.


3. HOW TO BE LOVING. WHAT LOVE IS....

Because Paul's words are both instructive and corrective we have positive and negative language. ie. Love is.... Love does not.... Either way, this is a fantastic passage to memorize, that we might grow in the love of Christ.

LOVE...

a. Is Patient -It doesn't "blow a gasket" or "lose it" It's the opposite of having a short fuse. It entails listening to someone as they talk on. It's about minding what we say. It's about not honking the horn or cursing in ones mind while waiting

b. Is Kind - a gentle response. Tenderness. About extending grace

c. Rejoices with the truth -we are to encourage and celebrate what is right in the eyes of God. Philippians 4:8 says; "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things."

d. Protects -we are to stand up for each other. Protect the dignity and safety of each other

e. Trusts -Trust in relationships is a big thing. We not to harbor misgivings about each other and the motives the other person may or may not have

f. Hopes -hope holds on. Our hope is in Christ and his promises

g. Perseveres -persevering love holds on

h. Along with faith and hope, it endures v.13

LOVE DOES NOT

a. Envy -celebrate the accomplishments of others!

b. Boast -We not to be braggarts who pat ourselves on the back or point to what we have done

c. It is not proud- A bad quote "It's not enough that I succeed, but others have to fail"

d. It is not rude - Being polite is very important.

e. It is not self seeking - we are to always be concerned about the interests of others. Getting to the front of the line or being first, we not to scramble for such things

f. It is not easily angered -lots of things set us off. Anger does not produce the righteous life that God requires. We to pray for patience. We too build our patience through exercises that make us wait. To guard against being easily angered we need to learn some Scriptures. We also need to make sure we well rested (a quick temper and lack of sleep go together). We need to learn how to reflect and do some positive self talk

g. It keeps no regard of wrongs -Those who keep records of wrongs and who hold on to grudges are going to leave a trail of broken relationships through their lives. To repeatedly bring up past offenses is to incite conflict. "You always" "Do you remember when you did...." These are fighting words. Some of you have great memories- this can be a problem when it comes to forgiving. We have a tendency of forgetting the good things others do as well.

h. It does not delight in evil -. In all of us there is a pull to do what is wrong in the sight of God. Sometimes we even enjoy doing what we know is wrong. We to take great care that we do not condemn ourselves by what we approve of. We to celebrate the things of God. As Philippians 4:6-7 says; " Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things" WE MUST GUARD OUR HEARTS- hating what is evil, loving what is godo.


A few additional notes

a. We cannot obey the command to love in our own strength

To Christ we must constantly go, committing ourselves to being like Him, looking to Him for His strength, that we might be patient, kind, not boastful, not proud, not rude, not self seeking, not easily wronged, not keeping a record of wrongs.

Such things are a fruit of the Spirit in us

b. Jesus exemplifies love

-His coming to earth on a rescue mission to save us from our sins and the judgment to come
-The way he interacted with people when here (compassion, gift of time, service rendered, his patience, his grace, his mercy even as he spoke the truth and commanded repentance, his miracles)
-His death on the cross as a once for all sacrifice for our sins- taking upon Himself the punishment we deserve for our sin, for our acts of rebellion against God and His will
-His presence with us now. The gift and indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Some great verses on love before we close

1 John 3:18 "Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth"

1 John 4:10 "This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins."

Luke 6:35 "But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked."

Ephesians 5:25 "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her."

John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."


CHALLENGE

-Love and unity go together
-Love and our service of Christ is essential
-Loving each other is tough but necessary
-We need to continually ask the LORD Jesus to fill us with his love for each other and when we detect that we are missing it, we are to ask for forgiveness and commit to it