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The Power of Love

Date: 
January 31, 2016
Speaker: 
Rev. Terry Martinson

THE POWER OF LOVE

 

THEME: How does love look when lived out in the lives of believers?

 

INTRODUCTION

A young man who had not quite begun his formal study for the Christian ministry received some very solid advice from his grandfather… the young man was in his twenties and not a preacher at the time, but he knew, and his grandfather knew, that he was called to be one… his grandfather said, “Eddie, don’t try to be a great ‘preacher.’ The world has plenty of great ‘preachers.’ Be a great ‘lover.’ Just love the people! Love the people! If you’ll love the people, they’ll put up with almost any kind of preaching.” Years later the young man said, “I’m still learning what my grandpa meant. It is easier to preach than it is to love. I’m still learning to love.”  <DPS>

 

I Corinthians 13 is often called “The Love Chapter” and many folks considerate it to be the most wonderful chapter of scripture… frequently read at weddings and funerals

  • As beautiful as I Corinthians 13 is, it was written by the Apostle Paul to address a serious concern within the church in Corinth…
  • The believers in the Corinthian church possessed many spiritual gifts, but the one thing they lacked was love…
  • Instead of celebrating their gifts, they argued about which gifts were the best and who was better than who (sounds like the Republican debates)
    • Was the gift of prophesy better than the gift of healing?
  • Was the ministry of teaching more important than the ministry of preaching?
  • If you could speak in tongues, were you better than everyone else?
  • And because they possessed so many spiritual gifts, the believers in Corinth thought they were the very best Christians in the world… but because they lacked love, their spiritual gifts were not being used to build up the church, but rather were causing friction within the church.

 

Paul said, “The gifts you possess are meaningless – useless - if love is not behind them… it is love that makes believers’ actions and gifts useful…

 

In Chapter 12 of I Corinthians Paul gives evidence of the lack of love in using spiritual gifts…

  • In Chapter 13 he defines real love…
  • In Chapter 14 Paul shows how love works…
  • What Paul is trying to do in his first letter to the Corinthian Church is to show them a more excellent way – the way of love.

 

I – WHAT IS LOVE?

So what is this “thing” called love?

 

A young woman went to the editor of a magazine. “I want to become a writer,” she said.  “What sort of things would you write about?” the editor inquired. “I want to write about love,” she replied. “Well, what is love?” she was asked. At this she got a far-away look in her eyes. “Love,” she said,” “is soft light and sweet music.  It’s the shimmering reflections of the moon upon the lake. It’s…”    “Wait,” interrupted the editor. “Don’t write about love until you know what love is all about. Love is giving yourself up for the sake of another. Love is getting up in the middle of the night to a waking child before your spouse wakes up. Love is giving and serving.”   <Blackburn>

 

Love has so many definitions… the word love means so many different things to different people…

  • One person says, “I love the Red Sox” and another says, “I love chocolate ice cream.”
  • One person says, “I love digging in my garden” and another says, “I love walking on the beach in bare feet.”
  • Someone else says, “I love Henry” or “I love Henrietta.”
  • We’re confused by all the things we love… certainly we do not love cotton candy in the same way we love our children, or sunsets over the ocean in the same way we love the person we choose to spend the rest of our life with…

 

The love that Paul is talking about – the love that is required of believers – is agape love… the quality of love that God has for us and the quality of love that we should have for one another…

  • Agape love comes from God…
  • It is deep, abiding, self-sacrificing love…
  • It is the love that is focused on giving rather than upon receiving…
  • It is the kind of love that looks out for others first…
  • Agape love comes from the heart…

 

Paul says that this agape love is more important than anything else… he writes, “If I speak in the tongues of mortals and angels,  but do not have 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 faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.”  <I Corinthians 13:1-3>

 

If I had to put Paul’s words into my own words, I think I would say, “You cannot be a believer – a Christian – without love… the kind of love that comes from God and looks out for others first… because if you believe, but do not act in love toward others, your belief – your faith – is useless.”

“There can be no life for us, as God means life, without love.”  <DPS>

 

II – HOW DOES LOVE LOOK WHEN LIVED OUT IN THE LIVES OF BELIEVERS?

God requires his people to have agape love for one another, but what does this love look like when lived out in the lives of believers? What are the qualities of the love that God requires and Paul describes so eloquently?

 

Paul writes that agape love has 15 characteristics…

  • Patient
  • Kind
  • Not jealous
  • Not boastful
  • Not arrogant
  • Not rude
  • Does not insist on its own way
  • Not irritable
  • Not resentful
  • Does not rejoice in wrongdoing
  • Rejoices in the truth
  • Bears all things
  • Believes all things
  • Hopes all things
  • Endures all things

 

I’m going to suggest that you give yourself a test… not here, but at home… open your Bible at home to “The Love Chapter” – verses 4 – 7 – and replace the word love with your own name…

  • John is patient…
  • Alice is kind…
  • Brian is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude…
  • Judith does not insist on her own way…
  • Wayne is not irritable or resentful…
  • Wendy does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth…
  • Bill bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things…

 

I encourage you to do this… I wonder how you’ll do… I’m pretty sure that all of us will squirm a little bit and find that we have a few things to work on…

  • Are you as patient as you should be?
  • Are you as kind as you can be?
  • Are you irritable?
  • Are you resentful?
  • Do you feel a certain sense of silent satisfaction when those around you make mistakes?

 

CONCLUSION

Paul has one or two other things to say about love to prove how very important love is…

 

Paul writes that love is permanent – it does not end… it does not come and go as the tides… it is not as fickle as the winds… it does not disappear as soon as something better comes along…

 

And Paul writes, “When all else fails, then faith, hope and love abide, and the greatest of these is love.”  <I Corinthians 13:13>

 

SERMON SEEDS

  1. Life Application Bible Commentary (I Corinthians) – published by Tyndale
  2. Daily Study Bible (I Corinthians) – William Barclay
  3. Study Materials from the DPS website
  4. Be A Great Lover­ – a sermon on the DPS website
  5. Called To Love – a sermon by Peter J. Blackburn
  6. More Than Fine Talk – a sermon by Peter J. Blackburn

 

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