Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Sermon on Love

THE MORE EXCELLENT WAY
Introduction:
A. My family and I, while on a vacation trip several years ago, visited Eureka
Springs, Arkansas in the Ozarks, where the largest and most famous
annual Passion Play is presented, depicting the crucifixion and resurrec-
tion of Christ.
1. There's a story about an actor who was playing the part of Christ in the
Passion Play in the Ozarks.
a. As he carried the cross up the hill a tourist began heckling, making
fun of him , and shouting insults at him.
(1) Finally, the actor had taken all of it he could take.
(2) So he threw down his cross, walked over to the tourist, and
punched him out.
b. After the play was over the director told him, “I know he was a pest,
but I can't condone what you did. Besides, you're playing the part of
Jesus, and Jesus never retaliated. So don't do anything like that
again.”
(1) Well, the man promised he wouldn't.
(2) But the next day the heckler was back worse than before, and
finally the actor exploded and punched him out again.
c. The director said, “That's it! I have to fire you! We just can't have
you behaving this way while playing the part of Jesus!”
(1) The actor begged, “Please give me one more chance. I really
need this job, and I can handle it if it happens again.”
(2) So the director decided to give him anther chance.
d. The next ay he was carrying his cross up the street. Sure enough,
the heckler was there again.
(1) You could tell that the actor was really trying to control himself,
but it was about to get the best of him.
(2) He was clinching his fists and grinding his teeth.
(3) Finally, he looked at the heckler and said, “I'll meet you after the
resurrection!”
2. Sometimes it's hard for some, professing to be Christians, to behave like
Christians ought to, and we react like people of the world would react to
situations.
a. We go about carrying our crosses, and then someone crosses us, and
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we lose our composure and lash out to get even.
b. We are no different than the world. No one could tell us apart.
B. But the Bible shows us that we're to be better than that.
1. It teaches us to exercise love in all of our relationships with one
another.
2. Listen to these passages:
a. ROMANS 12:18 “If possible, as far as it depends on you, be at
peace with all men.” (NASV)
b. EPHESIANS 4:1-3 “...walk in a manner worthy of the calling with
which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with
patience, showing forbearance to one another in love, being diligent
to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (NASV)
c. HEBREWS 12:14 “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the
holiness Without which no one will see the Lord.” (ESD)
d. I PETER 1:22 “Seeing ye have purified your souls by obeying the
truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see
that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:” (KJV)
unfeigned” love means “not pretending” or “not hypocritical” love
3. Now all these verses say the same thing.
a. It may be difficult at times, and not everyone is easy to love, but
Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, commands us, as much as possible, to
live together in peace and harmony as brethren in His body the
church.
b. PSALMS 133:1 “Behold how good and how pleasant it is for
brethren to dwell together in unity.”
B. There are some chapters in the Bible that are consider classics. Scholars
call them “standard chapters” because they feature a particular topic all
the way through.
1. For example:
a. Psalm 23 is the great chapter on God's comfort and care.
b. Hebrews 11 is the great chapter on faith.
c. I Corinthians 15 is the great chapter on the future final resurrection
2. And, when we think of love, we typically think of I Corinthians 13.
a. I Corinthians 13 and Psalm 23 are called the most popular chapters in
the Bible.
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b. They have been read on many occasions—for weddings, funerals and
during times of illness, comfort and meditation.
c. And they are truly balm for the human heart no matter in which
setting they are applied.
C. But the fact is that, regardless of how dearly I Corinthians 13 is held in the
minds of people, the average person has no idea about what its true mean-
ing really is.
1. The average person, who thinks of love only in terms of warm fuzzys,
positive thoughts, emotional stirring, tugging at the heart-strings, and
other pleasant and pleasurable responses—the average person will read
the chapter, and comment on how wonderful, beautiful and profound
it is, and miss the real context of the chapter and its real purpose.
a. The description of love is beautiful on the surface.
b. But, it's even more beautiful and profound when we uncover the
great truths it teaches.
2. I Corinthians 13 lies in its context as a part of chapters 12 and 14--
a. and is in contrast to the spiritual gifts that were temporarily placed in
the church to strengthen the church and confirm the spoken Word
until the New Testament was complete.
b. Some brethren in the church at Corinth were abusing and misusing
these gifts.
(1) Some were jealous of the gifts others had. Some had received
no gifts at all.
(2) There were also divisions and contentions and accusations.
(3) There was confusion and disorder in the church services.
(4) They had misunderstood the nature and purpose of the 9 gifts
distributed by the Holy Spirit throughout the church to certain
ones. They were...
(a) Word of wisdom (the gospel message)
(b) Knowledge (supernatural knowledge of the scriptures)
(c) Faith (miraculous faith—the power to exert unnatural
influences)
(d) Healings (power over diseases)
(e) Miracles (to heal all manner of diseases)
(f) Prophecy (the ability to foree and forecast coming events)
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(g) Discerning of spirits (the ability to look into the hearts of
hypocrites and false apostles and expose them)
(h) Tongues (the ability to speak in languages not previously
learned—It was not babbling or jibberish such as what peo-
ple claim today—Corinth was a crossroads on major trade
routes, so there were people of all nations and languages
visiting the city)
(i) Interpretation of Tongues (Tongues could only be
exercised if there was someone present to interpret and give
the understanding to the speaker)
c. These 9 gifts were not given to make one member more powerful and
important than any other member of the church.
d. The spiritual gifts were the credentials of the apostles, and those on
whom they laid their hands to pass on the gifts—for the purpose of
introducing themselves to unbelievers as being men of God and not
charlatans or fakes.
e. Now from the context it seems that some members were ready to walk
out and quit.
(1) Paul talks to them about the church, as in a human body, is a
body of people with differing abilities in characteristic and num-
ber, but all are important to the overall functioning of the body.
(I Corinthians 12:13-27)
(2) Now we must not lose sight of the fact that the purpose of the gifts
was not primarily for the benefit of those that received them, but
for those who were receiving the message of the gospel from these
Christians at Corinth.
4. Chapter 12 closes with the words: “But covet earnestly the best gifts:
an yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.” (V-21)
a. The way of love—that which would be around long after those 9
temporary gifts had ceased—love is the more excellent way.
b. We're ready now to build upon this foundation and look at the
characteristics of true love in chapter 13.


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DISCUSSION:
A. I CORINTHIANS 13 is divided into 3 parts:
1. I CORINTHIANS 13:1-3 is the first division and points out the impor-
tance of love:
a. (V-1) “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not
have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.”
(1) In the first century, at the entrance to most pagan temples, there
was a big gong or cymbal hanging. When people came to
worship they would hit the cymbal or gong in order to awaken
the pagan gods to listen to their prayers.
(2) Paul was pointing out that even if a Christian could speak with the
greatest of eloquence in every language, but didn't possess love
for a fellow Christian or the lost, then their life as a Christian was
just as useless as this ridiculous pagan act of pounding on a gong
to awaken non-existent gods.
b. (V-2) “And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries
and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so as to remove
mountains, but do not have love I am nothing.”
(1) If you think you are a super Christian, will a commanding know-
ledge of the Bible, and you know philosophy and theology and
psychology and all the other ologies, but you don't have love,
what's all your wisdom and knowledge worth?—absolutely
nothing. But if you do not have love for God to fully do His will
and love for others, your knowledge is absolutely worthless!
(2) In Galatians 5:6 Paul says that “the only thing that counts is
faith working through love.”
c. (V-3) “And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I
deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me
nothing.”
(1) He didn't say “If I give 10%”. He says if I give everything--
empty my bank account, sell everything I have to give to the
poor and needy—but I don't have the kind of love God wants,
there is no blessing for my generosity from God. He counts it as
nothing. I may as well kept everything.
(2) That's how important God's kind of love is.
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d. So, Paul is saying here by way of the Holy Spirit, that if you attend
church services every time the door is open, if you read your Bible
every day, if you pray, if you help the needy, visit the sick, and do
everything a Christian ought to do, but you don't manifest God's
kind of love in your life—it's all worthless! You might as well have
stayed home.
e. So, obviously, the practice of love in our lives is very important,
much more important perhaps than we ever realized before.
(1) Jesus says in JOHN 13:34 “A new commandment I give you:
Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must live one
another.”
(2) That, folks, is our standard: To love God as Jesus loved God.
To love the church of Christ as Jesus loves His bride, the church.
To love one another as Christ loves us.
Love others through Jesus' eyes.
(3) And notice that Jesus says this is a commandment, not a sugges-
tion.
(a) And God never commands us to do anything that we can't
do. It's a matter of want to.
(b) The Bible teaches that love is something we can control.
2. So now, let's look at what this kind of love is like. This is the second
part of I CORINTHIANS 13—VS. 4-8
a. The Greek language—the language of the New Testament has basic-
ally 4 words for love:
(1) Agape—brotherly love, charity, the love of God for man and the
love of man for God. Reverence. Sacred devotion.
(2) Storgenatural affection as between parent and child; family
relationships.
(3) Philia—affectionate regard, friendship, loyalty to friends, family
and community.
(4) Eros—intimate love, passion.
b. The love of I Corinthians 13 is AGAPE love—brotherly love; the
love of God for man and man for God. The love Jesus commanded
for us.
Agape is “a caring, self-sacrificing commitment which shows itself
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in seeking the highest good of the one loved”.
B. THE 15 CHARACTERISTICS OF AGAPE LOVE SHOWING
WHAT LOVE LOOKS LIKE AND HOW IT ACTS IN EVERYDAY
LIFE:
1. (V-4) Selfless “love is PATIENT”.
a. Why do you think the Holy Spirit put this one first?
(1) How often, when we are affronted or offended, do we form an
immediate judgment without taking time to find out the facts or
motivations.
(2) The Greek word comes from two words meaning long-tempered.
I like the KJV which says that love “suffereth long”...it's long-
suffering.
b. “If you're patient, you're slow to anger, you endure personal wrongs
without retaliating. You bear with others' imperfections, faults and
differences. You give them room to change, room to make mistakes
without coming down hard on them.” (Steven Cole)
2. (V-4) Selfless “love is KIND”.
a. This is the next logical characteristic of true love, because kindness
is patience in action.
b. The Christian's response to harsh treatment is kindness.
c. Jesus said in LUKE 6:33, 35 “And if you do good to those who do
good to you what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the
same thing...But love your enemies, and do good, and lend,
expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and
you will be sons of the Most high; for He Himself is kind to
ungrateful and evil men.”
d. Kindness motivates others toward positive change.
3. (V-4) Selfless “love is NOT JEALOUS”
a. The jealous person wants what other people have for himself or her-
self.
b. The jealous person will not applaud the success of others and
wants all the attention.
c. JAMES 4:2 “You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet
and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel...” (ESV)

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4. Selfless “love does NOT BRAG
5. and is NOT ARROGANT,”
a. Bragging and Arrogance are sometimes called the ugly twins, and
both grow out from selfishness, personal rights, and pride.
b. One commentary says,Jealousy is wanting what someone else
has. Bragging is trying to make others jealous of what we have.
Jealousy puts others down; bragging builds us up.” (The
MacArthur New Testament Commentary, I Corinthians)
c. Selfless love isn't focus on self, but tries to build up the other person
d. The humble, loving Christian realizes that all he has is an undeserv-
ed blessing from God (I Cor. 4:7). The real Christian doesn't boast,
but thankfully serves others.
6. (V-5) Love “does not act UNBECOMINGLY”.
a. Another version says of love, “it is not rude”.
b. Love does not needlessly offend on purpose.
c. Love has good manners, is courteous, polite, sensitive and
tactful.
d. Love, in wishing the best for others, expresses itself through
modesty and moral purity, so as not to be offensive or a poor
example or a stumblingblock to others.
7. (V-5) Selfless love, “it does not seek its OWN.”
a. It is not selfish and does not demand its rights!
b. Aren't you glad that Jesus didn't demand His rights? He could
have stayed in Heaven, and we would never have had a chance at
obtaining salvation.
c. True love is never selfish nor feels deserving.
8. (V-5) Selfless love “is NOT PROVOKED”.
a. The KJV says, “is not easily provoked”
b. The Phillips Version says “It is not touchy”
c. A quick-tempered person is like a bomb.
(1) Look at the devastation they leave behind.
(2) A quick-tempered person is definitely selfish and shows
personal weakness, lack of self-control and impatience.


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9. (V-5) Selfless love “does NOT TAKE INTO ACCOUNT A WRONG
SUFFERED.”
a. The Greek word here is an accounting term.
b. As applied here, “love does not keep a tally of wrongs and bear a
grudge until everyone is paid for.”
Another version says that love “keeps no record of wrongs.”
c. There is no place in a Christian's heart for “personal justice” or
getting even” or retribution or revenge.
(1) ROMANS 12:19 “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but
rather give place unto wrath; for it is written, Vengeance
belongeth unto Me, I will repay saith the Lord.”
(2) Instead of seeking personal justice, turn it all over to God
and seek ways to return good for evil.
(3) “But what if that doesn't make me feel vendicated?”
(a) Then you learn to live with it;
(b) Or, learn to forgive and leave it behind.
(4) To react as the world would, is to open the door for Satan to
come in and destroy everybody concerned along with a lot
of collateral damage. It is never right.
10. (V-6) Selfless love “does NOT REJOICE IN UNRIGHTEOUS-
NESS
11. BUT REJOICES WITH THE TRUTH.”
a. The Moffatt version says, “Love is never glad when others go
wrong”
b. To rejoice in truth is to be happy when behavior is seen to be
harmony with God's Will.
c. As we said in the beginning, love is more than happy, fluffy good
feelings. Love is also seen in the Holy Spirit's admonition for
Christians to “reprove, rebuke and exhort with all long suffering
and doctrine.” (2 Timothy 4:2).
(1) Love is seen in discipline and correction, and that is not
often pleasant, but is necessary to help and brother or sister
correct behavior and to protect the church from worldliness,
error, and false doctrine.
(a) This is often called “tough love”.
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(b) Parents are familiar with this when it is necessary to
discipline misbehavior
(c) Proverbs 13:24 “He who spares his rod hates his son,
But he who loves him disciplines him diligently.”
(d) God also disciplines His children—Christians, through
the command for us to watch out for each other, and when
and where necessary reprove, rebuke and exhort, with
patience and Biblical teaching. All of this is a part of
Agape Love.
(e) Revelation 3:19 “Those whom I love, I reprove and
discipline; be zealous therefore, and repent.”
(2) I was a university student and took a couple other students
with me to church services one Sunday night. They did not
have the same appreciation for worship Christians should, so
they were not as reverent as they should have been. During
the invitation song one of them leaned over with some
remark that got the others giggling. I got caught up in it my-
self right along with them.
(a) After services the song leader took me aside and said,
Stan I'm very disappointed in you. I thought of you
better than that.”
(b) Well I was mortified with a mixture of embarrassment,
regret, and anger—thinking at first, well who was he to
confront and judge me.
(c) As I thought more about it, I realized just how wrong I
was, so I went to the songleader's home and thanked him
for his rebuke.
(d) It was just what I needed, because I couldn't see that my
university environment was influencing me little by little
to let down my guard as a Christian and as an example.
(e) In fact, I might not be a preacher today if it hadn't been
for that little one-sentence rebuke by a Christian who
cared for my soul.
d. “There is a fine balance to love. Although love is kind and
overlooks the faults of others, it does not compromise the truth or
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take a soft view of sin.
(1) To allow another person to go on in sin whether it is known
sin or a blind spot, is not to seek his best; it is not love.
(2) Love will sensitively confront and correct precisely because it
cares deeply and know that sin destroys.
(3) Love rejoices with the truth.
(4) Love gets excited when it hears of spiritual victories.
(5) Love encourages by expressing joy over little evidences of
growth.
(6) John, the apostle of love, wrote, 'I have no greater joy than
this, to hear of my children walking in the truth' (3 John 4).”
12. (V-7) Selfless love BEARS ALL THINGS.
a. The Greek wording here can go in either of two directions:
(1) either to bear up under
(2) or, to protect by covering.
b. If the context allows the first meaning, to bear up under, then it
would be the same as “endures all things” at the end of V-7.
c. So it may be the second meaning—to protect by covering.
(1) In other words, Love doesn't broadcast the problems of others
to others whether true or not.
(a) Talebearing or Gossip, even though so common, is
among the sins that God says Hates in Prov. 6
(b) In I Timothy 5:13 the Holy Spirit says of people who do
this “they go around from house to house; and not merely
idle, but also gossips and busybodies, talking about things
that not proper to mention.” and further on in verse 15
He goes on to say of these folks, “for some have already
turned aside to follow Satan”.
(c) The reason gossip is so evil is because it is murder in the
heart that Jesus talked about in His sermon on the mount.
It is character assassination; it ruins reputations; tears up
churches; separates friends and is always associated with
exaggeration and lying.
(d) It also reject's the Holy Spirit's pattern for resolving
disputes in Matthew 18 by not going first to the offender.
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(e) To use old Western terms, a gossip is a back shooter, a
coward.
(f) REVELATION 21:8 says “...the cowardly and
unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral
persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their
part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone,
which is the second death.”
(9) As you can see, someone who gossips cannot claim to be a
loving person.
d. But gossipy tongues could be easily stopped if there were no
gossipy ears to perpetuate the wickedness and enable the sinner.
(1) I Timothy 5:22 warns us not to participate in other men's
sins.
(2) The right thing to do when you hear someone trying to tell
you gossip is to say, “Now let me stop you right there. Have
you talked to that person?”
(3) And the Bible teaches that you should go further and exhort
them not to carry gossip.
Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who
are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each
one looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one
another's burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ.”
(Galatians 6:1-2)

d. Love defends the character of the other person as much as
possible within the limits of truth and righteousness
e. God's best is to forgive and renew relationships.
f. Love bears all things.
13. (V-7) Selfless love BELIEVES ALL THINGS.
a. Another version says, “Love always trusts”.
(1) This doesn't mean being gullible.
(2) But it does mean that love is not suspicious, but love is slow
to blame.
(3) Love does not doubt the other person's character and motives
without good reason, even if his actions offended you.
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b. In other word, love believes the person innocent until proven
guilty. Don't we believe that way in our nation's justice system?
Why don't we believe that way in the Kingdom of God?
14. (V-7) Selfless love HOPES ALL THINGS.
a. Love is not pessimistic. It expects one to succeed, not to fail.
b. And if failure does occur, love does not look at failure as final.
c. Love is familiar with Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things
through Christ who strengthens me.”
and Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work
together for good to them that love God, to them who are
the called according to his purpose.”
d. Love hopes all things.
15. (V-7) Selfless love ENDURES ALL THINGS.
a. The Greek word for endures is a military term meaning to sustain
the assault of an enemy.
(1) It carries the idea of holding up under trial, or
(2) Perseverance in spite of difficulties.
(3) Love hangs in there, but not with just a stoic, passive attitude,
but manifests a positive, triumphant spirit that sticks it out.
16. (V-8) Love never fails.
C. The third section of I CORINTHIANS 13: (8-13) closes the chapter by
returning to the superiority of Love which endures over the limited
spiritual gifts which were soon to pass away.
CONCLUSION;
A. And the last verse of the chapter says “But now abide faith, hope, love,
these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
1. We are living in the last days of faith, hope and love.
2. When Jesus comes again there will be only one.
a. Faith will be replaced by the sight of Jesus' coming.
b. Hope will be resolved by reality.
c. But the time will never come when we can do without love--
(1) Love is eternal.
(2) I JOHN 4:8 “The one who does not love does not know God,
for God is love.”
(3) “...if ye forgive men for their transgressions, your Heavenly
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Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, than
your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” (Matthew
6:14-15)
B. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy,
it does not boast, it is not easily angered or
quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury.
Love does not delight over wrongdoing but
rejoices with the truth. It bears all things,
believes all things, hopes all things, endures
all things, perseveres through all things.
Love never fails. (I Corinthians 13:4-7)

This passage is not just about Love; it is about
each of us. It is about what we are each called
to become and what we will each become as we
mature emotionally and spiritually.
To really get a sense of the size of the task
ahead and to be true to ourself as to whether we
truly do love, simply replace the word love and
it in this passage with your name and read it
aloud:
___is patient, ___is kind. ___does not boast,
___is not inflated. ___is not rude, ___is not
self-seeking, ___is not easily angered or quick
tempered, ___it does not brood over injury.
___does not delight over wrongdoing but
rejoices with the truth. ___bears all things,
believes all things, hopes all things, endures all
things, perseveres through all things.
___never fails. (I Corinthians 13:4-7)















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