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The Fruit of the Spirit: Love

7/8/18 - The Fruit of the Spirit: Love - 1 Corinthians 13

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1 Corinthians 13 is most often read at weddings, and I’ve used it in many wedding sermons myself, but it isn’t actually focused on marriage-love. Instead, it’s a description about how every Christian is supposed to treat each other. This famous chapter comes immediately after 1 Cor. 12 where Paul addresses spiritual gifts, especially the supernatural gifts of tongues and prophecy, and then concludes, “And I will show you a still more excellent way” (12:31).

 

Paul continues by explaining the necessity of love (13:1-3). There are many leaders in our world today who have great knowledge, charisma, and vision… but without love, they are nothing more than a resounding gong or clanging cymbal. Let’s be people who lead with love – love for God, and love for others (rather than love for self).

But what does love look like? Paul only shares a few words to describe what love actually is (patient and kind) before moving on to describing what love is not. If we are expressing Christian love, then we aren’t comparing ourselves to others, which leads to either envy (when they win the comparison game) or boasting (when we win the comparison game). We also walk in humility rather than with arrogance or rudeness. Love is selfless and sacrificial, it doesn’t put itself first and it doesn’t mean you always need to be the one who is right. Instead of trying to prove oneself right or important and impressive, love genuinely reflects and expresses the truth and love of God to others.

In the scope of eternity, love is supreme among the Christian virtues. Prophecies will end (because we will be with God and see his promises fulfilled) and knowledge will pass away (because we will all fully know God and be with him). This is why Paul concludes, “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” Faith will become sight, and hope will be fulfilled… but love continues for all eternity.

Many of these descriptions of love appeal to all people, even atheists and nonChristians, because we all know we were created to receive and to give this kind of love. And yet, when we take an honest look at ourselves, we see that we aren’t able to muster up this love from within our own hearts. What flows from our hearts falls short of love. Instead, we discover the amazing love of God for sinners through Jesus Christ. In Christ we see the love of God on display, loving those who have hated and rejected him. Thanks be to God for his incredible grace and love. May we all discover the love of God through Jesus Christ and be transformed by him, so that we too might reflect that kind of love to an unbelieving world. 

 

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