Faithful to Love
1 Corinthians 13
This passage is famous, often pulled out of context.
Corinth was a mess.
They could not have their services of worship in order without having love in order.
MacArthur: Every problem that our church has ever faced can be traced back to a lack of love.
Love’s essential nature
Paul is going to show them a more excellent way—end of 12.
Note Paul made this personal.
“If I speak…” not “If we speak…”
This applies to the apostle.
Thus, it applies to all of us.
Paul is imagining a scenario where his words are totally perfect in any language.
If I speak perfectly, but without love, I’m a gong or a cymbal.
Perhaps the gongs and cymbals were a reference to the temple of Aphrodite in Corinth.
Lovelessness is an offensive thing, an offensive sound, regardless of the quality of your words.
Is lovelessness as annoying to you as all the other things that annoy you in life?
Paul next talks about prophetic powers.
Giftedness to fathom all mysteries
In a similar hyperbole, the picture is a person who understands absolutely every theological mystery.
Faith to move mountains is acting in power, faith that performs.
Verse 3, giving everything away and dying is worth nothing.
Moving mountains and preaching perfectly is nothing.
Paul is not saying our giftedness and the usefulness of our gifts is diminished if we do not love.
Paul is saying that there is no gain at all, our gifts are worthless, without love.
You should not be willing to undertake anything without love.
The true heart of a pastor is a heart that loves people, cares about people, and longs to take part in God’s transformation of people.
Love’s essential nature tells us that we must be men who are ready to lead with love.
15 words that describe what love is like and what love does.
Two positives, eight negatives, then couplets
Verse 4 – Love’s leading qualities.
First qualities, patience and kindness.
Patience, makrothumia, is a word often used for God.
Love waits patiently.
We cannot suffer long if we think we deserve much.
Kindness seems simple.
It is more than refraining from cruelty.
Romans, Titus 3, both couple kindness with patience.
These are seen as motivating the heart of God to bring us to salvation.
We deserve the wrath and curse of God.
HE was patient with us not to destroy us immediately.
He was kind to us to give us his Son to forgive us and bring us into his family.
Pastors who lead with love should be patient and kind like the God who drew them to himself.
Verses 4-6 – Love’s greatest restraints
This is the opposite of our world which assumes that love is never restrained.
We see what love refuses to do.
Envy or boast
Love is restrained in the face of success, that of others or yourself.
How do you respond when someone else gets what you want?
Are you confident in God’s goodness and sovereignty as he apportions gifts?
Boasting addresses how you feel when you feel blessed.
Do you seek after compliments?
Must you have attention?
Remember that Jesus said that the religious leaders of his day loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.
Arrogant, not inflating its own importance
1 Corinthians 8:1 says that knowledge puffs up.
The arrogant man inflates his own importance.
Rude, ill-mannered impropriety
IT demeans others.
Shameful behavior is rude.
Edwards: The spirit of Christian love is the opposite of a selfish spirit.
Not easily angered or easily provokes
Anger can be lovely or loveless in the Bible.
God is angry in the Bible, and that is beautiful.
The angry pastor falls hard.
Resentfulness, keeping a record of wrongs
Ministers who lead with love refuse to keep these.
Nice illustration of Abraham Lincoln and Stanton used here.
Resentful is an accounting term.
Do you mark down the wrongs of others?
Love has the ability to erase debts and even overlook offenses.
In marriage, if you were to try to parse every possibly offensive or questionable word or glance, you would never be able to show up at church.
Love is not joyful at wrongdoing.
Love can never be an excuse for sinful indulgence.
Verses 6-8 – Love’s Tenacious Power.
Look at the always statements here.
It always protects.
Love always trusts and does not lose faith.
Jesus believed what his Father could do with the disciples.
Love trusts God is not done.
Love always hopes and never runs out of hope.
WE know God can always accomplish something.
Love can have an optimistic posture toward the future knowing what God is able to accomplish.
God will prevail.
Chapter 13 and chapter 15 see together that God will prevail.
Without the gospel, this definition of love and its requirement in our life would be crushing.
WE can love because of what Jesus has already done at the cross.
Jesus is patient, kind.
Jesus never envies, boasts, etc.
WE only love at all because he first loved us.
Braggarts build themselves up.
The envious tear others down.
Loving people build others up.
1 Peter 1:5
Peter roots his loving letter to persecuted Christians in the fact that they have a love for the unseen Christ.