1st Corinthians 13:4 Bruce Grice--PM
Open in your Bibles to 1st Corinthians 13
(Our focus on Sunday evenings for January is . . .
Resolutions: Keeping the Main Thing the Main Thing)
A. In this chapter, the Apostle Paul reveals to us the greatest thing in the world. Chapter 13, verse 13 reads:
So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Agape love. A love that is unconditional, non-discriminating, based on the will, a love that cannot fail. There are many reasons why this love is so great.
1. This love is like God. God is love (1 John 4:8).
What a wonderful description of God!
2. This love shows others that we follow Jesus.
By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:34,35). In response to the question, What is the great commandment? Jesus replied:
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-39).
3. We sing the song The Greatest Command.
Love one another, for love is of God . . .
4. All around us are people who have never been treated with genuine love & concern. They are slowly starving to death.
5. Through us, God wants to show His love, to them.
B. This love is great because it is God s answer to many problems.
1. On my key ring I have many keys (too many as a matter of fact).
One key starts my car. That s all it does. One opens the front door of our house. That s all it will open.
2. Yet, there is one that will open many doors.
3. Love, the greatest thing in the world, is a spiritual key that will unlock many spiritual locks; a key that will solve many problems.
C. The church at Corinth was filled with problems: going to law against each other, immorality, idol worship, abusing the Lord s supper, etc. But at the source of all these problems were inward attitudes.
A. For instance, there was the problem of jealousy:
Since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men? (3:3).
1. Hearts were filled with arrogance:
You have become arrogant, and have not mourned (10:24).
2. They were impatient with one another. They were unkind.
The attitude expressed in 12:21 illustrates that they were not mindful of the feelings of others: I have no need of you.
3. They were rude & discourteous.
If one was speaking in the assembly & another wanted to speak,
4. They were irritable in their associations.
They were suspicious of each other.
5. They were unfeeling in their relationships.
B. Take a look for a moment at this list of attitude problems:
Impatient, unkind, jealous, proud, rude, selfish, irritable,
1. The natural reaction would be . . . What a mess!
2. How could all these problems ever be solved?
What could get these Christians back on the right track?!
3. This brings us back to the key that unlocks many locks.
C. In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul does not merely show that love is superior to miraculous gifts, but that love is the key to correcting those problems which plagued the church.
(Are these attitude problems found today in the church? Do we struggle with impatience, jealousy, selfishness, etc.? Certainly.)
What s the key that will correct these problems?
Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all thing, hopes all things endures all things. Love never ends . . .
1. For a few moments tonight, let s focus upon verse 4.
2. In a world of misunderstanding . . . Love is patient.
In a world of bitterness . . . Love is kind.
In a world of competition . . . Love is not jealous, it does not envy.
THE GREATEST THING IN THE WORLD IS LOVE!
I. IT CHOOSES TO TRUST INSTEAD OF CONTROL
-What caused Cain to kill his brother, Abel? Envy (1 John 3:12).
-When Joseph s brothers were eaten up with jealousy, they actually sold him to strangers (Acts 7:9).
Because of envy, Saul hunted David like one would hunt a wild animal (1 Samuel 18).
-Why did the Jews deliver up Jesus to be crucified? Envy (Mt. 27:18).
-In the KJV, Solomon calls envy a rottenness of the bones
A. Think of all the heartaches, disappointments, grief,
brought about because of envy, jealousy.
1. It makes no difference what you do, someone is going to do it better.
2. It makes no difference what you have, someone is going
to have more.
3. It makes no difference how successful you are, someone is going to be more successful. If not, now, eventually.
B. How do you learn to live with that . . . graciously?
LOVE (which is the greatest thing in the world) because it . . .
CHOOSES TO TRUST INSTEAD OF CONTROL
1. Centuries before Paul penned this letter, Solomon wrote that
Jealousy is as cruel as the grave (Song of Solomon 8:6).
2. Just as jealousy has brought down kings & kingdoms,
queens & countries, so it has destroyed many relationships.
3. In the book of James we are warned that the heat of jealousy or envy can ignite conflict & leave nasty scars: You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. And you are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel (James 4:2).
C. At the root of jealousy is a burning desire to have what I cannot or do not have. And if I can t get it one way, I ll try another until I get what I want.
1. If I have to go to war, so be it.
2. It s all about possession & control. Yet it s a classic case of winning a battle but losing the war. (Jealousy impacts friendships, relationships at work, and, in the home.)
3. The jealous husband or wife may win control in the short run, but a spirit of mistrust & jealousy will do little to endear
the possessed to the possessor.
4. Love doesn t seek to control (after all, people are not possessions to be owned, or, put in their place). Love chooses to trust.
Choosing to trust builds a love relationship.
Choosing to trust keeps that relationship strong.
A. Jealousy always drives people away; it never draws them back, because it says, I don t trust you.
And love relationships have to be built on trust.
1. Close to 60% of marriages today end in divorce.
2. One thing this tragic reality tells us is that millions of people, both injured spouses & children who are hurt by the fallout from broken marriages, now have greater difficulty trusting others.
3. In the face of such pain, a love that is not jealous does not come easily, but by God s grace, it can.
B. Statistics are impossible to compile on the number of marriages that remain intact but have been damaged by a violation of trust.
1. In these cases, the wife or husband whose spouse has been
unfaithful will understandably struggle with jealousy, even if the errant partner has sought forgiveness & reconciliation. How do I know he won t do it again? How can I trust her around other men now? (Legitimate cries of a wounded heart.)
2. The tendency then is to demand moment-by-moment accountability, to question every time the violator leaves early or comes home late.
3. The danger is that such control will choke off efforts
to restore the relationship.
4. Eventually they must choose to trust instead of seeking control.
5. Because love given freely has the power to heal broken relationships.
C. When I reject jealousy, I choose to trust another person.
When I reject envy, I choose to trust God.
1. I no longer worry about what I do or don t have. I m content.
2. I trust God to bless me as He wishes & when He wishes, rather than envying what others possess.
3. I m grateful for a friendship rather than envious
of someone else s relationships.
4. I m content with the potential & talents in my children
instead of comparing them to their peers.
5. I m free to celebrate not only my successes but also
the successes of others. Isn't this love great! This love is great because . . .
II. IT REACHES OUT TO MEET A NEED
A. Love is kind. It takes the initiative to meet someone else s needs.
1. Kindness has been called the only universal language.
Even those who cannot communicate verbally can speak it, and those who are hearing impaired can hear & understand it.
2. Why? Because, kindness is love expressed by what we do.
It reaches out to meet a need.
B. Remember the story of the good Samaritan?
A Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds . . . Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. Look after him, he said, and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have (Luke 10:33-35).
1. A classic random act of kindness. This love is so great because it takes the initiative (It makes the visit. It goes to the offended person & says, I m sorry. Let s work this out. It prays with someone. It shares God s Word with them. It listens to them. It washes the dishes. Love is Kind.)
2. It reaches out to meet needs. It s the greatest thing in the world!
3. Helping someone else, especially when they least expect it, usually brings about a positive reaction.
4. Through this kindness you are communicating love
to a hurting world.
C. Throughout Scripture God s unrelenting kindness beats
like a powerful heartbeat:
His merciful kindness is great toward us . . . (Psalm 117:2).
1. It s a refrain that never dies.
2. It is repeated over & over as a reminder that God s
mercy, compassion, & kindness flow abundantly to us every day.
D. As a result . . .
1. No longer are we kind in order to be complimented.
We no longer give for what we can get.
2. Those days are done. Those tactics are terminated. Instead, we are Kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another,
as God in Christ forgave you (Ephesians 4:32).
This love is the greatest thing in the world because . . .
III. IT WAITS WITH CONTENTMENT
JJJ.Love is patient.
1. Paul begins verse 4 by linking patience & kindness together.
2. Just as two candles gives more light than one in the darkness,So patience & kindness together tend to speak the message of love more forcefully.
B. What is patience? Is it lethargic, indifferent? No.
1. Do we sit back, twiddle our thumbs, & hum:
Whatever will be, will be . . .
2. No. There is nothing weak about patience.
C. Society has a lot to say about patience, but the truth is
it s in short supply.
1. Just take a look at the stands during a little league game.
2. Or check out the face of the person you just edged out of the only vacant parking spot at the mall on Christmas Eve.
D. When we turn to the Bible, God assures us over & over to wait:
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him (Psalm 37:7).
1. Abram is 75 years old when God says, Abraham, you re going to be a father. You will be the ancestor of a great nation. But it won t happen today, it won t happen tomorrow. Think about being 75 years old, told you re about to become a parent . . . And then waiting 24 years before the promise came true (Gen. 12).
2. God told Israel, His people, that they would be a nation,
able to leave the slavery of Egypt. Yet they had to wait 400 years (Gen. 15:13).
3. Moses was told by God that he would lead the people to the
Promised Land, but they had to go to the wilderness & wait 40 years (Numbers 14).
4. Then came the great promise that the Messiah, the Savior, from God would appear. God s people waited. Generation after generation, century after century.
In Luke 2 we read about two people who recognized the Messiah when He arrived, because they were waiting on God.
Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon.
The man was righteous & devout . . . Looking forward to (waiting for) the consolation of Israel (Luke 2:25)
Verse 27 & following reads . . .
And inspired by the Spirit he came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for Him what was customary under the law, Simeon took Him into his arms and praised God, saying,
Master, you may dismiss your servant in peace.
A. Oh, how patience is needed today.
Sometimes we are like the man who prayed,
Lord, give me patience, and, give it to me now!
No one treated Abraham Lincoln with more contempt than did Stanton. Yet Lincoln said nothing. He made Stanton his war minister because Stanton was the best man for the job. He treated Stanton with every courtesy . . . The night came when the assassin s bullet murdered Lincoln in the theatre. In the little room to which the President s body was taken there stood Stanton . . . And looking down on the silent face of Lincoln, Stanton said through his tears, There lies the greatest ruler of men the world has ever seen.
The patience of love had conquered in the end.
Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord.
Behold, the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient over it until it receives the early and the late rain (James 5:7).
A. If there is any quality a farmer must possess, it is patience.
James compares patience to a the farmer working faithfully in his field.
1. Immediately after one harvest, he begins to prepare for the next.
2. He plows & cultivates the soil.
3. If the soil is depleted, he adds fertilizer. He does all he can do to produce the desired crop, and then he waits for the rain.
If the seed sown comes up, he must keep the growing crop cultivated. He digs up the weeds. Protects the crop from animals that would eat it & insects that would destroy it.
4. If the first seeds sown do not come up, he quickly replants,
hoping that he is not too late.
6. Days, weeks, and months go by.
The plants grow slowly but there is no way he can
hurry the growing process.
7. He could sit by the field in a lawn chair. But that wouldn't make it come any sooner. He must give the seeds he planted time to change, mature, & bear fruit. He could decide to worry for 11 months, and it still would take the same length of time for the crop to grow.
B. What enables him to have such patience?
1. The end result of his work.
2. He waits for the precious fruit of the earth.
The hope of harvest makes it all worthwhile.
A. No guarantees come with farming.
1. If there is no rain, either the crops won t come up or else they will wither.
2. If there is too much rain, the crops will rot.
3. If the rains come at the wrong times, there will either be no crop or the quality of the crop will be affected.
4. An early frost might devastate it.
5. But the farmer keeps on planting and working and waiting.
Because of the harvest, the farmer is patient.
You also be patient (James 5:8).
B. Be patient just like the farmer.
Establish your hearts Strengthen your hearts
1. Your harvest time is almost here the time when the Lord
will reward the faithful.
2. If the farmer waits patiently because of the possibility of a harvest, how much more patient we should be, for with God there are no crop failures; our reward is sure!
C. So, like the farmer waited with plow in hand, with seed in hand, with tools in hand . . . We too work while we wait.
BE PATIENT IN YOUR WORK
1. It s easy to want instant results.
2. To begin a program with great enthusiasm, yet, to become impatient, wanting to quit, if results are not seen immediately.
Do not be weary in well-doing (2nd Thessalonians 3:13).
For in due season we shall reap, if we faint not or do not quit (Gal 6:9).
3. Keep on studying with that person; setting a good example; planting the seed in the heart of another.
BE PATIENT WITH ONE ANOTHER (5:9)
A. Have you ever noticed this common phenomenon:
When we get frustrated or angry, or, we are hurt by others, we tend to take it out on those nearest & dearest to us?
1. This is illogical, but so common!
2. This seems to be the problem James addresses in verse 9.
A. They were being oppressed & persecuted by non-Christians.
1. They were dragged into court unjustly.
2. As a result, they started fussing & finding fault with each other.
3. Don t grumble or complain. Do not blame your troubles on each other, James says. Instead of complaining about someone, go to that person & discuss the problem (Matthew 5:22-24).
Instead of talking about others, pray for them.
B. Believing that God can meet your needs, even when others are not, leads you to be patient; to wait for people to change.
1. This means that I can be patient at my job, to hang in there, even under less than ideal circumstances.
2. This means that you can be patient with a friend who doesn t respond to a request when & how you wish he would.
BE PATIENT IN THE MIDST OF TRIALS (5:10,11)
A. Don t quit. Don t give up.
1. The harvest day is coming!
2. The greatest thing in the world is this love that is patient in our work, with one another, in the midst of trials.
B. Imagine for a moment where would we be without
God s patience towards us?
1. Read again Luke 15 & see as if for the first time God s patience as He diligently searches for us . . . Despite our stubbornness, & waywardness, He never relents. He never grows weary.
2. He waits for us to return.
See His patience illustrated in the fact that genuinely cares for us, and longs to fill us with His abundant life.
3. Delve into Matthew 18:21-33 again and see God s patience through His forgiving us of a debt we could not pay.
A man was working at his desk at home when his little daughter came in & said, Daddy, can we play?
He answered, I m sorry, Sweetheart, but I m right in the middle of something. In about an hour I can play. She said, O.K,
when you re finished, Daddy, I am going to give you a great big hug.
She went to the door, did a U-turn, came right back, and gave him a great big hug. The Daddy said, Sweetie, you said you were going to give me a hug after I finished. She answered, Daddy, I just wanted you to know what you have to look forward to!
God wants us to know through His Son s first coming, how much we have to look forward to in His second coming.
I ve been waiting my whole life; now my wait s over.
-The second is a woman named Anna (Luke 2:36).
For years this amazing woman never left the temple, but worshiped there with fasting & prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she gave thanks to God, and spoke of Him to all who were looking forward to (waiting for) the redemption of Israel (Luke 2:38).
A. What God does in us while we wait patiently is as important
as what it is we re waiting for. Let us rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope (Romans 5:3,4).
1. God is producing these qualities in us while we wait.
2. Waiting is part of the process of becoming what God wants us to be.
3. It is a confident, disciplined, expectant, active, sometimes painful holding on to God.
4. It s a daily decision that says:
God, I will trust you and I will obey you even though
the circumstances of my life are not turning out the way I want them to, and they may never turn out the way I want them to.
I m holding on to you, God, and there is no plan B.
5. It s similar to the special relationship between the flyer & the catcher on the trapeze. When the flyer is swinging high above the crowd on the trapeze, the moment comes when he must let go. He arcs out into the air, and his job is to remain as still as possible & to wait for the strong hands of the catcher to snatch him from the air. The flyer must never try to catch the catcher.
The flyer must wait in absolute trust.
B. How good are you at waiting?
1. Imagine standing in a long line at the bank or post-office.
2. Imagine pulling into a gas station & all the pumps are occupied,
So you have to wait for somebody to drive away.
3. We know the term, road rage, which has been identified
as a leading cause of fatal automobile accidents.
C. Love is patient . . . It s waiting with contentment;
persevering under the heat.
1. You ve been wronged & you have it within your power to avenge yourself, yet will not do it.
2. One person defined patience as faith waiting for a nibble.
Picture the dedicated fisherman sitting in his fishing boat.
If he has faith that there really are some keepers down there,
he will wait all day long for one to bite.
No one liked her. Never did anything right. A perpetual problem.
Even the compassionate director of the orphanage where she lived was at the end of her rope. One day another resident told the director the girl had scrawled something on scraps of paper & tied them to the limbs of a tree in the yard. The director pulled one of the notes from the tree & read it: Whoever finds this I love you! the note read. The child had a craving for compassion & understanding. A longing for love. She did strange things to gain attention.
A. We all need love. Most of us receive an abundance of it
from family & friends.
1. But all around us are people who have never been treated
with genuine love & concern.
2. They re slowly starving to death.
3. Through us, God wants to show His love to them.
B. What is this thing called love anyway?
1. We speak of loving baseball, apple pie, & Chevrolet.
We say, I love that new dress or . . . your new car.
2. We use the phrases falling in love, being in love.
Someone has defined love as an itch you can t scratch.
3. To some, love is a pit you fall into.
To others, it s a sweet dream you hope never ends.
4. One songwriter called love a many-splendored thing.
We hope that by visiting this web page, you have been blessed.
Sid Womack, webmaster
[ Our Elders | Our Minister | Our Ministries | About Us | Calendar ]
[ OnLine Resources | Directions | Services ]
[ Home ]