Our title this week is true love, and our passage today is very familiar. 1 Corinthians 13:1-13, is used at very many weddings - in fact I will be using this very passage when I do my first wedding next Saturday.
If you would please turn with me to this passage 1 Corinthians 13 1-13, and let’s look at what the Apostle Paul is saying hear, let’s try and forget all the flowery wedding sermons that we have heard. This is not about two people getting married it is about God’s love for us and Paul want us to understand God.
Verses 1-3 say — If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
You could give this section the sub heading of what am I if I have no love if I have everything and do not have love, I have nothing, but what is this love Paul is talking about, he mentions spiritual gifts in tongues and prophecy, he mentions faith so great that it can move mountings, he mentions what can be described as a generous heart and he mentions giving himself over to hardship for others, but look at that bit at the end of verse 3 – that I may boast, who is Paul saying he does this for, obesely he is doing it for himself. Now I don’t know about you but that person was me in certain aspects, we read on but I do not have love, I gain nothing. Paul is talking about a love for God because only through Gods Son Jesus Christ can we gain everything. Before I had a relationship with Jesus I had a great deal but I had nothing but I thought I had a way into heaven.
I was at the EMA conference with Phil a couple of weeks ago and one guy nailed this, what he said was that people think that you get into heaven by ticking the box’s, you turn up at the purely gates with your good deeds folder and stand in front of God and tell him how good you was. Well Lord I never hurt animals, and I gave to charity’s, I loved my wife and family and I was a nice person and never hurt anyone, well I never hurt anyone who did not deserve it, you can overlook that can’t you after all I was a good person, not like some of them others. The problem with most people is that they thing that Jesus is a historical figure, like Nelson or Churchill or Julius Caesar, Jesus is a real person here right now wanting to love you. So when we present our good folder to God what will God say, He will say but you did not know my Son Jesus, being nice does not get us into heaven, following Jesus does and doing what Jesus taught us. We are to love our God with all our heart and to love our neighbour as ourselves.
And then in verses 4-7 Paul goes on to describe what the fathers love looks like, You could give this section the sub heading of what or who is love Paul says 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Read this again, for this is the good news the Gospel that Jesus came to give us, so let’s read this again but change the word love for God: “God is patient, God is kind. God does not envy, God does not boast, God is not proud. God does not dishonour others, God is not self-seeking, God is not easily angered, God keeps no record of wrongs. God does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. God always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
God loves us, every one of us and all He wants is for us to love Him so much that He came in the form of Jesus to show us how to do it, how to love the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, you can’t love someone if you are not in relationship with them and our God is relational, He is three in one and wants a relationship with each one of us. He wants us to talk to him in prayer.
God gives us examples of his love all the time I am sure we have all experiences the love of a parent and some of us will have experienced the love for a spouse and our own children.
Last Sunday at the ordination for priesting, I was asked during communion to serve the wine that represents to us the blood Jesus shed for us, well it was all going to plan, up until Chris my wife stood in front of me smiling, I had such a rush of love and emotion that my eyes started to water and breathing became a bit harder, but its ok I maned up and offered her the wine, and thought I was fully back in control and then my daughter stood in front of me and the same thing happened and then my son and the same thing, such a rush of total love for all three, only showing me a glimpse of what our Heavenly Fathers love is like for us. It reminded me of the parable of the prodigal son and the fathers love for the lost son, this was Jesus saying how God welcomes us back into his loving arms.
God is not asking us to be perfect, we are all incapable of that only Jesus is the perfect one, but God still choose you and me, God still loves you and me, what about us do we show this love to God to our neighbours to the world. in the story of the good Samaritan. Jesus tells us what we should be like, we should love everyone, just as God loves everyone despite knowing that not everyone will accept that love and not everyone will follow Jesus, and it’s not our job to judge, Jesus said in Matthew 7 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.
We are to love God and each other. None of this is hard Jesus said my “Yoke is easy. and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:30_.
And now Paul explains what will happen when the Lord Jesus comes back You could give this section the sub heading of every thing pass’s except love. Paul says:
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child; I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
God never fails God is always faithful, Paul is saying when Jesus comes and there will be no need for prophecies or tongues or knowledge, when we are with God we will fully complete and we will understand everything, we are as very young children, we think we know a lot and compared to our ancestors we do but in God we will be complete, it will be that complete eureka moment, that moment when we say I get it I fully understand and we will probably say it so obverses, why did we not see it before.
And Paul ends with verse 13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
We should have faith and through Jesus we have been given hope but on top of everything trumping all things is God’s love for us, as shown to us in Jesus and the presence of the Holy Spirit within us if we accept Gods love.
So in closing God loves you what is your response, to have a relationship with him or to keep him at arm’s length and hope that your good deeds folder will get you a place in heaven.
Lets Pray: Heavenly Father, thank you for that true love you have for me, thank you that you love me and that you want a relationship with me, thank you for sending Jesus to us to show me the way, Lord send your Holy Spirit upon me today and always, so that I will always be in relationship with you. Amen