The Ultimate Manifestation of the Holy Spirit: Love!
Topic: Love Passage: 1 Corinthians 13
-Growing up in Lancaster County:
-No matter how many gifts of the Spirit we may have, or spokes, without love,
-We bordered a farm.
-As Dutch folklore goes in Lancaster County:
“You can do without a spoke,but you can’t do without the hub.”
or the hub, they will ultimately count for nothing, and we will count for nothing!
II. 1 Corinthians 13
-The Corinthians had four manifest problems
-Divisions- over all manner of issues
-Debauchery- unholy living, tolerant of explicit sin
“It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a
kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s
wife. And, you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who
has done this be removed from among you.” – 1 Corinthians 5:1-2
-Disorder- a church service in Corinth was no picnic
-Doctrinal-false doctrine spread throughout the church
-Their ultimate problem; defining spiritual maturity and spirit filled by gifts
-The pride, sin, and abuse of the spiritual gifts arose from a lack of love for
-The crux of what it meant to be a Spirit filled Christian, a disciple of Jesus instead of love one another.
Christ, was missing; in its place were scattered spokes, but no hub to create a useful wheel.
-Notice how chapter 13 is bracketed:
-1 Corinthians 12:31- “But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.”
-1 Corinthians 14:1- “Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts…Love is the supreme manifestation of the Spirit.
-Earnestly desire the higher gifts…but I will show you a still more excellent
-The most vital manifestation of the Spirit is not one particular gift; love is.
-Regardless of which gifts we do or do not have, we are called to pursue love.way. Earnestly desire the spiritual gifts…but pursue love.
It is not a gift like prophecy that we may or may not have; it is a way of life
birthed into everyone who is filled with the Spirit of God. Not one genuine
Christian is incapable of pursuing love, as it is the characteristic way of life for
a Spirit-filled follower of Christ.
“Paul’s point is that the love he is about to discuss cannot be classed with the
charismata: it is not one charisma of many, but an entire ‘way’ of life, an
overarching, all-embracing style of life that utterly transcends in importance
the claims of this or that charisma. That does not mean, of course, that Paul
is saying the charismata are not important; it means, rather, that if too much
attention is paid to them, believers may overlook the absolutely crucial
importance of the entire way of life that ought to characterize every believer.”1
? I’ve lost count of many weddings I’ve attended where this was the passage
read. Paul never intended 1 Corinthians 13 as the wedding chapter, or the
stuff of Hallmark greeting cards…this is first a correction to the Corinthians
and any who prioritize spiritual gifts over love! It has lots of application, but
Paul’s aim was not to give a wedding passage!
“These words cut us down to size; they humble us, because we begin to see
what really matters to God. It is good for any congregation to assess its life
together from time to time in the mirror of this chapter.”2
III. Love Transcends the Spiritual Gifts.
1) Love is Indispensible (1-3)
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy
gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all
mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains,
but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my
body to be burned but have not love, I gain nothing.
Recall from Galatians 5 that the very first fruit of the Spirit is love. Paul’s point is
straightforward; no matter how powerful and exalted my gift of tongues, or any
other spiritual gift for that matter, without love my gift and me are nothing more
than a noisy gong or clanging cymbal!
Without love my spiritual gifts have virtually no significance. Paul uses exalted
and extreme examples hyperbolically to draw as sharp a contrast as he can with
love. Writing in the first person he says...
“If I could speak in tongues not only of men but of angels, and if my prophetic
powers were so great that I could understand all mysteries and all knowledge, if
my faith was so boundless as to move mountains, and beyond all that, if I gave
up my body to be burned, but I do not have love, then my gift of tongues,
prophecy and faith, along with my burnt body, are all meaningless!”
Notice its not just the gifts that have no intrinsic value without love; Paul himself
has no intrinsic value without love. He says in verse 2 that without love, “I am
He cites Five things; tongues, prophecy, understanding, faith and self-sacrifice.
Four powerful gifts and a philanthropic heart to give everything away, even his own lifethrough martyrdom, count for nothing if he does not have love. Do you get themathematics of Paul, or rather, God, in this passage?
“In this divine mathematics, five minus one equals zero.”
Paul uses categorical language; gifts, knowledge and the most philanthropicworks by themselves say nothing of our experience with God, of being spirit filled. There isn’t a week that goes by where I don’t see a new blog post or article debating the latest theological trend. If Paul were writing to the church today, or to pastors and seminary students specifically, he might say,
“If you think all this theological information crammed into your head and spouted out back and forth in ceaseless debating counts for anything, I have news for you; if you don’t love that Christian in a different theological pool than you, than your knowledge counts for nothing!”
Is Paul against the spiritual gifts? Not at all! Paul is against the use of the
spiritual gifts without love. Love is the measure. You can have a spirit filled
church without necessarily seeing every spiritual gift, but you cannot have a spirit
filled church where, even if every spiritual gift listed in Scripture were present, if
they are used or abused due to a lack of love, it all counts for nothing. Without
the hub of love the gifts will only be a bunch of scattered spokes.
2) Love “Behaves” in Particular Ways (4-7)
"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or
rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not
rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes
all things, hopes all things, endures all things."
Paul does not so much define love as he describes love in verses 4-7. What
immediately stands out from these verses is the stark contrast between how
Scripture describes love and how our culture describes love. To our feelings-obsessed culture Paul is saying, “Love is behavioral before it is ever sentimental!” Nothing in verses 4-7 is sentimental, or feelings driven; it’s behavioral, or personified.
80's songs about love
Is This Love? - Whitesnake
I Want to Know What Love Is – Foreigner
It Must Have Been Love (But it’s Over Now)- Roxette
Love is a Battlefield – Pat Benatar
“Stop Saying ‘I Feel Like’ Article
A) Love is
- Patient- (long suffering): the word here implies patience with people- I am
loving the person who is not loving me. Enduring without retaliation.
-Kind- quick to pay back with kindness even when what was received was hurt.
B) It is not/does not
-Envy (jealous, want or resent what others have or do) and Boast (brag about what we have or do)
- do we feel the need to let others know?
-Especially on spiritual subjects?
-Proud (inner feeling of superiority)
-Rude (outward actions of superiority) It is well said that you can spot a gentleman not by the way he addresses his king but by the way he
addresses his servants.
-Self-seeking – not only refraining from seeking that which doesn’t belong
to it, but willing to give up for the sake of others even what we are entitled too.
-Easily provoked - when we don’t get our way we aren’t waiting to explode.
-Turns attention in verse 6 to our responses to another’s sins and shortcomings:
-Record of wrongs – no private file of grievances that can be consulted or nursed whenever any new, real or perceived slight arises. Love precludes that kind of accounting.
-Delight in evil – In the context of the Corinthians Paul is referring to relational, internal matters in Corinth. Love does not delight to stir up controversy; it doesn’t enjoy endless discussions about what is wrong. It doesn’t do that because of the next one…
-Rejoice in the truth – actively seeks to track down and point out what is good and right with others.
C) It always...
-Protects (bears)- bears under anything that comes, not condemning or self-righteous; walks with you instead of looking down on you
-Trusts (believes)- is ever ready to believe the best and certainly won’t allow gossip and slander to inform them
-Hopes/Endures- won’t give up
How can we love like this?
Ultimately only a spirit-filled person can love like this. It takes the transforming work of the gospel of Jesus Christ to love like this, because this is how God loves us!
Paul is telling the Corinthians that loving each other like God loves them is the clearest, truest and best indication that they are full of the Holy Spirit.
Christian love is charity that conquers selfishness. Consider, when a young dude finds a young dudette that he one day says, “I love you” too, it is a statement he makes that has been somewhat elicited by her. He loves her personality; she’s pretty, whatever…
But God’s love for you and I did not involve any eliciting of anything intrinsically good in us. God’s love for you and me was entirely self-originating, and I would add, in spite of us! That God loves you and me ismore a statement of Him than us. We love what and whom we find lovely;
God loved us even when we were unlovely!
Paul’s point: the grace of the gospel of Jesus Christ at work in us makes this kind of love possible. Not only possible, but a spirit-filled Christian (the only kind there can be!) is increasingly characterized by this kind of love.
3) Love is Permanent; the spiritual gifts are not (8-13)
-Our giftings are not going to follow us into eternity.
-I don’t think we will hear, “How many times did you prophesy?”
-We might hear, “Did you love?”
- If I am lacking in love for those in the church, where should I be looking?
-Are they just unlovable? Jesus says so were you in your sin.
- Are they just different? Jesus says you were nothing like me.
-Are they just not mature enough? Jesus asks, are you?
-Where I am lacking in love towards others is directly related to my comprehending God’s love through Christ for me. God’s love for us is what compels our love for others.
- If we love others little, we understand our sin and ourselves little; we’ve
comprehended God’s love little.
-Love is not simply a virtue that we attain; no, it is the result of a transformed life filled with the Spirit of God. And in the end, love will remain, whereas the spiritual gifts will not.
-As important as the spiritual gifts are, and as much as we long to see Grace Community Church abounding in the spiritual gifts, the indispensible test ofthe presence of the Holy Spirit is not the gifts but love! Think about it; pagans can duplicate or mimic some spiritual gifts. This kind and quality of love cannot be!
“When we open our hearts to God’s love, it takes us, loveless and selfish
as we are, and re-makes us. It re-makes us so that to some extent we
who are recipients of God’s love come to see other people as God sees
them, as those for whom Christ died. We begin not to love because it has
been our good fortune to come across a particularly attractive lot of
people, but because in our own limited way we have become loving
people. The more fully we respond to God’s love, the more fully we show
love. We love, because he first loved us.”
-The end of the matter:
“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for
one another.” – John 13:35
Grateful for the spokes…we need the hub! What is the Spirit saying to
you? This isn’t a message for information, but more transformation.
Record of wrong file? Easily angered? Proud? Neglecting to use a gift
Love Alone is Worth The Fight – Switchfoot
More in Who Am I?
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June 26, 2016Who Am I ? An Ambassador for Christ
June 19, 2016Who Am I ? I Am Secure Because I Will Never Be Forsaken by God Part Two