One thing: If I could say one thing to you…
The Bible is very clear about it. God put you here on earth to do two things: to learn to love God and to learn to love other people. Life is one giant lesson in love – life is not about acquisition – how much I get; Life is not about accomplishment – how much I do; Life is not about achievement – how much I earn. Because all of that you’re going to leave behind. You’re not taking your career to heaven. You’re not taking your car to heaven. You’re not taking your money to heaven. You’re not taking your house to heaven. But you are taking your character and your love.
Bottom Line: Learning to love better should be the first priority for the rest of your life.
Something To Talk About:
In the second half of this letter to the church at Corinth, Paul spends much of his time addressing the lack of love within the church. They had forgotten the love that Christ displayed for them and were failing to show that same love to those around them. This leads us to the now famous “love chapter.” In this sermon, we discuss four important points:
- Nothing I say will matter: “If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1). But before he gives these words, he starts off 1 Corinthians 13 with a reminder as to why this is important. In 1 Corinthians 13:1, he argues that without love nothing really matters. In fact, he says without love all our efforts are just a “noisy gong” or a “clanging cymbal.” In short, ineffective and rather annoying. We need love. Jesus tells us in John 13:35, that we are to be known by our love. This is the root of everything followers of Jesus should do. We’re really impressed by the great speakers. We love eloquence and charisma. But God says, “I don’t care how good of a communicator you are. Are you living a life of love?” If you’re not, then nothing you say will matter. Words without love are just noise.
- Nothing I know will matter: “If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:2). We live in a world where knowledge is exploding. We are smarter than we’ve ever been. But we still have the same problems. The world doesn’t need more knowledge. It needs more love. The Apostle Paul warned that “knowledge puffs up, but love builds up” (1 Corinthians 8:1b), so “…But while knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that strengthens the church” (1 Corinthians 8:3). The Christian duty is not simply head knowledge, which sounds impersonal and academic, but to know God better, and most importantly, with applications of that knowledge in love. Otherwise, we can simply become a walking-talking Bible dictionary that is purely academic. You may be a genius. But God says if you don’t have love in your life, all that you know is worthless.
- Nothing I achieve will matter: The Bible is very clear about what really matters in life: “For when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, there is no benefit in being circumcised or being uncircumcised. What is important is faith expressing itself in love.” (Galatians 5:6). Contrary to popular thinking, academic achievement does not determine worth. Our value derives from our identity in Christ. If you don’t live a life of love, nothing you accomplish will matter. You can rack up an incredible list of personal achievements. You can get your picture on the cover of Fortune magazine. You can win the Nobel Peace Prize. You can have enormous accomplishments, be an entrepreneur of the year, build a billion-dollar company, and have incredibly great successes in your field of endeavor. But the Bible says it isn’t worth much if you don’t love. Paul later warned that if we have all knowledge but don’t have love, we are nothing (1 Corinthians 13:2). Thus, knowledge without love is meaningless and ineffective. It’s just a collection of information. Ask God to fill your life with love. Be careful about communicating what you know. Instead, seek to be motivated by love, always building up others.
- Nothing I give or sacrifice will matter: “If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:3). Love isn’t always the motivation for giving. Some people give just to get back or out of guilt or for control or prestige. You can give for a lot of wrong motives, but the Bible says if you’re not doing it out of love, none of your giving counts. No reward will come even when we pay the highest price to serve Christ if we do not love. The motivation for our actions and discipleship is vital. If they are not moved by love, they count for nothing, not because our love earns life for us but because love is the fruit of one’s true surrender to Jesus (1 John 5:1). Give out of a heart of love. Raise your reason for giving to the rarified air of love alone. Love trusts the Lord to apply a gift toward its divine purpose. Love believes God can multiply a gift way beyond human capabilities.
- If a friend described you, what would they say about how you show your love to others?
- The Bible says, “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love” (Galatians 5:6 NIV). What do you think that means?
- Talk about a time when you really experienced love. What happened?
- How important is love to human beings? Why do you think it is so important?
- How would you explain the difference between love that is from God and love that is based on human understanding?
- What people in your life have demonstrated the truth that love is a choice and a commitment?
- Are we a “display window” for the supernatural love of Christ? In what ways do your actions reveal the depth of your love for people?
- In what specific ways can you practice loving others well this week?
- What can you learn from Jesus about how to love others?
- Love must become your lifestyle, the habit of your life. But it starts with a decision. What decision can we make this week to make love a habit?
- What are your expectations for this week as a result of Sunday’s message?
Take One Thing Home with You:
How much do we desire to know God’s, great love? Knowing the love of God for us is essential to healthy Christian living. God’s love is fundamental to our identity as His children and the sacrifice of Jesus. It may seem elementary that God loves you, but it is far far more than we can ever understand. God loves you simply because He loves you. You don’t have to work for His affection. You don’t have to set yourself straight before God can pour out His love over you. The father in the prodigal son’s story ran out to meet his son before anything had ever been set right. He didn’t know his son was there to apologize. He didn’t care. He simply wanted to love his child. Your heavenly Father feels the same way about you. He longs to love you right where you are, as you are. He longs to fill you with love to overflowing.