1. LOVE IS THE GREATEST
1 Corinthians 13:1-13 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not 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 have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, 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. 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 perfection comes, the imperfect 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 childish ways behind me. 12 Now we see but a poor 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. 13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (NIV)
The first thing that the fruit of the spirit consists of is “love”. What does the Bible say about love?
Here in these verses Paul tells us that without love we are no better than a “resounding gong or a clanging cymbal”. He tells us that without love we are nothing. And if we do not have love, everything else we do is worthless and does not benefit or profit us.
What are some of the other things that Paul says about love?
1) It is patient.
2) It is kind
3) It is not jealous.
4) It does not brag
5) It is not arrogant.
6) It does not act unbecomingly.
7) It doesn’t seek its own.
8) It is not provoked.
9) It does not take into account a wrong suffered.
10) It does not rejoice in unrighteousness.
11) It rejoices with the truth.
12) It bears all things.
13) It believes all things.
14) It hopes all things.
15) it endures all things.
16) And it never fails.
As God’s people if we are producing love in our lives, then each one of these characteristics should also be found in our lives.
While many people today emphasize the gifts of prophecy, tongues and knowledge, Paul tells us in the last verse of this chapter that, “now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
What else does the Bible say about love?
2. LOVE IS THE BOND OF UNITY
Colossians 3:14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. (NIV)
What does Paul mean by the word “perfect” in this verse? He means that nothing else can substitute for love and still bring about unity.
In order for there to be unity between a husband and wife, between two friends, between church members or churches, love must exist between them. When there is an absence of unity, this shows that there is an absence of love, and visa versa.
Proverbs 10:12 Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs. (NIV)
How is it possible for God’s people to live together in peace and harmony even though we treat each other like “dogs” at times? The answer is, because of love.
If we truly love one another as we should, then we will not be so fast to judge one another, be vengeful towards one another, or get our feelings hurt every time someone says something to us. And if someone does sin against us, our love for that person should over ride our fleshly nature and cover that transgression.
When you cover something that means you can’t see it anymore. And if someone sins against us personally, our love should cover it so that we no longer see it or remember it any more.
If we love one another as we should, then we will not be bringing up things that someone did in the past, but rather we will forget those things as God has for us.
Proverbs 17:17 A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. (NIV)
What else does the Bible say about love?
3. LOVE IS PROOF OF DISCIPLESHIP
John 13:34-35 A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (NIV)
Here in these verses Jesus commands us as disciples to love one another just as He loved us. What will happen if we are producing love for one another. Jesus said, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples…”
The early Latin writer Tertullian of Carthage, wrote that the one thing that converted him to Christianity was not the philosophical arguments they gave him, because he could always find a counterpoint for every argument presented. “But they demonstrated something I didn’t have. The thing that converted me to Christianity was the way they loved each other.”
Matthew 7:20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. (NIV)
If we are producing love as we should, then those we come in contact with will recognize us as followers of Christ. That’s why we are told to do the following:
1 Corinthians 14:1 Follow the way of love… (NIV)
1 Corinthians 16:14 Do everything in love. (NIV)
Since we are commanded to produce love in our lives, how should this be done?
Romans 12:9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. (NIV)
The word “sincere” comes from the Greek word “hypokrisis” which means, “to play the part”.
Today I am afraid that to many of us go around telling people that we love them, when in reality we hate their guts. That’s being a hypocrite.
Love is not to be produced in hypocrisy, but rather in sincerity.
1 Peter 1:22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. (NIV)
This shows us that it takes a lot on our part to love, and therefore we must work hard to produce love in our lives.
4. LOVE IS AN ACTION
1 John 3:18 Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. (NIV)
As God’s people we should not only produce love with our words and tongue, but also with our actions. Love isn’t just a word that comes from our lips when we say, “I love you”. It is an action that can be seen in our lives.
Love is not something you say or feel it’s something you do. It’s a behavior, an action, a way of acting. Love is a verb, it’s something you do. A guy kept telling his girlfriend, “I would die for you.” Eventually she said, “You’re always saying that, but you never do it.” Love is something you do.
One of the actions of love is telling the truth. John said we are to also “love… in truth. Healthy Christians are truthful Christians.
Ephesians 4:15 Love should always make us tell the truth. Then we will grow in every way and be more like Christ…” (CEV)
Every healthy, strong relationship is built on two legs. These two legs help the relationship to stand. If you want to have a healthy relationship, you have to learn how to confront in truth and affirm in love. If you only do one, your relationship isn’t going to be able to stand. Some people do real well when it comes to confronting in truth. But sometimes the truth hurts. So, in order to help the person you also have to affirm that you love them, and let them know that they’re important to you and that you don’t want to hurt the relationship but improve it.
In theory we think that “honesty is the best policy”, but practically, there are times when we don’t think it’s such a good idea.
For instance, you might be thinking, “If I told my husband how I really feel about our marriage, he’d blow up.” “If I told my boyfriend what I don’t like about him, he’d leave me.” “If I told my wife about my frustration with our love life, she’d accuse me of a one-track mind.” “If I told my boss that what we’re doing is unethical, I’d get fired.” “If I confronted my friend and told him he needed counseling, he’d wouldn’t like me anymore.”
Love isn’t always easy or fun. Sometimes it downright tough. That’s why it takes courage to love someone.
Matthew 24:12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold. (NIV)
One of the signs of the end times is a lack of love. He says that there will come a time when, “the love of most will grow cold.”
1) Is your love for Jesus what it ought to be, or has it grown cold?
2) Is your love for one another what it ought to be, or has it grown cold?
3) Is your love for this church what it ought to be, or has it grown cold?
4) Is your love for God’s word what it ought to be, or has it grown cold?
5) And is your love for the lost what it ought to be, or has it grown cold?
Revelation 2:4-5 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. 5 Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. (NIV)
How do you learn to love like God loves you? How can you have a healthy love?
Ephesians 5:2 Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that. (MSG)
Jesus is our example and model in how to love. And the only way you’re ever going to be able to love like Him is by accepting him into your heart. When Jesus died on the cross, He stretched his arms out wide and said, “I love you this much!” That’s how much Jesus loves you! If you haven’t accepted His love for you, I invite you to do it right now.