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Building Lasting Values
“The Value of Love”
1 Corinthians 13: 4-8a
In our series on building our lives on values that will last, the value of love might be the most valuable of them all.
Turn to 1 Corinthians 13
How valuable is love. Consider the following verse from 1 Corinthians 13:13
“And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13 NKJV)
Consider the value of faith. The Bible says that without faith we’ll never be able to please God (Hebrews 11:6). And as far as hope goes, it is said that a person can live about forty days without food, three days without water, about eight minutes without air, but only a single second without hope.
And yet, as valuable as faith and hope are, love trumps them both in God’s eyes.
Here is a rhetorical question. If you had just been shipwrecked and were floating on the ocean with your friend in a rubber raft and all you had were a set of flares, enough food for a week, 5 gallons of water, and you can’t make it to land without throwing one thing overboard. What do you throw overboard? If your first thought was your friend, then I’m really glad you’re here this morning, because this a message for you.
A lawyer, an expert in the Law of Moses, asked Jesus, “which is the greatest commandment in the law?” Basically he was asking Jesus what is the singular most important thing in life in the eyes of God.
Jesus replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 23:37-39 NKJV)
I think it is safe to say that love is the most important value we could be looking at.
Once again, the Apostle Paul makes this same conclusion.
“For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:14 NKJV)
Love is then the number one value that we need to build our lives upon. Paul was quoting Jesus’s answer that loving one’s neighbor as ourselves is the summation of the whole law of God, and that loving one’s neighbor is just like the first of loving God with the whole of our being, that is, loving one’s neighbor is the physical representation of showing our love for God.
Love then is the value God values most. Yet love is the one value that we struggle with the most. In a lot of marriages often times love goes from exciting to exhausting to expiring if we’re not careful.
So, HOW to we build this value of loving God and others that will last? Well, the first thing we have to do is to look at what love is.
Love is one of the most misunderstood words there is. We can say we love our spouse, and then say the same thing about pepperoni pizza. Now, I hope that we know there’s a difference between the two, and while both might give us heartburn, they’re not the same.
Our problem is that in the English language there is no way to tell the difference. We use love for a lot of different things. Betty wrote the following love letter to Ben
“Dearest Ben, No words could ever express the great unhappiness I felt since breaking our engagement. Please say that you’ll take me back. No one could ever take your place in my heart, so please forgive me. I love you, Betty – P.S. Congratulations on winning the state lottery”
Something seems to be missing in the translation, not to mention the meaning.
There are many popular misconceptions about love. Many of them come through Hollywood. There are a lot of stories about love, but fail miserably at describing real love. Take for instance, “Love Story.” Ali Mcgraw’s character said, “Love never has to say it’s sorry.” Oh, Please, love is all about seeking and giving forgiveness.
Hollywood has romanticized, plasticized, and sanitized what love really is. As children we grow up thinking that we’re either Snow White or Prince Charming. Many girls grow up thinking that they’re going to marry Prince Charming, only to end up with Grumpy.
So, I think it’s safe to say that people suffer from some Misconceptions about love.
One misconception is that Love is a Feeling. We see love as an emotional and sentimental feeling, but it is actually much more than that. It goes much deeper.
Another misconception is that Love is Uncontrollable. We say that when somebody’s in love their head is spinning, they’re giddy, or weak in the knees. Sounds more like they’re seasick than in love! We say people in love do the craziest things, like this is a good thing. We also say people fall in love, where love is kind of like walking down the street and falling into a ditch. The problem with falling in love is that you can fall right back out of it.
But what does God say love is?
Love is a Choice
What this means is that love is controllable. Jesus commands that we love each other. Jesus didn’t command us to feel a certain way, He commanded us to love. But we can’t command a feeling the same way we can’t command a baby to stop crying.
But God commands us to love, that is, to make a choice
“And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” (Colossians 3:14 NIV)
The words, “put on,” have the meaning of getting dressed. We consciously put on what we’re wearing. We don’t fall into the closet and come out dressed, and while some of us may look like that is what happened, it doesn’t happen like that. We choose what we’re going to wear. So, love is a choice, we put on love.
Love is a Conduct
Love is all about how or the way we act toward others.
The Apostle John says, “Let us stop just saying we love each other; let us really show it by our actions.” (1 John 3:18 NLT)
We don’t just tell others we love them; we also show it by our actions.
Now, the Greeks had four words when they talked about love: “Philo,” “Eros,” “Stergo,” and “Agape.”
It is the agape love, unconditional love that describes the love that God has for us, and what John is saying is that it is this unconditional love that we are to have for one another.
It is where we can actually love someone without particularly liking what they’re doing. How can we do that? How does love act towards others?
There is a picture of this kind of love found in the Bible. It is found in what is commonly called the love chapter, or 1 Corinthians chapter 13.
“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a NKJV)
This is a list of how love acts, and as such tells us how we are to act in our love for one another. Now, for the sake of time, I’d like to break this up into five of its main components.
1. Love is Patient
“Love suffers long.” (1 Corinthians 13:4 NKJV)
In other versions it says that love is patient. This is how God begins describing love. This means love takes time to grow and mature, and that we’ll never stop growing in our love for others, therefore, we need to be patient, we need to suffer through the junk that comes with relationship, because relationships are messy.
In the Greek, this word for patience is made up of two words, “long,” or “slow,” and “anger” or “wrath.” This is why I think the translators of the King James used, “Suffers long.” That is, love is slow to anger.
A woman was grocery shopping with her little three-year-old daughter riding in the grocery cart. As they passed the candy isle the little girl wanted some candy, but her mother said no, and the little girl started to cry. The mother said, “Don’t be upset Janey. I know you don’t like shopping, but we only have a few more aisles to go.”
The next isle were the toys, and the little girl asked for a toy and the mother again told her no, and the little girl started to throw a tantrum. Again the mother said, “Don’t be upset Janey. Please try to be calm, there’s only one aisle left to go.”
When they finally got to the check out stand the little girl saw all the goodies they put out as impulse items, and the little girl wanted a little plastic toy, but the mother again told her no, and the little girl started crying and throwing a tantrum once again. And again the mother said, “Janey, we’ll be finished in less than five minutes, just hang in there and you can go home and have a lovely nap.”
A man hearing the whole ordeal came up to the mother and said, “Excuse me, but I seem to have been in the same aisles as you and heard you speak to your daughter, and I can’t help admiring your patience with little Janey.”
And the mother replied, “Oh no, you’ve got it wrong. My daughter’s name is Alison, I’m Janey.”
Paul in his letter to the Ephesian Church talks about how this patient love acts.
“Be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.” (Ephesians 4:2 NLT)
Patience is making allowances for another person’s faults because of our love for them.
The reason patient love is something we struggle with is because it takes a lifetime to master. This, however, is the type of love God has for us. God is patient, and waits for us to change and to let go of the sin that has gripped our hearts and minds. And so, God patiently waits, and while He waits He empowers us with patience for others.
2. Love is Kind
“Love suffers long and is kind.” (1 Corinthians 13:4 NKJV)
Kindness is caring for someone in the practical and small details of life. It is taking the wedding vows and turning them into washing dishes and taking out the trash even if it isn’t our turn. It is taking the great hope we have when our children are born and translating it into changing dirty diapers. Through acts of kindness we have the power to change a person’s life.
Kindness in the Greek it is “crestos,” which is just one letter different from the Greek word for Christ, or “Cristos.” And what I find interesting is that back in the time of the early church, people often confused these two when they saw the kindness exhibited by Christians and the church.
This is what we should be known for. Therefore, Kindness is Love in Action.
In his letter to the Ephesian Church, Paul gives us an outline of how kindness works
“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32 NKJV)
To be kind to one another means that we care about others, forgiving them as God has forgiven us. So kindness means to act toward others like God acts toward us.
3. Love isn’t Showy
“Love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up.” (1 Corinthians 13:4b NKJV)
This is all about insecurity. If we are secure in our love, we don’t have to envy what others may have or boast about what we have. An important issue in any relationship is security, because even the slightest insecurity will tear a relationship apart.
This is why God is so clear about how secure we are in His love once we come into that personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
In His letter to the Roman Church Paul says, “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39 NKJV)
Now, there are several things that add to insecurity in our relationships. These are secrecy, inconsistency, disconnection, or some sort of disagreement.
Maybe right now we are thinking of who and what it may have been. In love we need to go and talk to them, and then show it by an act of kindness, which is to forgive them.
And while this is a scary step, we need to act out of love and no longer live in fear. Fear chains us, while loves changes us. Love allows us to be all that God has created for us to be. So, love isn’t showy; rather it’s a genuine care for others.
4. Love Isn’t Selfish
“(Love) does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil.” (1 Corinthians 13:5 NKJV)
Several thoughts here!
Therefore, love changes the way we use our words, the way we make our plans, and not allowing our stinky attitudes to take over what we do.
Now, there’s a little bit of fear in that. There’s a fear that if we risk ourselves in selflessly loving another person maybe they won’t return that love, or they won’t love us in the same way. But it isn’t about what the other person does or doesn’t do; it’s all about what we do.
If we’re truly going to be like Christ, then we must realize that while He unconditionally and selflessly loved us, we have never loved Him or others in the same way, but that didn’t stop Him from His love towards us.
And so, if we are to love God with the whole of who we are, and then love others as ourselves, then we don’t need to be afraid of the consequences, but rather love others as God has loved us.
5. Love Doesn’t Quit
“(Love) bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:7-8a NKJV)
Love doesn’t quit, because love is a commitment.
Now, some may say, “Sounds great, but that’s impossible to accomplish, because the power to love like that isn’t within us.” And they’re right.
When Jesus said to love the Lord God with the whole of our being and then to love others as ourselves, He knew that the second without the first is impossible. The only way we can love others, and for that love to endure is only found in a loving relationship with God. And so, loving God is where the power comes from to love others.
Knowing that God loves us with an unconditional love will give us the strength we need to love others in the same way.
Paul tells us the reward when we hang in there.
“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” (Galatians 6:9 NKJV)
Don’t quit, be patient in your kindness towards others. Loving others is not easy, but in the end a great reward will be ours. And the greatest act of love that we can bestow upon another person is to tell them of God’s love for them.
And so, this week go and tell the story of God’s love to those who need to hear it, even though you’ve told the story many times before, tell it again, don’t grow weary, don’t lose heart, because in the end we’ll reap that great harvest.
And finally, one of the most loving things we can do is tell the truth of what God’s word says concerning a situation or a person’s life. It may not sit well, it may get us in hot water, but if we truly love others, we will share with them the truth, not mollycoddle them with spiritual feel good phrases and statements. This I believe covers when it says that love does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth.
Therefore, to build up the House of God within us, we need to build within us the value of love, where we love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love our neighbor as ourselves.
Wednesday Evening Bible Study