Love One Another
1 Corinthians 13:1-13
PCC am 4/11/21
Love is considered by some to be the most important word in the English language and the most confusing. Both secular and religious thinkers agree that love plays a central role in human existence. Thousands of books, songs, magazines, and movies are written on the subject. Numerous philosophical and theological systems have made a prominent place for love.
Psychologists have concluded that the need to feel loved is a primary human emotional need. In the New International Translation of the Bible, the word love is used 551 times. By comparison, the bible says “ Fear Not “ only 365 times. I believe it is safe to conclude that God considers love to be of the highest importance. So important that He sacrificed His only Son to ransom us from sin and death. So let's take a few minutes to look at what the bible says about love.
If I speak in the tongues[a] 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,[b] but do not have 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 does not dishonor 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.
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.
13 And now these three remain faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Did you notice how much this definition of love resembles the fruits of the Spirit listed Galatians 5:22-23
“22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentlenesses, and self-control. Against such things, there is no law.
The reason that they are so similar is that love is the first fruit of the spirit. If the Spirit is dwelling in you you will have love. If you have love you will be patient and kind, not envious, boastful, or proud. If you have love you will seek truth and shun evil. If you have love people will know you are Jesus' disciple.
John’s Gospel records this teaching of Jesus.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.”
And Matthew records this teaching of Jesus
One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
So now we must answer the question, how do we carry out this command of Jesus? How do we love our neighbor as ourself?
First, we must answer the question, who is my neighbor? Would everyone please look to your left? Now look to your right? Congratulations now you know who your neighbor is. Your neighbor is everyone that you come in contact with.
So let’s look closer at how the bible teaches us to love our neighbor.
Be patient with them. A good place to start with that is our weeker brothers. The Weak and the Strong
14 Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. 2 One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3 The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. 4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.
5 One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. 6 Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7 For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. 8 If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 9 For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.
10 You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister[a]? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. 11 It is written:
“‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,
‘every knee will bow before me;
every tongue will acknowledge God.’”[b]
12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.
13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.
We are all in a different place in our faith journey. This morning we have everyone from babes in Christ to Senior Saints in our assembly. Some things are black and white, thou shall not kill, steal, commit adultery for example. But some things are a matter of conscience and spiritual maturity. As we mature in our faith we often become convicted over things that did not bother us as baby Christians. We need to remember that we were once babes in Christ and rather than pass judgment on our little brothers and sisters we need to be an example for them.
And we need to be patient with the lost, especially as society moves farther and farther away from the bible. Two generations ago children were raised in the church and accepted Christ at a young age. Today this is not the case. I was 18 when I opened a bible for the first time and 21 when I was baptized into Christ. Don’t get discouraged and don’t be impatient with the lost person that you are witnessing. Your job is to plant the seed. We know from nature that if a seed falls into a crack in a rock and receives water and sunlight that it can sprout, split the rock and put down roots. It may take years for the seeds you plant to crack open a hard heart. Be patient, you plant, someone else waters and God gives the increase.
Another way to love one another is by showing kindness. Does anyone else here have trouble taming their tongue? My mother used to say that I had her mouth and my dad’s temper. I’m sure you have all heard the saying, pray, think, act? In my youth, I would act ask someone what I did because I never even thought about it and then pray that God would fix it. Praise the Lord I have mellowed with age.
Proverbs 15:1-2 contains some of the best advice we could ever receive.
A gentle answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.
The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge,
but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.
When we see a brother or sister in error we have a duty to rebuke and correct them but how we do that will affect how they receive it. Done incorrectly we could lose our influence with our brother.
2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.
When we must correct someone it must be with great patience and careful instruction. When I was promoted to the department head at work my whole world changed. I had lots of experience as a machine operator and had often trained people on specific jobs. But now I have to instruct, correct and sometimes rebuke. My words have to be carefully chosen to achieve the desired effect. My actions affect not only my relationship with that employee but the company as a whole. Sometimes I have to walk away, pray and think before I speak.
When we correct a brother or sister we need to remember that they are our teammates and our goal is to build up the team. We must be careful that we do not discourage people and have them leave the team.
Another way we can love is by leading.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing[a] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
Men listen up. You have a clear command from scripture to love your wives just as Christ loved the church. You have a duty to lead her into a closer relationship with Christ. When you by example move towards Christ and she follows your lead you both become closer to Christ and each other. Jesus said,” Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” I pray that every man here would lay down his life for his wife, there is no greater act of love. But the second greatest act of love is to lead your wife closer to Christ, I pray that you are doing this. When you love your wife, you love yourself.
Fathers, you play one of the most important roles in society. You have been given the noble task of being the head of the family unit and to reflect your Heavenly Father to your children. The Apostle Paul gives you this charge.4 Fathers,[a] do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
Your children should see in you
A loving Provider
A strong Protector
A truthful Leader
A respectable Authority
An intimate Friend
When you do these things you have shown love, honor, and respect to your Heavenly Father and given your children the greatest gift that you could possibly give them.
OK ladies it’s your turn
22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.
We have allowed society to make submission into a dirty word. But in reality, submission is an act of love. Abraham loved and trusted God when he submitted to God and offered Isaac as a sacrifice. Jesus loved his Father enough to submit to death on the cross. God has placed your husband under the authority of Christ. When your husband submits to Christ and loves you by leading you closer to Christ, you show love to your husband by submitting to his leading.
Are you a kid? Or a kid at heart? We are blessed here this morning with three generations of the same family with us. Now I’ve never had children but I have been told that it doesn’t matter how old you are, your kids will always be kids even if they happen to be grandparents themselves.
This is what the bible says to you.
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— 3 “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”[a]
By obedience and submission, you show love to your parents. Not only that but you have the promise things will go well and you will enjoy long life on the earth.
Things may go well with you, simply put that means dad does not have to put Proverbs 22:15 into effect and apply the rod of correction to the seat of knowledge. Folly is bound up in the heart of a child,
but the rod of discipline will drive it far away.
And just let me say that I am blessed to have grown up in the Christain age. I would not have survived the Mosaic age.
18 If someone has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, 19 his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. 20 They shall say to the elders, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a glutton and a drunkard.” 21 Then all the men of his town are to stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid.
Kids, it doesn’t matter if you are 5 or 55 listen to your parents. With age comes wisdom and that is to your benefit. When you honor your parents you show them love and also show love to your heavenly father.
Loving one another is critical to strengthening the body of Christ. It is also critical for evangelism. If you do not love your neighbor as yourself their eternal destiny will be of no consequence to you.
Dr. Gary Chapman in his book The 5 Love languages Identifies universal languages used around the world in all cultures to express love. When we do these things in Jesus' name we are sowing the seeds of evangelism.
So what are the 5 Love Languages?
Words of Affirmation
Acts of Service
Time is a very valuable resource and in our fast-paced world we seem to have precious little of it.
But pending quality time with someone can make them feel loved and important. And it is a very effective way to share the Gospel with them. Here are just a few possible ways to do this.
Take someone to lunch. The visitor at church, the new co-worker, the busy single mom, the widow or widower. These people need to feel a connection. You might the one that introduces them to Jesus
Visit the shut-ins. Isolation is devastating to the human psyche. This is why solitary confinement is considered the cruelest of punishments. Shut-ins are not just the elderly or the sick. Widows, widowers, single people working night shifts all feel the sting of isolation. Share your time with them and remind them that Jesus loves them.
Read to nursing home residents. Talk to the staff and set up a time to read to the residents. An hour a week spent reading the Bible or a Christian book could make a huge difference in their lives and yours.
Ladies, take a teenage girl shopping, have lunch with her. Teach her to bake or sew.
Men, take a teenage boy hunting, invite him to hang out in the garage, eat pizza and learn to work on cars. Be sure there is Christian music on in the garage.
Acts of service can also be opportunities to share the Gospel.
Carry someone's burden. We live in an overburdened society and we have conditioned ourselves to hide it. Chances are that there is someone in your circle that is about to crumble under the load but will not speak up. Take time to be a good listener and help carry their burden.
Mow someone's grass
Clean someone’s gutters
Take someone a home-cooked meal. Once I got asked to go along on a call to visit a widow. She was in her late 70’s couldn't drive and lived alone in a small apartment where she passed the time watching tv. Her only brother was in a nursing home, her kids lived in another state. I remember well how much she appreciated the company and a home-cooked meal. Little things often mean a lot.
Words of affirmation.
Don’t wait until someone's funeral to say nice things about them. Tell them while they are living.
If someone does something nice for you show them sincere appreciation.
Compliment someone's work, commitment their job, their skill or their work ethic. Too many people go through life never feeling appreciated. Showing appreciation can open doors to sharing the gospel.