Wrapped in Love
Over the last few weeks we have been covering the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
As I was preparing for this sermon, I had this picture. It's about the war in Ukraine.
They are the second largest country in Europe and they are devastated by the war .But the Ukrainians are fighting back. The other countries are giving them weapon so that they can fight back. Imagine the weapons are placed there and what if they are not using it. The brave Ukrainians are fighting together and using them to fight back their enemy. This is the picture of the church in the world. Satan is relentlessly attacking the church. God has given us weapons-The Gifts of the Spirit, which we have to use to push back and fight against the enemy. Put on the armour of God and use the gifts of the spirit and use these spiritual weapons to fight. Use your gifts. Don't bury your gifts. That was a prophetic exhortation.
1 Corinthians 12 talks about the gifts of the spirit.1Corinthians 14 talks about the gift of tongues.
Chapter 13 is sandwiched between 12 and 14.Chapter 13 is about Love .We have heard it read at weddings. But Paul never preached it at a wedding. He is mentioning it when he is talking about the gifts of the spirit. Paul, guided by the Holy Spirit rightly knew that it is not either love or gifts .It's Love and Gifts.
1 Corinthians 14.1
Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy.
Paul brigs in the biblical balance here. Love and gifts both are important. During the living room we have an opportunity to practice and activate the gifts. God has been speaking to people and through people. I want to encourage you to be part of that.
1 Corinthians 13
Before that 1Corinthians 12 Verse 31 says
Now eagerly desire the greater gifts
Then 1Corinthians 13 Verse 1.
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
Paul is emphasizing the supremacy of love here. The pre-eminence of Love. He is talking about 2 kinds of tongues here.
1. Tongues of men -We saw in action on the day of Pentecost. The people around them can understand what they were speaking. Acts 2
2. Tongues of angels- We are speaking to God in unknown languages. We will be covering this gift of tongues later.
What Paul is saying here is love is important. We can have gifts of tongue. But if we are unloving there is no benefit for us. In all our spiritual gifts we need to purse love also.
1 Corinthians 13 verse 2, 3
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. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Even if you have that kind of spiritual gifting and anointing, but if you don't have love you gain nothing. In first 3 verses, Paul is mentioning about the supremacy and preeminence of love. So what we need to do is we need to pursue Love.
I Corinthians Verses 4-7 is about the The Characters of Love.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonour 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.
One more reason why love is important is Jesus himself is love.
1 John 4:8
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. The very essence of God is love.
What is the meaning of Christian love? We use the word love in many ways. I love my wife, children, cat etc. But that doesn't mean we love everything in the same way.
In Greek different words are there for love.
1) Filio- Friendship and affection 2) Eros- Romantic love 3) Storge- Family love 4) Agape - An unconditional love
Agape love is where you are loving someone irrespective of your feelings and what you are getting out of it. It's a powerful love and its love that you choose to do. The love we are talking about is not a feeling it's an action. It's a doing word.
Paul uses 15 phrases to define love.
Paul is positively speaking about Love in the first two verses.
Love is patient and kind
They are supposed to be verbs not adjectives. Love is Acting patiently Love is Acting Kindly.
That's the exact translation.
1) Love is patient
What is patience-?
Patience is understanding the frailties of people weakness of people. Long suffering is the older translation. When you are loving someone you are suffering instead of taking it up with them. That is exactly how God is with us. All these qualities are talking about God. God is incredibly patient with us.
Psalm 103:13, 14
As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.
2 Peter 3.9
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
The first characteristics of love is love acts patiently. As we are going through these things what I would like you to do is to write down some things that you are lacking and things that you want to work on. Patience is bearing with one another not retaliating.
2) Love is Kind
“The greatest thing a man can do for his heavenly Father is to be kind towards some of his other children. “God has shown so much kindness to us. How can we be kind to one another? Kindness is how we deal with one another. You are taking the initiative to do something. One of the ways is when you receive a message or phone call, people ignore phone calls and messages. When people try to call you especially your gym leaders, give them a call back or respond to people. Show love to people by treating them with courtesy. God values community. Look for opportunities to exercise kindness. Its something intentional not expecting anything in return. I urge you to be people who are actively sowing kindness in the society.
How can we be kind in our family? Look for no reason kindness. You are doing it because your Father in Heaven is kind.
The next session talks about what love is not. Paul uses 7 verbs to describe what love does not do. 1 Corinthians 13: 4
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud
What is envy? It’s a deadly sin. Cain killed Abel because of envy. Joseph was sold as slave by his brothers because of envy. Jesus was crucified because of envy. Here it says love does not envy. Envy means we are not happy with the other person's blessing. Envy rots the bones. We love by doing the opposite of envy. How do we fight envy? When the spirit of God is in us, his grace enable us to rise up above envy and be a blessing. The proud person keeps their mouth shut. Anytime we see someone doing something that is worthy of praise, let’s appreciate and encourage them. Let’s be people who are overflowing with thanksgiving. That kills envy. We can be extra hard on our own family. But let's be people who speaks love and encourages our family members.
Love is supreme because God is supreme. God is love. God puts love above all the gifts.
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 everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
So we need to cultivate practicing love. How do we get love in our hearts?
And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
As we spend time with God, spend time in his word his spirit fills our heart with love. When our love tanks are full we will be able to love one another.
Word of Grace is an Evangelical (Born Again), Spirit-filled (Charismatic), Reformed, English speaking in Pune that upholds the Bible as God's inspired Word for life. We are a church community that has people from every part of India and parts of the world. We are here to put the Great Command and the into practice by equipping and releasing every member into works of service. Word of Grace is a part of a wider international family of Churches called RegionsBeyond.To know about us please log onto www.wordofgracechurch.org.