Love is the Greatest!
“But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.”
I Corinthians 12:31
“And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”
I Corinthians 13:13
- This subject will do more for you growing in favor with God and man than any other (Luke 2:52).
- Presenting each man perfect in Christ is my goal, so this topic is paramount (Col 1:28-29; Col 3:14).
- Elton John and Whitney Houston can sing about “love,” but they know nothing at all (I John 3:10)!
- When Elton John sings about “love,” he means the perversions he commits with his sodomite buddies.
- When Whitney Houston sings about “love,” she means the greatest love of all is loving yourself!
- What is love? Of God, it is strong desire to please Him, serve Him, enjoy Him, and avoid any offence.
- What is love? Of others, it is the selfless desire for their welfare, by Bible terms, with an eye toward heaven.
- We are a doctrinal church committed to truth, but love is greater by a number of measures; this does not mean we compromise doctrine for love, but it does mean we emphasize love as the New Testament does.
- We must avoid doctrine without love (the heartless knowledge Paul condemned in I Cor 13:1-3) and love without doctrine (the mindless emotion and sentiment of compromise that Jehu condemned in II Chr 19:2).
LOVE IS THE GREATEST DUTY
- God has placed us under greater obligation to love than the other stated duties of either testament.
- Love of others is not a suggestion, but a plain commandment of God (I Pet 1:22; 2:17; I John 3:23).
- It is the first two laws, the royal law, and includes all the law (Mark 12:28-34; Jas 2:8; Gal 5:14).
- Our Lord taught from the beginning to love one another (I John 3:11,23; II John 1:3; Jn 15:12,17).
- Practical sanctification or holiness requires an increase in love of others (I Thess 3:12-13; 4:9-10).
- True godliness, or walking as God’s children, requires walking in love (Eph 5:1-2; Matt 5:43-48).
- We are clearly taught to love God, husband, wife, children, brethren, pastor, neighbor, enemy, etc.
LOVE IS THE GREATEST GRACE
- We would not love at all were it not for the grace of God giving us a nature and teaching us to love.
- By nature we are very hateful creatures, living in malice and envy, and hating others (Titus 3:3).
- By nature we are the sons and followers of the devil, who is a murderer (Eph 2:1-3; John 8:44).
- A primary device of Satan is to divide and conquer through hate and envy (I John 3:11-13).
- Bitter envying and strife in the heart is devilish confusion and evil of hell (James 3:14-16).
- Our warfare is in the spiritual realm with satanic forces, not carnal foes (Ephesians 6:10-13).
- The flesh rebels with such animosity against this grace that it is an obvious true trait of saints.
- Saul hated the saints exceedingly (Acts 9:1; 26:11), but Paul loved them dearly (II Cor 12:15).
- Faith and knowledge are great, but they require love and destroy love (I Corinthians 8:1; 13:2).
- Faith, hope, and charity are wonderful graces of the Spirit, but the greatest is love (I Cor 13:13).
LOVE IS THE GREATEST EVIDENCE
- The certain assurance of eternal life to ourselves and to others is by the degree of love we show.
- Faith is evidence (John 5:24; I John 5:1), but it is very weak evidence indeed (James 2:14-26).
- It needs to have other things added to it for it to be of any evidence (II Pet 1:5-11; I Thess 1:2-4).
- Faith must have love added to it to be evidence (Gal 5:6; Heb 6:10; James 2:20; I Peter 1:21-22).
- Election and regeneration are proved by abounding love (II Peter 1:5-11; I John 3:10-14; 4:7-12).
- We have no real evidence we truly love God unless we love the sons of God (I John 4:20 – 5:1).
- We can assure our hearts before God by practicing love as He exemplified it (I John 3:16-19).
LOVE IS THE GREATEST MEASURE
- We approach perfection by God’s measurement of us according to our degree of love to others.
- Jesus taught love as the great measure of His disciples (John 13:34-35; Acts 2:44-45; 4:32-35).
- Paul and John described love highly as the bond of perfection (Colossians 3:14; I John 4:12).
- Ministers are to provide an example for the believers by loving good men (Titus 2:7 cp 1:8).
- Paul prayed for it to increase (I Thess 4:9-10), abound (I Thess 3:12), and continue (Heb 13:1).
- Paul desired and commended its increase (Eph 1:15-16; Phil 1:9-11; Col 1:3-4; 2:2; II Thess 1:3).
- Many men were measured heroes by their faith and hope (Hebrews 11). But love is much greater.
- Love will emulate Jesus Christ (John 13:34 cp Eph 5:25-30) and Paul (I Thessalonians 2:7-12).
- David and Jonathan had a relationship that ought to be emulated by all (II Samuel 1:26).
- Coveting the best spiritual gifts is desirable, but practicing charity is superior (I Cor 12:28 – 13:13).
- Here is one of the glorious declarations about love – it is more excellent than being an apostle!
- Without it, the best use of the best spiritual gifts imaginable is utterly and totally worthless.
- The spiritual gifts that Corinth craved and abused were to end, but charity was to live on!
- True love must be unfeigned and without dissimulation (Romans 12:9; II Cor 6:6; Prov 26:24-26).
- The greatest in the kingdom of heaven are those who love and serve others (Matthew 20:25-28).
LOVE IS THE GREATEST MEANS
- We may accomplish more good for God’s glory and Christ’s kingdom with love than anything else.
- Churches grow internally through edification of themselves and truth in love (Eph 4:15-16).
- Everything we do is to be done with charity, or it is of no value or effect (I Corinthians 16:14).
- Love can cover a multitude of sins by (1) ignoring them or (2) correcting them (I Peter 4:8).
- Love causes others to rejoice as they see your charity (Philemon 1:7; II John 1:4; III John 1:3-6).
LOVE IS THE GREATEST SOURCE
- We may secure more benefits and live more prosperously by love than by any other means.
- Love in action is the means to loving life and seeing good days from the Lord (I Peter 3:8-11).
- An environment of love is able to make meager fare superior to great riches (Proverbs 15:17).
- Love is the bond of perfectness, which means it can unite better than anything else (Col 3:14).
- Hatred thinks evil of others and foolishly surmises wicked motives when there are none there.
- Love always thinks the best, believes the best, and hopes the best for a peaceful and quiet life.
LOVE IS THE GREATEST CONCEPT
- Love is more than a feeling – it keeps God’s commandments toward others (I Jn 5:2-3; II Jn 1:6).
- This doctrine assumes that God’s commandments are the best possible way to treat others.
- The golden rule – doing to others, as you would have them do to you – is love (Matthew 7:12).
- Loving God and loving neighbor fulfill the entire law of God (Matt 22:37-40; Rom 13:8-10).
- If I love a man, I will not kill him, steal from him, commit adultery with his wife, etc., etc.
- Love is the rebuking and correcting of sin in other men (Lev 19:17; Phil 1:9-11; Rev 3:19).
- Since you have their best interests at heart, you will correct them (Proverbs 9:8; 27:5; 28:23).
- How does a parent show love to a child? By correcting any errors (Pr 13:24; 3:12; Heb 12:6-8).
- Though smiting is an act of kindness and love, love is much more than that (Psalm 141:5).
- However, love also includes the bowels of compassion in God’s elect (Colossians 3:12-15).
- 1. Bowels. Transferred sense. Considered as the seat of the tender and sympathetic emotions, hence: pity, compassion, feeling, ‘heart.’ Consider Genesis 43:30; I Kings 3:26; Song of Solomon 5:4; Jeremiah 4:19; 31:20; Lamentations 1:20; 2:11; and I John 3:17.
- This aspect of love is distinguished from coming with a rod in judgment (I Corinthians 4:21).
- See one mind, compassion, pity, courtesy, blessing for railing, and peace (I Peter 3:8-11).
- Love is kind affection preferring others before yourself (Romans 12:10; Philippians 2:1-4).
- Love is lowly, kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving of others as is God (Eph 4:1-3,31-32).
- Love will sacrifice personal liberty for another (Rom 14:15; I Corinthians 8:1,13; 10:33).
- Love covers transgressions and forgives them repeatedly (Prov 17:9; I Pet 4:8; Matt 18:21-22).
- Love is … sacrificial desire resulting in action to help another realize God’s best for his life.
- Love is … sacrificial. It considers others more important than one’s self and so gives up self.
- Love is … desire. Love involves feelings and passion. Do not totally value letter over spirit.
- Love is … action. Love that is felt, believed, or professed is worthless. It must cause action.
- Love is … help. It will recognize its role in adding others and avoid the precious opportunity.
- Love is … another. Love is not self-centered, but other-centered. Love looks away from self.
- Love is … God’s best. It knows that God’s will and pleasure is the supreme goal for all men.
- Love is … his life. It seeks the best for another’s life, here and later, even at self’s expense.
- Paul summarized the true definition of love in a 15-part glorious sentence in I Corinthians 13:4-7.
- Love suffers long. It will tolerate many offences and still love on (Proverbs 10:12; 17:9; 19:11).
- Love is kind. It considers others in a gentle, sympathetic, or benevolent way (Proverbs 19:22).
- Love does not envy. It does not harbor evil feelings because of advantage (Proverbs 27:4).
- Love does not vaunt itself. It seeks rather to emphasize others (Proverbs 13:10; Phil 2:1-4).
- Love is not puffed up. It does not think more highly of self than right (I Cor 4:6; 5:2; 8:1).
- Love does not behave itself unseemly. It behaves in a becoming way (Phil 4:8; Col 3:19).
- Love seeks not her own. It will sacrifice self for others (I Cor 10:24,33; Rom 15:2; Eph 5:25).
- Love is not easily provoked. It will tolerate a lot before responding (James 1:19; Prov 14:17).
- Love thinks no evil. It will not allow suspicion, but rather believe the best (I Tim 6:4).
- Love does not rejoice in iniquity. It is grieved to see others sin (Lev 19:17-18; Ps 119:136).
- Love rejoices in the truth. It is glad when its object is in the truth (III John 1:3-4; James 3:17).
- Love bears all things. It is willing to help others as much as possible (Rom 15:1-2; Gal 6:2).
- Love believeth all things. It always places the best construction on others (I Corinthians 11:18).
- Love hopes all things. Even when the evidence is mounting, it will hope good (Philemon 1:21).
- Love endures all things. It is not affected or provoked by evil from others (I Corinthians 13:4).
LOVE IS THE GREATEST WORK
- We must work harder to learn to love and actually do it than the effort for anything else.
- Love, like many of God’s commandments, must be done without regard to your feelings.
- Even the bowels of compassion we are to have for others is to be put on (Colossians 3:12-14).
- Love is more than a thought or word. It must be action (I Jn 3:18; I Thes 1:3; Heb 6:10; Jas 15-16).
LOVE IS THE GREATEST CHALLENGE
- We face a great task against the flesh, the world, and the devil to learn how to love properly.
- You can love as God requires, because God has given His Spirit of love (II Timothy 1:7; Gal 5:22).
- God can put the earnest care for others in your heart, as He did for Titus (II Corinthians 8:16).
- Pray for greater love. Faith comes by hearing, but the disciples prayed for it (Luke 17:5).
- While you pray for love, make every effort to practice it yourself. God will enable you.
- You can seek love or increase your love by learning to cover transgressions (Prov 17:9; 10:12).
- Practicing Christian hospitality is a direct way of showing more love (Romans 12:13; I Peter 4:9).
- God by His Spirit and through Christ has given us the ability to love (II Timothy 1:7; Phil 4:13).
- The uncomely and unfriendly will require greater initiative and patient (II Corinthians 12:15).
- True love will be open to measurement by others (Philemon 1:7; Ephesians 1:15; II Cor 8:24).
- We should provoke each other to love and good works by example and instruction (Heb 10:24).
- For those who truly want to grow in grace, rather than studying to see if you can discover a new doctrine or get prepared to confound seminarians, try learning to forbear, forgive, and serve others like Jesus and Paul.
- Do something for a personal “enemy” today. Pray for them. Give them a gift. Praise them in public. Do it!
For Further Study:
- Sermon Outline: “The Definition of Love,” provides a careful explanation for each term in I Corinthians 13:4-7.
- Sermon Outline: “The Lie of Self-Love,” condemns and refutes the modern narcissistic obsession with self-esteem.
- Sermon Outline: “The Lie of Unconditional Love,” deals with the modern psycho-babble idea of baseless love.
- Sermon Outline: “Brotherly Love,” is a simple review of the importance of loving and serving one another.
- Sermon Outline: “Bowels of Compassion,” deals with the Bible view of bowels, compassion, and empathy.
- Sermon Outline: “Why Wear Pretty Shoes?” covers the Bible command to love the uncomely members in a church.