Nothing

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There is nothing more important in the Chrisitan life than love.

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1 Corinthians 13:1–13 ESV
1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. 4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Introduction: This morning, I want to preach to you about nothing. Yes, you heard that right, nothing.
When you leave today, and someone asks you about what your pastor preached on, you can tell them, “Nothing.”
You say now wait a minute pastor, I didn’t go through all this effort to get here to day just so you could preach about nothing. Don’t you have something to preach on?
I’ve got nothing...
I tell you what, how about a riddle this morning: What is greater than God, more evil than the devil, the poor have it but the rich don’t, and if you eat it, you will die?
()
Nothing.
Or answer this: What, according to Scripture, is greater than love? Are spiritual gifts greater? Is miracle-working faith better? Is extreme generosity? How about sacrificing your life? No. Nothing is greater than love according to scripture.
What can you do that will make God love you any more? Nothing.
What can you do that will make God love you any less? Nothing.
What can separate you from the Love of Christ? Nothing.
What covers a multitude of sins better than love? Nothing.
Today, let’s look at what Paul wrote about love in the 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians. Our passage today is probably familiar to a lot of people - even unbelievers because it is often read at weddings and even funerals. We call it the love chapter. When you consider it's context, it is really talking about how believers ought to relate to one another and love one another as Christ has commanded.
Tom Rainer wrote: "if we could just abide by the principles of the love chapter, we would have completely healthy churches. It would be a revolution."

There is Nothing More Important that Love (vv. 1-3)

There is Nothing More Important than Love (vv. 1-3)

Nestled in between the discussion about spiritual gifts between chapter 12 that deals with the purpose of spiritual gifts and chapter 14 which deals with the perversion of spiritual gifts, Paul gives us a picture of the one gift that will perfect the church - the gift of love.
Paul named five spiritual gifts in these verses: tongues, prophecy, knowledge, faith and giving. If these gifts are exercised without love, they are worthless according to Paul.
Speaking with the tongues of angels without love is just a lot of noise. It’s the gong show! (Gongs and cymbals used in pagan temples)
If you had the gift of prophecy to be able to understand and proclaim all revealed truth and knowledge from God but did not love, your gift is useless.
What if you had mountain moving faith? Without love, it’s nothing.
You could be the most generous person in the church - without love your generosity accomplishes nothing. Even martyrdom is inferior to having love.
Paul is essentially saying that even if you are the most gifted communicator, most effective leader, most giving person or even if you were to die for your faith - none of that matters if you can't treat other people with love - especially those in the body of Christ.
I have met Christians who are hard workers, talented people who could do anything and would do anything you gave them to do...but they didn't know how to love others - only themselves - and they were lousy Christians because of it.
While God commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves, there is nowhere that love is more important than in the church.
John 13:34–35 ESV
34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
1 John 4:20–21 ESV
20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
1 John
1 Peter 4:8 ESV
8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.
A church that is made up of individuals who don't know how to love one another will never go anywhere. We must make love a priority in everything we do regardless of everything else we do.

There is Nothing More Christlike than Love (vv. 4-7)

illus. A Peanuts cartoon shows Lucy standing with her arms folded and a stern expression on her face. Charlie Brown pleads, “Lucy, you must be more loving. This world really needs love. You have to let yourself love to make this world a better place.” Lucy angrily whirls around and knocks Charlie Brown to the ground. She screams at him, “Look, Blockhead, the world I love. It’s people I can’t stand.”
I suspect that some of us feel that same way at times. The real problem is when we feel that way most of the time.
Truthfully, loving the world isn't all that difficult, but loving the people around us at times can be a major challenge - especially when it comes to loving our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

There is Nothing More Christlike than Love (vv. 4-7)

Paul doesn't want us to make any mistakes about what true Biblical love for one another looks like - so he paints us a vivid picture of love in verses 4-7. (Agape = Self-sacrificing love - love with no strings attached.)
Love is patient (long-suffering - patient endurance under provocation) specifically when dealing with people.
Illus. J. Vernon McGee - “long-burning”—it burns a long time. We shouldn’t have a short fuse with our friends and Christian brethren."
Love is kind - active goodness toward others
Illus. If my kids would just be kind to one another, I'd be a happy man. Ever wonder if God thinks like that?
Illus. Mark Twain called kindness, "a language that the deaf can hear and the blind can read."
Love does not envy or boast - Jealous of others - even to the point of desiring evil for others. Neither does it brag. How do you react to your brothers blessings or lack thereof? The Corinthian church was jealous of one another’s spiritual gifts.
Illus. “If we shoot arrows of Jealousy at others, we wound ourselves.”
Love is not arrogant or rude. It gives itself no airs. It is not pompous, it is not inflated.
Illus. J.B. Phillips: love does not: "cherish inflated ideas of it's own importance."
Love does not insist on its own way. Perhaps you have encountered the attitude of: "It's my way or the highway!"
Illus. Alan Redpath called this the secret of every discord in Christian homes, communities and churches - we seek our own way.
Love is not irritable. Not easily angered or provoked. "That's just how I am preacher!" You might be - but I don't think you can be a Christian and stay that way! I must confess that this is one of my greatest ares of struggle.
Love is not resentful. i.e. Doesn't keep a list of wrongs. We may not keep a literal list of all the wrongs people have committed against us but we have a list in our minds.
Does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in truth. Ray Pritchard said, "Love is never glad to hear bad news about another person. Love never says, "Well, they finally got what they deserved." Love is never happy to hear that a brother or sister fell into sin. Love does not enjoy passing along bad news." Love has a bad memory!
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never gives up!
If you really want to know if you are a loving person by Biblical standards, take these verses and insert your name in the place of love.

There is Nothing More Enduring that Love (vv. 8-13)

The future of love is guaranteed.
"Love never ends." It can't fail. Paul says that that even the spiritual gifts that God has given to the church to upbuild the body of Christ are only temporary, but love is permanent.
He wrote that prophecies will pass away and tongues will cease. Knowledge is going to pass on but love will never pass on.
The arguments that the Corinthian church had had over the spiritual gifts were essentially the result of their spiritual immaturity. (v. 11)
Love is the mark of Christian maturity - so If we have a love problem for others, then it is a spiritual problem - plain and simple.
Paul is not saying that the spiritual gifts given to the church through the Holy Spirit are not important. They are necessary to buildup the Body of Christ - every believe ought to know and use their gifts.
1 Corinthians 14:1 ESV
1 Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.
He is telling the Corinthians that they ought to pursue love as the supreme gift because it will never pass away.
Pursuing love begins with a choice to live and act differently than the world and in many cases, to, act differently than we have acted in the past.
That may require repentance on our part. Maybe we have hurt others and need to seek their forgiveness. Maybe we have been hurt by others. The Bible says Love covers a multitude of sins. Forgive those who have hurt you.
It requires risk also - loving others does not mean that they will reciprocate - they may even reject your love - but that should never affect your decision to love.
Closing: The story is told of a child psychologist who spent many hours constructing a new driveway at his home. Just after he smoothed the surface of the freshly poured concrete, his small children chased a ball across the driveway, leaving deep footprints. The man yelled after them with a torrent of angry words.
His shocked wife said, "You're a psychologist who's supposed to love children." The fuming man shouted, "I love children in the abstract, not in the concrete!"
As a Christian, it is easy to love your fellow church members and love your neighbor in the abstract - that is love in theory. But is is hard to love them concretely - in other words it is hard to apply love in real life.
D.C. McCasland wrote, “As a theory, love isn't worth much; as a practice, it is the world's greatest treasure.”
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