1 Corinthians 13:1-13
GOD'S GREATEST GIFT TO HIS CHURCH
Intro: God has truly been good to His people! He has
given us more than we ever deserved. Think of it! He
provided a means of salvation that will save the vilest
sinner. He has given us so many precious promises
such as Heb. 13:5; Phil. 4:19; John 10:28, etc. When
a person is saved, they are given spiritual gifts so that
God can use them in His kingdom work, 1 Cor. 12:7.
Much more could be said about this matter, but I think
it is plain to see that God has been good to us! Yet, as
I was thinking about these things, I came to realize that
the greatest gift the Lord has ever given to His people
is His love!
The love of God for His people is everlasting, Jer.
31:3. His love is what motivated Him to send Jesus to
die on the cross, John 3:16. In fact, the greatest
evidence of the love of God is the death of Christ on the
cross, Rom. 5:8. God's greatest gift to us is His love.
Now, He did not stop by just giving His love to us,
He has also placed His love in us. Jesus said that the
world would know we were His disciples by the love we
have one for another, John 13:35. You see, love is the
first characteristic mentioned in Gal. 5:22-23,
concerning the Fruit of the Spirit. Not only did He love
us, but He has also caused us to love!
Here was one of the primary problems with the
church in Corinth, to whom this letter was written. They
were manifesting every other spiritual gift in existence,
but they were not manifesting love one to another. You
see, chapters 12-14 can not ne divorced one from the
other. In the original, they are one unit. It is a call more
Christlikeness and maturity in the midst of childishness
and fleshly living. Paul writes these great words to
remind the Corinthians that of all the great spiritual
things they can do, the greatest spiritual exercise is
The effect of these words are to remind us that we
might possess all kinds of spiritual gifts and abilities, but
that we are never more like the Lord Jesus Christ than
when we love the right way. Now, with all that in mind,
let's turn to this passage for a while this morning and
talk about God's Greatest Gift To His Church.
I. V. 1-3 THE PRIMACY OF LOVE
(Ill. The whole idea of these verses is that love is
superior to everything else we can be or do!)
I. The Primacy Of Love
A. V. 1 It Is Superior To The Sensational - You
may be a great speaker, but that is nosubstitute for love. No matter how great your
oratory, how beautiful your speech, how brilliant
your rhetoric, without love you are simply a
Have you ever been to a cymbal solo? I can
assure you it is not very exciting. No matter
what you say, nor how you say it, nor how
accurate it may be, without love it is just noise.
Without love, talk truly is cheap.
You see, great oratory can move a
person's emotions. Great rhetoric can move a
person's mind. A great speech can move a
person's will, but only great love can move a
person's heart. Oratory can move one to tears,
but only love can move one to Jesus.
The bottom line is this: these were the same
instruments used in heathen worship. Therefore,
the person who exercises his tongue in a
spiritual fashion, yet does not do so with the love
of God in him, that person is no better than a
heathen worshiper. In fact, his worship is man
centered and not God centered!
B. V. 2 It Is Superior To The Spectacular - This
verse mentions several spectacular abilities.
But, even if a person was able to do all of these
things and he did not have the love of God in his
heart, he was nothing!
C. V. 3 It is Superior To The Sacrificial - We can
give away everything we own. We can even give
up our bodies on the altar of martyrdom, but if
we do so without love in our hearts, it is a waste
of time and it does not profit us one bit.
(Ill. The emphasis is clear! When love is absent, the
Christian is no better than a heath, v. 1; He is
nothing, v. 2; and He can expect nothing, v. 3.
Regardless of what others may think of our abilities
and our gifts, without love, it ia all a waste of time!)
II. V. 4-12 THE PORTRAIT OF LOVE
(Ill. In these verses, Paul gives an in-depth description
of love. He reveals all of its characteristics to us.
These are truths that we need to be reminded of
A. V. 4-6 Love's Properties - Paul shows us the
many sides of true, godly love. As if love were a
great and brilliant diamond, he holds it up before
us and reveals its many facets. As he does, the
Person of God is revealed in each gleam of light
from the surface of love.
1. V. 4 Suffereth Long - This word means
"patient endurance under provocation."
The literal meaning of the word is "long-tempered". This characteristic of love
reveals the truth that love does not retaliate!
(Ill. Stephen is an example of this type of love
- Acts 7:54-60. The greatest example is that
of the Lord Jesus - Luke 23:34; Isa. 53:7.
This kind of love endures all attacks.)
(Ill. One of Abraham Lincoln's most
outspoken political enemies was a man
named Edwin J. Stanton. Stanton called
Lincoln a "low cunning clown" and the
"original gorilla". He even said this, "It is
ridiculous for people to go to Africa to see a
gorilla, when they could find on easily in
Springfield, Illinois." To Lincoln's credit, he
never responded to these insults. Yet, when
he was elected President, Lincoln chose
Stanton to be his Secretary of War. When
asked why, Lincoln said, "Because he is the
best man!" Later, when Lincoln had been
assassinated, Stanton stood by the coffin
which contained Lincoln's body and said
through his tears, "There lies the greatest
ruler of men the world has ever seen."
Patient love in action won this man over in
2. V. 4 Is Kind - This word refers to active
goodness that goes forth in behalf of others.
Genuine love is never hateful or mean, but it
respects others and reaches out to them.
(Ill. The supreme example of this kind of love
is God. He is kind to people despite their
treatment of Him, Rom. 2:4.)
3. V. 4 Envieth Not - True love is not jealous
over the abilities or possessions of another.
Instead of being jealous when others prosper
or excel, love is pleased when they do well.
(Ill. Jealousy is one of the most vile of sins
that we harbor in our hearts! It was Eve's
jealousy of God that motivated her to take
the forbidden fruit. It was jealousy that put
Daniel in the loin's den. It was jealousy that
put Joseph in that pit! Yet, Godly love dies
not get jealous, rather it is pleased when
others do well!)
4. V. 4 Vaunteth Not Itself - Literally, this
phrase means "does not make a parade".
Love does not brag! It does not draw
attention to itself or to what it is doing. A
person who must be the center of attention
and is hurt when he is not is not walking in
5. V. 4 Is Not Puffed Up - Love is not arrogant
or proud, but it realizes that all it has and all
that it is has been given to it by God. No
matter how great our talents or how
spectacular our gifts, everything we are is the
result of divine grace.
6. V. 5 Does Not Behave Itself Unseemly -
Love is never rude, but it always treats others
with compassion, consideration and respect!
Love controls the emotions. It is not friendly
one day and rude the next. Genuine love
always makes Jesus look good!
7. V. 5 Seeketh Not Her Own - True love is
never selfish and self-centered, but it is
actively interested in what will profit others.
It never looks at itself first, but it always
considers another ahead of itself.
(Ill. Jesus is the prime example of this
attitude in action - Matt. 20:28; Luke 22:42.
This is how each of us is to be, Phil. 2:3.)
8. V. 5 Is Not Easily Provoked - True loves
keeps no record of evils done to it, but it
willingly endures all slights and injuries. This
characteristic of love reminds us that love
does not demand its own rights! It is willing
to yield to the will of another. True love only
responds in anger to that which angers God!
All other things are handled through
forgiveness - Eph. 4:26-32.
9. V. 5 Thinketh No Evil - (Ill. Literally, this
phrase means "takes no worthless
inventory".) Two thoughts are in mind here.
First, genuine love does not attribute evil
motives to people. That is, every action is
not seen in its most negative light. It thinks
the best of others. Second, genuine love
does not keep a record of evils done to it. In
other words, it does not dwell what others
may have done.
(Ill. Often what we think happened did not
even take place! Most of our hurts are
perceived hurts. We just think it happened
that way. That is why we must learn to treat
others like the Lord treats us. We must treat
them with grace and forgiveness.)
(Ill. Real love does not: 1.) Remember injury
2.) Believe all it hears about another 3.) Look
for fault in others! If this attitude were
practiced in the church, it would solve about
90% of any church's troubles.)
10. V. 6 Rejoiceth Not In Iniquity - Love does
not rejoice in sin. Whether it is its own sins,
or the son of others. Love hates sin! Love
does not rejoice when another falls into sin!
Whether we will admit it or not, there is a part
of us that is glad when another believer falls
because we think it makes us look better.
That is why we just have to tell someone else
about it. True love does not gossip or rejoice
when another believer falls, but it hurts with
the injured member!
11. V. 6 Rejoiceth In The Truth - While love
hates all forms of evil, it loves the truth! It
rejoices when truth is proclaimed and when
truth wins the victory. Love is glad for the
truth, even when the truth hurts. Love is glad
when truth wins the day!
(Ill. Do these things describe your life this
morning? If you are walking love they do!)
B. V. 7-12 Love's Persistence - (Ill. These verses
tell us of love's staying power. Love is a
remarkable thing that never flags nor fails!)
1. V. 7 Beareth All Things - Love patiently
endures and overlooks the faults in others.
The word "beareth" literally means "to cover".
Instead of parading the failures and faults of
others before all the world, love covers them
over and continues to love in spite of those
(Ill. This was the example of God and His
Son Jesus - Rom. 5:8; Isa. 53:4-5. This was
Peter's testimony - 1 Pet. 4:8)
(Ill. An example of this kind of live comes to
us from the history of England. During the
reign of Oliver Cromwell, a soldier had been
sentenced to die. His fiancÚ pleased with
Cromwell to spare his life, but the great ruler
refused. The young soldier was to be
executed when the curfew bell sounded, but
when the bell-ringer pulled the rope, there
was no sound. The girl had climbed into the
bell tower and had wrapped her body around
the clapper, thus preventing the bell from
sounding. Although she was battered and
her body bruised and smashed, she
managed to climb down. When she stood
before Cromwell and told him what she had
done, he immediately commuted the soldier's
sentence of the soldier. Love beareth all!)
2. V. 7 Believeth All Things - Love always
places the best possible interpretation on
everything that happens. It does not always
seek the most negative answer, but it
believes that good will triumph in any
situation. Basically, love trusts, love believes
and love has confidence in the one loved.
3. V. 7 Hopeth All things - Love always
expects the best possible outcome. Love
refuses to accept failure. Love always holds
out hope that things will work out right in the
(Ill. Many have lost loved one and
backslidden loved ones. Love does not give
up on them. Love believes the day will come
when they will come to God and things will be
made right. Love just does not give up!)
4. V. 7 Endureth All Things - This is a military
term and means that love does not give up
the fort! It stands its ground and continues in
spite of everything that can be thrown against
it. It continues in spite of persecution and ill
treatment. Love bears the unbearable,
believes the impossible, holds on the
incredible and never gives up. The word
stop does not exist in the vocabulary of love!
5. V. 8-12 Charity Never Faileth - When
everything else in this world has passed
away. When everything that is held us such
high esteem is gone. When knowledge and
gifts no longer matter, love will still exist. It is
the great constant throughout eternity. There
are times when love may lose a battle. In
that the object of one's love may never return
that love. Yet, while it may lose a battle here
and there, love has already won the war.
The idea here is not on success. The idea is
on endurance. When other things have been
removed from view, there will still be love! It
does not give in, give up or give out. Love
that is real is love that lasts!
I. The Primacy Of Love
II. The Portrait Of Love
III. V. 13 THE PREEMINENCE OF LOVE
A. Ill. The Bible says that three things abide: Faith,
Hope and Love. Yet, faith and hope are
encompassed inside of love, v. 7. Therefore, the
greatest of all things a believer can possess is
love! If our love is right, then faith is no problem!
If our love is right, then our hope is in the right
place. When our love is right, then we are right!
B. What makes love so great? Well, love is the
defining characteristic of Who God is, 1 John
4:8. When the Bible wanted to describe God in
one sentence, it said, "God is love." God does
not have faith! After all, who would God place
His faith in? God does not have hope! What
would One Who controls everything possible
have to hope for? Yet, God is love! Therefore,
we are never more God-like than when we learn
to love like God.
C. To be like God, we need to learn to love like
God! When we can do this, our world will be
altered for His glory!
Conc: Ill. There was a man who only had an eighth-grade education. But this man wanted to be a soul-winner. God had laid a brilliant attorney on his heart.
Obeying the Lord, he went to talk to the lawyer about
Jesus Christ. But no sooner had he begun when the
attorney used his legal training and brilliant mind to
turn the man inside out.
The man finally apologized for coming and for
taking the attorney's time. He left with tears in his eyes
as he said to the lawyer, "I just want you to know that
I came because I love you.
Dejected, he went home to his wife and said, "I
don't want to be bothered. I don't want to talk to
anyone the rest of the day. I just want to go to my room
and be left alone; I feel such a failure.
About an hour later, the lawyer came and
knocked on the man's door. He told the man's wife
he would like to see her husband. She said, "I'm
sorry, but he is not seeing anyone today."
"Oh," he said, "I think he will see me. just tell him
who I am."
So the husband allowed the attorney to come
into his room. He said, "Why have you come? Have
you come to make fun of me? Have you come to
argue with me again?. You know I cannot argue
The lawyer said, "No, I haven't come to argue
with you. I have come to ask you to tell me how to be
saved." The man replied, "I don't understand. What
changed your mind? Every time I tried to tell you
about Jesus you came up with an argument that I
couldn't answer." The lawyer said, "Yes, I did. But you
came up with an argument that I couldn't answer."
This soul-winner looked at him and said, "What
The lawyer replied, "When you looked at me and
told me you loved me, I couldn't argue with that."
Nothing will win the victory over others and over
circumstances like love! It is love that makes the
My friends, taking every other thing you hold in great
value this morning and placing them aside. That is,
forgetting about your talents, and your gifts, and you
potential, and you positions, and anything else you want
to mention, how is you love life? Do you love like God?
Did this chapter leave you with the feeling that you were
loving the right way? Or, did you get the feeling that
there was room for improvement?
I think we need to learn to love like Jesus so we can
reach our world and so that we can have the right kind
of atmosphere in His House. How is your love life this
Of course, if you aren't saved, you must take that
first step before you can ever hope to love like God.
You must be saved by Him before you can love like
This altar is open for all those who need to find help
with their love life today. Will you come!