The Greatest of These is Love

Sermon Summary

This message concludes the "Love" series. It examines several additional things that love does and then looks at the fact that God's love never fails. Love protects, trust, hopes, and perseveres. God showed His love to us in the most amazing way when He sent His one and only Son to die on the cross for us and we know that Jesus' death was not a failure because through His death He reached some of the hardest hearts on the planet with His love while at the same time defeating death and the grave. The message ends with a look at why love is greater than faith or hope. Our faith in God would mean nothing if God didn't love us and were not willing to respond to our faith with His amazing Grace! Our hope would be a vain hope if our hope were in a God who had great power, but not great love! Faith must be in something and hope must be for something and if that something is not God's love we lose!

Community Group Discussion Guide

1.Have you ever thought about living in a world where there was not even the concept of love? What would be the motivation for living, or for anything for that matter? Your thoughts?

2. Love protects, trust, hopes, and perseveres. What are some of the reasons these things are sometimes difficult when it comes to our human relationships?

Heb 10:24  And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.
Heb 10:25  Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

3. Paul says that we see dimly now as in a mirror. Mirrors, as we know them today, have only been around for around 200 years. Ancient mirrors were water, or crude metal mirrors that distorted and warped the image. Our ability to understand the reality of God in this life is limited, but some day we will see God face to face and many of the questions we have will be answered. In the meantime we live by faith and put our hope in a God who helps us know what we need to know and gives us the strength to do what we need to do. How has your faith and hope helped you get through things you didn't understand?

2 Cor 5:4  For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.
2 Cor 5:5  Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
2 Cor 5:6  Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord.
2 Cor 5:7  We live by faith, not by sight.

4. Discuss the following: Why is love the greatest? Your faith in God would mean nothing if God didn't love you and were not willing to respond to your faith with His amazing Grace! Your hope would be a vain hope if your hope were in a God who had great power, but not great love! Faith must be in something and hope must be for something and if that something is not God's love we lose!

1 Corinthians 13:13 "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."

Full Sermon Notes

The Greatest of These is Love!

I just love the words to that song! "You're a good, good Father. It's who You are!  It's who You are! And I'm loved by You, it's who I am, it's who I am!" When you know you are loved by God, what in the world do you have to fear? There's some scary things out there, but the Bible says that perfect love drives out fear! And God's love is perfect! Today, on this Palm Sunday, we're going to rap up our series on love by looking at some more things love does and discovering just why, when it comes to these three things, faith, hope and love, love is the greatest! Now let's look at our text,

1 Corinthians 12:31b-13:1-13

"...And now I will show you the most excellent way.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

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 have not love, I am nothing.

If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

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.

For we know in part and we prophesy in part,

but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.

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 childish ways behind me.

Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.

(By the way, mirrors as we know them today have only been around for around 200 years. Ancient mirrors were water, or crude metal mirrors that distorted and warped the image. Our ability to understand the reality of God in this life is limited, but some day we will see God face to face and many of the questions we have will be answered. And what will get us there? Let's finish our reading...)

Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."

The love of God will get us there and we'll see how in our message today. In this series we've talked about love's motivation, what love is, what love is not, what love does not do and what love does. We began last week looking at what love does. Let's continue our study of what love does. Last week we discovered that love hates evil, and rejoices in the truth! But that's not all love does...

Love Does…
Always Protect!

1 Corinthians 13:7 It always protects...

Some of your translations may say, "Love bears all things" or "never gives up." What this means is that true love does all it can to protect the relationship. When you truly love someone you want to protect the relationship. You'll fight for the relationship, you'll nurture the relationship, you'll be willing to carry the load, bear the burdens, endure the hardships. Now this doesn't mean that every relationship will always work out. You may do all that you can, but others have to be willing to do their part. That's even true of a relationship with God. God has gone the second mile, and reached out to all, but some folks will not respond and He will not force His love on them.  But here's what you can do in any relationship…We read it last week...

Romans 12:9-12 "Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

Be sincere, hate what is evil, cling to what is good, be devoted, honor one another, keep your spiritual fervor, serve the Lord, and...

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer."

Real, genuine, God-like love keeps the joy of hope even in the worst of situations. It is patient in affliction and stays faithful to pray for others. Dr. Raymond Brown, in the Broadman Commentary said it beautifully...
"Love "holds out in spite of everything. It outlives sorrow, disappointment, cruelty, distortion of truth, indifference. It keeps going in the face of all the foes that threaten to undo it. Love never waivers; it never ceases!"

In other words, someone may not love you, but because of God's love for you, and your love for them, you never give up on them! How much has God's love endured when it comes to your relationship with Him? Now, how about you and I try to exercise the same kind of endurance in our human relationships? How about we always do our utmost to protect one another? Even if it means laying down our wants and wishes to help someone else achieve their God-given best in life! Now this doesn't mean we don't have to sometimes make tough decisions in relationships, but we should always know in our hearts that we've done all we could to be Christ-like in the way we handle things! A small of example of this: Some husbands and wives make great husbands and wives but would make terrible business partners. Recognizing this fact may be the most loving thing you could do for the relationship.

Another way of looking at this is that we can be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer, because we know God's loves always protects! He cares for you and wants what's best for you and He deeply cares for the relationship He has with you. He want's it to flourish and grow! How many times has God's love protected you from an unloving world?

How many times has His love carried you when you couldn't go on? The Psalmist certainly found himself in a place of needing the faithful protection of this kind of love after he had failed miserably in his relationship with The Lord…The Lord didn't give up on him...

Psalm 31:7-16 "I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul.

You have not handed me over to the enemy but have set my feet in a spacious place.

Be merciful to me, O LORD, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and my body with grief.

My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning;

my strength fails because of my affliction, and my bones grow weak.

Because of all my enemies, I am the utter contempt of my neighbors;

I am a dread to my friends—those who see me on the street flee from me.

I am forgotten by them as though I were dead; I have become like broken pottery.

For I hear the slander of many; there is terror on every side; they conspire against me and plot to take my life.

But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, 'You are my God.'

My times are in your hands; deliver me from my enemies and from those who pursue me.

Let your face shine on your servant; save me in your unfailing love."

Did you hear those words, "But I trust in You! My times are in Your hands! Let Your face shine on your servant! Save me in Your unfailing love!" This leads us to our next point...

Love Does…
Always Trust!

1 Corinthians 13:7 It always protects, always trusts...

Trust is such an important part of a loving relationship. You see, if you love someone with all of your heart, you want to trust them, and if you can't trust them, the relationship will be harmed in a significant way. Real, genuine, God-like love desires to trust! It needs to trust! Love gives the benefit of the doubt! Love will trust until such a time that it is absolutely proven that the trust is misplaced, but it will still love and it will do all that it can to be trustworthy and to encourage trustworthiness in the other person. Some translations say, "love believes all things!" Genuine love will always believe the very best and work for the very best in it's relationships! Once again I quote Dr. Brown...

"Love makes allowances for the weakness of others!"

"It does not create distrust by manifesting distrust!"

"Love prefers to be overgenerous rather than over-suspicious!"

That's powerful and requires us to be vulnerable and to take some chances! You will get burned sometimes. It's inevitable, but as Alfred, Lord Tennyson, the son of a clergyman in England once said…"better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all!" Now let me explain something to you about my using this statement. There are times when you will build a friendship with someone and you hope that as the friendship grows you will have the opportunity to share Christ with them. But you must build a genuine friendship with them. Not just so you can share the gospel with them, but to really be their friend. They may never allow you to share your faith with them. Love them anyway, and don't shut them out of your life because they refuse to accept your faith. You may never know, and you may not live to see the day, but it could be that way down the road somewhere, because of your genuine love and concern for them, it could even be on their death bed, that they remember your loving witness and friendship and decide to cry out to the Lord for salvation. It's risky when you build these kinds of friendships, but have you ever thought about the huge risk God took when He chose to create us and then set us free by giving us a free will to choose whether or not we would love Him and trust Him? You see, God wants us to love Him, but He will not force us to accept or receive His love. I believe that He will do everything within His power to give everyone at least one good chance to hear His offer!

Paul told Timothy this...

1 Timothy 2:1-6 I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—

for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.

This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,

who gave himself as a ransom for all men—the testimony given in its proper time.

Love Does…
Always Hope!

1 Corinthians 13:7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes...

Even God's love has hopes! You see, God wants everyone to trust Him and be saved. Not everyone will, but He sure wants everyone to know His love! In fact let me share another verse with you about this...

2 Peter 3:9 "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.

He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance."

You see, God's love always hopes for the very best and we as followers of Christ follow God's example. We have hope where others have doubt! We have hope where others have despair! We have hope where others have fear! We have hope while others become cynical! The book of Romans gives us a beautiful message about our hope. Listen...

Romans 5:1-5 "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.

And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;

perseverance, character; and character, hope.

And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us."

And what is the reason or the basis for our hope? Well, it's based on an the amazing thing God did in order to allow everyone a chance at salvation! And what is that amazing thing? You've heard it before, many times. But when you consider deeply the following words, it will change your life...

John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him."

And just how was God planning on saving the world through Jesus? By allowing Jesus to leave heaven and come to earth to defeat  evil, bring us truth, to bear our sins, take our punishment and to offer us His eternal salvation! But what would Jesus have to do in order to make this offer? Well it has to do with the next thing love does...

Love Does…
Always Persevere!

The definition of persevere...

Persevere: to continue in a course of action even in the face of difficulty

Other translations say "Love endures all things!" So just what did Jesus endure in order to bring the Love of God to us? Well we find the answer to that in the next few verses of Romans 5 that we just read...

Romans 5:5-11 "And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has

given us. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.

Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!

For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been

reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!

Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation."

What does this say about the love of God?

God's Love Never Fails!

1 Corinthians 13:8a Love never fails...

The world thought they had silenced the voice of that radical teacher named Jesus who talked of God's love, forgiveness, and mercy. Satan thought for a moment he had won the battle with God! I mean Jesus Christ was dead. But God's love had not failed! God's love in fact had won. You see what Jesus did on the Cross was this...

1 Peter 2:24-25 "He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness;

by his wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of

your souls."

(In fact, listen to what happened to the very soldier in charge of Jesus' Crucifixion...)

Mark 15:39 "And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how he died, he said,

'Surely this man was the Son of God!'"

God's love didn't fail, it even won one of the hardest hearts at the cross that day! And that takes us to the our last point and the last verse of the love chapter...

The Greatest of These is Love!

1 Corinthians 13:13 "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."

Why is love the greatest?
Your faith in God would mean nothing if God didn't love you and were not willing to respond to your faith with His amazing Grace!
Your hope would be a vain hope if your hope were in a God who had great power, but not great love! Faith must be in something and hope must be for something and if that something is not God's love we lose!

Let's pray!!

We invite you to come to the table today and remember the what Jesus did so that He could offer you forgiveness! His broken Body and His spilled Blood. As you take the bread and juice, reflect on God's love for you. Then if you like, you can write a note of appreciation…This is also a time of invitation.