MESSAGE BY KENT MUNSEY
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NKJV
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
When Paul wrote to the Corinthians, the church in Corinth was experiencing divisions, favoritism, and difficulty in handling disputes. Corinth was similar to Chicago in several ways, mainly in that the Corinthians took pride in their city, their food, and their sexuality. In the first part of his letters, Paul gives the Corinthians solutions for settling disputes, and then talks about the value and importance of all spiritual gifts. In chapter 13, however, he tells them that love is even more important than spiritual gifts. This would have been radical to the Corinthians. In fact, it’s still radical today.
Agape is a strong, non-sexual affection for a person and their good, characterized by a forfeiture of their own rights.
The love that Paul describes is Agape-love, God-sized love, a love that’s out of this world. Agape is a strong, non-sexual affection for a person and their good, characterized by a forfeiture of their own rights. Some of us may be looking for love, but let’s ask ourselves: Are you looking for something to serve you, or something to serve? Don’t confuse love with your cultural interpretation of love, desire or lust.
Are you looking for something to serve you, or something to serve?
Paul is talking about a love that is not of this world. The opposite of agape love is not hate; it’s impatience, envy, pride, rudeness, selfishness, someone who celebrates someone else’s failure, being unavailable…Jesus doesn’t just suggest love, he commands it. There are fifteen characteristics that Paul reveals about love in 1 Corinthians 13. We could apply those words to Jesus and the descriptions would still fit. When we allow our gifts and preferences to become more important than Jesus or love, we start to project something other than Jesus to the world.
To get a handle on God’s love for you, here are five “Love Handles:”
Love Handle #1: Say it.
If you really love someone, you’re going to say it. Because God loved us first, we also are called to love one another (1 John 4:10-11). Three of the most powerful words you can ever say are, “I love you.” God spoke his love over Jesus when he was baptized, before he began his ministry, saying “This is my beloved son with whom I am well pleased.” You can start to get a handle on God’s love when you say, “I love you,” to those who are closest to you.
Love Handle #2: Write it.
God displayed his love to us by writing to us and revealing his heart towards us through his Word. There’s something so powerful about writing it, even texting or writing notes. Just like we can always go back to the Bible to be reminded of God’s love for us, we can also go back to treasured notes from loved ones in the same way. I encourage you to write notes, letters, and texts to the people you love to remind them that you care about them. (And if you’re a guy, it doesn’t have to be weird-- just bro it up with a fist emoji: “love ya, man! [fist bump, heart]”)
Love Handle #3: Give it.
Put your love into action. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son...” (John 3:16). It doesn’t matter what kind of gifts or the dollar amount; gifts are a powerful way to display your love. When you take time out of your day to think about someone else and act on it, it means a lot.
Love Handle #4: Forgive it.
If you’re going to love much, you’re going to have to forgive much. While the most powerful words are, “I love you,” the second most powerful are, “I’m sorry,” and, “I forgive you.” When you find it hard to forgive someone, think of it not as taking another step towards them but as taking a step towards Him. Because we have been forgiven much, we are called to forgive much. 1 Corinthians 13 tells us that “Love keeps no record of wrongs.” When you love someone who has wronged you, you are most like Jesus. Forgiveness = love on display.
Love Handle #5: Live it.
If we are going to represent Christ, we have to have a fresh revelation of what love is. Get a fresh revelation every day of God’s love for you. If we don’t receive His love, we’ll never be able to give it.
Get a fresh revelation every day of God’s love for you.
Don’t miss the opportunity to love the people closest to you. When you get a handle on the love of Jesus Christ, it will change you from the inside out.
Jesus, we thank you for your great Agape love--that while we were still sinners you died for us. Please give us a fresh revelation of your love. We ask that you empower us to love the people you’ve placed in our lives with a love that is out of this world, and a love that is put into action. In Jesus’ name, Amen.