Community Group Study Notes
- Have someone in your group give a brief recap of Sunday’s message, highlighting the primary Scripture passages and main idea of the message. Be specific in describing what it means to “do everything in love.”
- How did this message strengthen and/or correct your previous ideas about love?
- How does the contemporary culture view love? How does this differ from the biblical description of love?
- Read 1 Corinthians 13. What are the different ways in which we should show love to others? Which of these are easiest for you? What is the hardest part for you? Why is loving like this sometimes so difficult?
- Read 1 Corinthians 16:13-14. How does doing everything in love relate to the remaining commands in 1 Corinthians 16:13 (remaining on guard, standing firm in faith, and remaining courageous and strong)?
- Where are you lacking love in your life? Consider: your intimacy with God, your relationships with family and friends, your workplace, your neighbors, etc.
- How can your community group hold you accountable to growing in love?
As we conclude this series, spend time in reflection on what God has taught you in studying Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. Set aside at least thirty minutes this week to reflect on and journal a response to these prompts:
- In what ways are you living your life similar to that of the Corinthians? What step do you need to take to better mature in faith and love God in everything you do?
- How can the body of Christ help you to grow in maturity? Who can you seek accountability from?
- In what ways can you love your brothers and sisters in Christ? How can you use your gifts to build up the Church and work for the Lord?
- In what other ways did God teach you and grow you in this series?
If you feel comfortable, share your responses with trusted counsel or your community group.
Partner with 2-3 family members or friends and share 1-2 names each of people in your life who don’t know the Lord. Commit to partnering in prayer with each other and pray over the list of names each day this week. Pray for opportunities to have gospel-centered conversations with these people and ultimately for their salvation.
ell, good morning to everybody at every single one of our campuses, so glad to see you this morning. You know, I was thinking that my age and my generation, which was kind of designated as Generation X, how many Gen Xers are in here? There's a handful of us, right? It left me in an interesting place to be able to observe progress and technology. See, as somebody who's in that Generation X timeframe, like me, I'm not a digital native, but I'm also not a digital foreigner. And so being able to see some of that and the development of that has been an interesting thing. I am old enough to remember what it's like to place a phone call and get a busy signal. Some of you remember that, some of you that are younger are going, I don't know what you're saying, I have no idea what that means. We used to call sometimes and it would just go and we're like, yeah, but they keep, it's busy. Like there's only one line on the earth, and it's busy, right? I remember, I remember even using like a rotary phone. All right, now I'm getting somewhere, the old people starting to talk now. It's fantastic. I remember using a rotary phone or one of those cradle phones with the push button things, and it had a cord that was roughly the length of New Jersey, you could go literally anywhere and just walk anywhere with that cord and you tangle up people at the dinner table, it was fantastic, I remember all of these things. And now we don't even talk on the phone, we just text, I mean, if you see young people and their phone starts to ring, they just throw it down and they're like, what is that, what is that, what's happening right now? I do not want to speak to humans, I just want to text, that's all I want to do, right? They kind of get freaked out by it. And I remember before there was texting, before there were emails, and if you had to talk somebody who was at a great distance and you didn't want to pay for long distance charges when you were going to call them, you did something else. You wrote a letter. I know, it was crazy, right? We wrote actual letters at that point. Letters are, they're different than texting, because they're more formal, you think about them more, you can't just do something and then just go, nope, delete, you just kind of have to wad it up and throw it away, particularly if you're writing in pen. You have to just wad it up and throw it away, so you give more thought to it, you're paying attention, you're choosing your words more carefully when you write a letter, and letters kind of had a bit of a form to them, they would begin the same way, dear so-and-so, and then usually it was something along the line of, I hope this letter finds you well, upon the receipt of this letter. There would be a form to how you would begin a letter, and then at the end of a letter, it was less form and more freeform. It was more the idea of, hey, say hey to so-and-so, or, I'm hoping I get to see you, hey, come visit. Those kinds of things would happen maybe at the end of the letter, and they weren't a form, they were more freeform, and it was just kind of, you're stringing together a bunch of things. Well, when Paul is writing to the Corinthians, remember he had received a letter from them and he was responding to that letter, when he's writing a letter to the Corinthians, that's kind of how it goes, it's really similar to that. The very beginning of the letter is a particular form they would use in the ancient world about greetings that they would do, and so it kind of follows that same script. And then when you get to the end, which is chapter 16, which is where we'll be today, when you get to the very last chapter or the end of the letter, it's kind of less form and more freeform, you've got a bunch of different things going on that are in that letter. Like in the first three verses, he's talking about giving, and how they should be giving, and how they should think about their giving, and how they should plan their giving. And then verses 4-12, he's talking about his travels and what he's going to do, and maybe some other people that are going to travel, and talking about God's provision in the midst of his travels. And then at the very end of the letter, it feels like a bunch of random statements, and commands, and greetings, and it's just kind of like all of this. We'll see in just a minute, it's not random at all, but it feels that way as he's kind of closing up the letter, and a lot of people just kind of dance right by this and go, ah, you know, he said hey to some friends and then just kind of moved on with his life and said goodbye, peace out, end of letter. Well, I want us to see what the letter actually says at its ending after he talks about giving, and after he talks about his travel plans and some of the travel plans of others. Here's what it says beginning of verse number 13. "Be on your guard, stand firm in the faith, be courageous, be strong. Do everything in love. You know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and they have devoted themselves to the service of the Lord's people. I urge you, brothers and sisters, to submit to such people and to everyone who joins in the work and labors at it. I was glad when Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus arrived, because they have supplied what was lacking from you. For they refreshed my spirit and yours also. Such men deserve recognition. The churches in the province of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Priscilla greet you warmly in the Lord, and so does the church that meets at their house. All the brothers and sisters here send you greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss. I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand. If anyone does not love the Lord, let that person be cursed. Come Lord, the grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. My love to all of you in Christ Jesus, amen." Now, you might be thinking to yourself, well, Jerry, when I read that it did feel like he was just cramming in a bunch of stuff at the end of the letter, and it feels a little bit disjointed and a little bit random, but I want you to pay attention, because Paul makes three sweeping statements in here, and all of them have to do with love. And I don't want you to miss that as he's closing out this letter and the statements are sweeping, they're kind of all encompassing. I want you to look at the first one in verse number 14. "Do everything in love." That is a big statement, isn't it? That is a completely and totally sweeping statement. Do everything in love. And then in verse number 22, "If anyone does not love the Lord," notice what he says, if anyone, that is a big sweeping statement, isn't it? If anyone does not what? Love the Lord, let that person be cursed. And then look in verse number 24, my love to how many of you? All of you, so you find everyone and all, and this is what you see, Paul makes these sweeping statements about love at the end of the letter, why is that? Because Paul recognizes something, that what the Corinthians need is love. This is what they actually need, maybe above all other things that they are looking for and trying to develop in their midst, what they are needing is love. That's why he concludes the letter by thematically talking about love. This isn't random for Paul, he's not talking about love randomly, it's because it's fundamental to the entire argument he's making in the letter. It's why he's concluding this way, because it is at the elemental side of what he's trying to get at. Paul knows that love is what is needed in Corinth. Paul knows that love would be able to address many of the issues that they are dealing with in Corinth. Paul knows that love is what's going to hold everything together and hold them together in Corinth. And so Paul says it over and over and over again, and if you want to try and figure out what Paul is saying here at the very end of the letter, I sum it up in one statement, it's this, brothers and sisters, do everything in love. This is from Paul's own mouth, his own pen. Brothers and sisters, do everything in love. And then what Paul begins to do is he shows us what that looks like, that's the command that we see in verse number 14, do everything in love, that's the command that we see. But then how does that play out? What do we see in reference to that? Well, I think Paul tells us the first thing is this, is that we love the Lord. This is the priority that we are to be about, that we love the Lord. Listen to what Paul says and what he writes again in verse number 22. "If anyone does not love the Lord, let that person be cursed, come Lord." Now this is a really interesting verse, because what it feels like when we look at it, it feels really strident and it feels a little bit harsh. Paul says, "If anyone does not love the Lord, let that person be cursed." Or the Greek word there is anathema. Now, that seems really, really stark when we look at it, but maybe it's because we just don't understand what's being said here, you see, when Paul references this phrase, if anyone does not love the Lord, he's just making a shorthand comment about what his background is in the Hebrew scriptures. See, in the Hebrew scriptures, there's this thing called the shema. It's outta the book of Deuteronomy, and it's a very famous, very reminder to call the people of Israel to hear and to receive into themselves and to respond to something very specific. Here's what it says in Deuteronomy 6, "Hear, O Israel," that word shema, S-H-E-M-A in the Hebrew, shema is where we get the word hear, the shema, that's what they call it. "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your strength." See, what Paul's doing here, this is shorthand for him of talking about this idea of the shema, or hear this as of first importance, hear this as of significant importance. Love the Lord your God with everything that you are. And Paul says, "If you don't, then you are cursed." Anathema, where's he getting that? From the same book, the book of Deuteronomy, because later on in the book of Deuteronomy, it talks about that when we love God, we obey him, and with obedience comes blessing. And when we don't love God and don't obey him, what comes with that is curse. And he talks about that in the book of Deuteronomy 28, here's what it says, "If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God." And then in verse 15, it says, "However, if you do not obey the Lord your God, and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come on you and will overtake you." Paul is just reaching back into the Hebrew scriptures here at the end of his letter, and he's making this statement, if anyone does not love the Lord, because that is the most important thing for us, let them be a curse, in other words, they're not loving the Lord and not obeying the Lord, and what comes with that is not blessing, but curse. And Paul is reiterating that fact, but it's interesting when he writes this, he says, "If anyone does not love the Lord, let that person be cursed." And then he says, "Come Lord." He goes from anathema, curse, to maranatha, come Lord. One is in the Greek, anathema, and the other is actually an Aramaic phrase, maranatha, maranatha, which means come Lord. In other words, what Paul is saying here is that those that love the Lord, their most natural prayer and natural cry is for the King to come. That's what they want more than anything in the world, why? Because they love the Lord, and this is the most natural response to that, is they desire for the King to come, to defeat the enemies of God, to make all things new, to rule and judge injustice. This is what our heart's desire is because we love the Lord, but what we remember, those of us who are believers in Jesus, is that we love him because he first loved us. But loving the Lord is a priority, and Paul establishes that when he talks about doing everything in love, that means that we establish the very first priority of loving the Lord with everything that we are. But then he reminds us to love the whole family. So we don't just love the Lord, but we love the whole family. See, Paul wasn't content to keep this idea of love at just the theoretical level. Paul knew that love means these are real people with skin on that we are to love, it's easy for us, isn't it? To be able to talk about love, it's just a little less easy when there's actually people in front of us that we have to do it. We talk about love, we sing about love, but then when we have to love, we're kind of like, well, I don't know, I'm not sure. I mean, I don't know, they're not so lovable. Look in the mirror, it's like all of us at times are unlovable, we were unlovable, right? But Paul is saying this, don't just get caught up in the theory, this is about real people who love and who are loved, and we have to remember that. And that's why Paul, at the end of this letter, is noting a number of these people. Look in verse 15 and 16. He says, you know, or back it up for just a second, here's what Paul actually wrote, you can back it up one. Paul wrote this, "My love to all of you in Christ Jesus, amen." That's what he wrote, my love to all of you. We'll see in just a second how important that is. Now, look at who he references in verses 15 and 16. "You know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and they have devoted themselves to service of the Lord's people. I urge you, brothers and sisters, to submit to such people and to everyone who joins in the work and labors at it." So he references Stephanas, now, who is Stephanas? When Paul came to this part of the world, these were the first people to respond to the gospel. And in fact, if you read chapter one, Paul says, I didn't really come to baptize, and I haven't baptized any of you, and he was like, okay, I baptized a few of you, Crispus, I think, and Stephanas and his household, but you know, whatever. So he baptized Stephanas and his household, and these were people that he greatly loved and people that greatly loved him, and he recognizes that, he also talks about others that he loved and that loved him. Look at what he says in verses 19 and 20, "The churches in the province of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Priscilla greet you warmly in the Lord, and so does the church that meets at their house. All the brothers and sisters here send you greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss." Remember, this was kind of an ancient custom, none of you get weird, this was kind of an ancient custom, and it was showing the warm affection between brothers and sisters, right? It wasn't in any way romantic, it was simply a warm affection that was shown between brothers and sisters, just like you would with your brother and sister, right? Greet one another with a holy kiss, notice that it says holy kiss, and that was a kiss on the cheek at that time, that's just kind of how they did what they did. But what Paul is doing here is he's recognizing Aquila and Priscilla, if you remember them, you may remember the name Apollos, remember, they divided over Paul and Apollos and all of them, Aquila and Priscilla actually took Apollos' aside and instructed him in the gospel more deeply. So they were really a wonderful couple that was out of Rome. And when the persecution was happening, they got chased outta Rome like a lot of people did, and they ended up visiting and living in a number of different places, Corinth being one of those. So they had some familiarity with them in Corinth for sure, and a number of other places, and here Paul is talking about them and how much he loves them, and he talks about the brothers and sisters in Rome, notice this, notice what Paul's doing. He's expanding the idea of their family, that they don't just love one another in Corinth, but he's actually saying, hey, your brothers and sisters that are in Rome who you've never met, they send their love and their greetings. He's now saying, hey, this family, this family's bigger than you think. I'll tell you, I know how true this is, having been in about roughly just under 40 countries in the world and being among the family of God in those places, it's a really interesting thing because you just realize, like these are my brothers and sisters. We can't speak to one another in the same language. We literally can't communicate in the same language, it requires an interpreter for us, but we have everything in common, because we have the most important person in common, and that is love for Jesus, the grace of Christ, and it has transformed to us, and we have that commonality that we just have, it's like you kind of go, man, I feel like family, because you are. And Paul's expanding that idea and talking about love for the whole family, but do you know what? When Paul says, he says, "My love to all of you in Christ Jesus." That's a pretty big statement, because if you remember when we've been studying this book, there was a lot of people that didn't love him. I'm not on Paul's team, I'm with Apollos, I'm with Peter, I'm with whoever. They're dividing from him, i'm not even sure if he's a real apostle, Peter, he's the real deal, I'm not sure about Paul. I really like listen to Apollos because he can really speak, he's a great talker, Paul's not a very good talker. So we're not showing Paul any love, Paul says, however, my love to all of you, all of you, even my opponents. Paul says, "I want you to know that I love all of you," because he's writing this letter, Stephanas and two of his friends, Fortunatus and Achaicus, who we read about a moment ago, they brought the letter from Corinth to Paul, and then they were waiting for Paul to write his letter, to form his letter, and write it so he would give it to them and they would take it back. And Paul says, "My love to all of you." That means even his opponents, because that's what Paul means when he says do everything in love, he's not saying, do just a few specific things in love, he's saying, do everything in love. And that means that you capture everyone in the love that you have, everybody, even those who are standing against you there in Corinth. You still say, Paul, my love to all of you. Now, you remember that they were in Corinth, they were trying to divide one another and divide against Paul, and they were separating out Apollos and Paul, and do you know what Paul does at the end of the letter? He actually talks about Apollos, he's reminding them, he's reminding them, hey, we love one another. You can't divide us, we're brothers, we love one another, here's what he says, verse number 12, he says, "Now about our brother Apollos, I strongly urged him to go to you with the brothers. He was quite unwilling to go now, but he will go when he has the opportunity." What's interesting about that is that most scholars believe that the reason Apollos did not want to go back with them to Corinth right then is because they were too busy dividing themselves, and he didn't want to participate in the division because of his unity with Paul. And Paul's saying, you can't split us up, because we love one another, we're part of the family, and Paul's trying to model for them what love for the whole family looks like. So that's why Paul commands them to do everything in love, why? Because he knew that they weren't. He knew that the Corinthians were not doing everything in love, and Paul knew when that's the case, how deep that would run and how much of an impact that would have, that when the church was not loving as it should, that is where things would go off the rails. In fact, I want you to notice a phrase that Paul kind of sneaks in there, he doesn't sneak it in there, he's not getting anything past us, but it seems like he sneaks it in there, watch this. Verse 17 and 18, he says, "I was glad when Stephanas, and Fortunatus and Achaicus arrived," watch this, "because they have supplied what was lacking from you. For they refreshed my spirit and yours also. Such men deserve recognition." They supplied, listen to this, what was lacking from you. Well, what was it that was lacking from the Corinthians? Well, I agree with the British Anglican, Dick Lucas, who's a wonderful scholar, I agree with him, what was lacking was love. And what happened was that Stephanas, and Fortunatus, and Achaicus arrived, and they brought with them love for Paul. They brought with them love to supply what was lacking in Corinth. Now, what's interesting is that earlier in the letter, you might remember this, earlier in the letter, just a bit before, Paul actually wrote an entire chapter on love. See, this isn't just some stray thing that he throws in at the end of a letter where he's talking about this theme of love to do everything in love, he's actually talked about it significantly through the course of the letter and then spends an entire chapter on it in chapter number 13, some of you know, hey, I know the love chapter, chapter 13, why did Paul write that? Did he write it so that we would have something to read at weddings? Did he write it so that Hallmark would have some content for greeting cards? Did he write it so that you would have an inspirational quote to throw up on Pinterest? Did he get lost when he was writing chapter 12 about gifts and then coming back in chapter 14 talking about gifts, did he just get lost along the way and just go, you know what, I'm gonna write about love for just a little bit and then I'll go back to what I was thinking? No, the reason that Paul wrote about this is because it was fundamental to the argument that he was making. Listen to this, the Corinthians did not lack gifts, they had tons of them. The Corinthians did not lack teachers. I mean, Paul, Apollos, Peter, more than likely, Paul was sending Timothy to them. What kind of goldmine is this? You get Paul, Apollos, Peter, Timothy, they did not lack teachers. They did not lack gifts. What they lacked was love. That is what they lacked. Now, what's interesting about that, that's why Paul, at the end of the letter, commands them to do everything in love, because they were lacking in love. It's also why a few chapters earlier, he rebuked them because they didn't love. That they were highly gifted, but they didn't love. Some of you haven't read that chapter that way, but that's exactly what Paul's doing. Paul's rebuking them for their lack of love when he opens up that chapter on love. Look at what he says. "If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging symbol. 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 do not have love, I am nothing." You see, Paul is reminding them of this, and again, as Dick Lucas said, I thought it was brilliant, he said that Corinth was a place for heavenly gifts. This was a place where everybody knew about this place, they raved about this place, this was a place for heavenly gifts, think about it, the worship there was heavenly worship, why? Because they spoke in languages that they were not familiar with to the glory of God. And it was a heavenly given worship. The preaching was a heavenly preaching, why? Because it was prophecy, it was before the writing of the New Testament, before we had the cannon of scripture from which to preach. So they didn't have necessarily prepared talks, God was speaking through them. It was a heavenly worship. It was also a very heavenly insight, because God was giving to them knowledge to be able to put together the beautiful mystery of who he was and the nature of the gospel. And there was a heavenly power, because God had given to them great faith as a gift. Can you imagine this? Think about this church, heavenly worship, heavenly preaching, heavenly insight, heavenly power, but there are five words that Paul keeps coming back to, but do not have love. But do not have love. See, Paul was reminding them, their giftedness could not take them where God wanted to lead them. Only love could. Only love could do that. This is a remarkable reminder, because this was a gifted congregation, it was visible in one of the largest cities in all of the known world, it was the admired place, yet Paul is rebuking them because they have no love.Let me ask you something. Is a church a church without love? Is a bakery a bakery without bread? Is a bank a bank without assets? Let me answer those questions. Not for long. A church will not be a church for long without love. A bakery will not be a bakery for long without bread. A bank will not be a bank for long without assets. See, we need to understand the richness of this truth. Paul was saying to them in Corinth, they would not make it without love. And that's why he summarized at the very end of that chapter about love. Did they listen? I think they did for a little bit, because Paul ended up writing them a second letter, it's called 2 Corinthians, I know. He wrote 'em a second letter. And the tone and the shape of that letter gives you the impression that they, they actually did listen to him to some degree, not perfectly, nobody's perfect, but they listened to him to some degree, which is wonderful. But did they continue listening about this warning that he was giving to them, this appeal to love? They didn't, and I know that. I know that because Clement of Rome wrote about it. Clement of Rome, who Irenaeus said, one of the early church fathers said Clement knew the apostles, including the apostle Paul. He was younger, but he knew them. And in fact, if you pay attention in Philippians 4:3, Paul actually references a Clement from Rome in Philippians 4:3. Is it the same Clement of Rome who was bishop of the Church of Rome eventually? I'm not sure, could be. But the testimony is, is that he knew the apostles, and once he became kind of the bishop of Rome, the Corinthians were having all kinds of trouble and they appealed to him, and he wrote back to them in a letter that was called First Clement, and it was in chapter three, notice what Clement said. He said, "Every kind of honor and happiness was bestowed upon you," in other words, the Corinthian church, "and then was fulfilled that witch is written. 'My beloved did eat and drink, and was enlarged and became fat, and kicked.'" Rebelled, "Hence flowed emulation and envy, strife and sedition, persecution and disorder, war and captivity. So the worthless rose up against the honored, those of no reputation against such as were renowned, the foolish against the wise, the young against those advanced in years." They didn't listen. They didn't listen to what Paul had warned them about, that without love, you're not gonna be able to function as a church. A church is not a church without love for very long. And Paul was trying to help them see that in 1 Corinthians 16, because all the issues, all the self-seeking, all the stuff that they were involved in, could have been dealt with if there was love, it could have been dealt with. That's why Paul is summarizing it this way in chapter 16, it's why he summarizes the idea of love in chapter 13. And notice how he summarizes when he writes that chapter on love in chapter 13, look in verse 13, he says, "And now these three remain, faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love." Why do faith, hope and love remain? Why do they continue to abide? Why are they the things that Paul picks out and says, "Faith, hope and love remain, they abide?" Here's why, listen, because they aren't natural qualities, they're supernatural qualities. Faith, hope and love, those aren't natural qualities, those are supernatural qualities. You know that faith is a supernatural quality, notice what Paul writes in the book of Ephesians 2, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith," now, watch this, "and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God." What's the gift of God? The faith that he gives us through the grace that he has given us, this is all the gift of God, so even the faith that we have to put in God is a gift by God to us, it's supernatural. So is hope, by the way, here's how Peter said it. "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. In his great mercy, he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." New birth that gives rise to a living hope, that is a supernatural hope that we have. And what does Paul write in the book of Romans 5 about love? "Hope doesn't put us to shame, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit." Does it say that we manufacture that? No, it says that God does this by his Spirit in our hearts. So faith, hope and love are supernatural qualities, but here's the thing, Paul says, faith, hope and love remain, but one of these is the greatest, and which one is it? Love, why? Why is love the greatest? I like how CK Barrett postured it. He asked this question, "Does God need faith?" Nope, does God need hope? Nope, does God love? Yes he does, because he is love. So what that means, why love is the greatest of these, is because what God has done is he's taken something from himself and placed it in us. That's why this is the greatest of these. God has taken that which is of himself, and he has placed it in us. That means that we then, now, because God has placed his own life and being in us, is that we can act like him, because it's his love in us, we can now act like he acts, we can love with his love, we don't have to manufacture it, the Holy Spirit has placed it within us, and we can now do that because of him, not because of us. This is the beauty of this, so what does that look like, God doing that, what does that kind of love look like? Paul defined it for us, didn't he? Here's what he said, "Love is patient, love is kind. It doesn't envy, it doesn't boast, it's not proud, it doesn't dishonor others, it's not self-seeking, it's not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs." Or cancels the record of wrongs. "Love doesn't 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, gifts, they'll cease, where there are tongues, they'll be stilled, where there's knowledge, it will pass away." But what doesn't? Love, you see, what God has done for us, Paul defined this for us and reminded the church in Corinth that gifts can't carry you where God intends for you to go, only love can. The gifts are wonderful that are given by God to his people, by his Spirit, but they must be used in love. They're not to be self-seeking, they're for the edification of the body, as we heard earlier in this series. But what God has done is he's acted out this love for us in the gospel. God has put this kind of love on display. We were sinners who couldn't save ourselves. God was patient, God was kind. And in his kindness, he sent his Son to be with us, to live with us, to rescue us, to save us. And Jesus who had all authority, instead of being self-seeking, became obedient to death, even the death of a cross. And as a result, God could cancel our sins. Evil would not win, but truth would rejoice. And I wanna remind you that Jesus did not fail. You see, all these things that Paul talks about relative to love, we've seen modeled for us in the gospel. And that's why this is so important and so fundamental to the very function of who we are as a church, so that's why this is what we do. The only way we can be a church is that we are filled with God's love in us. Love that he gives us that we may love him and that we may love the whole family. So where does the Lord need to correct you in this regard? Where does the Lord need to fill you? See, some of us kind of think that love is subject to our own willpower, "Ah, I just gotta love them." No, God is the manufacturer, you are the distributor. You're not the manufacturer, you can't be. This is God's love placed in us by his Spirit, that we now become vessels, so listen carefully, if you've got a love problem, it's because you've got a God problem. "Jerry, I've got a love problem." You've got a God problem. What you haven't done is you haven't allowed yourself to be in God's presence, to be enveloped in his love, and to be filled with his love, such that you can be a vessel that God uses. That's your problem. It's not about your willpower, "Oh, I just gotta love them, they're hard to love." Remember, when we look through the lens of the gospel that we were condemned already, we were alienated from God, we were sinners against God, we were enemies of God, we were hard to love, and God did it anyway. We love because God has first loved us and he has done that even for those of us who were not lovable. And for those of us who were not lovable, that is all of us who were not lovable. So Paul is making it as clear as he can. Without love, you don't have a church, without love, you don't have relationships. And no amount of gifts, no amount of prominence, no amount of accolades, no amount of activity can cover that, because without love, we're nothing. Because God's love is what fills us, and uses us, and motivates us, and Paul says, "Even though these three supernatural qualities remain, faith, hope, and love, the greatest of these is love." A church can't be a church without love. So brothers and sisters, do everything in love. Let's bow our heads together. We'll be dismissed in just a moment. It's possible that you're here and you're hearing this message, and within it, you heard the beautiful news of the gospel, that God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever would believe in him would not perish, but would have eternal or everlasting life. Or that God has demonstrated his love to us in this, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. What a beautiful, beautiful thing, because we can't save ourselves. God has done that out of his great love, and his great kindness, and his great patience, and his great grace. And if you've never experienced the forgiveness of your sins and you've never experienced what it means to actually put your faith in Jesus, turning from your sin and trusting in what Jesus has done, dying for your sin on a cross and rising from the grave, then today I would invite you that when we dismiss in just a moment, there'll be some folks that'll be right down front, they would love to take a moment and tell you about what it means to receive Jesus as Lord and Savior. They'll put something in your hand that you can take home, that'll be of help to you. But I encourage you, don't leave if you've never settled that issue in your heart, make sure that that issue is the issue that is settled. So I encourage you, when we dismiss in a moment, these men and women will be down here, down front, just come down and take one of them by the hand and say, "I want to receive Jesus." And they would love to pray with you a prayer of faith and send you home with some things that are gonna help you in your journey of faith. And Father, I know that for those of us that have put our faith in you, that we sometimes get sidetracked from the preeminence of love. Father, I'm thankful for the reminder of your Spirit through your apostle, even as he concludes a letter to a church that he loved. Even with people in that church who didn't love him back. That he loved them all, because he knew that the gospel called him to that very way of living. And I pray that we would be reminded of the preeminence of love, that faith, hope and love remain, and they abide for us. But the greatest of these is love, because God, you are love and you have placed part of your life, yourself in us, so that we now can live like you in the world that we live in. I pray God, for any of us in whatever place and whatever space in our heart, whether that's in relationship to people, whether that's actually been in relationship to you, wherever the gaps are, wherever we need to be filled with your love, wherever we need to be corrected or repent, I pray that you would speak deeply to our hearts. And that we would cooperate with you, because love is not just a feeling of warmth, it's a life of obedience. And where our lives are not obeying you, we are not loving you. So would you by your Spirit point that out in each of our hearts, and may we agree with you and align ourselves with you so that we can live as you've designed us to live, filled with your love, shed abroad in our hearts, that we might be vessels of that in the world that we live in. We pray this for your glory and so that you would do this in your church, because we know a church will not be a church for very long without love. So would you grow us in your love, for your glory? We pray in Jesus name, amen.