Sunday, May 10, 2009

Love - God's Standard

LOVE – God's Standard1

Intro.: Having had a mother for nearly 45 years, I can understand that mothers can be loved and frustrating at the same time.

  1. I think I remember telling you about the night that I Sandra and I and another couple had gone for a drive in the gold country of Northern California. During the trip, we stopped at a fresh fruit stand along side the road where I purchased some fresh strawberries and blueberries. Late that night when I finally got home, my mom was still waiting up for her 21 year old son. “Where have you been? You can't keep her up so late! She needs her sleep.” But then she saw the bag on the living room table. “What's that?” I explained and after a few moments of silence, she said “Go to bed – we'll talk about it in the morning!” All I have got to say, I hope this nights gets over fairly quickly.

  2. I expect that Knoxville, TN, Police Chief Phil Keith felt the same way the night he was in the middle of a city council meeting when his pager beeped. Startled to see that the call was from, you guessed it, his mother, he rushed to the press table and phoned her. “Phil Keith, are you chewing gum?” demanded his mom, who had been watching on cable TV. “Yes, ma’am.” “Well, it looks awful. Spit it out.” Keith dutifully removed the gum and went back to his meeting.

  3. There’s no one like mothers! The words “mother” and “love” go together like left and right hands, and on this Mother’s Day of 2003, there’s no better passage to study than the “Love Chapter” of the Bible which describes the agape love of God which is necessary for mothers, fathers, sons, daughters—and for all the rest of us.

  4. Turn with me to I Corinthians 13.

Read: I Corinthians 13:1-13 Pray T.S. I would like to spend the next few moments looking at what this thing called “love” is all about.

  1. The Place of Love (1-3)

    1. Love is superior to eloquent words (v. 1).

    2. Love is the vital principle, and without it all other endowments, including excellence in communication, is vain.

    3. Love is superior to wisdom (v. 2). If a person could unlock the mysteries of the entire universe and call forth faith to remove mountains, he would be zero without love.

    4. Love is superior to work (v. 3).

(Ill.) Albert Barnes, a Presbyterian pastor and theologian, notes, “If there is not true piety, there can be no benefit in this to my soul. It will not save me. If I have not true love to God, I must perish, after all. Love therefore, is more valuable and precious than all these endowments. Nothing can supply its place; naught can be connected with salvation without it.”

  1. The Portrait of Love (4-7)

    1. In verses 4-7 we have a catalog of love – and how it will change our lives.

    2. Love is patient (v. 4).

    3. It bears injustice without anger or despair. Love must be practiced (v. 4). It is mild under all provocations and ill usage. Love produces good manners and courtesy at all times.

    4. Love is pure (v. 4), not jealous or displeased when others are successful.

    5. Love never embarrasses the owner or recipient.

    6. Love is peaceful (v. 4). It is not rash.

    7. Love takes a back seat and is willing to work behind the scenes. Love does not brag or boast or sing its own praises.

    8. Love is polite (v. 5), doing nothing to cause shame.

    9. Love prefers others (v. 5). There is no selfishness in the true love. It seeks the good of others.

    10. Love is not easily provoked (v. 5). When love holds the reins of the soul, there is little danger of provocation to anger and spiteful action that leads to sin.

    11. Love is assume guilt (v. 5). It does not condemn on suspicion or without evidence, nor is it malicious nor disposed to find fault.

    12. Love is well-behaved (v. 6). It does not sympathize with evil, nor does it delight in anything that does not conform to the standard of right.

    13. Love takes pleasure in truth (v. 6).

    14. Love rejoices in the virtues of others, not their vices.

    15. Love is pleasant (v. 7). Love maintains a disposition that refuses to make public or to avenge the faults of others.

    16. Love is not suspicious. It trusts others.

    17. Love brightens all things, bears all things and braves all things.

    18. As believers – we cannot put love into second place. It will be the forefront of who and what we are as we live out our Christian life.

(Ill.) While in seminary, we were told that we should have one illustration to support each main point – but it seems to me that no illustration can completely define God's love.

  1. The Permanence of Love (8-13)

    1. Love’s permanency is suggested by the phrase “love never fails” (v. 8). Love will always abide, may always be exercised, and can be adapted to all circumstances in which we may be placed.

    2. Love’s pre-eminence is suggested by the phrase “but the greatest of these is love” (v. 13). Love is the greatest of all gifts, for love makes the rest of the gifts graceful.

      (Ill.) Over the years I have been impressed with a number of natural wonders. I think of half dome in Yosemite – a huge dome of granite standing perpendicular to the Yosemite Valley floor. It has stood that way for as long as man has been aware of the beauty found in that valley. Or think of Old Faithful, the geyser in Yellowstone National Park. For years it has blasted its mud, steam, and water out of a hole in the ground – though not quite clockwork, it hourly spews forth its contents. What a view. Or, more closely, Niagara Falls. And love is more permanent than any of these.
    1. Love is the one needful thing—our priority.

    2. We may lose our goods or even our good names, but if we truly retain love, we have exchanged the temporary for the eternal.

    3. For when the Bible has said all it will say about God, it is contained in the one statement: “God is love.”

Conclusion: F. E. Marsh tells of meeting of a group of pastors that had the potential to be controversial and possibly devisive. As he prepared to attend he was reminded of the passage that we have looked at today - the 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians and praying that its teaching might guide his conduct and that of his colleagues. The aged minister felt the need of the restraining hand of divine grace and the calming power of love, lest they should be rash in their speech.

  1. This is the kind of love that lasts.

  2. May God give us loving moms, loving dads.

  3. May He give all of us loving hearts like that.


1Based on a sermon by Melvin Worthington entitled “Lasting Love on Mother's Day” found in Morgan, R. J. (2002). Nelson's annual preacher's sourcebook : 2003 edition (electronic ed.) (136). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.