I am on vacation for the rest of the month and therefore away from blogging. In effort to continue to provide some content I have asked the other elders at Emmaus Bible Church if I could post the notes from our weekly confession of sin on Sunday morning. It is always a rich time together as we prepare our hearts for worship by considering what God requires and what Christ has done. In these posts I will post the material from 1 Cor 13 reminds us of what the Bible says about love. It is teaching us about where we need to repent even as it teaches us how we must treasure Christ. Each day will unpack a section of the passage. May these serve you just as they served us at Emmaus!
This chapter on love is often used at weddings and other special occasions where love is the grand theme. It is also frequently lifted from the context of chapters 12 and 14 which emphasize the use and especially the abuse of spiritual gifts.
Even more unfortunate is how seldom this chapter is thought of in light of the rest of 1 Corinthians. Paul reminded them the “testimony of Christ was confirmed among you…they were called into the fellowship of… God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
This is a true Christian church which Paul says was not “lacking in any spiritual gift.” But his praise soon turns to a passionate appeal to them regarding “divisions” and “quarreling.” Among many problems, they had divided allegiances – “I follow Paul,” “I follow Apollos,” “I follow Cephas,” or the super saints, “I follow Christ.” The lowest blow early on is when he said in 3:1, “But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ.”
As you read the rest of the book it is filled with incident after incident of every kind of behavior lacking in biblical love. From suing one another, to putting up with deviant sexual behavior, to getting drunk before the Lord’s Table and being totally thoughtless regarding the less advantaged brethren among them.
As we look at this chapter, each reference to love corresponds to some aspect of the less than loving behavior toward one another. Though they were abounding in spiritual gifts, they were lacking in the love of Jesus In chapter 12 he said, “But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.” – which introduces chapter 13:1-3 – “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” (1 Cor. 13:1-3)
He moves from the lesser to the greater:
(1) the gift of tongues of either human languages or angelic speech; apart from love, I am just a loud clanging noise.
(2) the gift of prophecy – whether in preaching or understanding great mysteries, or revelations from God.
(3) the gift of intellectual knowledge. And further
(4) “all faith” to “move mountains”- if I don’t have love, “I am nothing.”
(5) great acts of mercy – so as to give all I own away to the poor or otherwise and finally
(6) I give my life in a terrible martyr’s death, “but have not love, I gain nothing.” They had looked at the cross; they had professed to love Jesus; they said they were recipients of grace and mercy; but something went awry. And Paul is saying, “give it your best shot” if isn’t wrapped in the self sacrificing, gospel love of Jesus – it is not worth a thing.
Prayer of Confession:
Dear Lord, this is a penetrating, deeply convicting, soul searching passage. We confess before you Lord, all of us at some time in our lives, have seen ourselves right here in this text – help us, we pray; forgive us we plead; strip us of our love of self and give us tender hearts of selfless love for others. Lord, when we are tempted to do otherwise, show us the love of Jesus – the verbal abuse, his bloody back, his crown of thorns, his parched lips, his heavy heart, his agonizing cries from Gethsemane and the cross; and especially his suffering soul in his lonely abandonment – all for my sin and the sins of my brothers and sisters in Christ. As we pray in his most worthy name. Amen!
Where do we find remedy for our sin sick souls but in the cross and the Christ of the cross –
Assurance of Pardon
“but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)