Exercising Our Gifts in a Way that is Loving

Faith Church October 12, 2002 1 Corinthians 13:

- today we're going to move into a new phase of our study on Discovering and Using Your Spiritual Gifts.
- let me invite you to open your Bible to I Corinthians chapter 13.

- while you're turning, let me recommend a couple of resources for those who would like to do additional study:
1.   John MacArthur's commentary on I Corinthians
2.  Robert L. Thomas - Understanding Spiritual Gifts

- the second book is a verse-by-verse study of I Corinthians 12-14. 
- one of the things I like about the book is that is begins with a verse-by-verse overview/summary of these three chapters.
- it is similar to what we've been doing in tracing the argument of the text…
- the way that Thomas has done it is very succinct [a few pages], but very thorough.
- then he launches into a more detailed study, but you have that overall summary, the big picture, first.

- remember when we started this study, we talked about how in an expository approach, the Lord would set the agenda on what was emphasized, and it might be different than our primary questions/desires.
- we deviated from that a bit last week when we took time to compare the three "gift lists" in chapter 12---I'm not sure the Corinthians would have analyzed the material that way as they were reading it…
- you'll also see that by the end of this chapter, one of our primary questions [are all the gifts for today?] is going to be answered.
- but before that, God chooses to give an extended discussion about the issue of love.
- I Cor. 13 is the great love chapter in the Bible…however I'm not sure that it is always interpreted in light of its overall context, which is an extended discussion of spiritual gifts.

- READ I Cor. 13:1-8

- in our time this morning, let's talk about:
I.  The Importance of Biblical Love
II.  The Description of Biblical Love
III.  The Relationship of Biblical Love

I.  The Importance of Biblical Love

- the word that is used for love here is the Greek word agapn.
- In his commentary on I Corinthians, John MacArthur said of this word….
Agape (love) is one of the rarest words in ancient Greek literature, but one of the most common in the New Testament. Unlike our English love, it never refers to romantic or sexual love, for which eros was used, and which does not appear in the New Testament. Nor does it refer to mere sentiment, a pleasant feeling about something or someone. It does not mean dose friendship or brotherly love, for which philia is used. Nor does agape mean charity, a term the King James translators carried over from the Latin and which in English has long been associated only with giving to the needy. This chapter is itself the best definition of agape….
The problem, however, is that few people have any idea of what true love is. Most people, including many Christians, seem to think of it only in terms of nice feelings, warm affection, romance, and desire. When we say, “I love you,” we often mean, “I love me and I want you.” That, of course, is the worst sort of selfishness, the very opposite of agape love.

- you'll also notice that in first three verses, Paul uses two very important literary devices:
1.  Hyperbole
- as we study this, we'll see that he is purposely exaggerating for means of effect…[no one could speak all languages, have all faith, etc]

2.  He is using himself as a hypothetical example.
- He could have just as easily selected degrading true examples from the Corinthian congregation--but instead he transfers the picture to himself.
- that in and of itself was a loving thing to do--he was making this teaching as easy to accept as possible.

A.  If you have eloquence without love, you have become nothing - v. 1
- we know that the people in the Corinthian church especially wanted the showy gifts, and of course tongues-speaking was one of the showiest.
- but Paul says, even if I could speak in all the languages [he even throws in an angelic language for good measure], without love I have become a noisy gong or clanging symbol.
- in other words, it would be useless.
- Robert Thomas said - The former, "noisy gong," was a formless piece of bronze making a clattering noise when struck.  It was not musical, but instead was a reverberating sound that aggravated the eardrums.  The "clanging cymbal" refers to the sound made by concave-shaped metal plates used widely in heathen worship of the Eastern world--again, a very repulsive sound.  A comparison of tongues without love to pagan worship carried a stinging rebuke…

- INPUT - What would love have had to do with the practice of speaking in tongues?
- [develop -- issue of using the gift to bring glory to self….]
B.  If you have prophecy, knowledge, and faith with love, you are nothing - v. 2.

- we've discussed these three gifts because they came up in chapter 12, but Paul's point is the same as verse 1…
- the only difference is, he even strengthens the argument…not just that you are becoming nothing, but that you are nothing.

- this one is especially significant because in chapter 14, Paul is going to discuss rather thoroughly that prophecy is the greatest gift…but even that gift apart from love is nothing.

C.  If you have benevolence and martyrdom without love, it profits you nothing.

- the hyperbole continues when Paul talks about giving all your possessions away, or giving your body to be burned…even that degree of sacrifice without love is worthless.
- all love involves sacrifice, but not all sacrifice involves love.

INPUT - What question should we be asking as a result of the argument of these first three verses?
- [develop --- as we use our spiritual gifts, are we doing it out of, and in love?]

- now, so that there is no question about what Paul is discussing, in the next verses he gives us a marvelous description of biblical love.


II.  The Description of Biblical Love

- I'd like us to work down through the descriptions, and then think about the relationship between the spiritual gifts we've been studying, and these particular characteristics….

A.  Patient
- macro-thumew - "long-tempered"

B.  Kind
- a "companion of patience
- to be useful, serving, and generous

C.  Not jealous
- zeloo - to have a strong desire
- to want what someone else has, or to wish they didn’t have it

D.  Does not brag
- does not parade itself, does not act to receive the applause of others


E.  Not arrogant
- [he had already told the Corinthians they were - 4:6, 19, 5:2, 8:1]
- puffed up
- cf. William Carey at a dinner party - a snobbish person approached him and said "Mr. Carey, I understand that you were once a shoemaker" [attempting to put him down.  Carey said, "No my lord, not a shoemaker, only a shoe repairman".

F.  Does not act unbecomingly
- does not have poor manners or act rudely

G.  Does not seek its own
- Lenski - "Cure selfishness and you have just replanted the Garden of Eden."
- inscription on a British tombstone:
- Here lies a miser who lived for himself
- and cared for nothing but gathering wealth
- Now where he is and how he fares
- Nobody knows and nobody cares

H.  Is not provoked
- "to arose to anger"
- cf. chap 6 - the Corinthians taking one another to court…[cf. esp v. 7]

I.  Does not take into account a wrong suffered.
- logizomai - a bookkeeping term
- keeping a record of wrongs, offenses

J.  Does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth.
- true love always takes God's side in moral issues

K.  Bears all things
- covers the faults of others
- protects others from exposure, ridicule, and harm [not always possible, cf. church discipline]

L.  Believes all things
- gives the benefit of the doubt

M.  Hopes all things
- even when another person fails [can no longer believe all things], the loving person hopes for repentance and restoration

N.  Endures all things
- hupomeno - a military term - holding a vital position at all cost


O.  Never fails
- permanent
- true love lasts

III.  The Relationship of Biblical Love and Spiritual Gifts

- INPUT - Select one of the spiritual gifts we've studied thus far, and explain which aspect of love would be especially important as that gift is exercised. 

 

 

 

 

Adult Bible Fellowship
Discovering and Using Your Spiritual Gifts
Exercising Our Gifts in a Way that is Loving

I.  The Importance of Biblical Love
John MacArthur - Agape (love) is one of the rarest words in ancient Greek literature, but one of the most common in the New Testament. Unlike our English love, it never refers to romantic or sexual love, for which eros was used, and which does not appear in the New Testament. Nor does it refer to mere sentiment, a pleasant feeling about something or someone. It does not mean close friendship or brotherly love, for which philia is used. Nor does agape mean charity, a term the King James translators carried over from the Latin and which in English has long been associated only with giving to the needy. This chapter is itself the best definition of agape….
The problem, however, is that few people have any idea of what true love is. Most people, including many Christians, seem to think of it only in terms of nice feelings, warm affection, romance, and desire. When we say, “I love you,” we often mean, “I love me and I want you.” That, of course, is the worst sort of selfishness, the very opposite of agape love.
A. If you have eloquence without love, you have ______________ - v. 1
Robert Thomas - The former, "noisy gong," was a formless piece of bronze making a clattering noise when struck.  It was not musical, but instead was a reverberating sound that aggravated the eardrums.  The "clanging cymbal" refers to the sound made by concave-shaped metal plates used widely in heathen worship of the Eastern world--again, a very repulsive sound.  A comparison of tongues without love to pagan worship carried a stinging rebuke…
INPUT - What would love have had to do with the practice of speaking in tongues?
B. If you have prophecy, knowledge, and faith without love, you ______ nothing - v. 2.
C. If you have benevolence and martyrdom without love, it ____________ you nothing.
INPUT - What question should we be asking as a result of the argument of these first three verses?

II.  The Description of Biblical Love
A. ________________
B. ________________
C. Not ______________
D. Does not __________
E. Not ______________
F. Does not act __________________
G. Does not _________ its _________
H. Is not _______________
I. Does not take into account a ____________ suffered.
J. Does not rejoice in ____________________, but rejoices in the ____________.
K. ______________ all things
L. ______________ all things
M. ______________ all things
N. ______________ all things
O. Never ______________


III.  The Relationship of Biblical Love and Spiritual Gifts

INPUT - Select one of the spiritual gifts we've studied thus far, and explain which aspect of love would be especially important as that gift is exercised. 

Adult Bible Fellowship
Discovering and Using Your Spiritual Gifts
Exercising Our Gifts in a Way that is Loving

I.  The Importance of Biblical Love
John MacArthur - Agape (love) is one of the rarest words in ancient Greek literature, but one of the most common in the New Testament.  Unlike our English love, it never refers to romantic or sexual love, for which eros was used, and which does not appear in the New Testament.  Nor does it refer to mere sentiment, a pleasant feeling about something or someone.  It does not mean close friendship or brotherly love, for which philia is used.  Nor does agape mean charity, a term the King James translators carried over from the Latin and which in English has long been associated only with giving to the needy. This chapter is itself the best definition of agape….

 



The problem, however, is that few people have any idea of what true love is.  Most people, including many Christians, seem to think of it only in terms of nice feelings, warm affection, romance, and desire.  When we say, “I love you,” we often mean, “I love me and I want you.” That, of course, is the worst sort of selfishness, the very opposite of agape love.
A.  If you have eloquence without love, you have become nothing - v. 1
Robert Thomas - The former, "noisy gong," was a formless piece of bronze making a clattering noise when struck.  It was not musical, but instead was a reverberating sound that aggravated the eardrums.  The "clanging cymbal" refers to the sound made by concave-shaped metal plates used widely in heathen worship of the Eastern world--again, a very repulsive sound.  A comparison of tongues without love to pagan worship carried a stinging rebuke…
INPUT - What would love have had to do with the practice of speaking in tongues?
B.  If you have prophecy, knowledge, and faith without love, you are nothing - v. 2.
C.  If you have benevolence and martyrdom without love, it profits you nothing.
INPUT - What question should we be asking as a result of the argument of these first three verses?
II.  The Description of Biblical Love
A. Patient
B. Kind
C. Not jealous
D. Does not brag
E. Not arrogant
F. Does not act unbecomingly
G. Does not seek its own
H. Is not provoked
I. Does not take into account a wrong suffered.
J. Does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth.
K. Bears all things
L. Believes all things
M. Hopes all things
N. Endures all things
O. Never fails
III.  The Relationship of Biblical Love and Spiritual Gifts
INPUT - Select one of the spiritual gifts we've studied thus far, and explain which aspect of love would be especially important as that gift is exercised.

Faith Church