Sermon Audio (22 minutes):
Pastor Dan: (Transcription)
“We are finishing a final week in a 3-week series on the topic of LOVE; and we’re doing all these sermons from a place in the Bible known as 1st Corinthians 13… and we looked at a couple of verses two weeks ago and a few different verses last week and now we’re ending this section of Scripture together this week.
And two weeks ago we introduced this idea that LOVE MUST… and we said that what’s being introduced in the first part of this passage is THE IMPORTANCE OF LOVE. We looked at an early church that was incredibly gifted; they were able to do all kinds of wonderful things, even other things for each other; but somewhere along the line they had begun to substitute those things for really loving each other and Paul, the author of the book, is sort of calling them back saying to them, “Look… NONE of those things have any value of any kind at all if you don’t actually love each other.
And then last week we said, OK, well look, now let’s say you’re convinced of the IMPORTANCE OF LOVE and you actually DO want to love someone and do the MOST LOVING THING… BUT YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT IT IS.
I mean sometimes we’re in situations where we genuinely want to do the most loving thing, but the dilemma is WHAT IS THE MOST LOVING THING?
And one of the sources of seeking that answer is to know the TRUE DEFINITION of LOVE. So we looked a verses 4 through 7 and we looked at God’s definition of LOVE, and we challenged you guys who were here with us last week and we invited you to say “Look, if you’re interested in truly being a 1st Corinthians 13 loving person, take this definition of LOVE… anybody do this? … give it to 3 people, and tell them to tell you the 3 things in that definition that you’re the BEST at, and the 3 things in that definition that you are the WORST at.
Ya know, I’m a little disappointed because I was hoping to get some requests from you guys… I was hoping to give some of you feedback; I was hoping that some of you would say, “Hey pastor, here’s 1st Corinthians 13, tell me what 3 things I’m the BEST at, and 3 things I’m the WORST at…” and I didn’t get any-one… so I’m a little disappointed. I really excel at telling people the 3 things that they’re the WORST at when it comes to LOVING (Laughter).
But anyway, if you’re hearing that challenge for the first time, you can jump on board, re-read verses 4-7 and consider taking that challenge of passing that on to a few people.
And now all of the sudden, today we get to this whole idea of LOVE NEVER… sort of a reinforcement of the significance and importance of LOVE, and Paul begins in verse 8, 1st Corinthians 13, with this statement:
“Love never fails…”
That’s kind of a bold statement isn’t it? LOVE_NEVER_FAILS? I mean really? There are certain verses in the Scripture that if you’re like me and been around the Church for a while, over the year when we hear them and they’re just sort of warm and fuzzy… but over time I’m wondering if we lose the significance and the meaning of what it’s actually saying and we stop challenging it, or being critical of it anyway, and we forget that from someone ELSE’S perspective looking at that expression “Love never fails”, I think there are many people in the world who if they saw that in the Scripture they’d say,
“REALLY? … I beg to differ… love has failed in my life… when I was a child I was counting on my parents to love me, and they didn’t. My first marriage, LOVE FAILED ME… over the years I have learned to discover how FAILING a person I’ve become when it comes to loving my children or loving others. Do you really mean to say, ‘Love_never_fails’?”
And it’s there we need to be clear about what God means when He says “Love never fails”… and be clear that He’s talking about love in it’s proper context according to vs 4-7… a 1st Corinthians 13 Biblical definition of LOVE, and He’s saying TRUE, BIBLICAL GODLY LOVE NEVER FAILS.
If your definition of LOVE came from your favorite TV show or from your favoring SONG or your favorite MOVIE then that kind of love is going to fail you.
If your definition of love came from the most recent ROMANCE NOVEL then that kind of love is going to fail you; if your definition of love came from what your BOYFRIEND or GIRLFRIEND taught you then that love is going to fail you.
Some of you have parents who taught you a type of love that not only CAN fail, but inevitably if it’s not First Corinthians Chapter Thirteen LOVE, it WILL ultimately fail you.
So to be clear when the Scripture says, “Love never fails us”, what it’s saying is, TRUE BIBLICAL GODLY LOVE NEVER FAILS… that’s a bold statement, but it’s a true one. It’s a wonderful one if you start to think about it… because then LOVE NOW BECOMES sort of our NORTH STAR IN LIFE — whenever we have decisions in our life and we’re confused and we’ve lost our way… and we’re wondering how to treat our HUSBAND or how to treat our WIVES, or what direction to go in life; or what to do at work; or what NOT to do… all of the sudden LOVE becomes the North Star of how we make decisions in life; it’s becomes what guides us because it’s the thing that NEVER FAILS.
You know the term, “North Star” is… don’t know about you, but it’s not particularly helpful to me; I think if I was lost in the woods somewhere… I’d have like a 5% chance of identifying the North Star (LAUGHTER); and then if I did, I don’t think it would help at all… is there anyone else who’s… (more laughter).
Alright… CLOSE YOUR EYES… POINT TO THE DIRECTION THAT YOU THINK NORTH IS… HOLD YOUR HAND THERE… NOW LET’S LOOK AT EVERYONE’S ANSWERS… open up.
But just to carry the analogy on a little bit further here’s what I’m going to ask you to do: I’m going to ask you in a second to close your eyes, and I’m going to ask you to point, with your eyes CLOSED, so everyone else can see the direction you think North is; OK… alright?
No asking our spouse right now; and then I’m to have all of us OPEN our eyes and we’re going to look at each other’s answers. But understand why we’re closing our eyes so you don’t just do what everyone else does. OK?
Alright… close your eyes… point to the direction that you think North is… hold your hand there, and now open your eyes and let’s look at everyone’s answers.
OK… we got some back of the SANCTUARY, we’ve got to the SIDE, we’ve got UP FRONT, we’ve got some people pointing up to the SKY (LAUGHTER) … we need to talk to those people (more laughter).. I’m sympathizing with all the other answers, but there’s a general consensus this way (to your right). OK.. you guys did pretty good with that.
But you know sometimes in life it can kinda be that way… you’re trying to decide how to respond to your SPOUSE’S latest behavior; how to respond to what your KIDS are thinking or doing; how to respond to your BOSS’S most recent criticism or request of you, or whatever it might be… and you’re left wondering WHEN TO RETIRE, or what to do with your LOVED ONE in their medical condition… what-ever it might be and you’re sort of lost, and you feel like the number of answers that are out there are just confusing you and making you wonder what to do…
… and here we’re discovering that because LOVE NEVER FAILS it sort of becomes_like_that… “HERE’S TRUE NORTH”… at any given time we can ask ourselves as followers of God what is the most loving thing to do in the eyes of God and other people… THAT’S what I ought to do, there it is… LOVE_NEVER_FAILS !!!
It doesn’t mean that if you DO THAT… the world might not ever consider you to be a failure.
You see, sometimes if we do the most loving thing, in the eyes of God and to other men, we might become very successful; sometimes if we act in accordance to First Corinthians 13, verses 4 through 7, WE MIGHT BECOME VERY SUCCESSFUL. But sometimes it might make us a BIG FAILURE.
But here friends… we’re left deciding, are we REALLY going to live for an audience of “ONE”?
And as Followers of Christ, and if He’s the one who we ultimately want to please with our lives… we have HIM in writing SAYING TO US… that if you ACT in your life according to 1 Cor 13:4-7, and you seek to do the most loving thing toward GOD and people based on THAT definition, “you will NEVER BE A FAILURE in my eyes” in that sense… you will have made the right CHOICE.
“LOVE… he says, NEVER FAILS. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. v 8
Well if you weren’t with us a couple weeks ago, those few words might seem kinda like nonsense, might be a little bit confusing, but a couple weeks ago we introduced the idea that there is this thing called SPIRITUAL GIFTS… that when we become a follower of Christ, God’s Spirit GIFTS US with the ability to do some really cool things to help other people out.
And some of those things are miraculous in their nature. In this church was a church that apparently had a lot of those things going for them… things like PROPHESYING, like speaking on behalf of God to other people; or TONGUES where they could speak in other people’s languages, or speak and people could hear it in their own language.
They had some of these MIRACULOUS gifts that are happening, and the problem was with this church is that they were using those things as a substitute for REALLY LOVING each other.
And so he’s saying to them, “Look, those things are going to pass, they’re going to be still, they’re going to come to an end, but LOVE NEVER FAILS… it transcends all of that, there is NO END to love, so let’s put those things in their proper perspective.
There is no substitute when it comes to loving each other for LOVE; so stop trying to substitute it with PROPHESY and TONGUES and all these other things that you’ve got going for you.
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Now if you’re like me, I can’t related to that at all. I don’t think I’ve ever prophesied; it took 4 years to pass Spanish-1 so I don’t think I have the gift of tongues… I mean I can’t relate to this list at all, OK?
BUT… instead of just dismissing the passage what God graciously told me this week was, “What do YOU have that you sometimes use to REPLACE… or as a substitute for actually LOVING PEOPLE?” My guess is, ALL of us have something.
“Pastor… now look man… I know I’m not always as loving to my WIFE as I should be, ya know… ya gotta understand. Sometimes I get a little angry at her… you know what I mean; but I’m not as KIND and as tender towards her as I should be, but let me just tell you something, I WORK HARD, I MAKE A GOOD LIVING, I’ve given her a GOOD HOME and a GOOD CAR and FINANCIAL SECURITY”.
Well let me tell you something… a good home, a good car and the financial security like prophesy, tongues and knowledge will pass away, will be stilled and will come to an end. When it comes to loving your wife, HUSBANDS… THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR LOVE.
“Pastor… I mean come on.. I mean I know I don’t always love my HUSBAND the way that I should, ya know; I don’t always give him the attention and the respect that I know he really longs for and desires… but you don’t understand.. I have a CAREER.. I’m trying to get ahead in this career and as a woman, and trying to be successful, I gotta put in extra time, I just don’t have the energy…” or, “I keep our house in order and our kids are in line, and the home’s in good order… all that’s successful, but I just don’t have any energy left for my husband.”
Well, those things like prophesy and tongues and The Gift of Knowledge will cease, will pass away, will be stilled. When it comes to loving your husband there is no substitute for LOVING YOUR HUSBAND.
“Pastor, come on, I know sometimes we’re not always as loving towards our children as we should be, but you need to understand, I know we’re a little critical of them, but you have to understand that we just want what’s best for them… we just want them to be successful, to be productive in society, to become good kids someday…”.
Let me tell you what… those things are fine and dandy but like prophesy and tongues and the gift of knowledge they will come to pass, they will be stilled, they will cease. When it comes to loving your kids… THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR LOVE.
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And then he goes on and he says this
For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness (perfection) comes, what is in part (the imperfect) disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. (vs 9-12)
When I first read this passage, and I’ve looked at it in the past, it feels like Paul’s just WAY OFF on a tangent. Ya know that one of the things my wife and I get into arguments about is, umm.. and we only have TWO things we get in arguments about …that was a joke, (LAUGHTER), but one of them is that when she tells stories she has the Gift of DETAIL (Laughter).
And ahh… notice I’m choosing to share this while they’re out of town. And ahh.. she had the “Gift of Detail” and it feels like ya know… sometimes I’ll ‘pause’ her and say, “Honey, are we on topic still… or? and then she’s like, “Just let me keep going…” and sure enough she brings it right back.
And it feels like Paul is “off topic” here, like what’s this, “When I was a child…” and all this type of stuff; but then he hasn’t changed topics, because the very last verse, v 13,
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
So that means we have to go back and we have to look at that whole stuff about when the perfect comes and the imperfect passes, or all this childlike talk, and becoming a grown, mature person.. IN LIGHT OF THE SUBJECT OF LOVE, what does he mean by all that?
I think the key to unleashing this little section of Scripture is when he says, “BUT WHEN PERFECTION COMES”. And what he’s referring to there is when our Lord and Savior JESUS CHRIST COMES BACK AND ALL OF ETERNITY BEGINS… or when we pass away, if we pass away before that; and all of eternity is ushered in..”
He’s saying ‘LOOK CHURCH, KEEP WHAT YOU’RE DOING HERE IN PERSPECTIVE. When it comes to the subject of LOVE I know it’s NOT always EASY, it’s not always NATURAL; sometimes it’s difficult, but put it in perspective, WHEN CHRIST COMES BACK AGAIN, WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE ABLE TO HAVE BEEN SUCCESSFUL AT? All of the other things that you use to replace love with or LOVE‘.
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Let’s put this into perspective: someday Christ is going to come back and we are going to see Him face_to_face… and our understanding of love ought to MATURE to that point, it ought to be like a child matures to an adult; it ought to GROW–our commitment to love ought to mature and grow.
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Ya know friends, as a pastor I’ve had the opportunity to be with people in their lives as they began to see the end of their life coming. And people’s health was fading, and it was time to connect with them and visit with them. Not a ‘lot’, but quite often I’ve had that opportunity.
And ya know it’s interesting the different ways people handle that… ya know some people are at complete PEACE, some people are just a NERVOUS WRECK, other people don’t want to talk about it at all, and other people are VERY TALKATIVE and have a lot to get off of their chest.
But at some point in time, as a pastor, I move from “social politeness” to asking the HARD QUESTIONS. And saying to someone, “Ya know, umm… have you thought about your passing and what’s that’s going to be like for you… do you have any concerns, or fears; is there anything on your mind that you’re thinking about in this moment?”
And ya know it’s interesting, in all the conversations I’ve had like that I’ve never had someone say to me, “Ya know Pastor, I really wish that I would’ve just WORKED MORE and spent LESS TIME with my family”… “I really think I LOVED people too generously.” … “I really think I was TOO KIND, too compassionate, too caring; I regret all the love I gave people and the sacrifices I made for others.”
You hear the opposite don’t you? Oh you hear men and women who RESENT their UNFAITHFULNESS towards each other, who resent ABANDONING their children, who. resent ALL THEY GAVE to the WORKPLACE and all they GAVE UP as a result. You hear all kinds of regrets.
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And maybe it doesn’t take to the point where we get to that place in life… maybe just being an EMPTY NESTER and having your kids all out of the home gives you a “maturing perspective” that Paul is talking about here… where you begin to realize that LIFE IS SHORT.. THE PERFECT IS COMING and there is NO reason to DELAY LOVE any longer… there is no reason to hold back.
There’s a reason I think, that my mom, when she dropped me off, her youngest child, at college… SHE WEPT. I think that perspective was starting to come in and set in for her. The ‘space’ is gone.. I mean she must’ve been thinking about the things she could’ve done, or didn’t do, or whatever it might be… I don’t know, I’ll experience those emotions someday myself;
But, all of that happens, and see Paul is saying “Look Church, let’s get some perspective on LOVE… THE PERFECT IS COMING, there’s no reason to hold back anymore. Like we’re in OVERTIME… the next person who scores wins, don’t hold anything back for the second half.
GIVE IT ALL YOU GOT… CHRIST IS COMING; there’s no reason to hold love back for another day or for another moment; there’s someone in your life whom God is calling you to really open up to, now is the time, the perfect is coming.
I’m really thankful that we happen to be finishing this sermon series on the same Sunday that we come to the Lord’s Table together. And we think about the subject of LOVE.. and of course GOD OUR FATHER, His Son JESUS CHRIST had a decision to make in the midst of our sin and rebellion: “WHAT WAS THE MOST LOVING THING TO DO FOR US?”
Ya know, God might of said, “Well, they really are stuck in their sin and they’re not doing to well, but why don’t I give them some BETTER WEATHER for a while, that will help (he laughs under his breath)… WHY DON’T I GIVE THEM SOME MORE FOOD or some more NATURAL RESOURCES, or help them to LIVE LONGER or to grow TALLER and BE STRONGER or whatever it might be…
But NO.. the most LOVING thing to do involved DEALING WITH OUR SIN… REMOVING IT, AND PAYING THE PRICE FOR OUR SIN. And so the Scripture tells us that CHRIST DIED ON THE CROSS FOR OUR SIN… in the GREATEST ACT OF LOVE.
And that act… IT DID NOT FAIL.
Or it is Satan who will try to convince you before this Table, that Christ’s attempt to forgive you of your sin and to have all of your wrong doing’s cleansed FAILED… BUT IT DIDN’T.
The true loving act of Jesus Christ that gives us FORGIVENESS and ETERNAL LIFE was accomplished… IT_DID_NOT_FAIL… and that’s what allows the Scripture to say that, Paul is convinced that “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor demons, nor height, nor depth, nor any other power (pause) in all of creation will be able to separate us from the LOVE OF GOD that is in CHRIST JESUS.
Because of what HE did on the Cross, to rescue us… DID NOT FAIL.
I invite you to come to this table this morning with THANKSGIVING ON YOUR HEARTS, knowing that Christ’s LOVE has NOT FAILED… it has accomplished it’s intended purpose. YOU ARE FORGIVEN and RESCUED and REDEEMED and ADOPTED into the family of God.”
Pastor Dan Borgelt
Kirkmont Presbyterian Church
Beavercreek, Ohio 45385
OH MY GOD… (yes, I’m talking to YOU God).. .that was good
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TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: In the midst of proofing above, a notice popped up that a former student had tagged me on a Facebook post about 1 Corinthians 13. Here’s the thread; the post and comments below it are truly “God-incidental” giving us a glimpse of His exponential potential