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Love is Patient and Kind (Sermon)

By: Rev Terng

1 Corinthians 13:4-5: Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

“Love, love, love, love; the Gospel in one word is love. Love your neighbor as your brother; Love, love, love.” Growing up in the church, we often sang that little round in Sunday School. It was a simple little song that was easy for us children to pick up and sing – simple in words and tune, but not simple in its meaning. Perhaps no song I learned growing up was more profound than that little ditty. It summarized all the sermons, and all the Bible studies, and all the theology classes I would take later in my life.

What is the Christian faith all about? Simple. It’s all about love. God loves us, and therefore we are to love one another. Simple, yet profound. Sounds easy enough, but in fact it is so challenging that none of us fully accomplish it in our lifetime. And yet, the command of Christ is that we love others as he has loved us. If that is so, then it is important that we know something about this love. What is the nature of this “love?”

If you’ve been a Christian for some time, you probably have heard many sermons about Christian love. If so, you might recall that, in the Greek language (which was the language the New Testament was originally written in), there are several different words to describe different types of love. Unfortunately, our English translations can’t reflect the nuances of those words. In English, they all are rendered with the same word, “love.” For instance, in Greek, “eros” (from which we get the word “erotic”) means romantic or sexual love. The word “storge” means the kind of love and loyalty that we have as being a part of a family. The word “philia” (from which we get the words “philanthropist” or “Philadelphia”) means brotherly love. These words were widely used in secular Greek writing, but none of these words is used much in the New Testament. The word preferred by the writers of our Scriptures was “agape,” a self-giving, self-sacrificing love – the kind of love we have experienced in God himself.

Kenneth Chafin described agape love this way: “It was a love that had been defined by God’s action in sending Jesus Christ into the world. It was a love that reached out to those who did not deserve it; a love that put the interest of others first; a love that forgave people and started over with them; and a love that sacrificed itself for others. It means – that caring, forgiving, spontaneous, redeeming love which is the essence of God’s nature.” (The Communicator’s Commentary, 1, 2 Corinthians, p. 161).

This is the “love” we at Tomoka UMC are to show. We are to love one another, and strangers, and even our enemies, with the same kind of love we have experienced from God himself. A tall order, indeed.

So, if this kind of agape love is what defines us as followers of Jesus, we had better understand what this love is, and what it is not. And there is no better definition of this agape love than we find in the 13th chapter of Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth – sometimes called, “The Love Chapter.” It is one of the most familiar and beautiful passages in scripture – very often read at weddings. And because we usually associate it with the marriage of lovers, we tend to think of it as a description of how husbands and wives should relate to one another. And of course, it is great advice for couples.

But Paul didn’t write this to be used for marriage counseling. He wrote it for all those who claim to be followers of Jesus. It’s not just how newlyweds should treat one another. It’s how all Christians are to treat every person we come in contact with – those we like and those we dislike, those we enjoy being with and those who drive us crazy, those who treat us well and those who would do us harm. First

Corinthians 13 is the standard by which we can measure whether we are succeeding at living out God’s command that we love others in the same way God has loved us.

That’s why, over the next six weeks, we will be looking at what love is, and isn’t, according to the Apostle Paul. Verses 4-8 of the 13th chapter (which we read together in our call to worship this morning) give a comprehensive description of the kind of love you and I ought to have for others if we want to claim to be a follower of Jesus. Each week we will look at a different facet of this love.

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