Seek To Build Up The Whole Church—1 Corinthians 14:1-19

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Levi Durfey

 

INTRODUCTION

 

Since chapter 12, Paul has been discussing spiritual gifts. We’ve learned about the variety of gifts, the giver of the gifts, and the fact that every Christian has at least one gift. We’ve seen that spiritual gifts are meant to be used to help others, not to make ourselves look good. To emphasize that last point, Paul wrote an entire chapter about love. Now, in chapter 14, Paul reemphasizes that point. He says first that…

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The More Excellent Way Of Love, Part 3—1 Corinthians 13:8-13

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Levi Durfey

 

INTRODUCTION

 

The theme of this last part of 1 Corinthians 13 is love never fails—love will never end. The Corinthians, like many Christians today, often had their eyes on the wrong things. They were concerned about what spiritual gift they had, they were focused on exerting their rights, they wanted to participate in immoral behavior.

 

Instead of being controlled by the Spirit, they allowed themselves to be controlled by sins like selfishness, arrogance, and envy—just to name a few. If they had focused on just one of the fruit of the Spirit—love—those sins would have been stifled.

 

Instead of bragging about the great spiritual gift they had received, they would have—in love—been using that gift to help others.

 

Instead of demanding their right to do this or that, they would have been concerned about their brothers and sisters whose conscience was weaker.

 

Think about today. If we truly had love, what would happen to sins like gossip, slander, envy, jealousy, and so on?

 

So, in this last part, Paul praises love. First, he explains that…

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The More Excellent Way Of Love, Part 2—1 Corinthians 13:5-7

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Levi Durfey

 

INTRODUCTION

 

The Corinthian church was in trouble. Jealousy and envy had crowded into the hearts of many of the Christians. Why? Because those with spiritual gifts that seemed cooler boasted about what they could do. Those with spiritual gifts that seemed mundane felt left out.

 

So Paul wrote three chapters addressing the issue of being jealous about spiritual gifts. Chapter 12 explained the purpose of spiritual gifts and how God gives gifts to each Christian as He sees fit. Chapter 14 focuses on the gift of speaking in tongues and prophesying.

 

Chapter 13 almost seems out of place because it’s about love. But it’s exactly what the Corinthians needed to hear. Without love, spiritual gifts become a weapon to put others down instead of building them up. So Paul shows them the more excellent way of love.

 

First he shows how, without love, every gift and talent we have, no matter how great, is useless. All our good works are unprofitable without love. Even great faith is nothing without love. 

 

1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1–3)

 

Then Paul went on to give what could be accurately called the greatest description of love ever written. He starts with two positive behaviors about love, and follows that with eight negative behaviors love avoids.

 

4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. (1 Corinthians 13:4–7)

 

If we want to walk in the more excellent way of love, these are behaviors that we will do or avoid doing. Love, in the Bible, is not primarily a feeling, as we often think of it today. Love is a behavior. It’s something we can choose to do, or not to do, no matter how we feel. That’s why Jesus can tell us to love our enemies. It’s not a matter of changing how we might feel, it’s about showing love and not showing hate. 

 

The feelings of love will usually come later, tagging along like a dog with it’s tail between it’s legs—ashamed that they ever felt bad feelings in the first place. 

 

Last time we got through love does “not behave itself unseemly.” Let’s continue our greatest description of love, starting with…

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The More Excellent Way Of Love, Part 1—1 Corinthians 13:1-5

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Levi Durfey

 

INTRODUCTION

 

The Corinthian church had many problems, and one of them was with spiritual gifts. Some of them had “flashy” spiritual gifts like speaking in tongues or prophecy. They used their gifts to exalt themselves above other Christians. 

 

As a result, others felt left-out or useless or even cheated by God. I can imagine one of them saying, “Why can’t I be the guy who says something prophetic? All I got was the lousy gift of helps—help him, help her, help everyone—that’s all I ever do!”

 

1 Corinthians 12 and 14 are Paul’s instructions on the proper use and place of spiritual gifts in the church. It seems strange to the reader to find this little chapter on love tucked in-between them. 

 

We often hear chapter 13 read at weddings as a kind of poem on love in marriage. But the reason it’s tucked in-between chapters 12 and 14 is because Paul intended it to be a reminder of the love that Christians are to show to one another.

 

To these Corinthian Christians fighting over many things, including what were the best spiritual gifts, Paul says,

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