“All We Need is Love”

 

Hello and welcome to “Key to the Kingdom.” My name is Bret McCasland. A number of years ago the singing group, The Beatles, made popular the song, “All We Need is Love.” The message of the song is obvious; love is the foundation to life and relationships. Now before The Beatles came along, Jesus said the same thing. He even stated, “The greatest thing anyone can do is to live a life of love.” Jesus not only said that, He lived it, too. In our lesson today on “Key to the Kingdom”, we will look at a familiar passage in the writings of the apostle Paul. In 1st Corinthians chapter 13 he reminds us that no matter what else we might do loving one another is our 1st priority. I hope you will stay tuned to this channel for the next few minutes as we think about the importance of following Jesus' example and loving one another.
 

>>LESSON
If there is a word in our human vocabulary that is overused, misused, and perhaps underappreciated, it might just be the word love. We use that word in a variety of different settings and it has a number of different meanings. We might say to our spouse, I love the way you cooked breakfast this morning, or, I would love to watch a movie on television tonight, or we might say to our spouse, I love you with all my heart. Yes, love carries with it a variety of different meanings, and it is used in various ways. The word love is also used many times throughout the Bible, and also, in many ways. We see in Exodus chapter 19:6 - God shows His steadfast love to thousands who love Him and keep His commands. Jesus said, in Luke 6:27 - “Love your enemies and do good to those who hate you.” Even the apostle Paul writes, in 2nd Timothy 1:7 - God gives us a spirit not of timidity but a spirit of power, love, and self-control. And depending upon which version or translation of the Bible is used, the word love, or something very similar to it, is used almost 700 times. But out of all of those uses of the word love, the thing that impresses me the most is that 11 times in the Bible the phrase, ‘love one another’ occurs. 11 times, we are commanded to love one another. Perhaps the one place in the Bible where we go to read about love and to learn about love is in 1st Corinthians chapter 13, a message written by the apostle Paul. Some have said this is the greatest chapter on love in all of the Bible, and perhaps that is true. Others have committed 1st Corinthians chapter 13 to memory. A popular way to refer to love is also found in a wedding ceremony. However, and perhaps to our disappointment, the love of which Paul writes, there in 1st Corinthians chapter 13, really has nothing to do with a wedding. It has nothing to do with those feelings, or those emotions, or that sentimental love with which it is so often connected. These images do not even come to mind as Paul writes these words here in 1st Corinthians chapter 13. Instead, he writes about the mutual need for concern and consideration for one another. He also writes about the lack of love these Christians, or these followers of Jesus here in the city of Corinth, were demonstrating toward one another. That was a major problem addressed by Paul in his correspondence with those Christians in Corinth. We know there were divisions among those Christians, some broke apart from the whole group and created their own individual group and even identified some of their own leaders. Others thought more highly of themselves than they did of other people, especially the rich over the poor. And then when they came together, in worship or a fellowship meal or even to observe the Lord's supper, they were not waiting on each other but rather they had a selfish attitude and a ‘me first’ mindset. These were some of the problems that the apostle Paul addresses, the lack of love they were showing in their relationships toward one another. And the message that Paul communicates to these people, of course, is based upon the love that God has for them. Yes, God's greatest gift to mankind was that He sent His one and only Son to this world to live among people and then to go to the cross and die for the sake of everyone. And Paul states, that is the great example of love and what Jesus did on the cross is the great example of love. And in his correspondence he said, that’s the way you are to love one another. In fact, that is the primary quality that the church, or followers of Jesus, are to possess in their relationships, today; to love, and to show mutual care and concern for one another. And so as Paul writes this letter of 1st Corinthians, and particularly chapter 13, he wants to develop the character of those who call themselves followers of Jesus. He offers a model for them to follow and he wants them to know, this is the way of life as it exemplifies and follows the way Jesus left for them to follow. In fact, it's interesting, he begins this section of Scripture back in chapter 12, in verse 31, by stating I will now show you the most excellent way. And that's what loving one another is. It is the most excellent way to live. In another place, another writing of Paul in Galatians 5:22, he states that love is a fruit of the Spirit. In other words, it is an outgrowth, or it is the result, of God's Holy Spirit living within a person, to live a life of love. And so love represents the way Christians are to live. It's not just a feeling or an attitude that one might possess, but rather it calls for sacrifice, it calls for humility, it calls for an unselfish way to relate to one another. And all of those things, of course, are found in the example of Jesus. That's what He did upon the Earth. He loved those who were unlovable. He spent time and He ate meals with those who were overlooked and rejected by society. He reached out to, and He ministered to, and He healed those who were estranged from the rest of the people, but He showed love to others. Well, chapter 13 here in 1st Corinthians addresses those very points. Paul mentions a number of things which these Christians in Corinth were doing. They appeared to be good, and we find those listed here in the first 4 verses of chapter 13. He says, you are speaking in tongues, and prophesying, and living with faith, and giving to the poor, and all of those are great. Those are wonderful things to do in your day-to-day activities. But here's the problem; they were doing all of those things without showing love in the midst of doing them. And since they were living without any real concern, and consideration, and love, for the welfare of other people they were really living in disobedience to the commands of God to do those things. If we were to summarize what it means to love one another, perhaps we could go back to the teaching of Jesus; which is found in John chapter 13:34-35. Listen to what Jesus said. “A new commandment I give to you. Love one another as I have loved you so you must love one another. All men will know that you are My disciples if you love one another.” Now, isn't that interesting? 3 times in just 2 verses Jesus says love one another. That is the new commandment. That is the new way for His followers to live, and certainly that is the way we are to live in the world today. Well, people there in Corinth were not seeing that love. They were not seeing these Christians loving one another, as Jesus had first loved them. So the non-believers were saying, why should I give my life to Jesus, it's not making a difference in your life? I don't see any love in your heart and in your actions toward one another so why should I follow Jesus? Well, before any of the things they were doing would amount to anything a lifestyle of love had to be present. And that's Paul's point, here in 1st Corinthians chapter 13. He wants them to understand what loving one another is all about. Perhaps the core passage here in the 13th chapter is found in verses 4 through 8. I want to take just a moment to read those 5 verses. We begin here in verse 4 of 1st Corinthians chapter 13. – Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. – The apostle Paul begins and ends his list of characteristics with 8 positive things about love. We find 2 of them there in verse 4 and the rest are at the end of that passage. But here in the middle, in verses 4, 5, and 6, he includes 8 things which are negative, 8 things which love is not about. And he says; that's what you are. You people, who are calling yourselves Christians living in the city of Corinth, this is what you are doing and it doesn't exemplify the example of Jesus Christ. Look at that list again. He states; love is not envious, or boastful, or proud, or rude, or self-seeking, or easily angered. Love doesn't keep any record of wrongs and doesn't take joy in evil. Those were the negative things about love, and yet Paul says that's what you are doing. That's the lifestyle that you are living, because you are not loving one another. And then he goes on throughout 1st Corinthians and he exemplifies, or he illustrates, that once again: all 8 of these negative things these Corinthians were guilty of doing. He mentions their problem with envy, in chapter 3:3, and boasting, in chapter 3:21, and pride in chapter 4:6, and the list goes on. Basically Paul states, your behavior contradicts a lifestyle of love. It doesn't follow the example of Jesus Christ. Now Paul's goal in doing this is not to run down and to demoralize these Christians but rather his goal is to call them to a better way of living, to call them out of their divisions and their lifestyle of disunity and lack of concern. But then, after dealing with the negative behavior he points them to Jesus. And he says remember this is the example you are to follow. And he goes through these positive qualities, again saying this is the most excellent way to live, going back to chapter 12:31. This is the way you treat one another because this is the way Jesus lived. This is the way He treated the people whom His Father put into His life. I love the words of 1st John chapter 3:16. - This is how we know what love is. Jesus Christ lay down His life for us and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. And that is exactly what Paul was trying to get these Christians to understand. So we notice this list, beginning here in verse 4, he writes love is patient and kind, and then at the end, love rejoices in the truth and always protects, and trusts, and hopes, and perseveres, and it never fails. Yes, Paul lets them know this is the most excellent way. This is the better way to live, and love rules over all other values and all other virtues. And even though some people may have some special gifts, or abilities, or talents, like he identified there in the first 4 verses of chapter 13, if they exercise those things without love then it really amounts to nothing, and that's what some of them were doing. I want you to take just a couple of moments to watch this video clip from our website, keytothekingdom.com. I believe it helps illustrate the point Paul makes here, in 1st Corinthians chapter 13, about loving one another.

 

I just came out of this public library where I was looking at some books on the subject of love, and I was amazed at how many books are available. Then I think about all of the books that one can purchase online or at a bookstore. Books about how to fall in love, and stay in love, and the best way we can love our spouse or our children. Yes, there are a number of different books on the subject of love; thousands are available. And then I think about a definition of love. How would we define it? Well, perhaps the best definition that we could give it is; we are to think about other people more than we think about ourselves. And when I think about that definition, I realize that's exactly what Jesus did. He thought more about you and me than He did about Himself, and that's why He went to the cross to die, to die for you and me. What a tremendous sacrifice He made. In fact, it was the greatest demonstration of love that has ever been made, and there will never be another demonstration like it, or that will come close to it. But what does that mean for us? How do we love like Jesus did? I think about what He stated in John 15 verse 13. - Greater love has no one than this; that one lay down his life for a friend. Jesus laid down His life for us. And when we make that kind of sacrifice, and lay our life down for someone else, then we truly show our love for other people. That is something we might want to think about in our lives; the importance of loving people, making sacrifices, laying down our life, doing something for them that perhaps they can never do for us. Are we living a life of love? Are we following the example and the model that Jesus left for us to follow, when it comes to loving people?

 

Yes, a lifestyle of love is the answer to the question, what is the most excellent way. It is the way Jesus took, as He ministered to the people His Father put into His life. It is the way Jesus took, as He eventually went to the cross and gave His life for your sake and for mine. There could be no demonstration that is greater than that, and there never will be a greater demonstration than the love that God has for us; and the love that Jesus has for us when He went to the cross. Paul simply tells people, use that as the criteria and the basis of which to live your life, as you love one another. Now with that in mind, we might consider; what about our actions? Do our actions demonstrate that kind of love for one another or do our actions in this world tell this world we really don't care about the example and the model of Jesus: we're going to live the way we want to live? And with that in mind I believe there are 2 very important questions which we ask. Number 1 is this. Is what I am doing out of love? Is what I am doing out of love? That is a test that applies to everything we do in life; whether it be living by faith, or giving to the poor, or suffering for the cause of Jesus Christ, or our relationships in business, or our day-to-day activities and associations with other people. And, is what I am doing based upon love or is it based upon simply drawing attention to myself and making myself look better than everyone else around me? And then, with that in mind, we might take it another step. What about: do I read my Bible? Do I pray? Do I attend church services? Do I love my spouse? Do I help my children in a spirit and attitude of love, or rather out of a spirit of duty and obligation, thinking that I have to do that if I'm going to get along in this world? Let us know today that it's not what we do that matters but rather it is the motivation with which we do it which is most important, and if our actions are not based upon love then our priorities are out of place. But then, here is a second question I want us to consider. Do these qualities of love form the basis for who I am in Jesus Christ? Oh, the more we appreciate Jesus’ lifestyle of love, and the more we understand His love for us, the more we will recognize the importance of loving the people whom God puts into our lives. Verses 4 through 7, here, offer some habits that can only come about through an ongoing learning process. They don't just happen overnight. When we give our life to Jesus Christ, and submit to Him, and become a part of God's family, the attitude and the lifestyle of love doesn't automatically appear. It takes time. It's a learning process as we go through those experiences of life, and we learn what love is really all about. And when we develop these characteristics of love it then makes a significant difference in the way we relate to other people. Think for just a moment about everything that is so important to you today. Well, we think about our health. We think about our employment. We think about the clothes we wear, or the food we eat, or what we drive, or where we live, or the money that we have in our bank accounts, or our retirement, or a host of other things. And certainly all of those things are necessary, they are important, but in the end all of those things will vanish away. In the end of time, all of those things will be no more and the only thing that will really matter is love. Oh, it doesn't matter how much faith we might possess. It doesn't matter how much hope lies within us. In fact, faith and hope are two excellent things, according to verse 13 chapter 13, but the very best thing we could ever do is to love; to love extravagantly, to love abundantly, to love unconditionally because love is the example that Jesus set for us to follow. It is based upon these characteristics that we read and it is at the heart of all of those who follow Him. Whatever gifts we might possess, or talents that we might have entrusted to us by God's Holy Spirit, whatever things we might do to bless the lives of other people, whatever sacrifices we might make for the sake of those around us, whatever measures of faith we might possess, the ruling principle that underlines everything is love. For without it nothing else matters, as it is the most excellent way. I want you to imagine with me for just a moment that you have one day left to live upon this Earth, 24 hours and that’s it. In fact, that may be the case for some of us, but here's my question. You have all of your facilities in place. You have all of the money and resources at your disposal that you might possibly need. How will you live that last day? How will you live the last 24 hours of your life? My guess is you won't go in to work. My guess is you won't worry about what you will eat or what you might watch on television. My guess is you will put aside those projects around the house, or on the car, and you will focus your time, the last 24 hours of your life, on loving the people who are most special and important to you. And here's my challenge; live today as if this is your last day. Live today with extravagant and abundant love. Not only for God and what He has done for you but for the people He has put into your life.

>>CONCLUSION

Thank you for taking a few minutes to watch this episode of “Key to the Kingdom.” I hope it encouraged you to think about the importance of loving one another. Many new opportunities are now available to access this ministry. A free phone app can now be downloaded onto your Android and Apple iPhones. It will allow you to view daily devotionals, short inspirational messages, and other things. This is a great way to hear something encouraging on a regular basis. And, we would love to hear from you so please take a minute to send us an e-mail. Again, thank you for being our guest today and we invite you to join us again next time, on this same station, as we study the Bible on “Key to the Kingdom.”