Hardcore Love

1 Corinthians 13:1-8

1 Corinthians 13:1-8

1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. 4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  8 Love never fails…

Over the past several weeks I have been thinking very deeply about what it means to love each other well. I think very often when the word love is brought up we think of some hard to define mushy emotion that overtakes us from time to time.  Sometimes this culture teaches us, especially men, that true love is wimpy and amounts to nothing more than a sappy feeling.  This week I have directed your attention to a very familiar section of scripture because I would like to make a point that may have escaped us before.  Love is not mushy, sappy or wimpy…love is hardcore!  Right now, take a break from reading this paragraph and start reading 1 Corinthians 13 starting at verse 4.  Love is…  After reading those things, how many of those qualities does the version of love that you practice possess?  Often, I read these verses as follows and then ask myself if those statements are true.  John is patient, John is kind and not jealous, John does not brag and is not arrogant…and so on.  Are these things true of me?

Last night I turned the television on and caught a clip of “Iron Man” the movie.  In the clip, the super hero Iron Man was doing some sort of overhyped, spectacular fighting and he was destroying the bad guys at will.  We might think “Wow, Iron Man is incredible, and tough…he is hardcore!”  We often lift up men that can fight well, or invent well, or govern well and we praise them.  But I say, what about men and women that can love well?  I want to hear more about them!  When I read through those verses and place my name in the same sentence with those incredibly beautiful attributes, I notice that I have a long way to go until some of those things are made prominent in me.  By God’s standard, if I do not learn to love well, then for all of my outward accomplishments and for all of my outward strengths, I have really done nothing.  If my life is not a testimony to loving God and His people the way God has called me to, then for everything that I do, if it is done without love as the common thread woven throughout the act, it is useless.  It is empty and it does not please God.  It takes an amazingly strong man or woman to love in the way God defines it.  Someone who excels at love is “hardcore”.

The strongest man in the world or the brightest or the most powerful is nothing compared to the man who has excelled in love.  Loving well is, and forevermore will be more difficult than any other accomplishment man can dream up.  The conquering of nations or reaching the outer planets of our solar system is nothing compared to loving the way God has called us to.  My hope is that we learn to love this way.  I can promise you two things if we take seriously the command to love well.  One, it will not be easy.  And two, God’s Church will be the brightest of lights shining from a high hill into a dark world.  This week, identify one attribute of love that you are lacking in, and then with all of your might, and with much prayer, work on excelling in that area.  Are you not often kind?  Learn to be kind.  Are you not patient?  Learn patience.  If you hold grudges, learn to forgive.  Whatever may be lacking in your love, ask God to grow you.  And the God who loves you so much, will also teach you to love!

Yours in Christ,

Pastor John