“LOVE IS FOR LOSERS?” By Pastor YAU
Text: 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 September 27, 2009.
1) A T-shirt statement: You can pretty much learn about a person by what his or her T-shirt says. Recently, one of the messages caught my attention as I walked in a local store. A young woman wore a bright red T-shirt that has a message: “ Love Is For Losers.” May be she thought it was clever or funny or even provocative to make that statement. Or perhaps it is her conclusion of a broken love relationship. It may be her advice to others not to engage in love relationship or to avoid the risks and hurt in getting into one. Whatever the reason may be that statement on love got my attention.
2) A hearty statement: One of the most recited and memorized or quoted chapters in the Bible is the Chapter of Love, chapter 13 of the 1 Corinthians. Writer Paul introduced the subject of love in a passive way in the first 3 verses of the chapter. Then he used positive descriptions of love 3 times in length compared to the passive aspects. Finally, Paul concluded that love is the greatest of human experiences, sacrifices and knowledge, power or achievements. In fact, true love is for the winners and it will never die.
THE RIGHT SIDE OF LOVE:
1) God, the giver of love: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) While the deities of all religions have their various sets of virtues, none of them has so much love for the world to the point of sacrificing His own Son to save the world. It is because of this superlative love, Christianity is the only religion founded and practices on that foundation. Through the 2,000 years of Christian history, countless broken lives were changed, lost souls were saved, all because of God’s love. His love won the world back to Him.
2) Jesus, the gift of love: “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:13)When God demonstrated His love to us He paid a steep price: the sacrifice of the life of His only Son, Jesus Christ. The phrase “No Greater Love” has been the theme for the creation of many great musical and poetic masterpieces. In Jesus, God showed the world what love is and what it can do to mankind: salvation and restoration of broken relationship between God and men and men to men. His love pays the price of men’s sins and opens the door so men can come back to God.
3) Sinners, the objects of love: God didn’t pay the ultimate price with the life of His Son for nothing. He paid a ransom to save the souls of men. “While we were still sinners, Christ dies for our sin. No greater love is this when a man dies for his friends. Yet when we were still his enemies, Christ died for us to save us from eternal loss.” (Romans 5:6-8) With the sacrifice of one life, countless lives are saved. Certainly this is not an act of a loser but of the greatest winner.
4) Gospel, the message of love: “I am not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.” (Romans 1:16)This has been the message of God to the whole world: salvation for everyone who believes, in the past 2,000 years. This gospel of God’s love and men’s salvation is now preached all over the world as Jesus had said: “to the utter most part of the world.” (Acts 1:8) Millions of dedicated Christians have followed Paul’s footsteps in bringing this message of love to almost all the people groups of the world. Many have sacrificed their comfort life, personal goals and even their lives to win over souls for God’s kingdom.
THE WRONG SIDE OF LOVE:
1) Do not love the world: “Do not love the world or anything of the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father in not in him.” (1 John 2:15) The Greek word, agape, used here for “love” is the superior of 3 words in Greek all means “love.” It is the same word that described “God so loved (the people of) the world” in John 3:16, the highest kind of love that costs Him to sacrifice His Son Jesus for our sins. John didn’t mean we should not have any thing in this world or enjoy things of this world. What he meant was DO NOT place the world and the things in it as the highest object of our love. If we love the world and things in this world so much, we cannot have a heart for the Father, God. God wants to be the primary object of our love.
2) Do not love money: “People who want to get rich fall into temp-tation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many kinds of grief.” (1 Timothy 6:9-10) Paul didn’t mean we shouldn’t work to get paychecks to support our families. He certainly didn’t mean we shouldn’t make an honest living. What he meant was those who are so determined and resolved just to get rich. Anyone who gears his life determined to be nothing but getting rich will suffer many kinds of grief and destruction as it is listed in these 2 verses. “For we brought nothing into the world and we can take nothing out of it. If we have food and clothing, we must be content with that.” (1 Timothy 6:7-8)
3) Do not love the fresh: “Those who live according to the sinful nature (“fresh” KJV) have their minds set on what that nature (fresh) desires; but those who live in accordance with the spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.”(Romans 8:5) Paul continued this subject through 8:13 that “The sinful mind (fresh) is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law.” (8:7)It is very easy for anyone to claim to be a Christian and yet lives his life according to the desires of his fresh, the sinful nature. We need to follow Paul’s example, “We know our old self was crucified with Christ so that the body of sin might be done away with it.” (Romans 6:6)
4) Do not love the self: “Each of you should look not only to your own interest but also to the interest of others.” (Philippians 2:4) Selfishness is one of those old natures so difficult to crucify it on the cross. All of us was born with that “I, Me, Mine, Myself” old nature. God doesn’t forbid us to look after our own business. But He encourages us “not only” to look after our own business but need to also look after the business of others. Be it at home, in school, at work, in the church or the community, Christians should not act only for selfish purpose. God sets us here to be the light and salt to benefit others around us. Don’t forget that.
LOVE IS FOR SUPER WINNERS: (1 Corinthians 13:1-3, 13)
1) Love is superior to skills: “If I speak in the tongues on men and angels but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. (13:1)No one in human history has the skill of speaking the languages of all men and the angels. But even there is one but he doesn’t have love, the only good he can do is making a lot of noise and nothing else. As much as skills are so important in life, ancient and modern, the sum of all skills can not and will not compare to the importance of having love. We should not spend so much time, energy and resources to acquire skills but neglect the need to pursue love. Few will remember your skills, but all will remember your words and acts of love.
2) Love is superior to knowledge: “If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothings.” (13:2)In a world that glorifies so much on knowledge, God tells us that love is much superior to all kinds of knowledge. God gives us ability to learn and apply knowledge in everyday life and we need to do our best. But to only focus on acquiring knowledge to the point we neglect loving people, we are nothing. One more important thing: never feel superior in the face of others because you have more knowledge but to love them as they are.
3) Love is superior to charity: “If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flame but have not love, I gain nothing.” (13:3)Charity work like giving to the poor, do things for the needy, helping those who cannot do things on their own are all good deeds and is an important part of Christian witness. But if we do all these without the core reason: love the people, all we do or have done means nothing. Doing charity work for selfish purposes, personal glory, name and fame are worse than no doing it. It is not what we do that count but why we do it. The only proper motive of all charity work must be love.
4) Love is superior to all: “And now these three things remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest is love.” (13:13)There is no need to explain the importance of faith and hope in the Bible or in everyday life. But when they are placed side by side with love, love is greater than all others. If you want to build up your Christian qualities, pursue love first. Learn to love others from your family first, then to others in school, at work, in the church and your neighbors. On top of loving people, we need to learn to love God. “And the man who loves God is known by God.” (1 Corinthians 8:3) When you love God, He knows.
1) Don’t hesitate to love: Love is a risky business either to love or to be loved. Bit life is all with risks and it is worth the risk to love than not to love. There is no meaning, no hope and no life without love in your life. God took the high risk to love us and suffered many rejections from us. But He never stops to love us.
2) Don’t mess up love: The meaning and rewards of love depends on the object and our attitude. So, choose the right object and have the correct attitude when you are in love. The best choice is to love God because He knows you and your acts of love and will reward you beyond your wildest imagination.
3) Don’t live without love: I am talking about God’s love. He is the best and the safest object to deserve your love. Trust His love and commit your life to His care. He has loved you before you know Him and love Him. Ask Him to be your Lord of life and Savior of your soul. When your life is full of love, you are a different person you never dream will be.