The More Excellent Way

1 Corinthians #23: An exposition of 1 Corinthians 13:1-13. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, July 10, 2011.

The simplest and most profound description of God found in the Scripture is that, “God is love.”  1 John 4:16 states, So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.  John states plainly that God is love and that those who know Him demonstrate that same characteristic.  So we could say that the simplest and most profound statement concerning the people of God is that they are loving.  Yet in many churches love does not describe their membership or their ministry.  How can that be?  It may be because it is easier to be orthodox than it is to be loving.  It is easier to define truth and catalogue doctrine than it is to show kindness to a stranger, offer warmth and compassion to the hurting, reach out and embrace the outcast.  It is easier to be active in “church work” than it is to be loving.  Yet we are to be marked by love.  It is essential to all that we do.  It is to temper every sermon, it is to guide every discussion, it is to permeate every program and drive every ministry.  Our text this evening is found in the 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians.

Text: 1 Corinthians 13:1-13

This is one of those “Hallmark” texts.
You get a warm glow when you read it or hear it.
It has been called a “Lyrical interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount.”
Others have said it is the beatitudes set to music.
McArthur describes it as a breathe of fresh air, an oasis in a desert of problems.

It is commonly used in wedding ceremonies to describe and define love which is appropriate but I think it is crucial to note the context of this beloved chapter.  Paul is talking about issues of public worship.  He talked in chapter 12 about the nature of the church as a body and how that is tied directly to the way God gifts His church.  In chapter 14 he is going to deal with the abuse of the gifts.  In between he speaks to them about how they ought to conduct themselves.  This is to be your guiding principle.  The key is found in the last half of 12:31.

…And I will show you a still more excellent way.

In light of the fact that you are a body and that you’ve all been gifted for the sake of the body and that all members are necessary let me show you how you ought to proceed in this matter.

Paul is clear….

Thesis: Love is to animate, motivate and permeate all that we say and do.

This chapter is a 3 stanza hymn celebrating the wonders of biblical love.
There are three Greek words for love.

Eros = which denotes sexual desire.  It is the passionate, lustful kind of love.
Philia = affection or friendship between kindred spirits.
Agape = self-giving, sacrificial kind of love.

  • Stanza 1 – The Priority of Love.  (13:1-3)
  • Stanza 2 – The Personality of Love.  (13:4-7)
  • Stanza 3 – The Permanence of Love.  (13:8-13)
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