Sermon:  Virtuous Love

Summary:  We need to support our faith with agape love, because without love
our faith is nothing.  Love transforms our speech from a noisy gong to beautiful
music, transforms our knowledge from puffing up to building up, and transforms
our giving from self-centerdness to other centeredness.  In short, love makes us

Know:  Jesus demonstrated agape love in his incarnation and on the cross,
which reveal that it is more than a feeling, but is selfless loyalty and devotion
regardless of whether it is returned.  Love is the most important aspect of our
faith, and without it, our faith will crumble.

Feel:  The desire to return and reflect the selfless love that God has shown to us.

Do:  Reflect on what love looks like in family, church, and on the street, and
which aspects of love present the greatest challenge.  Determine what it would
take to begin to overcome this challenge.

Plan:  Begin to talk about setting goals as a group.  In what ways do we want to
grow?  What will it take to be more supportive of each other in a meaningful
way?  How can we minister to each other?  Where can we minister to others? 

Text:  2 Pet 1:7; 1 Cor 13:1-8

Scripture Reading:  1 Cor 13:4-7

Meditation Scripture:  1 Cor 13:4-8a - Love never fails

1.  $20 bill - Who would like to have it
	a.  Throw it on the floor, still want it?
	b.  Step on it, crumble it up, etc.  still want it?
	c.  Does not change value, even when crumpled or dirty
2.  We are priceless before God, even when crumpled or dirty
	a.  You in the image of God, and he sent his son to die for you
	b.  You are priceless because he loves every one of you
	c.  Why did he love us so?  Because we are so lovable?  No, he chose to
		-  That is virtuous love - love as a choice, love as a duty, as loyalty
		-   That is love not based on friendship, but on choice
		-  The usual word for this in the New Testament is agape
3.  We need to add to or “support” our faith with agape love.
	a.  2 Pet 1:5 - Add or “support” your faith with these
		1.  Saved the most important for last
		2.  Philadephia followed by “agape” in v.7
	b.  Love is the most important support beam
		-  1 Cor 13:13 - The greatest of these is love
		-   Knock out this support beam, and faith comes crashing down
	c.  1 Cor 13:2 - Faith to remove mountains, no love, it is nothing
4.  Love transforms our lives into an acceptable offering to God (1 Cor 13:1-3)

I.  Love transforms our speech (1 Cor 13:1)
	A.  Without love, our speech is a noisy gong or clanging symbol
		1.  The noisy gong draws attention to himself
			a.  In context, talking about those who spoke in tongues
			b.  He wanted everyone to know he had this gift
			c.  All anyone ever heard was babbling
		2.  Noisy gong or claning cymbal comes in many forms
			a.  The Gossip
				- Nothing good to say about anyone else
				- Makes themselves look better
				- Wonder if they talk about you too
			b.  The one who talks too much
				- Can’t get a word in
				- Have to wait for them to breathe, then talk
			c.  The one who talks only about himself
			d.  The know it all
			e.  The negative person
		3.  Their mouth is moving, and people hear, “blah blah blah”
		4.  They are speaking for their own benefit
	B.  With love, our speech becomes beautiful music
		1.  When you hear beautiful music, you are drawn to it
		2.  Prov 12:18 - There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a 
		      sword, But the tongue of the wise brings healing.
	C.  ILL:  Reminds me of the search for good music on the Radio
		1.  Came to a punk song - screaming, sounds like have issues
			a.  Listened to it for a minute, started to get a head ache
			b.  It was very “in-your-face”
		2.  Then came to song by Randy Travis - Stop there, I like that
			a.  Was very soothing, wholesome
			b.  Instead of “in-your-face” it drew you in
		3.  What if I started to sing, “Look at me, I love Jesus” punk style?
			a.  Then scream, “You need to love Jesus too”
			b.  That would really attract you to Jesus
			c.  You wouldn’t see Jesus, you would see me
		4.  I knew someone like that when at York College
			a.  Always talked about himself, felt superior
			b.  Had done everything better, or knew someone who did
			c.  Obvious he was self-centered
	D.  (1 Cor 13:4) - Love does not brag 
		1.  Love is not self-centered
		2.  Centered away from ourself - On God, and others

II.  Love transforms our knowledge (1 Cor 13:2)
	A.  If I really do know “all” things, and don’t have love, it’s nothing
	B.  What does knowledge without love do?
		1.  Knowledge puffs up, love builds up - 1 Cor 8:1
			a.  Many were hurting brethren with their knowledge
				- Let’s go get steaks from the Pagan Plate
				- Meat offered to idol, it’s still just meat
				- Not everyone believed that
				- Some proudly displayed their “enlightenment”
			b.  Hurt their brother’s concsious due to arrogance
		2.  A great threat to early church - “Gnosticism”
			a.  In English, it would be “knowledgism”
			b.  Christianity became a mental excercise, no love
		3. There is still a type of “knowledgism” today
			a.  Know grace, freedom, holiness, sound doctrine, etc.
			b.  Contempt for those “others” that don’t
				- Rom 14:3 - To not regard others with contempt
				- Rom 13:10 - Section begins with “love”
		4.  Christianity is not about merely “knowing” but “loving”
			a.  Knowledge can puff you up, make you think highly of self
			b.  Rom 12:3 - Don’t think highly of self, but serve others
			c.  In other words, build up others, not puff up self
	B.  Love builds up
		1.  It is not about - “look what I know”
		2.  It is about - “How can I use what I know to build you up?”
			a.  1 Cor 14:26 - Let all things be done for edification
			b.  Love builds up
		3.  Intersting thing:  Paul “contrasts” love with knowledge
			a.  Can be deficient in knowledge, and full of love
			b.  v.8 - Knowledge will be done away
			c.  3 things remain, faith, hope and love
		4.  You don’t have to be intelligent, smart, etc.
			a. Matt 11:25 - I praise you Father Father, Lord of Heaven 
			    and earth, that you have hidden these things from the 
			    wise and intelligent and have revealed them to babes
			b.  If you know a little, or a lot, add love, and will build up
	C.  ILL:  Knew a couple- always encouraging and serving
		1.  First year in Vermont, he came by and got me snow tires
			a.  Senior couple - surgery, they helped
				- Dishes, laundry, got food, etc.
			b.  Often did jobs that got no recognition
		2.  I didn’t find out till later that they most knowlegable in church
			a.  Did a Bible Knowledge Test
			b.  Most did mediocre, or poorly, Teresa got all right but one
		3.  They never looked down on anyone - Always felt loved
		4.  John 13:1 - Jesus “loved them to the end”  How?
			a.  Jesus was teacher and lord
			b.  He did lowly job to serve others - Loved them
			c.  See both humility and love in Christ
	D.  (1 Cor 13:4) - Love is not arrogant - It is humble
		1.  Cannot have both pride/arrogance along with love
		2.  Knowledge says-I know what to do, Love says-Let me help you
		3.  When reach out to the lost in love, you don’t beat up with Bible
		4.  You do as Jesus did, you love them and share the good news

III.  Love transforms our giving (1 Cor 13:3)
	A.  Without love, our giving is an investment
		1.  Without love - Question is “what’s in it for me?”
			a.  Don’t want to give unless you get something back
			b.  Foolish to keep giving and get nothing back
		2.  We do not want to take chance of being used
		3.  Keep giving, we might feel used if get nothing back
	B.  With love, our giving is a divestment
		1.  (Luk 6:34-35) - Give, expecting nothing in return
		2.  Giving selflessly is a sign of love
		3.  God loves a cheerful giver
	C.  ILL:  Jack Kelly, journalist from USA Today tells this story about time in 
	      Mogadishu, Somalia during famine
		1.  Walked into a village, everyone was dead, smell of death
		2.  A boy, malnourished, with worms, reddish hair, wrinkled skin
			- Reddish hair and skin like that meant it was severe
		3.  Photographer gave grapefruit to the boy
			a.  Boy didn’t have strength to hold it, so cut in half
			b.  Boy went back to village, they followed at distance
				-  Came upon younger boy on ground, barely alive
			c.  Older boy bit of piece, chewed it, put in brother’s mouth
				- Then worked brother’s jaw up and down
				- Found out had been doing this for 2 weeks
			d.  2 Days later, older boy died, younger brother lived
		4.  (John 15:13) - Reminded of this verse
			a.  Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down life
			b.  Love gives freely simply because it chooses to love
		5.  God loves a cheerful giver
			a.  Does God love this brother that gave so freely
			b.  I don’t know who he was, but he is in God’s arm
	D.  (1 Cor 13:5) - Love does not seek its own
		1.  In other words, love is not selfish, it is selfless
		2.  Love is wonderfully and lovingly sacrificial
			a.  Jesus gave his life on the cross
			b.  He knew many would reject him anyway
		3.  But, he loved them to the end

1.  True love is genuine love - Love never fails
	a.  His love goes hand and hand with his grace
	b.  God loves us in spite of being dirty, crumpled, filthy, etc.
	c.  Cleanses us by the washing of water with the word 
	d.  (Invitation) - Transforms us when sins washed away
2.  When we have the love of God in our heart, it transforms us
	a.  There is no arrogance - But instead humility
	b.  There is no bragging - But focus on others and not self
	c.  There is no seeking of our own - But selflessness
3.  We are commanded to support our faith with “brotherly love” AND “agape”
	a.  We have just barely scratched the surface of what agape love is about
	b.  1 Cor 13:4-8a gives a good picture and description of love
4.  God loves us freely, therefore we freely love
	a.  1 Jn 4:19 - We love because he first loved us
	b.  Love is not something to look for, but it is something to give
	c.  God offered us love, he first loved us, and now we love him and others
	d.  John 13:34-35 - Love for each other is a sign of discipleship
5.  Think about the result
	a.  2 Pet 1:5ff - We support our faith with love
	b.  2 Pet 1:10 - As long as you practice these things, will never stumble
	c.  Like the song - “Bind us together with love”
	d.  Love never fails - With his love in our heart, we will never fail

Questions for Small Group Discussion