Note: This is a machine transcription, and it has not been reviewed for accuracy.

I'd love Grace Church. I mean, I'd love Grace Church. I've been in churches where I'm not so sure I love that church. And I wasn't so sure. I want Teo to bring my friends that I was I was sharing the gospel with just because it just felt I knew it was right. But I wasn't super enthusiastic. But you know what? I am enthusiastic. I want my daughter's going to graduate and she's gonna come back and she's going to get married. And I want her here with her husband. Not just so she could be close to me, which is a benefit, but so she could be with you. I think I believe that God has his hand on Grace Church right here in Peoria, and I know that if he has his hand on this church, then he will be glorified because that's what he is designed his church to do. And so with that expression of of enthusiasm and excitement, I say. But because at the same time that I say that without hesitation, I know for a fat that in this room right here they're people who have been hurt by somebody in this room right here. I know for a fact that their families that have extended themselves relation Aly and felt rebuffed by people right here in this room. I know for a fact that there are people in this room right here that have a superior air about themselves, thinking that they are more committed to God because they study his word more than somebody else right here in this room. I know for a fact that there are people right here listening to me right now who are not reconciled to somebody else in this room. So this passage first Corinthians thirteen turned there. We'LL get right to it. We'LL take care of some business and we'Ll see what God has to say about what I just explained, flavoring, let me remind you that in chapter twelve. We heard last week that Paul is discussing spiritually gifts and he presents that. What? Chris Priest on last week that that famous analogy of the church is the body of Christ. Nepal will resume that discussion on the spiritual life and prefers Corinthians fourteen. But right here in the middle of Chapter twelve and Chapter fourteen, watch how smart I am. There's Chapter thirteen and Chapter thirteen is weird because in the midst of this discussion on spiritual gifts, Paul places a parentheses here. Hey, wedges it in right in between twelve and fourteen and he does it it. And it's just not like, you know, I got open Paranthan. Here's some stuff to say Close Perrin. It's a poem. It's a beautiful poem. I mean, it is artful and winsome and because of the way that we see them wedging it in there as we're studying First Corinthians, we're gonna go ding ding, ding, ding. This might be important. This is not just a parentheses. It's a kind of a good idea or something to throw away right here. Paul connects love and the spiritual gifts to each other. At the very end of Chapter twelve, he says, this. Pursue love and strive for the spiritual gifts, and I will show you a Mohr. Excellent way. Chapter thirteen is a Mohr. Excellent way specifically. More precisely, that could be translated as I'm going to show you a way that's beyond measure, and where I want you to catch is this theme of this is a church in Corrine that is that is used to measuring themselves, their abilities and their status relative to want one another. It's their obsession even. And so Paul comes in with first Corinthians. Chapter thirteen describes away. That's beyond measure. And what is this way? It's love. Of course it is. It's love. Now I'm going to read the first Corinthians thirteen in just a moment. And as I read this passage, I'm going to read it in a particular way. So I'm gonna ask you to bear with me on this. I'm not being disrespectful. I'm making a point and I'm hoping that you'LL see this point as we walked through this time together this morning. Hopefully Then you'LL see why First Corinthians, Chapter thirteen verse one Very familiar Who's ever heard this passage, by the way? Okay. If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels. But I have not love that I'm a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. Oh, if I have prophetic powers and understand all mysteries and all knowledge and if I have all faith so as to remove mountains but have not love, I am nothing. And if I give away all I have and if I deliver up my body to be burned but have not love, I gain nothing. Uh, because love is patient and love is kind. Love does not envy or boast. It's not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way. It's not irritable or resentful. It does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth because love bears all things and believes all things and hopes all things and endures off things. Host sweet love never ends, and as for prophecies, they're going to pass away. As for tongues, they will cease. As for knowledge, it will pass away, for we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that perfect comes the partial, it'LL pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child. I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now, we see in a mirror, dimly but then face to face. Now I know in part. Then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now Faith, faith, hope, hope and love Abi Thes three. But the greatest of these, the greatest of these. His love. Beautiful, isn't it? It is beautiful. Now I laid it on a little bit thick. And if you're wondering, what is he talking about? I want you to know that we need to be careful. We need to look at this very familiar passage and we need to understand this passage in context. We need to understand it. Wedged in between twelve and fourteen, we need to see it. It been placed inside this letter to the Corinthians Church see what happens is this is that we have heard this passage at weddings, haven't we? We've seen this passage on the refrigerator, Heavenly. And it's used that way because often times it is incorrectly understood. It's incorrectly understood as praising the value of romantic human love. And Paul doesn't put it in here. Been between twelve and fourteen. Wedge it in there right now to introduce a poem, A song, if you will, that affirms something that is already present in the community of Corinth. He presents this passage is a way to introduce into this community something that is not there something that they need, and they need it desperately. Remember the Corinthian church. It's marked by diversity. There's married, there's unmarried, there's widows or children. There's converted gentiles that makes up the majority of the people. But there's also Jews, Jews of high status, their slaves. There's free people. There's all different types of gifts. But we see an early in this this letter that Paul is writing to them and he calls them babies. And because they're babes and their understanding, what happens is they missed the opportunity to glorify God in their differences. No, this whole letter is an indictment to their shallow understanding of the grace of God and truth, their misunderstanding that makes them weak against the temptation to be divisive. That's what they are known for. God's church in Corinth is known for being divisive. They're impatient. They're cruel. They're self exalting, arrogant, puffed up, petty, rude, ungracious, offensive and easily offended. This was a community fragmented rather than enriched by their differences. So this passage is a far cry from an adoring couple standing at the altar declaring unwavering devotion to each other. Paul is artfully winsome, Lee strongly correcting this church that does not know what love is. This is wedged in between twelve and fourteen because Paul knows who he's talking to immature Christians, we're going to be dazzled by the bright lights of spiritually gift. This is a poem. Let's call it an ode to love, and it has three stands is that will go through up until this point. In the letter, Paul's discussion about speaking in tongues in prophecy and knowledge and insight has affirmed that these are things at the church holds the God has given them on purpose. They're necessary, their desirable. But now, in this love poem, Paul makes a decisive intentional shift so that he can diminish the dazzling attraction to the spiritual gifts. These things are important, but they do still do not qualify as the more excellent way. We can do all these things, but love is the key to the excellent way. So let's take a look at the first stands A of this poem. If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love I'm a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal that remember the Corinthians air? Reading this like a letter is not taking him twelve months or fifteen months or however long to get through. First print is a letter that they're writing reading. I'm sorry they're reading this letter, and so they're going to come here and thirteen and they're gonna go if they're going to understand the policy. If I speak in tongues of men and of angels but have not love, I'm a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And that's how you're thinking Corinthians. And if I have prophetic powers and understand all mysteries and all knowledge and if I have all faith so as to remove mountains but have not love, I am nothing. Corinthians if I give away all I have. If I deliver up my body to be burned but have not love, I gain nothing. Paul is saying, Look, we can pursue all these different forms of spirituality, not just the tongues of men but the tongues of angels For crying out loud, learn that in high school can't do it. You can pursue proper doctrine and have conversations about the ideal about the way that things should be and be so persuasive that people can't even respond to you because you got the truth and you got it down. You can. You can pursue service. I mean, you can take a whole week off of work and go to Mexico and serve those orphans at Rancho three m. You can even give your very life as a martyr that they would write about and you would be remembered throughout all of history. But if you don't have love, it won't matter. No matter what you say Corinthian's no matter what you believe Corinthians, No matter what you do, Corinthians, you are bankrupt. If love doesn't rain over your heart and your intellect and your will. Now if we stop here you might go. Go. Get in, Paul, go get those dirty Corinthians. You might be mildly motivated to say I Okay, I want, Like, I want to do all those things, But I want love. I want to matter. Good. So what do you do? So in the second verse, then the second stanza here. Paul says this. He says, OK, let me explain. Explain something to you, Lucy. He says, Love. It is now in this second stands, and what we have is we have sixteen verbs in a row now in our English translations. That doesn't come through super clearly, no, it is described as with adjective. You know, this love is these things. But Paul, when he's writing this and he's making his point, he's saying here that love is a busy, active thing that never sees his toe work. It's always finding ways to express itself for the good of others. His point is not to provide us the flowery description of what love is in some abstract and theoretical sense, but he wants us to know that that love does something and this is what it does, especially what Love does to one's brother, sister in the church at Corrine. Paul wants us to remove our notion of love from the realm of romantic sentimentalism. Because if way, take it out of that category. Then what it will do is this will crush us. It'LL capture us. This love will empower us and I'm just telling you, Paul is not being He's not being soft in this. The more I studied this passage, the more I realize that Paul is making a striking point. He is being intentional here. This is what he's saying. Verse four, he says. Look, love is patient. Love is kind and you aren't love doesn't not envy or boast like you do. It's not arrogant or rude like you are. It does not insist on it's own way like You Do is not irritable and resentful like you are. Look, Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing. But you do Love rejoices with the truth, and you don't love bears all things believes all things endures all things love never in. And you've just read the first part of my letter to you guys and you know exactly what I'm talking about. See, he's saying You need to see the need for love and specifically that love is patient. It suffers long. But you guys, you're quick to anger. You're resentful and impatience with those who inconvenience you. So you bad mouth and complain and you overreact. You explore over the tiniest injustice and you dream of ways to get even. But love's not like that. Love is kind. Love gives what needs to be given. Love doesn't just give what he wants to give or what the object of your love wants. Love knows what is needed, then gives that no matter the cost, the kindness in love is a triumph of grace. But you you're cruel. Even when you do nice things, you just grit your teeth and you get her done. And if you don't get credit forgetting her done, you get hurt, are angry he says. Love does not envy or boast like you. It's not selfish like you are. It doesn't constantly measure what you have against what others have. Love is content with God's will and God's glory. It doesn't swagger around saying Look at me. Love doesn't exalt you and show you off love both in its weakness for the sole purpose of showing off God is not arrogant, A rude like you are. Love isn't puffed up, self satisfied, judging, others finding them lacking, always trying to prove you that you gnome or that you, Khun Doom or whatever you can do, I can do better. That's not love. Love is an ill mannered or un Kouf. Love knows when to do the right thing at the right time. I don't like that one. Andre has this phrase for me called No filter fifty. It's embarrassing because I'll be like I just obviously like at the store, and I want to connect and be friendly and all that kind of stuff Right now. That's what I want to do. And she goes, You're not being friendly, you're being creepy. And this you go. This is what you said. How do you think that person feels? And I go? Uh, that's embarrassing. I didn't mean anything by it, but she's totally right. Why? Why is that embarrassing? Why is that a big deal? Thanks to God for my wife, who will tell me those things? Because you know what? She's pointing me to this right here. That's not love. Love knows when to do the right thing at the right time. It does not insist on it's own way like you do. It doesn't grasp and clamour and demand. Its writes love actually cares about the welfare of others. Corinthians. It is not irritable or resentful like you are. Love is is not bad tempered. It's not easily provoked. It's not thin skinned, easily offended, closed off and self protective. Love is actually thick skinned, softhearted, quick to forgive. Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing like you do, but love rejoices with the truth. Love doesn't revel when others gravel love doesn't kick a man when he's down. Instead, love takes pleasure in the flowering of truth in repentance and sincerity. Then we get into this interesting part in verse seven to see in Verse seven. There's four thing, all things, all things, all things, all things. I think this is an amazing picture in Verse seven of the Strength of Love. The strength of love in the face of difficulty in faith of the pressures of this life. The policy is now he's now taking is looking at how God has designed us to be resilient people. See it is love that causes us to grow and maturity in the face of trials of life. And if we don't have love if you corinthians don't have love, then you will be victims. Victims. Yeah. Has ever heard of a guy named Humpty Dumpty? The guy sat on a wall. Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. And all the King's horses, all the king's men couldn't put Humpty Dumpty back together again. Love, seize that story and gets busy. Cheers. Humpty Dumpty on and sees an opportunity for Humpty Dumpty in the midst of the trials of life, to growth, to be put back together by fucking better than he ever was before. Yeah, he might suffer on the fall, but that suffering is going to complete something in him. That's awesome. But if we don't have love than what we say is this Humpty Dumpty was pushed. You pushed. Any time there's a fault, it must be somebody else's fault, and it must be the worst thing that could ever happen in my life. But love counters that why? Because of this love bears all things. See, there's a strength and a resilience in the way that God has created us. He doesn't just say I want to make you my image. Go get him. I'm gonna make you in my image in a particular way. And then I'm gonna empower you in love so that you would be strong in the face of trial, that you would be able to bear all things because love doesn't retaliate. Retaliate. It doesn't escape or quit or get discouraged when it's not appreciated. Love believes all things. It's not skeptical and suspicious, assuming the worst case in their scenario. Why do we always assume the worst case scenario? Because we're afraid of being let down. A perfect love casts out here. Love is free to examine the situation, to discern a situation and operate in reality to see whether it's good or bad and whether it's good or bad, understand and believe in all things. When Love sees a man. Is down in love will think about the battle that that poor bugger might have fought. Right? The struggle that that person must have given before he fell. I mean, what happened to Humpty Dumpty on that wall? How much did he try to hang on before he fell? Love will see the possibility of recovery. Because love hopes all things love has a long view of life. You love opens our our vision into the future, not the now. So love doesn't easily despair. It doesn't despair in the circumstances of today. And I know you have some some circumstances that you could probably make a pretty good case that you should despair just like the Corinthians. But love hopes all things and doesn't despair and circumstances. And you know what love hopes all things and doesn't despair in people. And love endures all things. Love endures all things because love does not allow for us to embrace an identity as a victim. Love doesn't give up easily love fights. Love fights. It's strong so that we can reveal God, and that's what Paul is saying. He's not. He's not trying to say so. Here's what you need to. Here's my fluffy little pole about loves. You can put it into the shape of a heart and have it on your mantle. He's being clear and direct in the Corinthians Know it. And you might be going, Jamie. Not sure I like your tone. Yeah, this might seem a little bit edgy to you. I mean, this is a sermon about love, right? How come I don't feel good? Well, let me give you two things to keep in mind as we consider this text today. Paul's intention wasn't that this tax would be easily digested. He's not looking for its readers to feel comfortable and affirmed. His whole point for jamming this right in here, right where he has it. The way that he has it is to create discomfort, to create discomfort that would lead to an attitude adjustment, a shift in beliefs and behaviors so that discomfort will go away so that they would actually do with their designed to do, which is to glorify the creator, God of the universe. This is where this passage could go off the rails. A misunderstanding of this passage outside of this context that we're giving you now creates trouble not only for the expectations regarding the day to day realities of our marriages, but also for the realities of the church. How excited for you to get up this morning and get to church? How excited? Where you as you thought about Grace Church and all the people in here. I'm gonna tell you something. Sometimes I'm not that excited. What? Because I don't understand what God's doing in church. I don't I'm not convinced that the church is something Mohr than just us gathering a bunch of people that we kind of like that are easy to get to know that will never offend each other. You don't don't say it. Just just You know, if you guys all liked football in wings, this would be a easiest job in the whole world. But you know what? If we miss what Paul is saying here, even though we would never say that out loud, that's what we're believing in the heart. And that's what makes us so easily offended. Let me ask you, though. Why would this make us feel uncomfortable? What about what Paul is doing? What about the way that I'm presenting? This would cause you to kind of wrinkle your Nunes. Well, I would put it this way. I would say that's because we think of love as unconditional. Is that right? Isn't God's love for us unconditional? I mean, Oh, I just sit here and then he just kids his love. There's no conditions to be had. And I'm just telling you that is not a good way to think. Because most of us think of love as unconditional. Behind that. We mean that deep down you're okay. God accepts you just as you are. He smiles on you. Even if you don't jump through any hoops, you have intrinsic worth. God accepts you wards and all you can relax. You can bask in his smile and let the basically good. Really? You you emerge. That sounds good. That sounds really good to the end there, doesn't it? See, this is a life. The philosophy utterly at God's. They're at odds with God's real love. God's love is not unconditional. When author says that it is a subtle deceit, it keeps company with teachings that say to people peace, peace when from God's holy point of view, there is no peace. See if you receive blanket acceptance, then you need no repentance. You just accept it. This blanket acceptance fills you without humbling you. It relaxes you without upsetting you about yourself or thrilling you about Christ. It lets you relax without reckoning with the anguish of Jesus on the cross. Easy, unconditional acceptance is undemanding. It does not insist on or work at changing you. Unconditional love deceives you about both God and yourself. Ladies and gentlemen, we can do better. God does not accept me, Justus. I am. He loves me. Despite how I am. He loves me, just as Jesus is. He loves me enough to devote my life to renewing me in the image of Jesus. That's what Paul is saying in this whole letter. You have been born again in the spirit and you're not acting like it. You're acting like you're a slave to sin, and it shows in your division and your lack of love and all these things that characterize you. Paul is saying, Look, there is love and love accomplishes a couple things. There's two ways that we need to look at love and rejoice. Love is restrictive. Oh, no, no, no, no. Jamie, love is not restrictive. If you love me, Jamie, you let me just give you my definition. You affirm my definitions of how I should live. And if you affirm that in me and you tolerate that in me, then you're gonna love me. It's not true. God's love holds us back from what we would be by ourselves. Toward us. There's restrictions. There's somebody outside of me saying, This is what the standard is. You need to follow that standard and you know what? If you're a believer, Mr Corinthian, then you're going to rejoice in that. But not only is love restrictive, but but love compels. It forces us out. It causes us to act for the benefit for the building up of that body. Remember that the building up of others so that God himself can be clearly seen. Paul's not beating around the bush and the reason he's not beating around the bushes because love matters. A person without love is not neutral. A church without love makes the gospel fuzzy. The Church with Love makes the gospel clear. Love God's love, not unconditional love, but the love of God with the condition that he meets. That saves us so that we who didn't deserve it and are unlovable and be given a new life and changed into someone who is lovable through obedience and holiness to be like Christ. That kind of love crushes us, captures us. That kind of love empowers us. And you may look at that list of things and that kind of love and say, Holy moly, I can't do that. How in the world it does crush me. Well. Fortunately, he's not done wedging in between twelve and fourteen. The third Standard says this love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away. As for tongues, they will cease. As for knowledge, it will pass away for we know in part we profits I in part. But when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I acted like a child. I spoke like a child. I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. But when I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now, we see in a mirror, dimly but then face to face. Now I know in part. Then I shall know fully even as a zai have been fully known. Let me read that again. Now I know in part. Then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope and love abide these three. But the greatest of these is love. The opening of this stanza is that love never fails. It never falls. It never stops prophesies, tongues, knowledge All the things that these baby Corinthian Christians love. All these dazzling spiritually gifts All the things that they love. These things fail. They cease, they vanish. It's opposite the character of God's love knowledge in part prophecy in part, then Jesus comes with the whole picture. We're all children and what we understand and perceive. This in perfect or shadowy vision will be exchanged for the full knowledge that resides in the recognition of this, that ultimately it's not so much that I know things, but rather than I am known by someone. You're a Christian and you are known by the creator, God of the universe you are known. We saw this and chapter eight concerning the food offered two idols. He says we all know that all of us possess knowledge. This knowledge puffed up. But love builds up. If anyone imagines that he knows something he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, if anyone loves God, he is what he is known by God. How do you love this way? What does it look like to be loved This way? It looks like being known by God. And when you're known by God, then you are given a new heart. You're given a heart they can that has access to the spirit to the truth of God, that that changes the way that you think. When I know God, Then I can battle this flash that is outside of God. That's all about me that wants me to label love as me defining me and you tolerating me and you giving to me and love is the zero game where I'm just going to you to stop loving that person. So you can love me, Mohr. But God says no. Through the spirit, through this new heart, you are able to know that love builds on itself and it grows and it grows. And it grows in your heart in such a way that you can actually love like this. That's the gospel ladies, gentlemen, that's good news to know, just as I have been known. Hey, he turns to the past tense where we loved where we known by God he's playing right at the cross. That right when Jesus Christ died on that cross, we die with him. And then when he raises on the third day, we raise with him in newness of life. And we're known by God. So guess what we can love like this. All right? Real quick. Just land this plane with couple. So what? First of all, this Grace Church. Love includes sacrifice and obedience. Love include sacrifice and obedience. Don't forget that whenever any time you hear obedience, there's an assumption that there is somebody who reigns, who rules, who makes up the rules and then communicates that to you so that you will follow the rules. Obedience means you have some. You are subservient to another person. Clearly that person is Christ. And when we obey him, we glorify him. We reveal him as the king. Jesus teaches that love leads to obedience and that obedience is a sign of love. It does not delight in evil, but rejoices. In truth, it heeds the will of the father it desires good for others. But that good always involves God. It always in falls obedience to his revealed will, and it often time involves discipline. The door the Lord disciplines those whom he loves. A church that never disciplines or correct, then is an unloving church. That's why Paul called the Corinthians arrogant. Grace Church Love involves mercy and compassion. Some of you are really, really easy to love because you like the cardinals and chicken wings. Some of you are not so easy. You're difficult. But understand this easy to love teachers how to love the difficult to love. The annoying ones, the immature ones. Love includes mercy and compassion because love is patient and kind. Hall is telling us that we can assume it will be the people who tempt us to impatience and unkindness that best train us in the ways of love. And finally this one. The world is watching. The world will both love and hate what we just preached about. Love and hate what our church calls love. If people just love it, then we can be sure that we're offering them something false. In worldly love, the father is not in the world, so they will sometimes call love, hate and hate. Love our church. I can only offer vision of heaven's love as in a mirror, dimly. But the good news is this. We can point those who are watching to the one who loves them and the one who loves us perfectly. The perfect who will one day come to welcome us fully into his love. And that's the heart of our faith and our hope. Will you pray with me as we prepare for communion? Thank you for this time together. Thank you for this word of love. Holy spirit, shape us and our thinking. In a way that would please you strengthen us so you could be glorified came in.
Jamie Self

Jamie has served in full-time ministry since 1999. He loves serving Christ, discipling men and eating smoked beast. He is proud to be married to his beautiful, godly wife Andrea and enjoys spending time with his two adult children, Makenzie and JJ.

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