SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSONS
Love always Wins because Nothing is Greater than Love
1 Corinthians 13
Key Verse: And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love. – 1 Corinthians 13:13
As we have been moving through our study of 1 Corinthians it dawned on me that sooner or later one lesson would be devoted to the great love chapter, 13. My first thought was an anxious one: “Lord, I am not worthy to make a single comment about Paul’s magnificent statement on love. Every time I read it, I wilt under its judgment of my life.”
Then the Spirit whispered to me, “Relax, Walter; it’s not about you, it’s about me and the agape love I can pour into you when you trust and obey my Son Jesus.” In that moment I knew again the sweet relief that comes only on the wings of his amazing grace.
To understand the kind of love Paul describes in this chapter, we must look at the several Greek words that were used for love in the first century. The New Testament was written in the language of the common people, or Koine Greek. This language used four words to describe different kinds of love.
Eros was the word used for sexual love. We get our word “erotic” from this word. Storge was used to explain family affection. Philia is the word for the affection close Christian friends have for one another. We might call it genuine brotherly love.
The fourth word is agape, the noblest form of love or the kind of love God has for his children. Agape love wants the best for others, the kind of love Jesus demonstrated. He even loved his enemies enough to pray for them as they were crucifying him. Agape love enabled Jesus never to give up on his disciples even when they denied knowing him.
What is disturbing to us is how difficult it is to practice agape love in daily living. In chapter 13 Paul explains what agape love is. Clearly Paul insists that this is how God wants us to live. God will not let us off the hook with the excuse that “I’m only human.” So how can we measure up?
The answer is to embrace the truth that love is the greatest thing in the world and agape love is a gift of God. We can only receive it; we cannot manufacture it. We cannot make it happen by trying harder. We must admit that, without God’s help, we cannot possibly love in the way God expects us to love.
None of the spiritual gifts is anything – apart from love. All of life must be grounded in love or we will spend our days missing the mark. We should examine carefully what Paul says. If I can speak in the prayer language of an angel but not have love, then I am nothing but noise! Great knowledge and great faith do not impress God if love is missing. Paul leaves no room for doubt about what he means: If I “do not have love, I am nothing”!
When I read this chapter and insert my name, Walter, in the place of the word “love,” it drives me to my knees. But such an exercise helps me to see how God expects me to live as his witness in the world. My response is usually, “Lord, forgive me. Such love is impossible for me.”
The Spirit witnesses to my witness with these words, “Yes, it is impossible for you to love like this in your own strength. But when you are yielded to me, and willing to receive my love into your heart, then all things are possible!
Then I remember the eternal nature of love. The things I have accumulated will perish. None of my earthly treasures will escape decay and destruction. But love will last forever! It “will never end” because God is love. Love will abide when everything else is gone! Love always wins because nothing is greater than love.
The truth is, faith, hope, and love are all gifts of God. My faith in Christ is a gift of God’s grace. My hope of eternal life is a gift from God. Love is a gift, the greatest of all God’s gifts. I can receive it or reject it; I can never earn it or do anything to deserve it. If love abides within me, it will be there only because God has graciously given it to me.
Perhaps John said it best (1 John ): “God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.”
Since this is
true, should we not fall on our knees and cry out to God, “Father, forgive me
for not loving as you expect me to love. Come into my heart and cleanse me.
Make me a temple fit to receive your love. And since your Son Jesus is love,
let him abide in me so that I may begin to practice agape love in all my
relationships. By your grace enable me to grow up, leaving my childish ways to
become the person you destined me to be. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.” + + + (Contact Walter at