Sunday, January 9, 2011

Love: Part Twelve (Conclusion)

The Conclusion: Love never fails

1st Corinthians 13.8-10

Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

Love is an essentially indescribable emotion. When you ask a person to describe love to you, they will usually tell you how love acts. They will describe how it makes them feel. They will tell you what it does. We tend to look for the tangible evidence to explain the unexplainable. We can describe in vivid detail how a person acts when they love us. We can recognize the actions of love in others. However, when asked to describe love itself, the emotion, we will drop back to the actions. We will lean to the attributes to explain the emotion.

In this study, we have looked at a list of attributes of love. It is by no means an all inclusive list of all that is love and all that love is. It is a list of what love should look like in our lives. It is a list of characteristics that our love must manifest. It is the miter that our love is to match, cut for cut. As I stated earlier in this study, love is the irreducible minimum of the presence of God in our lives. It is the utmost that humanity can express. It is the minimum that God expresses. It is obvious, when you look at the title of this study, that it is never simple when you say, love.

Together, we have traveled through the scriptures related to the attributes Paul listed in 1st Corinthians 13. We have learned of the long suffering aspect of real love. We have viewed the kindness of love. We have come to understand how love does not envy because it rejoices at the good fortune of others. We realize that love is not rash nor does it seek to elevate itself. Love behaves properly in all circumstances. Love does not seek to appease its own desires. We see that love is not easily provoked. It does not celebrate in wrong doing, but it does rejoice in the truth. Finally, we see how love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.

Paul concludes, as we must also, the love never fails.

Our God is a permanent God. His Word tells us that He never changes. He never ends. He is from everlasting to everlasting. His word also tells us that God is love. Therefore, love never fails. Love never ends. Love outlasts my faults and failures. Love outlasts my doubts. Love outlasts my inadequacies

As important as this aspect is, and it is another attribute of God’s love as well as a conclusion of the scriptures listed before, Paul addresses the issues of the church at Corinth in his conclusion about love.

The church at Corinth was a proud church. They were proud of their ability to declare the prophetic word of God. They were proud of their ability in language. They were proud of their knowledge. Paul said that prophecy was going to cease. Prophecy was going to end. Love was not going to end. There will be no need for prophecy in New Jerusalem. What we know in part now will be known in full then. There will be no need for someone to declare the mysteries of God.

In Heaven, we will all once again speak the same language as it was before the tower of Babel. We will speak to God in His tongue and to each other in God’s tongue as well. There will be no more need for tongues to edify or communicate the hidden hurts of the heart. All of those will be washed away. Physical pain comes from a corruption in the body; in a member or internal organ. This corruptible flesh will put on incorruption. There will be no more physical pain. Therefore there will be no need for the Spirit to make intercession for us with groaning that cannot be uttered. Mental pain is caused by some corruption in the mind. Emotional pain is caused by some corruption the emotional center, whether it be conveyed as the heart or the brain. These things will all be wiped away by the hand of God as we are transformed on that day; when our mortal puts on immortality; our corruptible puts on incorruption; when death is swallowed up in victory.

Paul tells then churches at Corinth, where they put great stock in their knowledge, that knowledge was going to vanish. As the light of a star will be over shone by the light of the midday sun, so shall our human knowledge be in the light of the knowledge of the ages. What we knew in part, we will then know fully. We, grasping at the sparkles of gifts, and powers, and information, will see, in the wisdom of the ages, how futile our squabbles and debates were.

In this, prophecy will end, tongues will cease, and knowledge will vanish, but, when all is said and done, love will still be there.

I love talking to the elderly. While I am not as young as I was, I am not as old as I will be. Even now, in my 50’s, I love talking to the elderly. When they talk, they talk about what is important. They don’t remember all the fancy or luxurious car they once owned or drove. They don’t dwell on the houses and lands they may have possessed. They don’t go on and on about the jobs or careers they once had. Those things fade. The things they talk about are the people that they have loved or have loved them.

Time has washed away the feigned importance of all those things. What has weathered the storm; what has survived the tide; what has made it through the fires of age; are the ones in whom they invested their love. The status symbols of youth are sitting, rusted, in the vast wasteland of unimportant memories. The careers and knowledge that once seemed to define them have withered in the blazing sun of age.

Paul said, when I was a child, I spoke like, acted like a child. When I grew up, I stopped being a child. I know that our children are the lights of our lives, they are the stars which shine in our skies, but they had to grow up. Children are selfish (not yours I know, but mine were.) Children are given to sudden outbursts. Children are known for temper tantrums. Children are easily distracted and therefore a tad bit unreliable. Children have value systems that are a bit askew.

Paul, in the midst of righting wrongs and dealing with squabbles in the churches of Corinth, told them to grow up.

He told them that this thing was about a love that will never fade; will never wither; will never pass away; will never fail. It is not about how many converts you have in your bag. Even though it is imperative that we evangelize the world, it is still not all about have many converts we have been instrumental in procuring. It is not about how many Home Bible Studies you have held. It is not about how many times you have led the choir. It is not about how much you have given to the church. It is not about how much you have prophesied. It isn’t about how much you speak with tongues. It is not about the many charities you support. It is not about giving your body to be burned to save others. It is not about how much knowledge you possess. It is about the love that is shed abroad in your heart.

Love is eternal. It is everlasting, it never ends. It continues and continues and continues.

Not all love is permanent.

There are different kinds of love. We have spoke about them in several Bible studies. There is ‘phileo’ love and ‘eros’ love.

‘Eros’ love is based on need. It is expressed in gratification. It is represented by the physical love we have for others, whether within the boundaries of marriage or not. ‘Eros’ love is not wrong, in and of itself. It is the place where it occurs that sets the right or wrong about it. Within the bonds of marriage, this type of love is acceptable and expected, between husband and wife. It is when it is expressed outside the marriage bed that it becomes sin. The Word tells us that when lust is conceived, it brings forth sin, and when sin is finished, it brings forth death. The word for lust, ‘epithumia’ means a strong desire or longing. It has both good and bad connotations. It is lawful for one spouse to long for the company and physical touch of the other. However, ‘eros’ love is not permanent.

‘Phileo’ love is based on performance. It is the give and take love we encounter most often in this world. As long as you love me, I love you. As long as we share our common bond, our love is maintained. It is the beginning basis of friendship. We share this when we have something in common with another. We work at the same place; we shop at the same market; we love the same restaurant; we have a common interest. It is based on the performance of each participant. How many friends have disappeared once they left the common place where you were both employed? Their friendship/love was performance based. It is not eternal.

‘Agape’ love is different. It is a deep unconditional spiritual love. It is difficult for us to fully comprehend. The greatest example of this type of love was Jesus Christ on the cross. You could have been there and beheld Christ on the cross and still not comprehend the depth of his love. We have trouble grasping this type of love. Our minds see the sacrifice and reason why it took place. We know the words. We can recite them. “For God so loved …” We read and quote these words for His word as if we really understand them, when it is futile for us to believe that we do. Even more unbelievable is that this never ending, unexplainable, unable to be comprehended, love is available to us through Jesus Christ.

It is little wonder that our finite, limited brain thinking has trouble comprehending an infinite limitless love. It goes beyond our ability to understand. We see how some parents are able to love beyond measure a wayward child and we get that dumbfounded look. We can’t see the nearly unbreakable cord of love that exists between that father or mother and that child. Yet, God says that a mother’s love will fail before His love will fail.

It is this love that established grace. It is this love that established a place where our sins are hidden and we can stand in the presence of God. it is this love that continually calls to fallen mankind . It is this love that, though trampled on by doubt and rebellion, still reaches out to man. It is this love that compels God to knock on the door of the hearts and lives of sinners, beguiled and captivated by the glitter of Satan’s temptation. It is this love that draws us to Calvary.

It is this love, which we do not have to understand, that leads us in our daily lives. It is inseparably mingled with the blood He shed on the cross. It is inseparably linked with his will. This is the love at which men marvel. This is the love of which we grasp to comprehend, yet never fully understand.

We cannot wrap our minds around a love that never fails and never ends. Ask me about a love that is conditional and I can talk to you all day. Ask me about a love that wanes and we can carry on long and detailed conversations. Ask me about a love that falters and I can fully grasp that. ,ask me about a love that will go to certain heights and certain depths, but cannot and will not go to the ends of the earth, and I know about that kind of love.

Do not ask me to explain the love that never fails. In this study, in all its parts, in the sum of words totaling over thirty thousand, I have not even begun to justifiably describe or explain the love that God has given to us.

It does not fail, because it suffers long with us. It does not fail because of the kindness it possesses. Love does not fail in that it is not envious of the gifts and talents of others. It does not fail because it does not act rashly. It does not fail because it is not built up in itself. It does not fail because it does not act incorrectly. This love does not fail because it does not seek its own. It is not easily provoked. It does not fail because it is not weakened by thinking evilly of others. It does not fail because it does not celebrate evil but rejoices in the truth. This love does not fail. It bears all things. It believes all things. It hopes all things. It endures all things.

When all else will fail, it will not. When all our accomplishments are crumbled to dust, His love will still stand.

Long after our deeds are forgotten, His love will still be enduring.

Long after our doubts have been passed, His love will still be there.

Love will never end.

The creator of mankind does not sleep nor slumber. His love is always on call. It will not fail. It will not end.

Think of the one you love the most, and His love far exceeds that.

I do not possess the knowledge or verbiage to adequately express how enduring His love is.

Prophecy will end. His love will not. Tongues will cease. His love will not. Knowledge will vanish. His love will not.

Time will fade into an eternal oblivion. His love will not.

Over six billion people inhabit this world He created, and still His love knows your name and where you are right now. While we may be able to count the number, we cannot get a handle on the reality of that number, and yet, His love can call each one.

There is no other way to explain it. His love does not know how to fail. It is never a consideration. Love does not have a plan ‘b’ in case plan ‘a’ fails.

The stars in heaven fade. Love will outlast them.

On earth, we seek and invest in things we think will last, but the moth and rust corrupts them in time. Love does not fade or lose its luster.

1st Corinthians 13:13 “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity”

We put much stock in our faith and the hope we have. These things will be gone some day. There will be no need for faith or hope. Love, however, will always be.

Love never fails.

Without faith it is impossible to please God; and without it, we cannot partake of the grace of Jesus; without hope we could not endure, as seeing him who is invisible; nor bear up under the afflictions and difficulties of life: but great and useful and indispensably necessary as these are, yet charity or love is greater: Love is the fulfilling of the law; but this is never said of faith or hope.

By faith we receive from God; by hope we expect a future and eternal good; but by love we resemble God; love is the image of God in the soul.

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