“It’s All About Love”
1 Corinthians 13:6-13 (13:13) – February 6, 2022
Weddings are wonderful events. Brides and grooms try to make them meaningful and personalized, as much as they can. Except – I have strong feelings about certain songs that are featured at weddings. I won’t name any specific song, but I think you can recognize them when you hear them. I’m thinking of songs that highlight love as a warm and fuzzy emotion, and that is about it. Where will the newly-married couple be when the rose-colored glasses come off? What happens when that warm and fuzzy feeling called “love” goes away?
This is the last sermon in our series on spiritual gifts, and we look more closely at the last part of Paul’s discussion on the greatest spiritual gift – love. After Paul spends all of 1 Corinthians 12 talking about the great variety of spiritual gifts that God gladly gives to believers in Christ, he turns to the greatest of all gifts, that of love.
But, what is love all about, anyway? Last week, we talked about all the things that love is not, as listed right here in this chapter. According to 1 Corinthians 13, love is not just an emotion, not just a feeling. The description I read last week definitely had more about aspects of what love is not; these can be greatly helpful as we hammer out the biblical definition of love.
As I reflect more on popular culture today, and how sentimental and sappy modern love songs can be, I can see how we – as an American culture – might have different ideas about love than those we read here in 1 Corinthians 13.
Some church folk today might have different ideas about the Corinthian church, too. Corinth was a diverse, multi-cultural, multi-ethnic city in Greece, at the crossroads of several major roads through the region. The church was founded by Paul, an ethnic Jew, but certainly was not all one ethnicity. No, this was a diverse, multi-cultural, multi-ethnic group of believers!
As we read further in 1 Corinthians, we can see how much discord really was in action in that dysfunctional group of believers, too. As our commentator Doug Bratt says, “challenges and controversies dogged their church. They disagreed theologically. They struggled with persistent sin, lawsuits among themselves, sexual immorality, and marriage. Corinth’s Christians disagreed on how to deal with food that had been sacrificed to idols and religious freedom.” 
With that large amount of discord and disagreement among the church members in Corinth, is there any wonder why their former pastor Paul wrote them a letter detailing spiritual gifts which God gives to benefit the whole church? And further, why Paul lifts up love as the best and greatest spiritual gift of all?
We return to the question “what is the biblical definition of love?” I know we discussed this last week, and I mentioned a number of things love was NOT. Let’s turn around and see what Paul says that love IS. “6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.”
I sometimes read an online sermon chat board, where preachers share their reflections on the week’s scripture passages before Sunday comes. I thought Rev. L’Anni from the Netherlands had some very pertinent reflections on this reading.
“When I do premarital counseling I often will read I Cor. 13:4-7 with the couple and note that in this definition of love there is not one single verse that refers to a feeling. No warm fuzzies. No Hallmark honey and sweetness. It refers to ACTION. Being patient—when you FEEL im-patient. Being kind—when you feel like being un-kind. Keeping no score of wrongs—when you feel like holding a grudge. This is how Christian marriage can not only survive but thrive. But not just marriage but any relationship where both are willing to love each other as defined by this passage.” 
These are things that love DOES, actions that people can take that are loving, caring and compassionate. When I think of the number one example of love, I think of our Lord Jesus, while He was here on this earth. I think of how Jesus lived, how He acted, and how He carried out His ministry. Jesus showed us how to love, by displaying love in action. Jesus truly showed His friends (as well as all the world) a life of love – and caring and compassion.
What better thing to do than to think of our Lord Jesus, when He was here on this earth, and ask ourselves “What would Jesus do?” How would Jesus act? How would Jesus love?
In recovery circles, a common saying is “do the next right thing.” I had a friend of blessed memory, who is now with the Lord, who always tried his very best to be loving, caring and giving. He knew that common recovery saying very well, except he would change one word. He would often say “do the next loving thing.” That’s how to fulfill Paul’s definition of love from 1 Corinthians 13.
So – what would Jesus do? Do the next loving thing. Go. Do that.