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The Lessons of Love

In Touch / Charles Stanley
The Truth Network Radio
November 18, 2023 12:00 am

The Lessons of Love

In Touch / Charles Stanley

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November 18, 2023 12:00 am

Gain a deeper understanding of the simple yet profound way in which the apostle Paul described love.

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In Touch
Charles Stanley

Welcome to this weekend's In Touch Podcast with Charles Stanley. People spend a lifetime searching for love, but most don't know where the true source is. Today you'll find out how the fountain of all genuine love flows from knowing Jesus Christ as Savior. Of all the emotions that a person can experience, what is the most important one of all? It is love. It is the superlative of all emotions. There is no emotion that you and I experience that even begins to compare with the importance of the emotion of love. For example, when you and I go to heaven, we're not going to need any hope because it'll all be completed. We won't need any faith.

It'll all be finished. But love we're going to take with us. That's the one emotion we are going to enter into heaven with. And that's what I want to talk about in this message entitled, The Lessons of Love. And I want you to turn, if you will, to 1 Corinthians chapter thirteen. Now, you'll find it between chapter twelve that has to do with spiritual gifts and chapter fourteen that has to do with one specific gift, and that is the gift of tongues.

And the reason Paul is writing this is simply this, that those Corinthian Christians had put far more emphasis on the gifts of the Spirit than they had the fruit of the Spirit. And so if you'll notice what he says as it begins, he says, If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I've become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, he says, I am nothing. And if I give all of my possessions to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. Now what I would like to do in this passage and in this message is to talk about, to discuss the three lessons of love.

And I certainly hope you'll be wise enough to jot them down. The first lesson I want us to look at concerning love is this, to live life without learning to love God and learning to love others is to miss the very point of living. To live our life without learning to love God and love others is to miss the very reason for living. Now if you recall in the twenty-second chapter of Matthew, what Jesus said, you recall they were asking Him about what is the greatest commandment and He said, here's the greatest commandment. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment.

The second is like it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Now Jesus said, of all the commandments there are, He said, the most important commandment deals with love. It deals with our relationship to the Father, loving God, and it deals with our relationship to other people. So the Scripture says in this passage that Jesus said that the most important commandment of all is the commandment that deals with love. You would think, well, the most important commandment ought to be faith and things like that.

He says it's love. You'll recall He said this is the way to His disciples. This is the way I want everybody to know who you are. I want them to know that you're one of My followers, not by your great faith, not by your ability to speak and so forth. He says the way I want them to know you is I want them to be able to detect within you this sense of love, that you've learned to love the Father and you've learned to love them. I want them to see that you are one of My followers because love is just flowing out of you. And so it's very easy to understand that according to the Scripture that superlative, supreme, greater than all the other qualities, what He's looking for in your life and my life is the spirit of love, actions of love, demonstration, expression of love.

Well, how am I going to be able to love God whom I do not know and how am I going to be able to love others oftentimes when there is conflict between what we think and how we feel and our personalities don't mesh. So God has taken care of that. And you'll recall the Bible says that you and I, when we were saved, we were born again. Now what is it that's born again? We receive a brand new spirit. He says, therefore, if any man be in Christ, he's a brand new creation. Old things are passed away and behold, everything has become new.

Well, what became new? One of the things that became new was my capacity to understand and to know God and to love God. You see, apart from that, He says you and I were dead in trespasses and sins, dominated by I want and I will, controlled by self-willed selfishness and self-sentence and pride and arrogance and all the rest. In order for God to make it possible for me to live out my life and if you live out your life to do the very thing He wants us to do, that's to learn to love Him and to learn to love others, He had to do something dramatic in your life and mine. He had to bring about a new birth experience that gave us a new spirit and a new potential to love and to be loved by others.

That's what God wants for all of us. Above all else, He wants us to learn to love Him and He wants us to learn how to be loved in return. And so when we come to this thirteenth chapter and we see that He says it is preeminent above all things, we know that love is extremely important. But lesson number two is this and that is that genuine love flows from God who dwells within us. Genuine love has its source, God, who dwells within us. All other love is imperfect. All the love that flows through you and me to other people comes through our personality and our fleshly experience. But perfect love comes from God. And when the Lord Jesus Christ came into your life and my life, what did He do?

He came into your life and my life and established Himself, and He is the source of love that flows from you and me. There is a fleshly love that the unbeliever can experience to some degree. It may be phileo kind of an affection towards someone, but only those who know Christ is their Savior. Only those in whom God is dwelling can the love of God flow through them. This is why the ministry of the Holy Spirit is so absolutely essential in every single solitary aspect of our life. The Holy Spirit doesn't just come to anoint preachers and missionaries and Christian workers to do the work of God. The Holy Spirit indwells every single believer to enable you and me to do those simple little things that we think are simple but are so absolutely essential to our becoming the person God wants us to be. If I am going to be able to love someone, if I'm going to be able to love them the way God wants them to be loved, and to receive their love the way God wants me to be able to receive it, then I must have the Holy Spirit living in my life, working through me, doing His work.

That is what He's up to. He is conforming you and me into the likeness of Christ. He says that's what He predestined what happened to us. That is the work of the Holy Spirit. So He says the fruit of the Spirit. He didn't say the fruit of the Christian, but He says the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

What does that mean? He says, for example, I am the vine, you are the branch. The branch is abiding in the vine. The sap that flows in the vine flows in the branch. And the luscious grapes out here on the branch, on the vine, out here on the branch hanging there, how are they produced? The branch didn't produce the grapes.

It was the sap that runs in the vine running in the branch. That's like the Spirit of God. He says, I am the vine, you're the branch. That is, we as believers are the branch. And it is the Spirit of God flowing through us that expresses that wonderful love of God in our hearts. That's why lesson number two is, genuine love is the love of God flowing through us. It has God as its source.

It isn't what I can conjure up and what I can make myself think about someone else. It is God flowing through us, loving through us. God is the source of that love. And so we said lesson number one is this. And that is to go through life, to live our lives without learning to love the Father, to love the Lord Jesus Christ and His Spirit, and learn to love others.

We'd miss the whole point of living. And genuine love has God as its source. That is God who dwells within us. And so then we come to the third lesson. And then we come to First Corinthians chapter thirteen. Because in this third lesson, the lesson is simple but as profound I think as the others. And that is simply this. That life without love is empty and meaningless, no matter how gifted you may be, and no matter how strong and powerful you may be, and what you may be able to accomplish in life, and no matter what you're willing to give away in life.

Life is empty and meaningless, no matter what apart from love. Now listen to what the Apostle Paul said in this passage of Scripture. Very significant what he said here.

Look if you will in chapter thirteen now verse one. He said now remembering that what he's doing, he's talking about the preeminence of love. Before he says here's what it does, here's how love acts, he says it's superlative. It is distinguished above all other emotions. It is at the pinnacle and the peak of them all. Now with that in mind, what he does here, he gives us five, he compares the infinite value of love to five very finite important things.

They were important to the days in which Paul wrote and they are important to us today. So let's begin with number one because he says first of all, let's compare love with the ability to communicate. Now watch this. If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels but do not have love, I become a noisy gong or clanging cymbal. Now the best way for me to express that is to say it this way.

Suppose I said to you I love you and I don't really understand what love is and I don't mean it. He says this is what it's like. He says this is what it's like. Now let me ask you a question. What did you get out of that?

You didn't get anything. All you heard was noise. He says a lot of people who think they're loving, all they're doing is making a noise. When they say I love you, they're just making a noise.

You know why? They don't love God. So therefore they don't have the capacity to really love you.

And when they say oh yes I feel love but without God, they don't really have the capacity to genuinely feel that. So what he's saying is that people who say that they love and who put their emphasis on their ability to communicate, he says they don't know what love's all about. For example, if I really and truly love you, I'm going to speak the truth. Sometimes it's going to be like velvet.

It's going to be smooth and gentle and soft and you're going to love it. Sometimes if I love you, it's going to be like steel and sandpaper and you're not going to like it. But if I speak the truth, it'll be velvet sometimes and steel and like sandpaper other times.

That's why a parent, if you love your children, the Bible says that you will discipline them when they need discipline because love not only is velvet, it's also like sandpaper. And so he says far more important than the ability to speak is love. It is what comes through the heart, not just what comes through the mouth. Because listen, you cannot camouflage what comes through the mouth with something that is not genuine, true, real love. A person who has any discernment at all knows when there's love, then there's no love.

Fake counterfeit. So he says far more important than any kind of gifts that you and I have is our capacity to express love. Then if you'll notice what he says, he says, and if I have the gift of prophecy and know all mysteries and all knowledge, he says, for example, when a person is genuinely speaking in love, it registers in your heart. But it's not spoken in love, it doesn't. So he says all the Bible teaching, all the preaching, all the Sunday School teaching, all these things we're doing, whether it's singing or whatever it may be, he says, if it's not motivated by love, he says, it has no value. It's just noise. He says like clanging of pans and beating of cymbals, he says, it's meaningless.

It doesn't have any effect. Then notice what he said. He said, and if I have all faith so as to remove mountains but do not have love, I'm nothing. You know, somebody said, what do you want from God above everything else? Well, I can talk about an intimate relationship with Him, but somewhere real close to the top, I'd say, mountain moving faith.

Mountain moving faith. Well, you know what he said? He said, that's real good.

But you know what he said? He said, even superior, distinguished even above mountain moving faith, by which you in your work or I in the ministry, God would be able to accomplish great feats through all of us, whatever we're doing. He said, far more important than that is your capacity to love the Father and to love someone else.

God places that even above faith. He says, so if you're just speaking and you're eloquent but without love, he says, it's meaningless. He said, you can have all kinds of knowledge and understand all kind of scriptural things and have this mountain moving faith. He says, that doesn't mean anything. He says, that's nothing.

Then if you'll notice what he said in verse three. He says, and if I give all of my possessions to feed the poor. Now, people give for lots of different reasons. Some people give, for example, because they genuinely love people. But others give because of taxes. They give because they believe in a cause. They believe because there's a need. They believe, they give because somebody compels them to do so.

And they give because it makes them feel good. You know what he said? He said, if my giving is not motivated by my love for the Father and those to whom I give, he says, in the judgment seat of Christ, when he looks at the tally of our good deeds, he says, there'll be a blank space. It won't even be on the tally.

It's not even gonna be there. He says, because it profits me nothing. Notice he didn't say it profits me some things. He says, it profits me nothing. Listen, if it profits me nothing, it profits me nothing in the eyes of God.

And then Paul uses an extreme example. Here's what he says. He says, even if I give my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. That is, a person can make the ultimate sacrifice for a cause to get their name in history, whatever it may be.

He says, it's not even on the register. It's not even on the tally sheet. It profits us absolutely nothing unless it is motivated by genuine love for God and motivated by love of others. There are people who sacrifice their life in genuine love for God, genuine love for others.

That's on the tally sheet big. Greater love has no man than this, he said, than one lay down his life for his friends. Even greater than that is that God laid down the life of his Son for all of us who were sinners. He says, while you and I were sinners, Christ died for those of us, the ungodly.

Now what is Paul saying in all this? That the most important thing in life is love. He says, to live your life without learning to love God and to love others, you miss the point of living. That genuine love has God as its source, God who dwells within us, it is there. That life without love, he says, life without love, no matter how gifted you may be, no matter how successful you may be because of your faith, no matter what you give away, and no matter what you're willing to sacrifice, he says, it's meaningless, it's worthless, it's empty, it's hollow, it's profitless, it's of no value.

You know why? Because God places such high value on love. Think about this. Can you put your finger on somebody out there that you can honestly say, I love you unselfishly, willing to serve you, willing to sacrifice for you, willing to be used of God to build you up, to become the person that God wants you to be, and to achieve the goals that God wants you to achieve in your life, to help you to do all of that? If not, more than likely, you have never experienced that intimate, loving relationship that God wants you to experience. Friend, listen, I don't believe there's anything in life to equal that. And when I think about children who will grow up and never experience that, husbands and wives who live together all of their life and die married, but never having experienced that kind of wonderful love which God has provided, what a terrible way to live.

Paul said it's empty, hollow, meaningless, and profitless. And I think there's so many people who think that they're loved, but if they ever got into a real, genuine, loving relationship, they'd realize that they had felt before like a peanut hull, just a hull, something big was missing. And once they learned to love that way, and once they began to experience someone really genuinely loving them with a goppy love, sacrificial serving love, I believe that person would think for the first time in their life, I have suddenly begun to live. And you know what the truth is?

You would have. That's what love's all about. And he says of all the emotions that you and I can experience in life, that is the pinnacle of them all. Thank you for listening to The Lessons of Love. If you'd like to know more about Charles Stanley or In Touch Ministries, stop by intouch.org. This podcast is a presentation of In Touch Ministries, Atlanta, Georgia.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-18 04:53:26 / 2023-11-18 05:01:07 / 8

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