In our Wednesday Bible study series, the Lord has graciously brought us to First Corinthians chapter twelve. Within the confines of Paul’s appeal to the local church at Corinth, he is addressing matters of public worship, namely spiritual gifts in chapter twelve.
One of our members was reading to prepare for tonight’s lesson and sent a text to me which said, “Is charity the ultimate gift?” to which I replied, “10-4…love is always better” (I Cor. 12:31). It is most excellent and always better!
- Love is better than sin, for I Peter 4:8 says that love covers a multitude of sin.
- Love is better than law, for Romans 8:3 says, “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak thru the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh.”
- Love is better than personal freedom, for 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 says, “For the love of Christ constraineth us because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: and that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.”
As a matter of fact, 1 Corinthians 13 is a discussion of what love is greater than. Love is greater than our gifts, our faith, or our martyrdom. It trumps all impatience, jealousy, pride and satisfaction at other’s failures. Love is better and is the thing of God’s highest choice. As you examine the Scriptures, you will find that love was the very way God decided to interact with us. Thank God for His wonderful love!
Our God, a consuming fire? Yes! Holy of Holies? Yes! King of all the Earth? Yes! Lord of all Lords? Yes! Judge of all the earth? Yes!!! But the Bible says, “For God so loved the world!” It didn’t say, “He so judged the world….He so separated from the world…He was so angry with the world….” It says, “He so loved the world!” And we are to be like Him!
In love, God Came Near to Us
The Bible says in Ephesians 2:4-6, “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:”
Because of love, God drew near to us in His incarnation. Paul says, “Great is the mystery of godliness, God was manifest in the flesh.” Wonder of wonder, and mystery of mysteries, God became a man! Why would He do that? Because He loved us! God became a part of His creation. The Creator became a part of space and time. He who existed in the epochs of timelessness took part in our “times” (Galatians 4:4-5). The immeasurable God which could not be contained in the Heavenlies (1 Kings 8:27) took upon Him sinful flesh and was a baby at Bethlehem.
A king? A tyrant? A dictator? A despot? A ruler? No, a baby! In love, Emmanuel (God with us, Isaiah 7:14) came near to us.
In love, God Calls Us Near to Him
Because the Lord Jesus became a mediator between unholy man and holy God (I Timothy 2:5), man has access to God through the Lord Jesus. Unholy man says, “I will go to God,” but the Scripture records that Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh unto the Father but by me” (John 14:6). Paul said, “But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:)” Praise be to God, the God of Heaven already came down! How, then, may I go to Him?
Jeremiah 31:3 says, “The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.”
In love, God called me near to Himself. My blessed Lord said, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:44). Blessed we are to say,
Oh, the love that drew salvation’s plan!
Oh, the grace that brought it down to man!
Oh, the mighty gulf that God did span at Calvary!
How could David say, “ I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings” (Psalm 40:1-2). Only a man called near could understand what both me and King David have come to know. He calls us near to Himself!
In love, He Keeps Us Near to Himself
Love not only brought me into His family but also keeps me in the family! The Bible says, “Behold what manner of love the father hath bestowed upon us that we should be called the Sons of God” (I John 3:1). We are not only born into God’s family but also adopted and given adult-standing whereby we may claim our inheritance. We are sealed unto the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30) and assured of His love forever!
What keeps me in the family when I sin against the Father? It is love! Law did not move the prodigal’s father from the front porch to the arms of His swine-smelling son (Luke 16); justice did not move him to kill the fatted calf and put shoes, and a ring and a robe on the backslidden boy. Holiness did not bring the opposing parties together again. Where law and justice and holiness could not reconcile, love proved once again to be better!
Think of this: “I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys. As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters. As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste. He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.” God’s love has sought us, satisfied us, sweetened us, and served us. Love won again!
As for Corinth, spiritual victory was theirs for the taking, but would LOVE rise higher than their LUST? Would CHARITY go higher than their CARNALITY? Would AFFECTION overflow the banks of their ABOMINABLE behavior? If they chose the example of Christ, love would win. What about us today?
In conclusion, Love Makes us Crave Nearness to God:
Song 3:1-4 says, “By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not. I will rise now, and go about the city in the streets, and in the broad ways I will seek him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not. The watchmen that go about the city found me: to whom I said, Saw ye him whom my soul loveth? It was but a little that I passed from them, but I found him whom my soul loveth: I held him, and would not let him go, until I had brought him into my mother’s house, and into the chamber of her that conceived me.