************ Sermon on 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on July 17, 2004
1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Wedding Message for Jack Holcomb & Sandy Bosman
Jack & Sandy, there are so many things I can talk about when we look at the love mentioned by Paul in 1 Corinthians 13. But let's start off by admitting that the love Paul talks about is naturally shown by God but is unnatural for us to show and to have. For us to show and have this love we need to not only follow Christ's example but we also need the love of Christ to fill us to overflowing.
With this in mind, let's take a look at what your wedding text says about love.
"Love is patient." How patient? The King James translation uses the phrase "long-suffering." This gives us an idea of how patient love is supposed to be. This is not the picture of an indulgent husband waiting for his wife to finish applying her makeup. This is not the picture of a mother waiting for her son to eat all of his broccoli. Instead, we are to think of anguish, of choosing to endure what we do not want to endure. Your heart is broken, your hopes are dashed, but you continue to endure. It is not natural for us sinful humans to love this way; but, this is the way God loves us and this is the way He wants us to love our marriage partner.
"Love is kind." Why is meant by kindness? Are we to think of grandpa patting the head of a little one? Are we to think of mom kissing the scrape or cut on a elbow or finger? Kindness is how we choose to relate to people. We can choose to overpower, to manipulate, to insist on our own way; or, we can choose to serve, to shower the person we have married with our love.
"It does not envy." Envy is too timid of a translation for a Greek word that actually means "jealous." Love is not jealous. How can Paul say this when the Bible even pictures our holy God as a jealous God? The jealousy Paul has in mind wants to possess the other person, to take control of them, to consume them, so they have no personal life at all. But this is not how lovers treat one another.
"It does not boast." Lovers don't blow their own horns or sing their own praises. When we first meet our marriage partner we want them to talk about themselves; we are so enthralled by the other person we want to know all about them. But after we have been around him or her for a while, it is time to go on to other subjects and topics. Love, true love, does not dwell on self. Love, true love, directs people's attention away from themselves.
"It is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered." Love is not any of these things. None of these have a place in a Christian marriage. Yet, if we are honest, we have to admit that many times we are proud, rude, self-seeking, and easily angered. How this hurts God. And, how this hurts our marriage partner. The problem is not love. The problem is self. My natural, sinful, selfish self wants attention and wants to be the center of attention. The focus needs to be on me. That's the problem. What I must do, instead, is focus on my marriage partner and on my Father in heaven.
"It keeps no record of wrongs." Love forgives and forgets. We all have a hard time doing that, don't we?! When we have an argument with our spouse – and most couples do fight at some time or another – we tend to bring up what has happened in the past. We don't want to forgive and forget because then we don't have any ammunition to fight with. But love does not keep score. Love does not hold the sins of the past against our partner. Love forgives and forgets just as God forgives and forgets our sins.
"Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth." Some people – too many people, in fact – delight in evil. They love to suck up all the dirt they can about others. They delight in spreading malicious news and gossip. They love to run others down to their level. Love does not do this. Love sees others and accepts them for who they are without condoning the wrong they do. Love looks for the image of God in everyone.
"It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." Love protects whenever protection is needed. Love trusts the other person. Love has hope for the future. Love endures when misunderstanding and hurt invade the relationship.
"Love never fails." A drawer of my filing cabinet at home is filled with warranties. The dishwasher, refrigerator, microwave, stove. The furnace, water heater, air conditioner, garage door opener. The stereo, TV, CD Player, computer. The car and truck. The roto-tiller, leaf-blower, weed-eater, edger. The pool and pool equipment. Everything comes with a warranty. And most of them are good for only a year or two – some for only 90 days. But love comes with a warranty that lasts for a lifetime. Love, true love, never breaks down, never stops working, never stops loving, never reaches the point where it no longer functions. In fact, every couple I have ever married have sworn to have this kind of love in their marriage. Yet, not every couple has kept this promise. The problem is not love. The problem is sin. Our love for each other has to be like God's love for us – never failing, never ending, a love that just keeps on going and giving.
Jack & Sandy, it should be obvious that love is not a feeling. It is not something you fall into and it is not something you fall out of. Love is a decision to act a certain way to your marriage partner. Love is a commitment to the other person and the relationship. Love is hard work and requires hard work.
Jack & Sandy, do you want this love? For the rest of your life? You know this, but let me remind you anyway – you will not find this love in yourself. You are a sinner and sinners do not have it within them to love. You can find this love and show this love only in God.
There are three Bible texts you need to have in mind as you consider this:
(1Jn 4:16) God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.God is love. In Christ, God shows and gives love. And, only in union with Him are we able to give love.
(1Jn 4:10) This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
(1Jn 4:19) We love because he first loved us.
Do you realize what this practically means? It means that your home needs to be a place where God is loved and honored and obeyed. Christ needs to be the Head of your home and the Master of your lives. You need to spend time daily in Bible reading and prayer. You need the fellowship of other Christians in a Christ-honoring church. You need to regularly attend worship.
My prayer, Jack & Sandy, is that you will do all this so that in Christ you will never stop loving each other.
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
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