************ Wedding Sermon on 1 Corinthians 13:7 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on August 19, 2000
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 13
Text: verse 7
Steve & Tina:
In 1 Corinthians 13 Paul speaks of love. But what is this love that Paul speaks of? Love, as the two of you should realize, is not the same as infatuation:
Topic: LoveI trust, Steve & Tina, that it is love – not infatuation – that brings the two of you together.
Judith Versed, in Love & Guilt & the Meaning of Love, came up with a humorous distinction between love and infatuation:
Infatuation is when you think that he's as gorgeous as Robert Redford, as pure as Solzhenitsyn, as funny as Woody Allen, as athletic as Jimmy Conners and as smart as Albert Einstein.
Love is when you realize that he's as gorgeous as Woody Allen, as smart as Jimmy Conners, as funny as Solzhenitsyn, as athletic as Albert Einstein and nothing like Robert Redford in any category. But you'll take him anyway.
I have pointed out to almost every couple I have ever united in marriage that there are four words for love in the Greek language.
The first is "eros." This is a "getting" love. Eros is usually associated with sexual love. The basic element is a desire, a will to possess seeking satisfaction. Eros exists because it sees something desirable in another. Eros flickers and fades as the winds of desire rise and wane.
The second word for love is "stergo." This is a "caring" love. This is the natural love which we have for others. As human beings we love others as part of humanity. This love recognizes that all men are closely bound together, dependent on each other, and obligated to each other because of their common humanity. This is the love that we show to a neighbor in need or that we have for the poor and hungry we try to assist.
"Philos" is a third word for love. This is a "sharing" love. This word expresses the affection we feel for those close to us. It is called out of the heart by the pleasure one takes in another. It is the love between friends or among family. It is based on common interests, common attractions, and a close sharing of many things.
The final Greek word for love is "agape." This is a "giving" love. It is a love which impels one to sacrifice for the benefit of the other person. This love seeks to give rather than to get. Agape love keeps on loving even when the other person doesn't respond; agape love keeps on loving without asking for anything in return.
Husbands and wives should have all four kinds of love for each other. Agape love, though, has to be predominant. Unless agape controls the others, the first three kinds of love will be too empty to endure the conflicts and difficulties of marriage. Eros, stergo, and philos are to be controlled and enriched by agape.
Steve & Tina, it is this last kind of love – agape love – that your wedding text speaks of. It is agape love that "always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."
Let's take a quick look at what this verse tells us about love and marriage.
First, we are told that "agape love always protects." The word that is used in the Greek means "to cover up." Cover up what? Agape love covers up your mouth. It keeps you quiet; it keeps you from saying too much too quickly. Agape love, in other words, lets you know when to keep your mouth shut – for the sake of the other person and the relationship. Agape love also covers up a critical eye. It allows you to look at your marriage partner through a telescope rather than a microscope – you take the big view rather than looking for all the little faults. Agape love also covers up the little faults and habits that make up the other person and can be irritating – if they are not covered up. Agape love also covers up hurts and pains and burdens and sorrows to protect and shield and comfort the other person.
Second, we are told that "agape love always trusts." When it comes to trust, there are three kinds of people. On the one side is the gullible person, who believes almost everything. On the other side is the cynic, who believes almost nothing. Somewhere between the two is the wise critic. Paul says, "agape love always trusts." Notice, then, where agape love seems to put you: on the side of the gullible. But not because you are so gullible. Rather, because you are so loving. Don't forget, agape love is in the business of giving rather than receiving. Love is ready to believe. Love throws off all reservations. Love does not worry about being cheated, because it has eyes only for the other's needs. If love seems a little naive it is not for lack of experience with people, but because love does not bother to calculate the odds on whether or not someone is telling the truth.
Third, "agape love always hopes." By hope we do not mean escapism or fantasy that desires a cure for a disease, a solution for a problem, an escape from pain. Rather, love's hope looks to the promise of the final victory of Jesus Christ over all hurts and pains and problems. Filled with this hope, love gives a person courage to live today and face tomorrow no matter what happens!
Fourth, "agape love always perseveres." There are many things that threaten to close the heart to the other person. There are so many hurts and pains and little idiosyncrasies that we inflict upon the other person. There are so many things we do and say without thinking or considering. But love gives us the patience and courage to continue the relationship.
Topic: LoveSchwab makes a valid point – love may bring heartache, but it's worth it! So persevere in love.
"We become vulnerable when we love people and go out of our way to help them." That's what the wealthy industrialist Charles Schwab declared after going to court and winning a nuisance suit at age 70. Given permission by the judge to speak to the audience, he made the following statement: "I'd like to say here in a court of law, and speaking as an old man, that nine-tenths of my troubles are traceable to my being kind to others. Look, you young people, if you want to steer away from trouble, be hard-boiled. Be quick with a good loud "no" to anyone and everyone. If you follow this rule, you will seldom be bothered as you tread life's pathway. Except you'll have no friends, you'll be lonely, and you won't have any fun!"
"Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."
Steve & Tina, let me tell you how to have this love in your marriage. What I am about to tell you is nothing new. You both know it already. We talked about it in my office. To have this love – this agape love – you need to be joined to Jesus. You see, it is Jesus, more than any other, Whose life is filled with agape love. It is Jesus, more than any other, Who always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. By joining yourselves to Him, by believing in Him, by making Him the center of your home and marriage, His love becomes your love.
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
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