************ Wedding Sermon on 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on August 21, 1988
1 Corinthians 13:4-8a
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails." (1 Cor. 13:4-8a).
Joe and Tammy, family and friends:
Love! That's what you will promise to each other, bride and groom! That's what all husbands and wives promise each other on their wedding day.
What is this love? What can we say about it? The wedding text picked by Joe and Tammy tells us many things about love. I would like to look at just two of them: first, love is a commitment; second, love is forever.
What do I mean when I say love is a commitment? Did you know that when the Bible describes love, it almost always speaks of a command? Husbands, for instance, are commanded to love their wives; wives are commanded to love their husbands; all people are commanded to love their neighbors. Jesus spoke of love as something that people should do. In the wedding text picked by Joe and Tammy, the Apostle Paul speaks of the presence of patience, kindness, hope and trust and a lack of envy, anger, and rudeness. Now, none of this stuff is easy. None of this comes spontaneously. Love, in other words, is not something natural. It doesn't just happen. It requires work, hard work. It requires deliberate decisions and actions. It requires commitment.
Many people today think of love as a feeling. This erroneous belief is reinforced by most popular songs on the radio which make love sound like an accident, a spontaneous emotion, which can be neither controlled nor created. But love is not a feeling. You don't fall in love, nor do you fall out of love. Love is something you deliberately decide to do and to give.
That's the first thing I want to say: love is a commitment, it is a deliberate decision to do loving things. Those husbands and wives who show love to their marriage partner have made a deliberate decision to be patient and kind. Those husbands and wives who show love to their marriage partner have made a deliberate decision not to be envious, boastful, proud, rude, or self-seeking. Those husbands and wives who show love to their marriage partner have made a deliberate decision not to be easily angered, not to remember past wrongs, not to delight in evil. Those husbands and wives who show love to their marriage partner have made a deliberate decision to protect, trust, hope, and persevere.
Joe and Tammy, love is not an accident. It doesn't just happen. It requires commitment. It requires that you work at it.
The second thing I want to say is that love is forever. "Love never fails," says Paul. Love, true love, Joe and Tammy, never ends. It lasts and lasts and lasts. Love, true love, is forever.
We can't say that about any other element of this life. In the new earth, for instance, there is no place for what we think of as the permanent fixtures in this life: there will be neither marriage nor giving in marriage, there will be no sun or moon, there will be no sea, there will be no stomach, there will be no death or mourning or crying or pain, there will be no church or temple, there will be no swords or guns. But there will be love. "Love never fails." Love never ends. Love abides. Love, true love, never dies. Which means, Joe and Tammy, that if yours is love, true love, then divorce is not only unthinkable, it is not even an option.
Let me ask every married couple here and not just Joe and Tammy: do you want this love in which you and your marriage partner deliberately decide to do loving things for one another, do you want this love which abides forever? If your answer is "yes" then let me tell you the secret to love, true love: namely, you must know and love and serve Jesus Christ. The Apostle John says, "We love because he first loved us" (1 John 4:19). It is only when the love of God is within our heart that we are truly able to love those around us. Or, to put it another way, it is only by knowing Jesus, it is only when He lives in your heart, that yours can be a love that endures. You see, God is love. In Christ, God shows us the true nature of love. In Christ, God made a deliberate decision to love us by sending His Son to die for us. And in Christ, God loves us forever. We can love, then, only when this love of God is in us and comes through us.
Joe and Tammy, my hope and my prayer is that in Christ you will make a commitment to love each other and that you will keep that commitment for life.
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