Did you know it’s possible to hold to biblical truths, possess impressive spiritual gifts, sacrifice your money, and even give your own life … and still fall short of what God desires? Without love, 1 Corinthians 13 reminds us, nothing else matters. In this message, David Platt urges us to heed the apostle Paul’s instructions about the priority of love in the church. As followers of Christ, we are to love God supremely and love one another selflessly. This is the kind of love that pursues unity and the good of others, and it can only be lived out in the power of God’s Spirit.
There are 1,189 chapters in the Bible and one of them describes love more than any other chapter. It just so happens that God planned a long time ago for us to be in that one chapter today. Before we even open the Bible, I want you to feel the wonder of that reality right where you are sitting.
Some of you are visiting with us today from another church, or maybe you’re exploring Christianity. I believe with all my heart that God has planned for you to be here today to hear about a love that is totally other-worldly. For those of you who are from another church, or a part of this church family, I believe God has a clear word for us today, in this local church and in the broader church. In order to make sure you know it’s not my word, but straight from Him, I’m going to do something a little bit different. I want to pray before we open His Word, so would you bow your heads with me?
O God, before we open Your Word, we pause to thank You for Your love for each of us. Thank You for sending Jesus to die on a cross for our sins and to rise from the grave, so that through faith in Him we might have relationship with You as Your children. So as brothers and sisters in Your family, we pray that You would help us hear Your Word now—to hear it, receive it and act according to it. And we ask, God, that You would move supernaturally by Your Spirit through Your Word in each of our hearts, and in the heart of our church, in the next few minutes. In Jesus’ name we pray. And all God’s people said together, “Amen.”
Now, if you have a Bible—and I hope you or somebody around you does that you can look on with—let me invite you to open with me to 1 Corinthians 13. While you’re turning there, I do want to ask those of you who are exploring Christianity or who are from another church, to bear with me for a couple minutes here at the start as I speak specifically to our church family.
For members of this church specifically, God has done a lot in my heart in this week through prayer and fasting together—and in spending time with many people from many perspectives. We need to realize that there are two things happening right now. One thing is happening specifically today, but there’s a second, much bigger, much broader, and in a sense much more significant thing that is happening during these days. So let me explain what I mean.
First, specifically today at the end of our worship gathering, we’re going to vote on potential new elders. I’ve shared before that this is one of the most important things we do as a church: affirming elders who will lead the church to follow Jesus. This is absolutely an act of worship before God. Every summer our church sets aside time before God to affirm men who will love and lead this church according to His Word. That’s the specific thing that’s happening in our worship gatherings today.
Some people have asked if we’re rushing this vote, or what about questions they have about this or that in the church—about important things like race, politics, ministries, programs or any number of other things. The answer is, no, we’re definitely not rushing; we’re actually required every year at this time to affirm at least two elders. Last summer we weren’t able to meet because of COVID, so we’re affirming three today. All three of these men have been through a process over months to get to this point.
This is where good questions about race, politics or many other really important things come in and this is where I want to clarify the two things that are happening right now. We’re voting on elders today during days that have been extremely tumultuous. And by days, I mean the last year, in which we have experienced unique challenges unlike many, arguably most, of us have ever experienced in the world. These challenges have created all kinds of tensions in our lives, our families, our country, the world and in the church. We need to separate that out to see it for what it is.
One thing that’s happening today is deciding before God if these three elders will lead us to follow Jesus. Separate from that, a bigger, broader thing is happening during these days and we need to name that clearly. During these days, coming out of this last year and this last week—and going into the next week and into the next year—we are deciding how we are going to relate to one another in a world of tension.
We’ve seen over the last year, in the broader church and in this local church, unprecedented division, tension and disagreement, not just in the world, but between brothers and sisters in Christ, some of whom have shared friendships for decades. And those friendships, even some family relationships, have been strained and in some cases torn apart in ways that are clearly not from God. So let’s name it for what it is. There is an adversary attacking the one thing Jesus prayed for us before He died.
Carol Shriver—who’s faithfully taught God’s Word here for years—was kneeling here Friday night, praying in tears, that we may be one, even as Jesus and the Father are one, so that the world might know the love of God. By this will all people know that we are disciples of Jesus: by our love for one another (John 13:34 –35).
So let’s name it. That love for one another is what is under attack in all of our hearts during these days. There is an adversary who’s been wreaking havoc in marriages, families, in the church broadly speaking and in this local church over the last year, the last month, the last week. It is no coincidence in the sovereign design of God that on this day when we gather to hear these words from God to all of us. I want to read them on His behalf. This is the voice of God speaking to us right now:
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Yes, the specific question we’re answering today is, “Will these three men lead us to follow Jesus?” But in a much, much bigger way, during these days, the significant question we must answer together is, “How are we going to love one another in this local church and among Christians in the broader church as a whole?” God is speaking a word loud and clear to any heart that is willing to hear. God is saying to us during these days, “If you speak in tongues like angels, but you don’t have love for each other, you’re just a noisy gong. If you prophesy with power, if you have faith that moves mountains, but you don’t have love, you are nothing. You can give away everything you have. You can lose your life. But if you don’t have love for others, it’s worthless.”
Do we hear what God is saying to us? We are nothing. You see it twice. We are nothing in our lives without love for others, no matter what we say or do. Now, it’s not that those other things aren’t good— prophesying, speaking, faith, generous giving, laying down your life. Those are all good things. But they’re only good when they’re done in the context of love.
This is why, when the Bible goes back to spiritual gifts at the beginning of chapter 14, notice the first two words in verse one: “Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts.” Pursue love. This is not love according to the world’s definition of love, or according to your or my definition of love, what you or I think or feel is loving. Let’s be honest. We can all get caught up in thinking, “What I’m doing is loving. What I’m posting is loving. The way I’m speaking is loving.” Or perhaps, “Every single meme may not be loving, but the end is loving.” We need to stop and ask, “Is that what God says about love?”
Just think about what Jesus says. Clearly, after getting on the floor to wash His disciples’ feet, Jesus says in John 13:34 –35, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” What is this kind of love? It’s the kind of love that stoops to serve others in the most menial way imaginable.
1 Peter 4:8 says, “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” Romans 12:10 says, “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” Love is outdoing others in honoring them. Ephesians 4:1 –2 says, “I…urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.” Love is humbly, gently, patiently bearing with each other. One translation of this verse says, “Putting up with each other’s faults.”
Let’s come back to 1 Corinthians 13. I’m guessing individual Christians at Corinth would have said, “I’m loving. Of course I am.” But when you look at the way God describes love in verses four through seven, you start to realize this is actually not just a random list of characteristics. This is a specific rebuke of a lack of love among the Christians at Corinth. They were being impatient and unkind toward each other—even at the Lord’s Supper according to 1 Corinthians 11. They were filled with envy for each other. We’ve seen language of boasting, being puffed up and proud in their own positions, or boasting in different leaders, dividing into different camps (1 Corinthians 1 –3). They were taking each other to court (1 Corinthians 6), insisting on their own way, even if it caused others to stumble (1 Corinthians 8). They were tolerating wrongdoing (1 Corinthians 5). God says, “What you are doing is not love. Here’s what real love looks like.”
If I could be vulnerable here, I had a whole other sermon prepared to preach from this point, from this text, talking about all kinds of issues in the church. I could have slept a lot more last night if I would have stuck with that one, but something happened yesterday. Heather was out for a friend’s birthday, so I had the kids. We went to one of our local outreach festivals in a part of our city where there is a lot of crime, drugs, hurt and pain. I was out there, sweating with brothers and sisters from this church family, playing games, singing songs, sharing the gospel. One member of this church who is ethnically Chinese learned Spanish during COVID this last year by going to outreaches and sharing the gospel, and has now led many people to faith in Christ in Spanish. I thought, “This is who we are. This is who the church is.”
Specifically in the city, this is who MBC is: people who love God with all our hearts and who love others like we’ve been loved by Him. That’s what I want to be a part of; I think it’s what we all want to be a part of. Yet we are living in a world where an adversary doesn’t want that to happen and is trying to rip us apart in ways I trust we realize are not good for the reputation of Jesus or His church. What’s happening is not good for us and not bringing glory to Him before a watching world.
I’ve been wrestling in prayer and fasting in my own heart. “God, how am I contributing to this?” It’s been so humbling, in this week of fasting and praying through this text and other parts of God’s Word, as His Spirit exposed areas of my life and leadership that are not loving. I’ve wrestled and agonized over how to shepherd and love you and glorify God in a world with so much tension in so many different directions. For one person, it’s here. For another person, it’s there. For another person, it’s there. “God, how do I shepherd in the middle of all of this?”
Last night, as I was praying, I sensed God saying, “Simply let My Word and My Spirit do My work in the hearts of My people.” That’s why I want to do something a little different, because I so want you to walk away today saying, “We did not hear from David—we heard from God.” I want you to be able to say that every week, regardless of who’s preaching, but especially on this day, especially during these days.
So here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to memorize 1 Corinthians 13:4 –7 together. That’s what we’re going to do. Just a few short verses. I believe that if we can stamp these words deep on our hearts together, it would change everything. His Word has power to do that kind of work. So I’m going to lead us to memorize this. I’ll offer a few short words of explanation or application along the way, particularly as God has been applying this text to my heart in ways that I hope are helpful for your heart.
If you’re not a Christian, we invite you to memorize with us. You can tell your friends you’ve actually memorized part of the Bible.
So here’s how it’s going to work. I’m going to say a few words out loud, then you repeat after me. I won’t have them on the screen while we’re reciting and you can’t look down at your Bible. No cheating. That would not be loving. Love does not rejoice in wrongdoing. All right, here we go. Are you ready?
First Corinthians 13:4 the first three words: “Love is patient…” So repeat that out loud with me. “Love is patient…” Say it one more time. “Love is patient…” All right, we’re off to a good start. Patient. Let’s take this step by step. Love is patient. Love doesn’t jump to conclusions or assumptions. It’s not quick to accuse. Love doesn’t pop off on texts or email or social media—or in person. Love is patient with each other.
Add kind to each other. Say that with me. “Love is patient and kind…” One more time. Let that soak in. Are our words to others always kind? Maybe a deeper question is are our words about others always kind? Do we assume the best about others, or do we assume the worst about them?
For those of you who were here on Friday night in our time of repenting and praying, Mike apologized for an unhelpful and hurtful phrase he had used in an interview a year ago that popped up on social media this week. I know he’ll explain more at some point. I appreciated his humility, but I also grieved over how he had shared that phrase in the context of honestly expressing his own hurts and struggles. The social media post this week had totally ignored that and immediately assumed the absolute worst about Mike. I know I don’t like my words being taken out of context. And I know I’ve taken others’ words out of context.
God, help us to be kind with our words and thoughts, even that which no one else sees but God. Help us to believe the best, not the worst, about others. Help us to look for opportunities to give a kind word to others or about others.
Wouldn’t this alone change everything? Don’t ever underestimate the value of a kind word. I think about Jimmy Mitchell, whom many of you know served as an elder in this church for decades and led this church through tumultuous and trying times in the past, alongside Lon. I think Jimmy has been the single most encouraging person to me since I came here. He’s done it primarily through timely, short, kind words, especially over the last year and up to the last week, saying, “Hang in there. The path is hard. I’m holding you up in prayer. You have the Holy Spirit in you. Keep leading the church.” Then he always ends with, “Keep leading.” Jimmy has no idea how his simple, kind words have served my heart.
I submit that you have no idea how a simple, kind word to or about someone else will serve their heart so well. God is telling us that love is patient and kind.
This next part says, “…love does not envy or boast…” So let’s say all this together: “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast…” One more time. “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast…” Do you see how pride is at the core of both of these emotions? Envying what you don’t have and boasting in what you do have. We’re starting to see that the opposite of love, according to God, is not hate; it’s pride. A prideful preoccupation with ourselves can rear its ugly head in envy and boasting— and arrogance.
That’s what comes next: “…it is not arrogant or rude.” Let’s just say that part together. “…it is not arrogant or rude.” One more time. “…it is not arrogant or rude.” Let’s put it all together. “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude.” You are killing it. That’s a good thing, for those who don’t understand that slang.
Love is not arrogant. We’re not concerned about what’s best for us and not for others. It doesn’t lack concern for others in what we say and do. When someone is rude, they’re not thinking at all about anybody but themselves; not about anyone they may happen to hurt. I’ve been convicted in my own life in leadership this week that a lack of listening to others is a picture of being rude. It shows a lack of love for others. Love is not arrogant or rude.
Now the next part: “It does not insist on its own way…” Say that with me. “It does not insist on its own way…” One more time. “It does not insist on its own way…” All together. “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way…” What a line. In a year when we have all had and have opinions and convictions about what should or should not be said or done in all kinds of spheres, including the church, remember that God says, “Love does not insist on its own way.”
I mean, whose marriage in this gathering could survive if both spouses insisted on their own ways? Just try that this week and report how it goes. The church can’t survive that way either. God help each of us not to insist on our own way. And God help us not to be irritable when things don’t go our way.
That’s what’s next in this text: “…it is not irritable or resentful…” Let’s say just that part. “…it is not irritable or resentful…” One more time. “…it is not irritable or resentful…” Want to try it all? All right, here we go. You’ve got this. “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful…”
It’s so great to watch some of you. You’re doing good!
Love is not irritable or resentful. Many translations say, “Love keeps no record of wrongs, or offenses.” Love isn’t ready to always bring up all the things someone has done to build a case against them. No, on the contrary, verse six says, “…it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.” Let me say that again, then we’ll say it together. “…it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.” All right. “…it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.” Do you feel the contrast? It doesn’t rejoice in this; it does rejoice in this. Let’s say it one more time. “…it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.”
Do you ever rejoice at wrongdoing? I’m guessing most of us, at first glance, would say, “No. No way.” But I want you to think for a moment about someone you really don’t like. It may be somebody you know really well, or maybe it’s somebody you only know from a distance. It may be somebody in your home, the church, in your office or maybe the President of the United States. Anybody. Or maybe it’s somebody who has deeply offended or hurt you. Are you prone to experience any kind of pleasure if that person fails? When that person fails, are you prone to think, “Ah, it serves them right.” You have this feeling that rises up in you, a bit of pleasure in their wrongdoing. Or maybe more subtly, are you prone to project or promote a wrongful image of someone else? Love does not rejoice in wrongdoing.
But, in contrast, love “rejoices with the truth.” It has joy over truth. Ah, so much could be said here in a world where everybody seems to have different perspectives on truth and it feels so confusing to so many. I would encourage us, brothers and sisters, not to take our source of truth from social media or blogs. That is not where we go for truth that’s worthy of joy before God.
During these days we’ve tried to communicate truth amidst so much disinformation with no desire or motive before God or before you to lie in any way. Yet it sometimes feels futile in days when people are so quick to spread that which is not true, or to question that which is true.
God, help us take the time to actually seek out that which is true, not to stop at what we hear from this or that source.
I think about meetings this week with people who’ve been willing to take the time to sit together around a table and ask questions, then walk away saying, “What’s all the fuss then? This is actually really good.” I’ve seen people get to the end of a conversation when they don’t see 100% eye to eye, but they don’t walk away questioning or even defaming each other’s character. Truth is worth the time. It is that valuable. And love does not rejoice at wrongdoing. Love takes the time to treasure and rejoice with the truth.
All right. Look at verses four through six. We’re about to say them all together. Got it hidden in your heart, in your mind? Let’s try it. Here we go. “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.” Well done! Even if you’re struggling a little bit, you’re still doing awesome.
Now, here’s the last verse. It’s four phrases, but they’re almost all the same, except for one word change in each phrase. Let’s read it together: “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Got it? Just four different words: bears, believes, hopes, endures. BBHE, right? Let’s say just this verse together: “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” You used BBHE, didn’t you? That was helpful.
What a picture here! Love bears with others. If we don’t have people in our lives with whom we are bearing up, we are not biblically loving. Believes all things. Believing in each other, believing God for each other. Hoping continually for the best in each other. And enduring through trials together. What a powerful depiction of love. What a word from God to us!
This last verse in particular brings to my mind one of our elder nominees. I have watched this past week as he and with his wife have been hurting with tears in a deep way, as rumors and accusations have been spread and posted online about his credibility to serve as an elder. I’m going to ask Ken Tucker and his precious wife Judy to share what they have shared with hundreds of people across our church family through our marriage ministry that they lead. It’s something we walked through in depth with them as a part of this elder nomination process, concerning their journey in the past.
I’ve asked them to share this, not just so you can know and rejoice in the truth, but also so you can see a picture of love that bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things. So would you welcome Ken and Judy with me?
Ken: Good afternoon, church. Today we want to share with you a shortened version of a testimony which we share regularly at Re-engage. This is God’s redemptive story in our marriage. One evening decades ago I was led to Christ by a visiting missionary to the Bahamas. I vividly remember the moment when my sinfulness and lostness became so clear to me that I cried out and asked Jesus to come into my heart and be my Savior. I was never quite the same again.
Judy: For me, accepting Christ in my heart meant that I had secured my place in heaven, then all I needed to do was follow the rules of Christianity. I attended church more often and went to a Bible study, because in my mind these were the rules that were required. You see, I thought I was a good person already. I brought this way of thinking and expectations into my marriage.
Ken: The early years of our marriage were filled with getting to know one another and having kids. Sadly, for me it became mostly about getting. I became an insatiable getter; I was getting anything I put my mind toward. At the same time, resentment toward Judy was beginning to take root.
Judy: Years passed and we became, in my opinion, a successful family. I really admired Ken’s work ethic and what he was able to achieve. I did my duty as a wife, a mother and teacher. We really looked the part. But beneath all the success, I was a broken woman, driven by a critical spirit. Things had to be done my way and my way was perfect.
Ken: Our marriage deteriorated. Our nominal faith did not equip us to resist the devil. I became the king of resentment. Angry and embittered, I saw Judy as the enemy. This fueled my sin, which led to infidelity in our marriage. We agreed to separate.
Judy: All that I had worked so hard to control was lost. I was no match for Satan. He had us both right where he wanted us. His ultimate goal was to destroy us and he was gaining ground. I realized I was helpless. I needed a great power. The moment of truth for me came when my counselor said, “Judy, God has always been with you; you just haven’t yielded to Him.”
For the first time, I realized that I had accepted Christ as my Savior, but He wasn’t Lord in my life. I was doing it myself, living the rules of Christianity with selfish motives and self-righteous pride. My family had become my idol. Self-preservation, a critical spirit and a high sense of responsibility were my strategies of control. But the love of God was missing from my heart.
Ken: God was not done with us—or me—yet. While separated from Judy, God continued to convict me and make me uncomfortable. I had no peace. I was unfulfilled. My heart was hardened. Then something happened that began to change things. Judy’s attitude toward me changed, causing me to wonder if there might be a chance for us. There was a strange but undeniable peace in the house when I visited. I was drawn to it, fully aware that I was not at peace in my own heart.
Judy: During the separation, for the first time I recognized my own spiritual condition. I was broken. I needed Jesus to take control. I needed to trust Him. I finally surrendered control to the Lord. It took denying myself, like it says in Matthew 16:24. It took letting go of everything to find a life in Christ. It took total surrender. What does that mean for me? God gave me His answer early one morning that changed my life forever.
I needed to give God the steering wheel in my life. His Word, the Holy Spirit and His power are now the driving force (Philippians 4:13). It is an awareness of His hand in the choices I make today and every day. It’s getting rid of all distraction so I can have time with the Lord. It is allowing Him to dwell richly in my mind to purify my thoughts. It’s internalizing His Word so I can put it into practice. It’s trusting Him for outcomes (Proverbs 3:5). It’s loving in unimaginable ways, like being kind to Ken even though he had hurt me so deeply. It’s forgiving like Jesus Christ had forgiven me and in doing this, I was set free from bitterness and resentment. It’s accepting love. It’s giving Him my negative, critical spirit and receiving in exchange the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, kindness and gentleness. It is not limiting God. It’s the freedom to live fully each day in His presence, doing my duty out of love in service to Him. It is surrendering selfishness for selflessness, surrendering my control to His sovereignty, for His honor and for His glory in my life.
Ken: Overnight I found myself thinking of Judy in kinder, gentler ways. The more times I saw her, the more I saw the peace she had and the more I heard the voice of God speaking to my heart. His message was clear: I did not need a new marriage; I needed to let God make me a new man. That realization drove me to my knees and I finally did what Mark 12:30 commands. I committed to Jesus all my heart, all my soul, all my mind and all my strength.
The next morning I drove back to my God, my wife, my family and my home. I immediately submitted to weekly accountability and discipleship with a veteran pastor, a Christian counselor and three Christian brothers who hold me accountable even now on a weekly basis. I gave up my getting ways. I love my wife Judy. I love my kids. I love my Lord. All the resentment and rage is gone. I am freed from the mastery of sin. I am surrendered to God, Who is at work in me to will and to do of His good pleasure (Philippians 4:13)The events mentioned above happened almost ten years ago. Today, God is using that experience to equip us in serving others. We celebrate God’s amazing love and grace toward us. We keep a zero account when it comes to resentment and negative criticism. We start every morning with prayer and Bible study. It is miraculous what God has done. We want you to know God can do and is willing to do miraculous things in your life and marriage. Romans 8:28 is true. All things—every event—He will use for our good, His glory and His purpose. God bless you.
David: Praise God, not one of us is chained to our past. Praise God, He is able to redeem the past. For anyone listening to this who has uncovered wounds in your own heart, or maybe has brought to the surface struggles you’re walking through right now in your life or marriage, know that Ken and Judy lead our Re-Engage ministry. I would highly encourage you to get involved in it and be in a place where people can talk about struggles and wounds honestly and receive grace completely.
Some might ask, “Well, why didn’t you share all this with the church before?” There are many answers to that question when it concerns elder nominees. Without question, we believe it honors God for a group of members and leaders in this church to fully explore whether or not anything prevents a brother from serving as an elder. We don’t believe it honors God or His grace to then parade out all the failures of that person’s past.
Based on repentance approximately ten years ago and this brother’s evident blameless love for the Lord, his wife and for this church over many years, we have said all week long, Brother, Sister, we are with you. We are glad to recommend him in this church.
Also, Ken and Judy have not been silent about this. They have shared this honestly with hundreds of people in our church family; not one of those people who has come to know Ken and Judy has raised any concern. It’s no secret.
This actually leads to one other thing. Even if someone in the church did have a good valid concern, I truly thought someone in the church would reach out to us, instead of posting and spreading untrue rumors and accusations online. That’s what I mean by this larger question that we’re asking today. Are these biblically qualified men? That’s a really important question. I would say, not just based on Acts 22, 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 about elders, but also based on 1 Corinthians 13, we’re voting on brothers who love this church and who have demonstrated this with their lives. The bigger question far beyond this day is how are we going to love one another in this church and in the broader church among Christians? Through online attacks, videos, blogs and all sorts of other worldly avenues? Or are we going to love one another as God is telling us to love one another in the church in a way that is totally counter to the ways of this world?
Ah, church. The ways and tactics of this world are not our ways. Let us be finished and done with them. They only harm the reputation of Jesus. They hurt the bride for whom He died, including members of that bride, and they keep us from the work to which He has called us. That’s not who we are.
Do you want to know who we are? Picture all of us with locked arms, standing together in this city, amidst all kinds of needs around us. There are five million people in need of the gospel, many of them little children. Yesterday I was surrounded by so much hurt and pain as we were working together, sweating. We were working with all of our hearts to love God with everything we have and to love others like He has loved us. That’s who we are.
If you are visiting today, especially if you’re exploring Christianity, I want to hone in on that last phrase: like God has loved us. I have the greatest news in the world today for you. Though you have sinned against God, as I have and as we all have and we deserve eternal judgment before God, the greatest news in the world is that God loves you. God Who created the world, Whom you have sinned against, is patient toward you. God is kind to you. God so loved you that He gave His one and only Son, so that no matter who you are and no matter what your past has been, when you believe in Jesus, He will forgive you of all your sins and give you eternal life (John 3:16). You will never perish, but have everlasting life. The God of the universe will keep no record of wrongs for all who trust in His love. So I urge you today, trust in His love.
When you do—and for all who have—you are awakened to a whole new way to love that is totally different from the ways of this world. And what does this love look like? Well, let’s try to say it together before God. Just do your best. What is God saying to us? “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.”
Bring it home. “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” This is the Word of God. And just in case you want a little extra, the very next verse begins with these three words: “Love never ends.” Love like this lasts forever.