The Greatest of These is Love
1 Corinthians 13
Pastor Tony Chute
Overview: The church at Corinth is well known to us as a body of believers with major difficulties. Divisions within the church are evident as members preferred certain leaders over others; tolerated gross sin in the lives of others; aired their disputes in full view of others; embraced their freedom at the expense of others; and acted as if they were spiritually superior to others. Paul deals with these issues one by one but provides the simplest and most profound solution in 1 Corinthians 13 by placing a priority on love, defining the nature of love, and focusing on the eternality of love. Taken as a whole, this chapter reminds us that church life requires us to love others more than ourselves, show love in practical ways, and grow in love as we approach our eternal home together.
01. We love others more than ourselves when we commit to one another, use our gifts for the sake of one another, and sacrifice to serve one another.
02. We show love in practical ways when we are patient with one another, supportive of one another, deferential to one another, and challenge one another.
03. We grow in love as we approach our eternal home when we endure difficulty together, remain hopeful together, and mature in our faith together.
Questions for Discussion and Discovery
1. Read through 1 Corinthians and note the various difficulties leading up to chapter 13. Why doesn’t Paul dismiss this church altogether? What would you conclude about such a church today? Would you be drawn to help such a church?
2. Do you think Paul’s focus on love as the solution to the difficulties in the Corinthian church is too simplistic? Why or why not? How easy is it to love in the ways that Paul describes in this text?
3. In what ways does the lack of love manifest itself in a church? Does this mean that programs and personalities automatically break down when there is no love? See Revelation 2:1-7 for further insight.
4. What characteristics of love in verses 4-7 do you struggle with the most? What examples of love in this section do you see in the lives of others at Northpoint?
5. Why will love outlast other aspects of the Christian life, such as faith and hope? How does our focus on the eternality of love prompt us to pursue love in this lifetime?
For Further Reading: Jonathan Edwards, Charity and Its Fruits (Banner of Truth edition, 1969). Also available online as pdf for free.