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Love Hopes All Things

March 11, 2012 Preacher: Lyndon Shook Series: 1 Corinthians 13

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 13:7–7

1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 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. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. 

4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13:1-7)

We are winding down our study through the aspects of love mentioned in 1 Corinthians 13. I don’t know how you feel about that! We are getting close to the end, but we are not done yet. We have some important things to come still from the the first seven verses of 1 Corinthians 13. So today we continue in verse seven, and in particular with the third phrase, which says, “hopes all things.” Love hopes all things – that is where we are this morning.

You may have noticed over the weeks that I have usually begun these messages with a short introduction about love in general. The reason for that is because I feel compelled to bring to you and to me this truth over and over again, said in various ways, that love, biblical love, is a pinnacle truth in the Word of God, and is an action that we are to put on display for the world see. A love that originates with God, has come to us through Christ, and flows from us to others. If you or if I want to make a spectacle of ourselves, then let’s put on love, do love, live in love among each other and our neighbors, and let that be the thing that grabs their attention. Not, “Look how smart he is, or how strong he is, or how efficient he is, or how organized she is, or how rich he is, or how studious she is, or how consistent he is.” Some of those things are fine, but how about, “Look at her, look at him, see how incredibly loving he is, that is really unusual, out of sync with the culture, that is kind of odd. What’s up with all this love that we see in him or her?” Let the world ask, “Why are you so loving?”

Love is so important. It is not like God says, “Go out and evangelize, feed the poor, pray for the sick, rebuke the straying, teach truth, obey your leaders, be gentle, be bold, disciple, do all these things, and as you do, sprinkle a little love over all that, you know, for good measure.” It is not like we can minister to each other’s needs and even to the needs of the lost and the love part is optional. Duty alone does not please God, nor do works out of duty alone help the hurting or the lost. Not my words, God’s words from 1 Corinthians 13:1-3. So the point is love is essential. That is the point.

I want to show you yet another example of this. Paul’s words are interesting from 1 Corinthians 8:1 where he says, “knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” Honestly, I think we in general as a society and even in the church, I think we tend to put more emphasis on knowledge than on love. You can think about that and evaluate that statement for yourself. I’m saying we may place a higher value on knowledge than on love. In seminary, and I’m not knocking seminary, I am a part of one right now, so don’t take this as a slam on seminaries, but nevertheless, most, almost all testing is on knowledge, isn’t it? Some might say, “We have a 4.0 student from the Masters Seminary, or Southwestern, or Moody, or Westminster, or wherever.” That is great, but don’t you wish there was some testing that probed the heart and determined if the most important thing has been grasped and is regularly practiced? Which is love. How about for all of us, how are we doing in this important area of love?

Who cares if we are smart if we don’t love? You can make a lot of money if you are smart, you can excel in this world if you are smart, I’ve been reading about smart people this week, amazingly smart people. But there is something much more important, and that is are we a people who love God and love our neighbors? IQ is not the issue, love is the issue.

“Knowledge puffs up.” That is a statement about what? Pride. “Love builds up.” That is a statement about what? Living for Christ in ministry to others. One is a me-centered focus, the other is a Christ-centered focus. Parents, be careful what you want most for your children. Be careful what you emphasize most. “You are so smart,” or, “That was really loving!” Do we value and do we emphasize what God values and emphasizes most? That is a good question!

2 If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. 3 But if anyone loves God, he is known by God. (1 Corinthians 8:2-3)

In other words, we don’t know as much as we think we know – no room for pride – but if we love, we belong to God.

19 For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. 21 To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. 23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings. (1 Corinthians 9:19-23)

These are statements about love, not glorying in knowledge, not glorying in self, not glorying in what I want or think I deserve! Loving others so that by all means, Paul says, I might save some. Letting go of his rights to be who he wants to be, letting go of an effort to build himself up and look really good, really smart, letting go of all that puts himself on display, including knowledge or comfort or easy things, letting go of all that, and doing what? Giving himself to others right where they are, relating to people who are not like himself, all of this in love for the sake of the glory of Christ. 

31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 32 Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, 33 just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved. 1 Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. (1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1)

Living life, loving our neighbors for their good, for the glory of God, is a different way than the way of our natural selves, it is supernatural living powered by the Holy Spirit. Do you see how he is leading up with these words, leading up to chapter 13 that we have been studying together? This is the place of love, or should be its place in our lives. At the top, infiltrating everything we do. 

Some quick statements on this:
Love is the more excellent way (1 Corinthians 12:31)
Love is more important for effective ministry than is being a great speaker, having unusual insight, and even more than faith that moves mountains (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)
Love is to be pursued more than extraordinary gifts of the Spirit
Love never fails

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)

The aspect of love that we will look at today deals with hope – love hopes all things. This is a timely topic for me today. God does this regularly in my life. He is faithful to teach me as He is to teach you. I say it is timely because of my struggle lately to look beyond difficult circumstances and to hope fully in Christ both for today and for the future. This is not something I normally struggle with, but recently, circumstantially I have. 

Hope has much to do with focus. Hope has much to do with discipline, discipline of the mind. During difficult times it is easy for our focus to become blurred and for our minds to be more persuaded by what we see than by what we know to be true.

Did you know that as Christians we are to be filled with hope, filled with hope, overflowing with hope? In the New Testament we often find the word hope associated with Christian living. Thirty-one times we can see the word, and it is often used in conjunction with other words like, good (hope), blessed (hope), living (hope), better (hope) and fullness (hope). What is this hope? What does it mean when used in the Bible? “Hope” in the Bible refers to a steadfast, sure expectation of good. It is not like we may use it today, when we say things like, “I hope my team wins the game,” or, “I hope he will like me.” We use the word hope today as something reflecting uncertainty, but of something we want to happen. In the biblical sense hope is a sure thing. We may say, “My hope is in Christ and His promises.” Are His promises sure? Will His promises be fulfilled? Yes! So if we hope in Christ and His promises, His Word, we are confessing a strong, determined belief that what we are hoping in will come to pass. It is a favorable, confident expectation of good.

Let me give you some biblical examples of this. We want to be sure we understand what biblical hope really is. Why? Because we need this, it gives us a sure foundation from which we cannot be moved. It rights our path, our thinking, it makes strong our footing, it strengthens our weak minds, it emboldens our plans. It helps us to act instead of being paralyzed with fear. We need this hope, so let’s understand it rightly together.

To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:27)

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope (1 Timothy 1:1) 

In both of these passages we see something very clearly, and that is this: it is Christ in us that gives us a real, immovable hope. He is the substance and the grounds for our hope. All that we have, all that we will have, all that is to come for us as Christians is tied to and based on our relationship with Jesus Christ, and how He has loved us, and how he acted on that love in giving Himself for us as a sacrifice for our sins. Without Christ we would have no hope, but with Christ we have all hope.

Here is the thing, the relationship between our hope and Jesus Christ. Without Him – “we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind (Ephesians 2:3).” With Him – “made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:5-7).”

Without Him we were destined for Hell, eternal punishment, real torment, separation from the favor of God now and forever. All that we had was what we could go after in this world, all that we had was passing away, all would be burned up in the end, temporary pleasures that end with great pain and agony.

With Christ, the future is bright, perfection awaits us, life now is full of meaning, we are bound up in God’s love, protected by Him, given everything we need to do what He has called us to do, no more striving for stuff, for things, for pleasure alone, for temporal gain, as if that would bring us happiness. No, we are in Him, our hope is based on Him, what awaits us is real, it will be eternal, it will include a showering eternally of God’s love and favor and goodness on us forever. 

That is our hope, that is our sure hope. That hope is based on the Gospel, the coming of Christ, the life of Christ, the death of Christ, the resurrection of Christ, based on our living Lord who is right now advocating for us before the Father.

Is our hope sure? If God is sure. If Christ is sure. And God is sure and Christ is sure. Our hope then is sure.

Hope is what gets us from here to there. From wherever we are today to whatever comes tomorrow. We get up, we go on, we move forward – why? Because Christ is in us and His promises are sure and the future for us is always brighter than the past. This is what helps to motivate us to love, to serve, to go on, to live confidently in Him. We can say all this because God has made promises, and God keeps His promises, and in Him those promises are for us. Hope is believing that God is God, and God keeps His promises. That He cannot lie.

Hebrews 6 helps us with reminders of God’s character and what that means for us.

19 We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, 20 where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 6:19-20)

A description of entering into the presence of God, our hope takes us into the presence of God, allows us into His presence through Christ. We are not strangers before Him; we are His and this anchors our souls, holds them steady, holds us steady in the storms of life, this is hope.

The hope of the righteous brings joy, but the expectation of the wicked will perish. (Proverbs 10:28)

Why does the hope of the righteous bring joy? Because what he hopes in will be fulfilled. It is a sure hope, it is a bountiful hope in Christ, what he hopes in will come to pass, there is no disappointment if his hope is in God and in God’s sure promises. But the hope or the expectations of the wicked will perish. Why? Because what he hopes in promises good, promises joy, promises peace, but it delivers none of those things. What the wicked hopes in does not deliver; it is a false hope, a hope that is destined to fail. How does it feel when all that we hope in crumbles? Not joyful. So we need to hope in what is sure! The hope of the righteous brings joy! 

Now how does this hope that we have talked about, how does this tie in with love? If our hope, all of our confidence, is in God and His promises being fulfilled, then we are a people who are free to reach out to our neighbors, put our lives on the line for them, take risks on their behalf, give ourselves to service and ministry, because we have what they need most and what we need most is taken care of already.

We have what we need in Christ, right now, and what we need for tomorrow and all the days ahead, those needs are taken care of as well. We serve a God who is faithful today and will be tomorrow, and a God who works all things together for our good, who is conforming us into the image of Christ (Romans 8:28-29), and who regulates everything that enters the realm of our lives, never letting things through apart from His goodness, His kindness toward us.

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

We serve a God who promises to give us strength, help us and uphold us with His righteous right hand!

fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

If our hope is in God and His promises, and that hope reminds us of God’s good hand, of His wisdom, of His love for us, then our hope is sure, it is steadfast, and it frees us to love others as Paul described, in such a way that we can give ourselves in loving service to our neighbors. Why? That some might be saved, and have the hope that we possess for the worship of God and for His glory.

Where is your hope this morning? In what are you hoping? Is your hope an anchor? Is your focus right? Is our hope sure? Do we believe that God is for us, that His hand works for our good? Does this hope lead us to joy? Hope in God, hope in Christ, love hopes all things.

1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 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. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. 

4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13:1-7)

More in 1 Corinthians 13

March 25, 2012


March 18, 2012

Love Endures All Things

March 4, 2012

Love Believes All Things: Part 2