1 Corinthians 13:1-13
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing…But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
From today, I will begin the lecture series on the spiritual love chapter.
Parents are delighted when their children listen to them very well. For example, if the parents tell their children to study, they study well. When parents tell them not to fight with their friends, they don’t do it. When parents tell them to have good attitudes and use appropriate language, they just obey.
How delighted will the parents be if they have children who behave like this?
But suppose the children obey their parents, but they don’t have any love in their heart for their parents. Then, how would the parents feel about it?
How could a child obey the parents if they had no love for them? They might obey as part of their character, they might obey out of a sense of duty or they may obey outof fear of being reprimanded by their parents.
This kind of obedience without love cannot please the parents, and we cannot say this is complete obedience, either.
It’s the same with the relationship between God the Father and you, His children.
What is the purpose of God’s cultivating human beings? It’s to gain true children with whom He can share true love.
Therefore, the ultimate goal of our Christian life is to cultivate true love in our heart.
And for us to share true love with God, we should well understand what kind of love is really the kind of love that God wants. This chapter on love is the chapter that clearly tells us about this love.
If you want to save many souls as an instrument of the Holy Spirit in the end of time, you must imprint this kind of love in your heart and cultivate it.
In order for you to become an instrument of the Holy Spirit and save many souls, you first have to accomplish a clean heart without any evil.
Meanwhile, you should also have an ardent love for the souls.
The chapter on love is also a standard with which you can check how sanctified your heart is and how much love you have for other souls.
Therefore, if you engrave this in your heart and practice it completely, we can say that you have true love in your heart. The fruits of the Holy Spirit will also be born as much as you accomplish this spiritual love.
I have already given this sermon series on the spiritual love chapter twice, once in ’85 and again in ’86. And one reason why I am delivering this message once again is because of the request from many GCN viewers around the world.
As the messages of our church are spread to many countries through GCN, more and more people are longing and eager to listen to spiritual messages of our church.
Now is the time when lawlessness prevails and love is cooling down. There are so many broken hearts and there are so many people around the world who long for true love.
This message series on Spiritual Love will be produced for GCN broadcasting. The series will be broadcast throughout the world and through the word the souls of those whose hearts are broken will be healed. .
Also, this time, this lecture on Spiritual Love will be explained in greater depth.
I pray in the name of the Lord that you will long for this message more eagerly and receive it only with Yes and Amen, so that through this message you will become instruments of the Holy Spirit who have passionate love and the power of God.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, before we get into each verse of the chapter on spiritual love, let us look into general contents of this chapter and the background of writing this book.
The reason why we call 1 Corinthians chapter 13, today’s passage, the ‘Love Chapter’ is because the theme of the whole chapter is love.
What do you think love is? People define love according to their thoughts. They also think they live with love.
What is heartbreaking is that if they love, they should be happy, but instead there are many situations where they are hurt and suffer pain in their hearts.
This is either because they do not understand what true love is or because they try to love only within their limits.
In this chapter on spiritual love, we can see the kind of love that God considers true, not we men consider real love. It also tells us in detail about why we have to love and what love is.
Therefore, I hope you will understand what true love is through these messages, and practice what you hear immediately, so that you will be able to confess that you truly love the Lord.
Brothers and sisters, first, let us talk about the background of writing this chapter 13 of the
First Book of Corinthians. Then, we can understand better why love isimportant.
In the previous chapter, 1 Corinthians chapter 12, it talks about various gifts of the Holy Spirit and titles. In the Corinthian church, there were many of the various gifts of the Holy Spirit.
And there were some arguments among the believers about which gift is greatest.
1 Corinthians 12:7 says, “But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” As said, various gifts of the Holy Spirit are given by God for the benefit of the faith of believers. But sometimes, we can see some problems rise because of these gifts.
For example, there are some people who say they have received the gift of healing or gift of prophecy and break the order of the church.
Just as people who do sorcery in the world, they lift themselves up and ask for money and seek their own benefit in exchange for the service of their gift.
The apostle Paul, in an attempt to put down this kind of argument in the Corinthian church, said that gifts are many but the Holy Spirit is the same, and though gifts are various, all gifts are given by God, and each of them is precious and at a level of equality.
After explaining this, he said in 1 Corinthians 12:31, “But earnestly desire the greater gifts. (than the various gifts of the Holy Spirit) And I show you a still more excellent way.” And then he wrote the chapter on love.
Through this chapter on spiritual love he intended to say that the greatest gift of all gifts is the gift of love. Namely, he wanted them to realize that the purpose of God’s giving various gifts of the Holy Spirit to the church is ultimately to let the believers accomplish the most excellent gift, which is love.
Even though believers are given great gifts or titles, if they don’t have love and if there are disagreements and dissentions over them, it would have been better for them not to have received that gift in the first place.
When believers lead Christian lives then the church accomplishes the kingdom and righteousness of God. The ultimate purpose of this is to have love.
Brothers, and sisters, but of love there is not just the true love.
There is also false love that seems to be good in outward appearances, but it is not true love.
For example, there are many goods that are labeled as being’luxury’ items, and they look the same as those authentic luxury goods, but in fact, they are only imitations. Many people buy these imitations thinking they are authentic goods.
Luxury goods usually retain the original shape and form even after a long time, and the quality is good, too. But imitations are more easily broken or they wear out more quickly.
Likewise, even concerning ‘love’, there is spiritual love that is like the authentic luxury goods or, while there is fleshly love that is like the imitations.
There is one kind of love that never changes. It is the one with which a person sacrifices everything for the other person. there is also the other kind of love that changes after some time and breaks down even over trivial matters.
From now, when I tell you about what most people generally call love, I want you to distinguish between whether the love expressed is the true love or if it is just the imitation.
I hope you will all have spiritual love that is true and is like the authentic luxury goods.
First, let us consider love between neighbors or friends.
We Korean people say a word meaning “Neighbor Cousins”. It means that our neighbors are as close as our brothers. It means we share a good relationship and friendship with our neighbors.
But his word is becoming more and more untrue.
Nowadays, people keep their doors closed now even toward their neighbors. They not only build high walls around their houses that can be seen , but they also build walls in their heart that are not visible.
They do not care about others. They don’t even know who lives next door, and they don’t have any intention to find out who they are.
They consider only themselves and their family members important.
Also, if they feel their neighbor is causing them any kind of damage or harm, they don’t hesitate to ostracize or fight with him.
Nowadays, there are many people among neighbors who sue one another because of small things.
So then, what about the love between friends? Many people have had the experience in which one person thought that a particular friend would always be on their side, but a betrayal by that friend left them with a heart that was shattered.
There must be some among you who had a very close friend begin to avoid you from the time you became a Christian who tried to live a life in the light.Since they were not able to enjoy your company in worldly things any more, they may have distanced themselves from you or may even have brought persecution against you.
Some people think it is wise to make based on what they can gain from them.
It is a fact that today it’s very difficult to find a person who willingly gives up his time, effort, and money with genuine love for his neighbors or friends.
So then, what about the love between brothers? Unlike neighbors and friends, they were born of the same parents, so is their love any better?
Of course, brothers and sisters, who are born of the same parents and who grew up together since infancy, have deeper relationship than just other people. So, they help each other, and sometimes a brother may sacrifice himself for another sibling.
But usually, even though they have very close relationships when they are young, once they get married and have their own families, they tend to pay more attention to their own family and they become less interested in their brothers and sisters.
I was born as the last son among 3 sons and 3 daughters, and I was loved by my brothers and sisters very much. But when I was on my sickbed for 7 long years, I became a burden to them.
My brothers tried to help me to some extent, but when they reached their limits, they just forsook me.
Of course, in this case we can understand that it was because they had to take care of their own families too. But in the world, in some cases where they seek their own benefit to the extreme, brothers become like enemies toward each other after fighting over things like inheritance money , possessions, or other things.
Sometimes, brothers come to have even worse relationship with each other than their relationship with other people, so it is a pitiful thing.
Now, what about love between a husband and a wife, who became one flesh by marriage?
When they date each other, they confess, “I cannot live without you! I will love you forever!” They make confessions of love with so many sweet words.
But what happens after they are married?
Sometimes they say, “I cannot live because of you!” or they complain to each other saying, “I was cheated.”
The husband, when he doesn’t like the cooking of his wife just a little bit, may complain bitterly against his wife. If the husband doesn’t make enough money, the wife begins to complain giving trouble to her husband saying that her friends are buying homes and buying good cars and so on.
Nowadays, there are some married couples who live in the same house, but never talk to each other.
Looking at the statistics about Korea’s domestic violence, almost half of all the couples suffer violence in their homes from their spouses. They live as only one spouse to each other, but they forget about their heart they had in the beginning but they live difficult lives hating and fighting against each other.
There are even some couples who get divorced during the honeymoon, and the average duration from the time of marriage to the divorce is getting shorter and shorter.
They marry because they love each other, but as they discover bad things about their spouses and because they have different thoughts and tastes, what they thought was love just cools down very quickly.
This proves that the love they had was fleshly love seeking its own benefit.
Now, what about the love which people in the world consider most noble, thatof parents?
Usually, it’s the heart of the parents to give to their children first rather than taking good things for themselves. But in one corner of the heart that cares for their children with love, there is a place in the heart where people usually they seek their own benefit .
For example, when parents force their children to do something, they say, “I am saying all this only for your well-being!” But in fact, in many cases, they are trying to lead their children in a way they want to fulfill their desire or to boast of their children.
So, at the time of marriage when children choose something that the parents don’t really want or choosing a course in their lives that is against the desires the parents, they may appose and strongly object to it so much that they even say they are disappointed in their children.
They think or say, “I have done so much for you, but you don’t realize it and now you don’t listen to me.”
This proves that their devotion and sacrifice were only conditional love that wants something in return.
Also, nowadays, there are some parents who consider their own lives more precious than their children, and some of them just forsake their children or just get divorced without caring for their children. Some parents kill their own children, too.
As you listened to these things until now, do any of you think that you don’t have to love anybody because all love among the neighbors, friends, or family members are useless and meaningless? Of course, you shouldn’t think so. God’s children who truly believe in God, love their neighbors, friends, and family members.
In the Ten Commandments given by God, the first four are commandments that we have to keep in our relation to God, and the fifth commandment tells us to honor our parents.
Ephesians 5:33 says, “Each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.”
Also, Matthew 22:39 says, “The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'”
Therefore, children of God should not neglect their duty for their family members and other people only because they are leading a life in Christ. They should give more true love than other people do.
They should not just satisfy the physical needs of others but also they have to give them spiritual love to lead their souls to salvation and let them gain eternal life. Let me tell you one story about this kind of love.
There was one deaconess who was diligent in her Christian life. Her husband didn’t attend church but rather he persecuted his wife for attending church.
If anything bad happened, he said it was because she was attending church and gave her a hard time.
Then one day, she began to attend the Dawn Prayer Meeting. She always carried a pair of her husband’s shoes with her.
Holding the shoes, she prayed to God, “God, today, only these shoes came before you. Next time, let the owner of these shoes come, also.” She prayed with tears everyday.
After some time, something amazing took place. The husband of this deaconess began to attend church with her.
When he was leaving for work everyday he felt it was strange that his shoes were always warm in the early morning during the cold of winter. One day, he saw his wife going to pray with his shoes pressed against her as she carried them.
He was touched by that love and sincerity of his wife, and he stopped persecuting his wife. He then became a good believer, attending church with his wife.
Brothers and sisters, who in this world can pray with love and tears for those who persecute and curse at him or her?
Also, in this world where people live only for themselves, who can spread love to neglected neighbors with a true heart despite the fact that they have to sacrifice themselves and suffer from despisement?
It’s God’s children who received and learned true love from our Lord.
I think many of you have experience pain in heart because of fleshly love, before you came to know the Lord. But when you were feeling the pain and the loneliness because of that meaningless love, there was one who comforted you and became your friend.
Who is it? It’s our Lord.
Isaiah 53:3 says, “He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.”
Jesus had no faults, but He was despised and forsaken by men.
Also, Jesus suffered from many hardships and poverty. He knows the pain of disease very well, too, being acquainted with grief.
Therefore, He understands and knows the heart of men very well. Jesus forsook the heavenly glory and came to this earth. He went the way of suffering just like men and became our true Comforter and friend.
He gave us true love that the world cannot give, until He was crucified for us.
Before I accepted the Lord, I had been suffering from so many diseases, and I could thoroughly feel the pain and loneliness of diseases and poverty.
As I was always on my sickbed, what I had was only a sick body and debt that was increasing like a rolling snow ball. I experienced the despisement and mockery of the world around me. I was lonely with a deep sense of despair.
But as I met the Lord, the only one who gave me true love, I was healed of all my diseases. I gained a new life to live.
After I was healed of all my diseases completely, I had to begin from the very bottom with so much debt in my hand. I had to work from early morning till late evening on a construction site. Five of us had to live in a one-room house for quite some time in a slum area. But now I feel all those times were so precious.
Because I had those times I could feel the love of the Lord more deeply, and I could become a pastor and servant of God who can comfort and embrace the heart of many souls.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, God is love itself.
And He sent His one and only Son Jesus to this earth for us sinners.
He has prepared many dwelling places in heavenly kingdom with all kinds of beautiful things and He is waiting for us with such earnest heart.
If you just open your heart little bit, you can feel this delicate and abundant love of God the Father.
Why don’t you just think about the beauty nature? The clear sky and sea, and all the mountains and trees and plains that were made by God Himself. They were made so that until we get to the kingdom of heaven we can have hope for heaven while we are being cultivated on this earth,.
Since we are chosen as God’s children and are loved by Him, what kind of love do we have to have? We should not have perishing and meaningless love that changes according to our benefit, but true and eternal love.
Therefore, as you listen to these messages of “Spiritual Love”, I hope you will first realize what true love is, and also accomplish it in your heart.
I hope you will share your true love with God the Father not only in the kingdom of heaven, but also even while you are here on this earth, day by day until you get to the heavenly kingdom.
I pray in the name of the Lord that you will become the instruments of the Holy Spirit and lead many souls to salvation by living a life of love toward your neighbors.