Sunday School Material 5-31-15: The Greatest Is Love

(I Corinthians 13)

Introduction:A key idea in today’s Sunday School material is that tongues were given for the up building of the church. Prayerfully, we will be challenged to use whatever God has given us for the up building of the church.

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Read I Corinthians 13:1-3

I. Supremacy of Love. In our Sunday School material Paul talks about how without love, the other gifts are without much worth. He calls special attention to tongues, prophesy, and knowledge, perhaps because of the mention given in chapter 12. He also mentions the gifts of faith and even giving.

Applications –

- The necessity of love. Notice in vss. 1-3 that no matter what else we have going for us, if we don’t have love, we have very little going for us. There are too many who place too much emphasis on Bible knowledge, adhering to church traditions, and the like to the neglect of Christian love.

Knowledge and traditions have their place. That place is behind love. Let’s work on putting first things first, and the first thing is love.

- Faith. Notice in vs. 2 the mention of faith. This faith is not a reference to the faith needed to be saved. It is more likely a reference to the faith needed to do heroic acts. The point is that even being a faith hero without love leaves us short of being what God is calling us to be.

Let’s work on making sure that we develop a faith that helps us love more than simply perform heroic acts. Modern heroic acts may be giving all of our money to build a church building or educational effort (e.g., school, conference, etc).

- Giving and enduring. Notice in vs. 3 of our Sunday School material the mention of giving and enduring hardships. As with faith in vs. 2, the point is not to discourage giving or endurance. The point is to place love above giving and endurance.

Giving is important; however, if it is done for the wrong reason, it profits the giver nothing. If you keep on striving to live for Jesus, you can expect some hardships.

However, when your desire to be known for enduring hardships is more important to you than loving people, then your motives and the value of your endurance are in question.

Let’s work on giving and enduring for the right reasons. These may be great ways of loving others, but they should not be simply personal trophies that we want people to praise us for.

Read I Corinthians 13:4-7

II. Behaviors of Love. In our Sunday School material Paul lists some of the characteristics of love. Love is patient and kind among other things. Love is not envious, boastful, or self-seeking among other things.

Applications –

- Longsuffering kindness. Notice in vss. 4-7 that the various facets of love may be summarized as longsuffering kindness. Time will not allow us to deal with each of the facets mentioned in the Sunday School material. However, we should understand that love is an action word.

Love actually does what is kind. And love is not conditioned by favorable circumstances. Love keeps on loving, even when it is hard to love – longsuffering. Let’s work on loving or having longsuffering kindness for sinful people like ourselves.

Read I Corinthians 13:8-13

III. Priority of Love. In our Sunday School material Paul talks about love being more superior than the other gifts. Prophesy and knowledge will fall by the way side. Faith and hope are in the top three. But love is the greatest.

Applications –

- Using it, while you still have time. Notice in vss. 8-10 that some gifts are for a season. There are some who would put the gift of tongues, signs, and wonders in this category. Those who subscribe to this idea may talk about how signs and wonders were used to catch people’s attention, but now the focus should be on the word of God and loving one another.

We may not agree on which gifts are seasonal and which gifts are “in season” at this time. However, we should agree that we should do the best that we can, with what we have, while we can.

Time has a way of transferring from the list of “things we do” to the list of “things that we used to do.” Let’s use what God has given us, while we still have time.

- Growing up. Notice in vss. 11-12 that it is natural for children and believers to grow up. Therefore, it is unnatural for believers to not grow up. Unfortunately, there are too many unnatural believers in our churches, because they are not growing up as one would expect.

Every believer should be becoming more loving, not less loving. We should be becoming more like Christ, not less like Christ.

Let’s make sure that we are growing up in the Lord. Prayerful study of and obedience to God’s word with the support of other disciples will help us live out this application.

- The greatest gift. Notice in vs. 13 of our Sunday School material that the greatest gift is love. There are too many people who wish that they could preach or sing like someone else. But the greatest thing that we can do for the Lord is to strive to love people.

We don’t have to be seminary graduates, rich, young, or old to love. Let’s strive to develop our great gift of loving one another.

Conclusion: Let’s focus on being more loving. God has much for those who obey His will.

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