4755 Kimball Bridge Rd. Alpharetta, GA 30005

Love Above All

Love Above All

Click here to view the online service.

What is the most important thing you do this week? Take a math test. Complete a project. Give a sermon or speech. Teach a class. Close a deal. We are in a passage that tells us the most important thing we do this week and any week or any day, is that we love. 

Paul has been talking about spiritual gifts in chapter 12, and he discusses it further in chapter 14. But in the middle he gives not a digression, not a rabbit trail, but a excursus on what is most important/essential. What is more important than the gifts we have and the things we do, is the attitude with which we do them with. And yes, love is at the heart of it all. 

Some have said this is the richest writing in all of literature. 

Some have called this the “greatest, strongest, deepest things Paul ever wrote” (Harnack). 

Big Idea: 

Love is the most important thing we do, 

So we need to love others


If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails. 

But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12 Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:1-13 NIV)

  1. Love above all

Paul is talking about some pretty amazing things here. Very impressive gifts: speaking in the tongues of men and of angels. Having the gift of prophecy and not just having the gift of prophecy, but being able to fathom all mysteries. Joseph and Daniel type giftings. 

A faith that can move mountains. As Jesus said, 

“For I assure you: If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will tell this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. 21  (Matt 17:20 CSB)

Give all he has to the poor! Wow! What a sacrifice. People are impressed by that. And yet it is possible to do that and not have love for the other. You do it for the gain of your reputation. Do it so others might see you and follow you. You want to be respected and admired and that is why you do it, then you are simply using the poor to achieve your own goals. It means nothing. 

Even surrendering your bodies to the flames, and yet without love you gain absolutely nothing. 

You can have all that, and not have love, and you are absolutely nothing! He says it twice! Nothing. Empty. Void. Nothingness! 

What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? What does it profit to do all those things and have not love?

It is nothing! Ill: Failed.

What do you want to be known for in life? Do you just want the successful business, the fame of doing. What do you want to be great at??

We ought to work harder at loving than we do at scoring well on a test, or making money. 

Trans: So what is love? He tells us what it is and what it isn’t. 

  1. Love defined

I think most Americans or people of today would describe it as some type of feeling. An intense longing. I love ice cream. I love watching avengers movies. I love my boyfriend. Biblically speaking love is much more than that. This definition of love here will make every other definition seem inadequate. 

Remember when I was little and my parents would get me gifts. I loved transformers and always wanted more transformers. But sometime they would get me a toy that looked like a transformer but it wasn’t a real transformer. It might look cool at first, but then I would realize, wait this one isn’t on the tv show or the movie. And it doesn’t have the autobot or decepticon sticker. Didn’t have the ratings of strength, speed, etc., that were on the back. I would be grateful for the gift, but a little let down because it wasn’t a real transformer. That is how most definitions of love are. In this passage we get the real deal!

Love is a commitment, a way of life, a behavior. It includes positive things that you do as well as things that you don’t do. It is others directed behavior. 

Look at what it says. 

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails. 

It is patient v4. This gets at a forebearing. It has been hurt, offended and it doesn’t snap at those offenses. 

and kind v4. It does good to others. It does something beneficial for others. What kindness have you shown to those around you. 

V5. It is not rude. Nothing disgraceful, dishonourable, indecent. Smacking, rolling eyes, putting people down. 

It is not self seeking in that it only puts itself first. We often love people how we want to love them. The book of the five love languages is very popular today. Talks about how people have certain ways they like to be loved: 

And yet we often try to show love to others in how we want to love them. Don’t like to shop so you don’t buy gifts. Don’t like to do things so find other ways to love them. Don’t like physical touch so you buy them a gift. Our love is ultimately self seeking. So they question your love and you say but I have done all this. You were not speaking their language. If you want to love someone then learn to study them.

V5. It is not easily angered. Form of patience.

V5. It keeps no record of wrongs. Accounting term. How many times when you are upset at someone do you go and rehearse all the things they have done wrong. Prosecute them. You miss the issue at hand and voice all your complaints. You are not loving them with your record of wrongs. Always biased towards you. 

Rejoices in truth. You can’t love if you don’t have truth and even more to rejoice in it. It’s common to see people profess to love but not have any truth. If there is truth there is a standard. A standard for your kids. A standard for others. It’s not your standard for others. It’s God’s standard for you and others. We know right and wrong. 

*V7. Always perseveres. It never fails. If you stop loving you fail to love. True love doesn’t give up. 

I want to connect this to the original audience. Paul is writing this to a church. They had issues. Do you remember the Corinthians had divisions, they were esteeming certain people above others, leaving people out of the Lord’s Supper. Saying some gifts were more important than others. 

Church is a setting that you will learn to love, and not because church is so perfect, but because it is not perfect. I have seen how to love people from heroes of the faith, because I have seen them interact with people that were immature and faithless. You are going to see that. And the only thing that will keep you from quitting on God’s design for his church is to see your call to persevere in loving others. Too many people quit loving. Church. Spouse. Family. As Christians we need to see the place of hardship. 

If your love has been tested then you are naive, if your love has not returned after being tested then you are bitter. 

The perfect love is seen in Jesus Christ. He loved to the very end. He loved those he came to save. They rejected him. They mocked him. They forsook him. They accused him. They reviled him. They killed him. He loved… to the very end. In Christ, and only in Christ do we know what it is to love. 

This is a powerful message. It’s powerful because too many people today only love themselves. They are narcissists. 

In Greek mythology Narcissus was a person who saw his reflection in the water and fell in love with himself and eventually died from his infatuation. 

Over the last few years I have heard a number of people go to counseling and come back with a diagnosis of being a narcissist. To understand this I began look at the DSMMD. 

NPD: in 1950 fist DSMMD (Diagnostic and Statistics Manual of Mental Health Disorder) character disorders were formally recognized. Later were described as disorders deeply ingrained, maladaptive patterns of behavior that are perceptively different in quality from psychotic and neurotic symptoms. 

Now defined as a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), a constant need for admiration, and a lack of empathy, 5/9 symptoms.

  • Grandiose self importance. Others are not as important. 
  • Preoccupation with fantasies and unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love. Unconcerned with reality and their limitations. 
  • A belief that he or she is special and unique and can only be understood by, or should be associated with other special or high status people or institutions.
  • A need for excessive admiration. Put themselves forward to be admired. Require it from others. 
  • A sense of entitlement. They deserve to have. 
  • A lack of empathy. May be hurt by certain things and yet have no empathy or awareness of others who experience the same. 
  • Envy of others or a belief that others are envious of them
  • A demonstration of arrogant and haughty behaviors.


  • Manipulate others to get what they want. 
  • Make own rules for people to live by. Double standards for what they do and what they want others to do. 
  • Ignore their mistakes and condemn others for what they do wrong. Speak harshly and angrily. 
  • Use flattery to butter others up. They lie. They don’t adhere to truth. 
  • Two faced where they pretend to be something they are not. 
  • They love in order to get. They want their spouse to look good so others will think more highly of them.

This is the exact opposite of love. It is the exact opposite of the love Jesus calls us to share with others. 

Sadly, psychologist have also said, per the Mayo clinic, 

“It’s not known what causes NPD. As with other personality development and with other mental health disorders, the cause of NPD is likely complex and may be linked to environment (parent child and or other relationships; Genetics and neurology; connection between brain and body.

Those may be. But there is also a moral element. For Christians this is the ultimate. It’s the choice of will you follow Jesus in laying down your life, or will you seek to put others down and love yourself. 

DC Robertson said, In contrast to the secular approach, there is another option available in the seach for answers… the biblical answer

Here is the sobering thing I want to share. Almost every person I know that was diagnosed as a Narcissist was a professing Christian. So what happened. They stopped looking to Jesus and started looking to other things. They stopped loving. 

You will love like what you have your eyes set on. You become what you look after. Are you looking to Jesus or are you looking at the world. If you are not looking to Jesus you are looking to the world. They quit seeing the wonder of what Jesus had done for them. They quit seeing their responsibility to love as he loved. 

For God so loved the world that he sent his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

What does your love look like? How would the people around you say that you love them? Are you willing to ask to find out? Are you willing to hear what you might need to do? Are you willing to grow?

In every moment I feel these two sides in me fighting. The call to love sacrificially and the desire to be loved and adored by others and to manipulate things to bring that about. To hold others to Jesus standard and me to the knockoff love. 

  1. Love remains until Perfection Comes

There will come an end to everything, but love continues. Again he mentions some incredible things, and says they will end. It is a reminder that the things of this world are passing away. But love will not pass away. 

Spiritual gifts continue until the perfect comes. 

We await perfection. It will not be in this world. No more corona. No more debates on how to deal with things. No more imperfect people, imperfect leaders, imperfect churches, imperfect neighbors, imperfect knowledge. Jesus came to usher in the perfect. And he makes a way for imperfect people to come into the perfect. 

In this time of imperfection we need love to triumph. 

Ill: Looking at love in a mirror dimly. Enigmatic 13:12. Mirror in this time would have been made out of metal. Bronze or silver. Mirrors are not the same thing as the true.. They show a reflection. A reversed image. 

We know in part. That is good to remember for right now. Sometimes you think you know exactly why a person did something and you are mad! You need to move to ask them questions to really know their motives. Pride will keep you from that. People seem to know everything about Corona. We only know in part…

When you don’t know everything you need faith, hope and love, and the greatest is love (13:13). Don’t know everything about your sister so you have to relate to her on faith, on hope, on love. 

Don’t know everything about your spouse…

Don’t know everything about the person in the office. 

Judging motives. Man, people are great at looking at a picture of someone else on social media and telling you everything going on in that person’s heart and mind. 

Are you in hardship. Are you tired of what others are doing. Then approach it as an opportunity to grow in love. 

Why is this happening? Why did I get overlooked in the distribution of the Lord’s supper? Remember some got drunk others went hungry (1 Cor 11:21). 


%d bloggers like this: