Message by Rev. Erny McDonough
Fisherman’s Chapel, Port O’Connor, Texas
Intro: Love is not a classical word or classical thought as used here in Paul’s Letter to the Corinthians. It is emphatically a Christian term. The virtue itself is not, if not created, is truly developed by Christianity. It is believed by many to be first used by the Apostle Paul in his letters. This chapter has been called the Psalm of Love, and is admired both for its elevated thinking and its poetic verse. Instead of looking at the poetry of this Chapter, I want us to focus on “elevated thinking.” Then I want you to realize that it all can die through simple neglect.
I. Remove Your Misconceptions About Love!
The word love is totally ambiguous. It is often used as equivalent to tolerance, as in the phrase “the judgment of love,” and often as synonymous with “almsgiving,” as in the old proverb “As cold as charity.” Neither of these uses meets the requirements of the text! Please understand that love will bring a certain attitude of tolerance, but it will not accept all things just because they are labeled “love”. Love will also be giving, but never without proper emotions accompanying the giving.
Love is also an ambiguous word, which is commonly applied to the feeling of attraction and attachment between people of the opposite se, as well as the feelings we have for a pizza, for our mothers, for our children, for our cars, for pets, and for our God. There are other appropriate expressions for our feelings for these other things, but let us understand that this Chapter does not cover all these subjects!
II. Explaining The Nature Of Christian Love!
Christian love is the commitment of feelings and actions between human beings. It is between people who have the same Spiritual nature – that being of “Born Again” creation! Those who know not God can not know this kind of love. There may be other committed feelings associated with those who do not know God in a personal way, but let us understand that this Chapter is a word only possible by those who have the Lord to become their Lord!
It is a sentiment, and there is not love where there is simply a principle of action, cold and unimpassioned. Passion is a necessary ingredient of this kind of love.
It is a sentiment, which governs conduct, restraining men from injuring or slandering one another, and impelling them to mutual assistance. When you love, you will be loving. When you love, you will be selfless. When you love, you will be acting with loving conduct. When you love, you will truly love.
III. Tracing The Source Of Christian Love!
Its true and ultimate origin is in the nature of God, who is Love! Its introduction among mankind is chiefly owing to the Lord Jesus! He was the Gift of the Father’s Love! His whole ministry to earth was a revelation of Love! Jesus’ benevolent conduct and sacrificial death were the fruit of Love. It was said of Him, He went about doing good …
Its source is owning to the presence and operation of the Holy Spirit. Individual power and social ability to accomplish God’s will is made possible through the Holy Spirit. Is it by accident it is the first facet of the Fruit of the Spirit?
IV. Exhibiting True Christian Love!
This Love is to be exhibited. If we do not show others the importance of this love, who will? It is superior to the supernatural gifts generously bestowed upon the Church! It is the motive to dispositions and actions of the highest degree of moral beauty. It will survive all that is most prized by mankind as intellectually precious and desirable. It is superior even to all graces, such as faith and hope! People want to chase after any things, but to run after this love is the best thing that we can do this side of Heaven! “God, May we prize what You value!”
V. The Strongest Love Can Die Slowly Without Notice Through Simple Neglect.
Love is truly the strongest of all human emotions. Love does not consider its cost or consequence. Love voluntarily makes sacrifices no other could require of it. Love lingers in the heart and memory long after the what has been loved, has been lost. Love calls one to seek only another’s good, discounts every cost, and braves any danger.
Jesus warns that love that can not be killed by misfortune, disappointment, or great sacrifice can be allowed to slowly die by simple neglect. The words spoken to the ancient church in Ephesus are as relevant and true today as they were then. The people were commended for many good things – “hard work and patient endurance, not tolerating evil, suffering without quitting” – but one fatal flaw is found in such a notable and orthodox church – You have left your first love! Have you ever left behind something you later missed? Never intended to lose it, you simply left it without noticing. Sometimes reclaimed; sometimes lost forever!
Did they know what they h ad? Was it so gradual as to be unnoticed, therefore remaining uncorrected. John 6:66 speaks of followers who withdrew and were walking with Jesus no more. But, that is rarely how love is lost. It is not usually one big decision, but the cumulative effect of many little choices along the way. Normally, love is lost along the way by the small choices not to continue doing the things that sustain and confirm love, rather than deliberately and intentionally choosing at one time to do something that denies love.
Did you note that the word is left not lost? Conscious choices were made, even if not intending or foreseeing the ultimate outcome. One small step at a time, a little bit more of love was left behind. This love was lost along the way between the purest of their first, true affection and the eventual, everyday practicality of accepting the familiar as normal.
Sadly, I have watched this love lost. Often it is not noticed until too late. Until too much love has been lost to even remember what that love was worth, or how to calculate how much love has been lost. Little by little each day by the busyness of daily life, small acts of self-indulgence, family schedules, misplaced priorities, competing affections, and chilling familiarity – the simple failure to continue doing the things that love first counted indispensable. Spiritual life goes stale, not by sin, but by neglect!
Conclusion: What pledge did you once make to Jesus? What plans did you have to make Him Lord? Jesus still today asks you only one question, the same question He asked Simon Peter, Do you Love Me? He did not ask the Ephesians why they had left their first love; He did not ask Peter why he had sworn he never knew Jesus; He does not ask you why you love Him less than once you did. He simply asks that you affirm your love anew, wholehearted, and pure. My prayer for you today is that you “Never leave this love for anything less.”
~ Pastor Erny