1 Corinthians 13:13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Week 4; the final week of Love’s Quiet Storm series. We’re looking back at the infamous Love chapter that Paul so eloquently shared with the church. The focus for today is vs 13 and for that we are hitting up a “Legendary” voice Mr. Stevie Wonder. Stevie reminds us what we all need; Especially TODAY. This song will be the launch point to help us relate to Paul’s lessons from 1 Corinthians chapter 13.
I believe Stevie’s 1976 statement about the need for love could not be more relevant TODAY. The last 10 years has exposed the inner belly of hate that exists all over the world but specifically right here in the United States. (Hate’s goin’ round, breaking many hearts, stop it please, before it’s gone too far) Whether the exposure has come from the dominance of social media and seemingly everyone’s voice is able to be heard by everyone else. Or it could be that social media which was created to bring everyone together has worked the opposite; isolating people and allowing actual interaction to no longer take place.
Stevie Wonder wrote this song in 1976. So, I looked back at some of the top stories of 1975 &1976 to see if there was as much conflict then as now. Inflation & unemployment was at its highest (the US was in recession); the US had just ended it actions in the Vietnam War (US actions in this global war was disapproved by a majority of the country); doctors were on strike, siting poor working conditions; and 1976 was an election year. I would say ohh how similar!!!
While I know that Stevie is not a preacher, he certainly sent a message to the church and the world when he penned the lyrics “The force of evil plans to make you its possession, and it will if we let it Destroy ev-er-y-body (John 10:10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy)…We all must take precautionary measures, if love and peace you treasure (Phil 4:6-7 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus).”
The truth is clear, especially hear at home; the US claims to mostly be a Christian Country, yet we act nothing like Christ with most of our actions. We’ve allowed ourselves to be infiltrated by so much hate and anger that even our “Acts of Christian Love” have become incredibly distorted and politicized. After Paul shared so much about what Love really is, he finished the chapter with verse 13; And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. The word abide in the dictionary means accept or act in accordance with; to bear patiently or endure without yielding. While the bible defines abide as dwelling with, lodging or continuing in. So here Paul is telling every believer to allow faith, hope & love to be accepted, endure and continue dwelling in our lives. In other words, our lives need to be filled with faith, hope & love; so much so that when others see us, they see, feel and desire faith, hope & love. That sentiment is the same thing Stevie is requesting when he says, “Love’s in need of love today, Don’t delay, Send yours in right away!”
Are you, like me, wondering how do we abide in faith, hope & love? Well let’s see what the Bible has to say:
- We Must Be Rooted in Faith: And now abide FAITH, hope, love; Paul made sure that he explained exactly what Faith was while also providing tangible examples of what it looks like: Heb 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. The remainder of Chapter 11 of Hebrews would become known as the Faith Hall of Fame, filled with Heroes of the bible who demonstrated great faith. They believed God for the impossible; and in each case, they were rewarded for their faith in God. God desires that we’d all believe!! He wants the very best for our lives so that when we need Him most, we have the faith to believe He will do it. This requires that our faith be rooted; Eph 3:17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love. What I love about Paul is that he is extremely consistent in his teaching. In both 1 Corinthians, Hebrews and here in Ephesians faith, hope & love are all linked together. We see how important each is to the other. In order to truly appreciate faith, we must understand just how much Christ loves We let faith abide in us, when we abide in Christ: John 15:9 “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.”
- We Must Dare to Have Hope: And now abide faith, HOPE, love. Webster’s defines hope as “to cherish a desire with anticipation: to want something to happen or be true.” I will lean on Pastor Joseph Prince’s definition: a confident expectation of Good; God’s Goodness happening in our lives. The prophet Jeremiah reminds us that we can be confident of the plans God has for each of us; Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. God’s plan for us is that we have hope. Peter goes even a little further to show us how to have the right mindset for hope, and where our hope should be anchored: 1 Peter 1:13 Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. Our minds should be attentive/prepared and fully sober, so that we can be focused on hope, because the devil would have us be fearful and that our minds filled with everything that is anti-God (everything but God). Also, our hope should be anchored so that it will not be all over the place (putting our hope in money, health, possession, jobs, education, parents, etc); our anchor must be Jesus Christ and His favor on our lives. Dare to believe God is worthy of our hope. If you don’t believe me now; check it out for yourself (1 Peter 5:10; 1 Thes 1:3; Colossians 1:27; Eph 1:18; Gal 6:8; Heb 10:23).
- We Must Learn How to Love, Again! And now abide faith, hope, LOVE, these three; but the greatest of these is LOVE. Stevie Wonder is an extraordinary music writer, he may have been an even better at titling songs. Love’s In Need Of Love Today; and it could not be more pertinent today. God so loved the world; and this world needs love. 1 John 4:16 God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. How can God who is love, need love?? He needs the people whom He loves so much and has placed in this world, to touch a hurting people, to help them learn how to love again. The problem however, is that we (the called people) are in just as much pain/hurt as the rest of the world. 1 John 3:18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. The truth is, the church is experiencing pain/hurt and are at times unable to love themselves let alone God’s people.
We have to remember, that in order to love we have to first receive love. 1 John 4:19 We love because he first loved us. God loved us first so that we by receiving His love would be able to love Him by loving others (His people). God has loved us all for a time such as the one we find ourselves in; we must seek Him for help, healing and guidance so that we can be His love for this hurting World. Prov 8: 17 I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently will find me…35 For whoever finds me finds life And obtains favor from the Lord.
Paul’s very last words were this: these three; but the greatest of these is LOVE. COVID 19 has highlighted the many different people that need God’s Love. His love can be received from God’s people (Prov 17:17 A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity); and who are those people needing Love: The millions of people that have contracted this deadly virus need to be loved back to health. Or the family members of the 95,000 plus people who’ve lost their lives; who need to be loved thru their grief. Or The medical workers and first responders who were treating (loving on) these very people; and in their loving efforts contracted the very virus they were fighting. Or the many workers and entrepreneurs who were experiencing prosperity in their lives only to see everything shut down; now everything they had seems to be completely lost and even worse no clue as to whether they will ever be able to experience that life again. Or the parent who had worked diligently and tirelessly to build a great career, becoming an expert in their field and to put their family in a place where they could attend the best schools and live in the best neighborhoods; only to now be forced to become a homeschooling teacher of students that they really barely know any more. Or the “Essential Workers” who till this point have been just about invisible to the world, because their wages are so minimal that they can barely afford to go to the now essential job that they are going to; going without the proper safety PPE because as “Essential” as they are being called; most of the world cares more about what services they provide than whether they will be able to live beyond the very danger they are being exposed to daily. Or the people that are being told they cannot go about their regular everyday lives because their community leadership has determined that the immediate response to danger requires that everyone shall remain in their homes, for the benefit of everyone’s safety; yet to the detriment of their desires and freedoms. Or the governmental leadership that have been put in a place that exploits their weaknesses rather than their ability to lead during chaos; and rather than admit some areas of shortcomings and seek the help of experts to make the best decisions, but choose to side with political allies to do damage control even at the peril of tens of thousands of people. Or the people don’t find themselves in any of these positions, they just know that they are hurt, and in pain and don’t know what their new normal will look like an are just anxious and afraid.
I know even reading the above descriptions of those needing to be loved, can spark some very specific opinions and feelings and maybe even a question as to whether some of these people do indeed need love. I remind you of what Jesus said at the sermon on the mount, Matt 5:44-45 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. We don’t decide who receives love, God does, and the church has fallen away from what God says to do what individuals think. The church has found ways to function in the service of God, yet without the His love. 1 Corinth 13: 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. Without the Love of God in it we profit nothing for the Kingdom nor the people for who it was intended. “Love’s in need of love today, Don’t delay, Send yours in right away.” Will you send your love today? Can you now abide faith, hope, LOVE, while remembering that the greatest of these is LOVE.