Quinquagesima - 50 Days Before Easter
1 Corinthians 13
Faith Alone - The Fruit is Love
Grace and mercy to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
It is written 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. Thus far the text.
Let us pray, Creator Father, who gives faith through His Holy Spirited Word, grant us faith so that we may love you and those around us; in the name of Jesus. Amen.
In the resurrection, you won’t need faith because you will have all that faith receives.
In the resurrection, you won’t need hope because you will see with your eyes all things you previously hoped for.
In the resurrection, you will love others naturally. In this sense, love is greater than faith and love.
However, right now, faith is greatest because faith gives birth to hope and love. St. Paul is emphatic, if you say you are the most faithful person around but show no love or kindness to others, then you don’t have the faith in Jesus Paul is talking about. You would have a different Jesus.
As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.
Faith and love always go together, but for right now faith is first and love follows.
You have received faith in Jesus. This is the work of God that you believe that Jesus is God and that by believing you have life in His name.
You have received faith in Jesus. So you are a child of God.
As children of God, you still need encouragement to grow up in this faith. 12 For now you see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now you know in part; then you shall know fully, even as you have been fully known.
Faith without love is not the Christian faith. Paul is arguing in our text that faith and love are so closely connected that where you find Christian faith, you will find Christian love. The opposite is not true. Where you find love does not mean you will find Christian faith.
Pastors and teachers and parents need to grow in the faith. Paul says that even if you were the greatest apostle of God (which Paul is) you need to give up from your childish ways. He says, If I (Paul) speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. We are the same.
2 And if I (Paul) have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. Since it is true of the apostle Paul it is true for you and me too
3 If I (Paul) give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Same for us. Without Christian faith there is nothing to boast about before God.
Now, it is nearly impossible to talk about Christian love in light of all its many abuses in our culture and in our churches.
What is Christian love?
Love is patient and kind. Mature Christians are patient and kind to others who love wrongly. Mature Christians understand that people sin. Friends might fornicate. Adults might adulterate. They might call it love but it is lust. If you are loving wrongly or if you give approval for others to love wrongly, you have found your repentance for today. A repentance that leads you back to the Christian faith.
Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Mature Christians are aware that many wrongdoings are done in the name of love. Friends might experiment with same-sex relationships. Parents might rejoice in legal same-sex marriages. Church bodies might officially bless same-sex marriages in the name of Jesus. They might call it love but, again, it is lust. If you are loving wrongly or if you give approval for others to love wrongly, you have found your repentance unto faith for today. A repentance that leads you back to the Christian faith.
Like the apostle Paul, we live in an unloving society. You may have acted childishly in your sinful lust thinking it was Christian love only to find yourself outside the Christian faith.
Today, you are all encouraged to grow up in Jesus. You are encouraged to put off lustful, childish ways regardless of age. As you mature in the faith of Christ, you will give up more of those childish ways.
How do you grow in the Christian faith? Hear God’s Word again. Be forgiven your sins again, eat and drink Christ’s body again. Not only is your sin forgiven these ways, but you will mature in Christian love and display more fruits of the Christian faith in patience and kindness toward others as well as rejoice more and more in the truth and power of God’s Word.
And yes, mature Christians understand not everyone shares their belief in Christ and not everyone lives according to the Christian faith they profess. Yet, love bears all things. You live confident that God also bears your daily burdens all the way to the cross. You believe all things the Lord says about sin, faith, and love. You hope all things the Lord promises in His Word. You endure all things that even your own lust and unbelief throw at you. 8 Love never ends.
So, let us continue mature in the Christian faith and encourage each other to do the same. It won’t be easy, but it is filled with joy; in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The peace of God, which passes understanding, guard and keep in you in Jesus Christ our loving Savior in whom we believe. Amen.