1 Corinthians 13:9-11; Matthew 18:15
A humorous yet insightful story of a woman trying to get out of Hell and into Heaven illustrates the ulterior motives that can lay at the foundation of our actions and love. The church at Corinth was very gifted, yet they were lacking in the greatest thing needed – love – which led to divisions, empty and selfish actions, “potatoes on a string”. Paul, identifying with the Corinthian believers, instructs them in the need to move from young or childish love to mature unconditional love.
• Although they were gifted and had great resources, the church at Corinth was not practicing love. Groups formed around various personalities, creating divisions in the membership.
• They were getting drunk at the Lord’s Supper, and sexual sin and promiscuity of the pagan religions was permeating the church.
• Paul addresses issues and responds to their specific questions offering answers that were not necessarily popular or well received.
• His main indictment was about love – they were practicing what love is NOT. They were not loving unconditionally!
CIRCLE OF LOVE
• In eternity, God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit love each other in a circle of love.
• God the Father sent Jesus into the world, and we are now invited by the grace and love of God to enter that circle!
• Jesus prayed before He went to the Cross that we might be one as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are one. Therefore, whenever a division comes between Christians, that is serious business!
GPS SYSTEM FOR BROKEN RELATIONSHIPS (Matthew 18:15)
• G=GO – If we have a division in a relationship, Jesus says we’re to go to them and sit down with them.
• P=PRIVATE – We are to go in private. We are to keep conflict within the right circle, with prayer and humility.
• S=SHOW – Show the person why you’re hurt, what the problem is, listen to them, etc.
• Jesus gives further instructions in subsequent verses, emphasizing that “The Circle of Love” is important in the family of faith: “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” Romans 12:18
• Paul identifies … “When I was a child, I talked like a child…” – We all start as children and have to grow up and mature in love.
• Children need to be made accountable and responsible appropriate to their age.
• Mark of Immaturity – “Loud and Fast”
• Mark of Maturity – “Quiet and Slow”
• Becoming a Christian is NOT like joining a club where we take an oath, keep its rules, and attend occasional meetings.
• Becoming a Christian IS coming to faith in Christ. Being “born again” as a spiritual infant that needs to grow and mature. It takes time to grow in Christ. It’s “quiet and slow”.
WHAT LEADS US TO MATURITY?
• LIFE! Especially when we go through hardships.
• Paul uses “terminal” or “absolute” words to show the Corinthians the better way of love. He draws lines in the sand. If we are to grow up, we must have love operating in our lives.
• LOVE IS OUR MOTIVATION!
WHAT DOES UNCONDITIONAL LOVE LOOK LIKE?
• Bears all things – Believes all things – Hopes all things – Endures all things
• Unconditional love flowing through your life is absolutely out of this world!
THINK IT OVER
• How were the Corinthians “childish” in their actions and practices? What are some of the childish things and ways you need to put away?
• Why do people opt for “loud and fast” instead of “quiet and slow” in so many important areas of life? Where are you most tempted to be loud and fast in your growth, especially your spiritual growth? In terms of maturity, how might your growth benefit from shifting gears and trying quiet and slow?
• Have you ever been on the receiving end of actions that were devoid of love? How could you tell and how did you feel? Have you ever been on the giving end of loveless actions toward others? How did you feel when you realized it?
• Is there anyone with whom you need to use the Lord’s GPS system in restoring a relationship? What steps will you take to do that?