The Greatest Choice
Pastor John Talcott
Christ's Community Church
(5/12) We’re spent weeks looking at the spiritual gifts given to the body. Today’s message is the second to the last in this series and a special one because it is Mother’s Day.
Moms are special… Moms are wired differently… They multi-task... They teach & discipline… while shopping, planning, scheduling, and getting laundry done all before dinner.
Seems like mission impossible, because it is!
And yet, somehow, there is still time to read a book to the 4-year-old, or comfort a little one who fell and scratched a knee with an ice pack and a band aid!
Moms can show huge amounts of compassion, or put the fear of God in you when you misbehave. You know you mess with Mama and she'll rip your lips off right?
So God has designed and blessed Moms to do the most amazing things. I am so grateful for Mom’s… for the next generation… Proverbs 31:28 says, "Her children arise and call her blessed her husband also, and he praises her."
Blessed are you among women!
In spite of the doubts, and the fears and the seemingly impossible dreams you are seeing God meet you in amazing ways to prepare the next generation.
Mom, I thank you!
So we’ll get right into the Word of God this morning. A message entitled "The Greatest Choice." And we are going to read from 1 Corinthians 13. If you have your Bible you can read along in verses 1-13.
1 Corinthians 13:1-13
13 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. Without love I gain nothing.
Every day of our lives, you and I are faced with literally hundreds of choices.
We walk into the door of Jubilee or whatever grocery store you prefer and it is a festival of choices. The very word "super" in supermarket says it all doesn’t it?
Talk about choices! You'll find 12 different types of salads, 17 varieties of cheese, and 10 flavors of coffee. You walk down the breakfast aisle and you'll discover 30 types of cereal… in the first 10 feet!
Grab a seat at most restaurants and you'll find yourself reading a menu that's more like a small book. You know what I mean… sometimes there are just way too many choices in life!
Now, hopefully what we eat or drink won't have many long-lasting effects. But there are choices… there are those significant, life altering choices we make… like whom we’ll marry, what career path we'll follow, or the most important choice of all . . . the choice to follow Christ. But now having made that most significant, essential, and monumental
choice of all choices… now that you’ve come to Christ… now that you’ve received the Holy Spirit… now that you’ve been gifted for ministry… there is still a choice. The apostle Paul tells us, "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels… If I have the gift of prophecy… If I give all I possess to the poor… but have not love… I gain nothing" (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).
So the choice to love is crucial… it is essential… and it is vital to an effective life. And you know the Bible’s filled with the stories of men and women who made choices that impacted their entire lives. Jochebed chose to give birth to Moses. Moses chose to help his fellow Jews over the riches of Egypt. Joseph chose obedience to God over the temporal
pleasures of an attractive woman. Daniel chose to eat kosher vegetables; instead of the king’s meat. Each one of these choices became a major crossroad in their lives. What happened in those moments of decision would set the course for the rest of their lives as well as many others.
Moses, Joseph, and Daniel came to a fork in the road and took the right path. But what about those who made bad choices at that moment of decision? The Bible doesn't shy away from describing the consequences. Adam's choice cost him Paradise. King Saul's choice cost him his kingdom. Judas's choice cost him his life. The Roman governor Pilate chose
Barabas and missed an eternity with Christ.
As difficult as this idea may be to process, the choices we make in time are binding in eternity. We make our choices and then our choices make us. And God cares deeply about the choices we make. Because He loves us, He wants us to make choices that will lead us toward fruitfulness on earth and into His presence for eternity. So the apostle Paul drives
home the point that if you have not love... you gain nothing.
And so, we’ve been looking at spiritual gifts these past few weeks. Those supernatural gifts that God gives born again believers to use and do ministry for and like Jesus on the earth today. So we’re going to deal with the issue of choosing to use our gifts in the context of love.
And as I was preparing for today… as we celebrate Mothers Day… I thought that next to God’s choice to give His Son, there was no better example in our lives than the choice our mothers made to love us and give us life. A choice modeled after our Creator God who said in Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you… plans to prosper you and not
to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." So today my goal… my main point… is to show you the importance of choosing to apply the principles of love into the reality of our lives; because as Paul writes, in verse 8, "Love never fails.
2. True love never fails.
Now the Bible tells us that God’s ways are higher than our ways and his thoughts higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:9). God's plans far surpass any plans we could ever even imagine. And God’s plan has always included love for He is a God of love… He is a God who "so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall
not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16). The Apostle John said, "Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God… because God is love" (1 John 4:7-8).
So here’s the point. Every Christian has different gifts but one thing we’re all supposed to have is love. Our gifts are little more than different ways that we can love each other. So if you’re a servant, you love by serving. If you’re a teacher, you love by teaching. If you’re a helper, you love by helping. If you’re a leader, you love by leading.
The spiritual gifts are God’s way for the body of Christ to love each other. And so if we use the gift without love we’ve missed the whole point. That’s what the Holy Spirit is saying.
And Jesus said: "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" (John 13:35). The evidence of Christian maturity is not that you can speak in tongues or prophesy or teach… it’s that you love Jesus and you love people with the love of Jesus… "because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit..."
But, the Corinthians were like, "I pray in tongues… I pray in tongues better than you… I pray in tongues more than you." And Paul says, "You’re not being very nice. You may be good at praying in tongues but you’re all bad at Christianity… you’re all bad at being the Church... and we need to work on that."
Some of them "have the gift of prophesy and can fathom all mysteries…" Paul says, "They know who’s gonna win the Superbowl, the World Series, and the election… they can tell you the future." Some "have a faith that can move mountains…" It was a cool church right?
Well Paul admonishes them and says, "If I… can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing." I gain nothing… It doesn’t count... And it doesn’t matter...
You see, the problem is not the spiritual gift. The problem is when it’s exercised without love. We believe in tongues. We believe in prophecy… but in addition to the gift, we must be loving. So then Paul gets into that famous wedding verse in verse four. Now most of us who are married, were married with this verse. It was out of context, but it’s
still a good verse.
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails..." 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
So here’s what God’s saying… here’s the big idea. There are spiritual gifts and then there’s spiritual maturity and they’re different… and what he’s saying is that you can be a great worship leader but if you don’t love the people you lead, you’re not doing any good. You could be a great teacher but if you don’t love the people you’re teaching, you’re
not doing any good. So you can be a great servant, a great administrator, a great speaker, a great miracle worker, but if you don’t love people, you’re immature, and you’re not using the gift for the purpose that God gave it.
The context of true love is using our spiritual gifts in the body of Christ. The whole point of the spiritual gifts is that they’re different ways that we can love each other… because love remains forever.
3. Love remains forever
So Paul says let’s grow up, let’s mature, let’s put childish ways behind us, because "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. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."
You know what? We have an imperfect church. And now that I’ve spilled the beans so-to-speak, I hope you all don’t get up and leave. But here’s the deal… My teaching is imperfect. Our administration is imperfect. Everything here is imperfect and yet one day, all of our imperfect ministries will go away when perfection comes. But in the meantime…
yesterday, today, and forever… one thing remains… love!
In the meantime, "these three remain: faith…" which means I trust in Jesus... I’m waiting for Jesus... I love Jesus... He’s either coming or I’m going, and one way or another I’m going to see him.
And that leads to "hope" right? My life is not in vain. The church is not in vain. My ministry is not in vain. Even though I’m not perfect, my ministry’s not perfect, I still have hope that God’s using it.
"And love." He says, "The greatest of these is love." You know why this is the greatest? Because we’re not going to need spiritual gifts in heaven… we’re not going to need a lot of things in Heaven… but today we can choose to love and love will always be there… because love remains forever and so love is the most important thing.
The point of all of this is simply that we should desire gifts that would benefit the church, and that we would choose to use them in the context of love. That is the greatest choice before the church today, because all the spiritual gifts exist for the purpose of having various ways that we can demonstrate our love for each other and our love for
Jesus. So the whole point is love and if we are acting and serving in love, we’re pointing to Jesus with our lives… that He is perfect love... and He’s come once and he’s coming again.
The first time, he came to live without sin, so that he could die as the perfect substitute for our sin and so that he could rise from death, conquering our enemies of Satan, sin and death. And now Jesus has reconciled us to God… He’s taken away our sin… he’s taken our imperfections and he’s changing us as day by day. As we repent of sin… as we grow in
holiness… we’re made more perfect… we’re made more like him. And so one day either He’ll come to us or we’ll go to Him and then we’ll see him face-to-face. We’ll be made perfect, physically, spiritually, emotionally, and mentally perfect. Fully saved... Fully redeemed... Fully restored... And so the whole point is Jesus. All the gifts exist to point people to Jesus and if at
any point, the gift is utilized in such a way that it distracts or detracts from Jesus, then it’s not being used biblically, lovingly, and maturely.
So today, as we close we’re going to have communion and I want to give you time to respond. Let’s take some time to be still… to listen to God… to talk to God… and then when you’re ready, we’re going to take communion, remembering Jesus’ body and blood shed for us sinners. In a very real sense, we find ourselves on that high ground… we find ourselves
at Calvary… at the foot of the cross where Jesus shed his blood and died for our sins. And we’re going to eat together as one… ‘cause together we are the family of God. And so that all comes together as we celebrate the Lord’s Supper.
Read past sermons by Pastor John Talcott
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