The Sovereignty of Love

Studies in First Corinthians – XX

1 Corinthians 13:1-3

In these first three verses we see a life without love. We have a picture of an individual who is blessed with many gifts and talents, but without love that life is empty and worthless. We learn from these verses three area’s over which love must be sovereign: the heart, the mind, and the will.

1. Love – Sovereign in the Heart

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal” (13:1).

Alan Redpath said, “The power behind your tongue, your speech, is not determined by the extent of your vocabulary but by the depth of your heart, by how much you love.” The tongue possesses incredible power to build up and to destroy. Our words hold incredible weight and reveal the condition of our heart.

I have heard preachers, and you probably have too, who were simply incredible public speakers. Their mastery of language and words was tremendous. One moment, they have people laughing. The next moment everyone is in tears. It is easy to admire an orator like that but while oratory can command admiration, only love can reach the heart. When love is sovereign in the heart, it will be manifested in what we say.

2. Love – Sovereign in the Mind

“And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understanding all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing” (13:2).

There are men in the Bible who illustrate this point. For instance, Balaam was a prophet, but he had no love, and therefore betrayed his office and God’s people. Caiaphas, the High Priest, had discernment, knowing that one must be killed for the nation, but he was without love, and become a leader among those who crucified Jesus. Judas Iscariot had knowledge from his three years at the side of Jesus, but he had no love, betraying Him in the end.

Love is not a gift, but a grace, and it is the primary proof of a genuine new birth.

3. Love – Sovereign in the Will

“If I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profiteth me nothing” (13:3).

How dangerous it is to be willing to fight and die for our faith and yet lack the spirit of love. It is pointless to die for the wrong motive. Paul told the church at Ephesus, “I know thy works, and they labor, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear evil men…and for my name’s sake hast labored, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left they first love (agape)” (Revelation 2:2-4). What a picture of busyness, patience, work, and endurance! And yet it is lacking in the most important thing: love.

We must allow His love to be sovereign in our lives: heart, mind, and emotions.

The Place The King Calls Home

What place does the King call home? What is the address of the high and lofty One? Where does the One who inhabits eternity make His dwelling?

“For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” -Isaiah 57:15

What a mystery it is, that the King of eternity, the One who lives in the high and holy place would also dwell with the humble. The creator of all things was born in a manger. How do you come to grip with the fact that the same God by whom all things were made and without whom was there nothing made that is made, who upholds all things by the word of His power, holds my hand when I am lonely? How do you come to grip with the fact that the same God who reclines in the big dipper and props His feet up on planet Earth will stop in His tracks at the weakest cry of His weakest child? How do you get a hold of the fact that the same God who measures the sea in the hollow of His hand, who meets out the heavens with a span, who takes up the dust of the Earth as if it was a small thing, is yet touched by the feelings of my infirmities?

When I think about His holiness, His majesty, His righteousness, and the glory of who He is, I can’t help but be amazed at the fact that He wants to make His dwelling with me. He has taken up residence in my heart and I couldn’t be happier.

Words That Make Me Look Inside

There are some words that cause me to look inside; words from the Word. I am not elevating these words above any other words from that Word, but I highlight them here because they often have me stopping in my tracks and examining my heart. Above all else, I must be saved!

Matthew 7:21-23

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Matthew 24:22-24

And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened. Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

Mark 7:6

He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with [their] lips, but their heart is far from me.

Luke 13:23-27

Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are: Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all [ye] workers of iniquity.

1 Corinthians 9:27

But I keep under my body, and bring [it] into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

2 Thessalonians 2:8-12

And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: [Even him], whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

This Spot Is Taken (I Don’t Want No Trouble)

Job 14:1 “Man who is born of a woman is few of days and full of trouble.” (ESV)

Trouble is the common denominator of all mankind.  Certainly, we would not even debate that the human family has adversity, calamity, sorrow, distress, anxiety, worry, fear, and despair.  All we need to do is read the news or talk to our neighbor to realize that trouble is all around us.  I would venture to guess that many of you reading this are faced with some kind of trouble in your life at this very moment.  If not, you will be very soon.  Trouble, at some degree and at some time, touches every life.

But that is only the bad news.

I am so happy that as much as there is a Job 14:1, there is also a John 14:1!

John 14:1 “Let not your hearts be troubled.” – Jesus

Notice, He did not say that you would not have trouble.  Actually, He was saying quite the opposite.  He was telling His disciples that they would be hated by men for His namesake.  So what was Jesus saying? 

He was letting His disciples know that even when life is full of trouble, our hearts don’t have to be.

Trouble may be all around you, but don’t let it get in you.  Things may look hopeless, but keep on hoping.  Circumstances may look grim, but don’t let it affect your attitude.

Your heart was not meant for trouble.  Your heart was meant for Him.  Trouble and the Holy Ghost won’t make good roommates.  Not even if you put them up in opposite corners of your heart.

So next time trouble comes knockin’, looking for a place to stay.  Just tell trouble…

…”This Spot Is Taken”