Love is

1 Corinthians 13

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 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 do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, 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.

Suggested hymns and songs

Though I speak in tongues of angels

Help me see with your eyes

Bind us together

Make me a channel

This is my will

A new commandment

Look around you (Kyrie Eleison)

My God loves me

God is love

Here I am Lord

All for Jesus

O love that wilt not let me go

There is a new song

O breath of life

Love divine

Family illustrated talk

Have the following sandwiches prepared and presented nicely on a plate.

1 tuna,

2 cheese

3 turkey

4 jam

5 lemon

6 egg

7 banana

8 ham

9 no filling

I have here some sandwiches, and I will need some volunteers to eat them!

(Volunteers come out) and invite each person to select one. Recite the following poem.

I have here tuna, some cheese, some turkey and jam

I have lemon, some egg, ripe banana and ham

There’s plenty here, just see the full range

But one of these you’ll find quite strange!

(Give them all out, including the empty one.)

Let’s see if you can identify yours. (place empty one last in interview)

What was it?

Are you enjoying your sandwich?

I wonder why you didn’t enjoy yours? Ah! No FILLING!

A sandwich has to have a filling really in order to be classified as a sandwich.

(Allow volunteers to return to their seats.)

In our reading today, 1 Corinthians 13, there’s a sandwich filling, the most beautiful, satisfying and nourishing filling there’s ever been.

The filling is the entire chapter of I Corinthians 13. It’s all about love, and it is sandwiched right there in between two chapters, 12 &14 which are both about the spiritual gifts within the church.

(Demonstrate the following with a different sandwich)

So this piece of bread 1 Cor 12 lists spiritual gifts, and shows us all how to be part of one precious body. And this piece of bread 1 Cor 14 tells us to put those gifts into use and not misuse them. The filling is LOVE.

As a church we’re called to love one another, we’re called to love our family and friends, but ALSO those who need our love and care in the world. If love isn’t real and active, then we are just like this empty sandwich. . . dry and lifeless, and not worth having. St Paul says we are just like a big irritating noise, that people will close their ears to.

1 Corinthians 13 Questionnaire

I clearly recall a questionnaire on Christian Lifestyle which I gave to a class of 13 year olds in one of my RE lessons, as a teacher. It was based upon

1 Corinthians 13 our text for today.

The questionnaire was designed to test the children attitudes to one another, and there were 15 questions, one for each of St Paul’s statements about LOVE asking the question, ‘Just how loving a person are you?’

It went something like this e.g.

number 1 . . .how pushy, how forceful are you, how often do you interrupt others to be heard yourself, do you ever jump queues etc.,etc.,and then there was the phrase


As they wrote down and recorded their answers, I thought I too would do this questionnaire to help pass the time while I waited. Thinking myself a very loving person, I had expected to get all 15 high scoring circles, but when the exercise was over I was shocked! I hadn’t done well at all. I obviously wasn’t as loving as I thought I was. I wrote a little poem later about this and actually read it out to the children, basically to show we’re all human and make mistakes, even teachers. I read this poem to them.

Children, look at this questionnaire

Just see what you can do

Put a circle round the ‘I am’s,

If you think that it is you.

Then cross out all the phrases

That you def’nitely are not

Then just add up all the positives,

And see just what you’ve got.

See if you can score eleven circles, maybe more.

“I bet he’ll be a seven,

He a five, and she a four!”

Now just as an exercise, while I’m waiting for this lot,

I shall add up my score, and I see what I have got.

I’m sure to do quite well of course, I’m a Christian and no fool.

I am an R.E. teacher, and I don’t break the rules. . . Right!

That’s a cross and a circle, and a cross and a cross,

And a cross and a cross, and a cross and a cross!

That’s a cross, and a circle, and a circle and a cross,

And a cross and a cross,and a cross and a cross!

Hey hang on a minute, this can’t possibly be me!

My total isn’t fifteen, it just adds up to three!

I hope I’ve improved since then?

In fact I wonder how many WE all would score this morning if we were to take St Paul’s 1 Corinthians 13 list on love, and apply it to our own lives?

After all we’re very loving people aren’t we? We’re Christians?

Here is the List. Why not keep your own score?

1 LOVE IS PATIENT: “Lord make me patient,” we pray, “but I want it now!”

How good are we at waiting? How pushy, how forceful are we? How often do we interrupt others in order to be heard ourselves, do we ever jump queues? Do we put pressure on other people to make decisions quickly; do we try to change others into our likeness, or do we allow them SPACE and time for development and growth!

There is an advantage to waiting?

A child planting seeds learns the value of waiting, they come to see that light, water and time are all necessary for seedlings to grow to maturity. Without that period of waiting the plants would never be strong or develop properly.

If only we could look on any kind of ‘waiting’ as a time when God has something to teach us; if we can learn to accept that God has his reasons to keep us waiting, then we will learn to be tolerant; to be more at peace with ourselves.


What kind of tone of voice do we use when dealing with other people? It’s not so much WHAT we say, but it really is important HOW we say it.

Are we ever bossy, overbearing, or offhand in our manner? Do we get pleasure out of putting someone in their place? Can we be cruel or sarcastic?

If someone were to ask us to do something for them, wouldn’t we be more likely to respond in a more positive way if that person showed kindness rather than a form of aggression?


Be honest. Who do we envy right now? And why?

Envy is where we get to the point where we are really saying, ‘I want what you’ve got’ That is just a very short step away from jealousy, which adds to that, ‘And I don’t want you to have it either! Both are very ugly traits, and show how we have failed to love the other person, and rejoice in their blessings. If envy and jealousy are not checked they can grow out of all proportion, hearts are hardened and violence can result,

Look at the damage caused in Whitehaven and more recently in Newcastle.

It’s natural for us to desire things, but add to this the way in which the media and advertising stimulate us to want even more, if we’re not careful, we end up like rats running in a race! Love is not materialistic!


St Paul was addressing the Corinthians who were well aware of gifts and graces that they had received from God; they boasted about their achievements and accomplishments.

It’s worth asking ourselves the question…how many of our best achievements have merely benefitted ourselves or boosted our own self esteem, how many have brought us glory?

Alternatively, how many of our achievements have actually served others.

People who are motivated by love don’t see themselves as more important or more gifted or more loving than anyone else, they just get on with the job, not worrying where the profit is for them.


Love does not have an inflated opinion of itself. It is not puffed up with pride. Pride is when we compare ourselves with others and arrive at the conclusion that we (and of course our families and jobs and homes and churches) are by far more interesting and of greater value.

God honours and exalts us when we are humble. Pride heads for a fall!


We must always aim for the highest standards socially, financially, sexually….

the more we consider God’s rules for life to be unimportant, the less loving we become…and the more we USE people to gratify ourselves.

Love is always polite, it doesn’t force its opinions or its way onto others. We have as an example one who stands waiting at the door and knocks politely. He doesn’t barge his way in.


It is so easy in modern life to be encouraged just to look out for number one!

We can be sometimes so absorbed in what we are doing, whether it be TV or a computer game, or work, whatever that no-one else matters, and we’ve no time for anyone else.

Adverts tell us we’re ‘worth it’ and we ought to be pampered, and noticed and admired, but the bible recommends that we rub ourselves out, become self-effacing.


A newspaper article recently suggested that if we are ever angry we must breathe in deeply and exhale to a count of ten to control that anger.

I’ve heard it said that we should throw cushions at a wall to rid ourselves of our pent up emotions. There’s so much anger around!

We can so easily be irritated by someone’s lifestyle or habits.

We have revenge attacks by gangs in our cities, teenagers yielding knives, and road rage on motorways.

When we find ourselves provoked, we’re not acting out of love. . .in fact we’re more concerned with what a person has done to us, than we are concerned with that person and why they have acted as they did.

What makes us angry so easily? What is it that rubs us up the wrong way? Do we have issues we need to address? What lights our touchpaper and makes us explode?

And does our anger only happen with those we’ve haven’t developed a liking for? It’s only when we analyse questions such as these can we begin to work our issues. Love remembers to give people the benefit of the doubt.


I suppose this would include moaning, complaining, judging others, never letting things drop.

Nelson Mandela having spent 27 years in prison demonstrated the wisdom and forgiveness of God as he took leadership of his country. He sought no revenge upon those who had oppressed him and his people for so long. He encouraged everyone to put the past behind them and look to the future. As a result he is beloved of his people.A bloodbath was prevented from happening as a result of his unique leadership and wisdom. Real love doesn’t keep score of wrongs. What God has forgotten, we have no right to remember.

Besides the only real damage done when we become bitter, is to ourselves.

But sometimes a hurt is really deep. When what has happened has been so malicious or devious or traumatic, it can’t always be easily dismissed and it’s hard to get on with living.

That’s when we need to pray fervently that God will do the forgiving for us until such time that we can cope, and that his love will reach out to those who have been so hurtful.


Have we ever felt smug when someone gets their come uppance? Do we smile when someone is squirming because they’ve been involved in some scandal?

When famous or respectable people in high positions of responsibility are ‘found out’ by investigative journalism, doesn’t it make interesting reading? Don’t we just lap it all up?

Sometimes we reason, they deserve it, they of all people should know better? They had it coming. Indeed we feel encouraged and we feel better because we reason at least WE aren’t like that.

We must surrender this kind of attitude and when any of God’s children falls from grace, we should be pray for the lost and the fallen.

Love always looks for the good in others. It sees beyond a person’s sins and visualises their true potential. . as Jesus did with the likes of Simon, Mary Magdalene, and Legion the demoniac.

We know we’re not what we want to be, or ought to be, but by God’s grace we should be trying to move steadily towards it.” Then surely it follows that others have the capacity to grow and change and develop too.

Love is always delighted when right prevails and love is committed to seeing it happen.


Love never seeks to hurt others or cause them pain, but with a blanket tries to cover over their faults and failings. We should remember that he who was the embodiment of Love died on a cross to cover over ALL of our sins.

Love covers with silence, confidences shared. It keeps secrets; it doesn’t spread abroad the troubles and failings of others. It seeks to make beautiful whatever is ugly!


It is not gullible or naïve, it seeks to keep faith in others, to believe the best about them, rather than believe the worst.


Love reaches out and tries to see beyond the confusion and uncertainties of life. It hangs on and holds out for a better future and it never gives up;

It identifies areas of hopelessness and despair and prays constantly for each situation.


Not only does love bear all things, believe all things and hope all things it also endures all things. There are times when life deals harshly with us, and dreams and hopes fail us. Grief, disappointment, unfulfilled dreams are our lot in life. There are some Christians who may feel that they’ll heaving themselves into heaven like ships battered in war time, BUT like the saints of old, at least they will know which harbour they are going to and who will be there to greet them when they arrive home, because their love and trust in God is in tact and they will have run the race faithfully.


The one thing that is constant and will never fail is God’s love for us. Where his love indwells us then everything can be turned to the good. It may be that the love we offer towards others may be ignored or rejected, but it will never be wasted!

There’s no guarantee we will be loved back or get some response to our love, but it will do its job.

We are called to put on love…to put on the Lord Jesus Christ who is all that is good for this world.

I wonder how many we all scored? Anyone score 15 out of 15?


Without HOPE we become negative, pessimistic and lethargic.

Without FAITH we merely wish for things to work out,

and we believe struggle and hardship will have the last word.

But without LOVE we are nothing…

Love is God’s own nature made tangible for us to know.

and he calls us as his people to walk the walk with him, and talk the talk.

‘LOVE IS’ drama (can also be downloaded for viewing on Youtube:)

:Youtube ‘Love is’ drama

Introduction: A telephone conversation helps to highlight just how unloving we can be. A lady in curlers sits reading a magazine, whilst phoning her friend at the same time. The script may be hidden in the magazine. She breaks every rule of love mentioned in 1 Corinthians 13. A narrator keeps stepping in to remind us what St Paul has to say about love.

Dolly: C’mon Mary pick up the phone, I haven’t got all night. She’ll not have her hearing aid in. PICK IT UP WOMAN!


Dolly: (Sweetly) Oh hello Mary, it’s me Dolly, Yes I’m ready, there’s just my hair to do. I’m just phoning to ask if you’re going this evening? Yes Mabel’s coming too. She’s fine now! No it was ‘er corns a fortnight ago, it’s ‘er bunions playing up this week. It’ll be ‘er ingrown toenails next. She’s always moanin’ on about something. No Mary, I’m not being unkind, but I really do think that she’s a bit of a hyperthermiac. Either that or she’s seeing ‘er CHIRO-POD-IST on the quiet. (pronounce the “ch” in chiropodist).

Narrator: LOVE IS KIND

Dolly: What exactly IS on at church? An outreach service? And who's speaking? Oh she's singing is she aswell? Well I just hope she doesn’t have a noisy ‘catarrh’ with her. And she’d better not start dancing or I’m out of there like a shot, and if she goes on a bit, and sings too many songs, we'll make up some excuse and just leave.


Dolly: What do you mean I couldn’t do any better? I’ll have you know I was the lead contralto in the Band of Hope in my day! There’s many a one past comment on my voice, in my time, clear as a bell.


Dolly: Well she'd better not be like the speaker we had last time. He was ruddy awful!


Dolly: Well I’ll tell you what, it’s getting dark, so you walk up here for me first, then we’ll both walk down together and call for Mabel. I don’t like walking these streets even in the daytime on my own any more. There are so many funny men around. Oh Mary of course they’ll not attack YOU on the way here! You’re no spring chicken now you know! Just leave your handbag at home and you’ll be alright!


Dolly: Ah I’m sorry then, yes that was a little unkind of me, I am sorry. We should have confession you know in our church, like them Roman Catholics do! Mind you, I’d be hard pushed to think of many of my sins. I beg your pardon Mary, WHAT did you say? I definitely heard you say something! No c’mon I want you to repeat what you just said there. If I gave you a pencil, you’d what, you’d be able to write them all down for me. No I don’t think that was funny Mary! I think you were being spiteful!


Dolly: Well if we’re going to start that game, I could tell you a few home truths too!


Dolly: Well it didn’t sound like a joke to me! All right then, OK. Yes of course I forgive you. I’m a Christian aren’t I (Aside Seventy times seven? So any more than that and I’ll clock her one)

Mind you there’s been many a time when I’ve defended you, when people have said something behind your back, and I’ve got to say I never believed it when they said you had a nasty side to your character, till now! Right, yes we’ll just forget what you said. Yes! I'm fine! Well it wasn't me that started it.


Dolly: Abrupt? No I’m not being abrupt. Yes I would tell you if you had offended me. Of course, if you can’t speak the truth in love to your friends, who can you speak the truth in love to?


Dolly: Let’s change the subject shall we?

Well what are you wearing tonight? Yes I’ll give my honest opinion. Oh you’ve still got that one have you? Well I dare say these shorter lengths are all back in fashion now. And you could always get such lovely colours in those larger sizes, but just leave the belt off and we won’t see the bulges. (Aside: Mutton….dressed….as….lamb!)


Dolly: Yes Mary, of course we’re still friends, I mean we’ve just started speaking to each other again after all these years, haven’t we?

No I’m quite all right. I’ve accepted your apology, just don’t do it again. Wait a minute, who phoned who first? Me or you? What? It’s me that’s paying for this call? Right I’m off! Bye! See you when you come, and don’t be long. (Puts the phone down)

What a talker that woman is, my phone bills will be sky high.


Love is not JUST TALK.

It should be real and show itself in action, first of all with our family and our friends!

Love is a verb, a doing word.

I was reading an article last week in a magazine, in which a lady called Jane was writing about a friend who had just died of cancer.

Jane made herself useful in the only way she knew how, in practical ways, keeping her distance at first until her friend and family had come to terms with the shock, but she kept in touch by writing long emails every evening just about everyday life. Then when her friend felt able to receive visitors, she not only visited regularly, in due course she employed a housekeeper for her own family in order to be able to care for and feed her friend and her family. She put her sick friend on a special diet; she made smoothies for her to drink with her medication. They laughed together and reminisced; and one evening when they were chatting together, her friend burst into tears saying that she wasn’t ready to leave her young children yet, and Jane sobbed along with her; she couldn’t help it.

Her friend said, ’Your crying with me is your ‘love verb.’

It was an epiphany for Jane; her friend’s illness had taught her what love really is. It’s a verb, it requires ACTS of love, not just talk or intention.

Love is about being present and not being frightened to step up and do what’s needed to show others that you love them.

Love should be real and show itself in action in our churches.

Where faith becomes too fundamental or too zealous, the opposite qualities in this list are the result. Paul once persecuted the Christian church; he knew this all too well.

The book ‘What happens when Christians persecute other Christians’ shows we’re not exempt from unloving ways)

Love ought to be the main driving force behind each and every gift we’ve been given in order to build up the church. We ought to be encouraging others who have gifts, seeking them out, making sure they are being fully used. But we don’t. Why?

Where THE CHURCH ceases to demonstrate love, her people become merely noisy clanging cymbals and sounding gongs, and people will stay well away or drift away.

Love must flow through us and out into society.

We as a church we are a community placed in the middle of a fragmented secular society, We need to be people who are continually being changed into the image of God’s Son through the work of his indwelling Spirit. . . so that others might come to know him too. This list is a list of the qualities of Jesus himself, for he was patient and kind; he didn’t envy others; he didn’t boast, he wasn’t proud, nor was he rude. He drew attention away from himself; his anger was a righteous anger. He easily forgave and wiped out the sins of others. He rejoiced in what was good and right and stood up against evil, in all its aspects.

The world needs to see him, so we must be like him, and put childish ways behind us.

We can all recall examples of our childish ways, of impulsive behaviour and words spoken thoughtlessly; of tantrums, upsets hurts and frustrations. These, Paul said, we must put behind us, and we must come to a decision.

We either grow up into mature, loving creatures that God designed us to be, AND MIRROR JESUS . . .or we remain childish; We either allow the breath of life and love into our lives or we stagnate.

We live in an age where sadly many have become hostile to the established church . . .for a number of reasons; but where the true and deep love of God lights up our lives and overflows into our fellowship and our outreach, people do sit up and take notice.

Springboard for my ideas in this sermon from reading Living Love by Stuart and Jill Briscoe

Prayers to follow