1 Corinthians 13 Gospel Love Isn’t an Abstraction; It’s a Person.

J.D. Greear recently published an article on how, “Every one of us is preparing for marriage.” In it he states:

Single Christians are preparing for marriage—but marriage to God, not to another person. Seen from this perspective, in fact, we’re all preparing for marriage. Some of us won’t experience marriage on this earth. But that doesn’t mean singles miss marriage completely. No, they will simply skip the shadow of earthly marriage and go straight to the substance of the heavenly marriage with Jesus Christ.

The ironic thing about preparing for marriage to Christ is that if and when you do find your spouse, you’ll be ready for them. Far too often we obsess about finding the right person, when Scripture counsels us to become the right person. As Andy Stanley says it, “Are you the person that the person you’re looking for…is looking for?”

Practically speaking, what does this kind of “ultimate marriage preparation” look like?

To read the entire blog post, head over to J.D.’s blog.

Guest Post (Kathy Ferguson Litton): 6 Things Your Love Does for Your Wife

(Or even better title might be “6 Free Mother’s Day Gifts for your Wife.” That might get your attention, gentlemen.)

The Bible says, “live with your wife in an understanding way….” (1 Peter 3:7). You may not understand the power of your love and what that looks like.

Your love will:

1. Work hard to learn her. (Note: I didn’t say understand HER, because she doesn’t always understand herself.) You don’t need to be able to explain her but actively study who she is, her unique personality, her love language and her soul. Know her wounds and vulnerabilities. Her spiritual life should be your NUMBER one priority as a shepherd. It is the foundation of building intimacy. When you learn her you will be able to love her, serve her and shepherd her well.

2. Say, “You are my priority.” As a man, father, pastor or leader in the community people will look into your life and assess pretty quickly what your priorities are. Do not under estimate this. They know how you spend your time. What do you do that demonstrates CLEARLY that SHE is your priority? People know the order of your priorities. So does she.

3. Take the time to listen to her. Yes, we ramble a bit. You are looking for the Cliff’s Note version of our issues and then give us a quick fix. That is your preferred painless option. (Women we would do ourselves a favor and edit details. Attention spans may wane.) She feels very loved and significant when you make eye contact and engage her. You value her ideas. If you have small children this item gets moved up higher on list.

4. Provide the sacrificial leadership she longs for. Ironically it’s a sad secret that it’s tempting to lead well at work or church but coast at home. And we get it. You come home tired, drained and wanting a respite from the demands of leadership. We want and can fill many gaps in the demands of your life but if we get this area reversed it is not good for anyone. Even in a well-meaning way. Your kids will figure out pretty quickly that dad shepherds at church but not at home. Pastors it’s a confusing signal to them if dad is bold in the pulpit but passive at home. It must be hard to lead women. It has to be tricky. We probably send many confusing signals but we want you to lead.

5. Free her. Your wife is mommy, mate, lover, CEO of day-to-day operations of “Litton” enterprises, serves at church and community plus perhaps 40-hour employee somewhere else. What blows wind in her sails? Free her to do that. (If you don’t know what blows wind in her sails skip back up to Point #1) Encourage her to pursue life-giving relationships with other women. Or make space for refreshing experiences. Make those opportunities available. If you see she has no things that refresh, recharge her –help her find some.

6. Pursue personal holiness. Not because you’re supposed to. Or you are a pastor and have to— but because of these two critical things:

1. You possess an authentic vibrant walk with Christ.

2. For her and the sanctity of your marriage.

She needs to see an authentic faith from you. Remember she has a front row seat to the reality of it. Especially as you demonstrate a strong, sexual ethic, which includes appropriateness with other women, resist pornography, monitor what you read/watch and allow into your life. I have been married to two men Rick Ferguson and Ed Litton. These are things I knew about these men; they would struggle in this area like any other man and that they were men that feared God.

Does your wife know you are a man who fears God? When she knows you genuinely internally fear God her trust in you and respect for you will grow.

Love her well but it still would be wise to find a Mother’s day gift!


(Editor’s Note: The blog also appears at flourish.me.)

20/20 Conference, Plenary Session V: Danny Akin

Question: How does the gospel come to life according to Jesus?

Answer: Love.

Jesus taught us in Matt. 22 that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, and mind. The second greatest is to love our neighbors as ourselves.

John says his Gospel that they will know we are his disciples if we love one another.

John says in 1 John that we love because God is love. He loved us so much he sent his son to be the propitiation for our sin. Our response should be love.

Jonathan Edwards is the sharpest intellectual mind America has ever produced. He was also a pastor. In Charity and Its Fruits, Edwards asks what it is that makes the church like heaven. His answer is love. Akin agrees.

There is nothing more crucial to the gospel coming to life than our having an accurate understanding of what biblical love is.

1 Corinthians 13 is the text for this session.

Whatever you do, love will help you do what you do to the glory of God. Though Paul wrote this passage for the church, he intended for it to be lived out daily in every aspect of our lives.

As Dionne Warwick said, “what the world needs now is love.” (Who’d have thought Danny Akin was a Dionne Warwick fan???)

1. Love is essential (vv. 1-3)

Love is essential for a healthy church, for a healthy marriage, for bringing the gospel to life in the world around us.

Without love, it doesn’t matter what you say (vs. 1). If love doesn’t accompany what you say, you are nothing more than a lot of noise. Love brings authenticity and integrity to what we say. Lost people don’t pay attention to us because they are not convinced we really love them.

Akin once had a chance to share the gospel with a scientist. Though the man did not come to faith in Christ that day, he thanked Akin for being the first Christian to not be ugly with him because of his naturalistic beliefs. Akin apologized on behalf of Christians.

Without love, it doesn’t matter what you know (vs. 2). Loveless knowledge puffs up; it makes you a proud and arrogant know-it-all. We are to love our Lord with our mind. We need to read the right books-having a morning quiet time is not enough for you to love the Lord with all of your mind. God is no fan of ignorance, but ignorance is better than having a full mind that does not love God. Loveless knowledge leads to pride, and pride is what took the Devil down.

Without love, it doesn’t matter what you do (vs. 3). What you do in this life counts for nothing if your action comes without love. Even good things.

2. Love is expressive (vv. 4-8)

Paul gives us sixteen expressive words to describe love in these verses. All of them are verbs. Love is an action. All of them are in the present tense. These verbs should characterize your life.

Love is longsuffering-he will bring people into your life who make you suffer long.

Akin shares about a friend of his who was physically abused and hated his father until he was saved. The he loved his father. In recent years his father became a Christian, and today he is a good daddy and a great granddaddy. His children will never know what their grandfather was like before he knew Christ. God takes even bad things and often turns them into good things for his glory.

Love is kind. Question: how do you teat people who can do absolutely nothing to further your agenda?

Love is not envy. Love does not have an inferiority complex. Envy has built into it the seed of its own destruction-you are never satisfied, no matter how much you get.

Love does not parade itself and love is not puffed up. Love does not have a superiority complex. Love does not have what Akin calls the “peacock syndrome.”

Love does not behave rudely. Love has manners. Love treats people with kindness, grace, and respect, even if it is not returned. Akin uses the example of Christians who do not tip well in restaurants as an example of Christians who claim to love, but do not show manners and thus turn off lost people to the gospel. We are not in restaurants to be served, but to serve-we are ambassadors for Christ.

(Akin makes a joke about the Methodists-the crowd goes wild. All of you reading this should email him and ask him why he is doggin’ the Methodists.)

Akin briefly hits on the other verbs in verses 6-8. All of these verbs tell us what a Christian’s love ought to look like. This goes by pretty quickly.

3. Love is Enduring (vv. 8-13)

Love never fails, even though everything else will fail or vanish away. Now we know things partially, but one day we will know in full because we will be in the presence of Christ.

Faith will one day give way to sight. One day hope will give way to reality. But because God is love, love will never fail. The gospel comes to life when God’s love life is being lived out in our love life.

Personal reality check: take out the word “love” in 1 Corinthians 13 and swap the word “Jesus” in its place. Then do the same thing, but put your name in the place of “love.” How well does your name fit?

This reality check should bring conviction.

Following a suggestion from J. D. Greear, we should then read 1 Corinthians 13 by replacing love with the phrase “Jesus in me” is . . .

The gospel comes to life through Jesus in us, loving through us.