*Anchored Scripture: 1 Corinthians 13:1–13.*
*Ministering: Dr. D. K. Olukoya (G.O. MFM Worldwide)*
This passage talks about Christian love. The fasting programme is about to start, and this is the message of God to thousands and thousands of people.
John, who wrote the book of Revelation, was the oldest of the apostles and the last to die. He became so old that they used to carry him on his bed to church for services. And after services, when they came to him and said, “Daddy, do you have any messages to pass on to your children?” He had only one message, which was “love one another”.
You will never see in the Bible that God is faith. You will not find in the Bible that God is hope. But what you find in the Bible is that God is love.
There is a mystery behind love. Do we mean that there is nothing more powerful than love? Look at faith. Look at the power of faith to make people whole. Or did Jesus not tell blind Bartimaeus “Your faith has made you whole”? But now the Bible is saying that love is more powerful than that faith. So powerful that the Bible says GOD is LOVE.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son”. So, beloved, this character of love is the greatest thing in the world. Love has potent healing powers for both mental and physical illnesses. There is one expression in 1 Corinthians 13 that shook me to my roots.
1 Corinthians 13:2 (KJV): “And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.”
What a terrible word to apply to human beings! Nothing means:
– Not anything.
– Not at all.
– The person is vain and empty.
– the opposite of something.
– A person is of no account as far as heaven is concerned.
– The person is of no value.
– As far as heaven is concerned, the person does not exist, he is zero.
So, beloved, who are Brother and Sister Nothing? Who are Mr. and Mrs. Nothing? They are people who have no love. The Bible calls them “nothing”. Surely, if you find a man who can speak English, French, Spanish, Swahili, Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo, and Greek, he will certainly be hailed as someone great. But the Bible says that if such a person has no love, he is nothing.
Surely, if you find a man who has all knowledge and who can communicate with birds, trees, inhabitants outside this world, and even angels, that person will definitely be regarded as somebody. His phone will ring forever, and he will be very rich. But the Bible says that if such a person has no love, he is nothing.
Surely, a man with complete knowledge of all future events but who has no love is nothing.
Surely, if you know all the mysteries and can answer all the questions the scientists are asking, you will declare that you are somebody. Supposing you memorise the whole of the Bible, or the encyclopaedia in this world, and you even know all the words in the dictionary, the person will be regarded as somebody.
The Bible says, that if he has no love, he is nothing. He is a zero man or woman. The Bible says that even if you have faith to eliminate all impossibilities and they are asking you to come and pray in different locations but you have no love, the Bible says you are nothing. You are dishing out millions and millions of naira every week to the poor, but you have no love; the Bible says you are nothing. It says if you can speak in tongues, you know prophecy, you know mysteries, you have knowledge, and every other thing, you are nothing without love.
You can be doing all these things and still be nothing. The Bible says you can speak in multiple tongues without love. You can prophesy without love. You can sing without love. You can usher without love. You can have deep knowledge of the Bible without love. You can have faith without love. You can have hospitality and generosity without love. You can do a lot of spiritual activities without love. You can even suffer persecution for the sake of the gospel without the love of Jesus. You can even die as a martyr without love.
I remember the story of Thomas Cromwell, this day. He was preaching in those days, and the government was uncomfortable with his preaching of the gospel and Christ. So they told him to renounce and recant Jesus. He refused. Family members and everybody started begging him to renounce and recant Jesus so that he would not be killed. This man refused. They locked him up for a long time. They kept sending people to the prison to encourage him to deny Jesus Christ.
After some time, his mind got weak, and so he told them he would renounce Christ. They were happy because he was the hottest preacher in those days. So the government wanted to make it an open display. So the government told him to come to the open market centre and deny Christ.
But the night before they were to bring him out, the Spirit of God visited him and said, “What has the Lord done against me that I will start denying him?” So he changed his mind and decided not to deny Christ.
The next day, the people happily urged him to the town centre. A crowd gathered because they knew him and the messages he preached. They had already announced to them that he was coming to deny Christ. So they put him on the stage there in the market centre, expecting him to say “Yes, I denounce Christ”.
But he said, “No, Christ is my Saviour. I will not denounce Christ”. They were very angry. They caught him on the spot, tied him to a tree, and lit fire around him. So the fire was roasting him. As the fire started to burn him, he stretched out his right hand because he had signed with it in the prison that he was coming to denounce Christ and said “My unworthy right hand that signed this thing, you will be the first to roast in this fire”. The right hand burnt to ashes first. But even at that, if Thomas Cromwell had no love, the Bible says, “It is nothing”.
Love is difficult to describe, but it can be expressed. Paul now named various expressions of love. It is right in our text, and I want you to examine your life as you are listening to me now. We are about to start fasting and praying.
In our scripture, Paul began to define the expressions of love.
– Charity suffereth long: that is, it is patient, endures for a long time, never tired of waiting, and love waits without murmuring. Love never gives up. Love is able to suffer.
One beautiful girl used to be taken to school by her mother. But her mother’s face was very ugly; it was as if something congealed the face together. As a matter of fact, the woman looked like a monster. But the woman kept taking her daughter to school. When the girl began to go to higher classes, her colleagues began to make fun of her mother, saying that she looked like a monster. So she started getting ashamed and embarrassed. So in the morning, when it was time to go to school, the girl would ask her mother, “Mom, do you mind dropping me off very close to school and not following me in?”
Time after time, she kept asking this, but the mother was not saying anything. One day, the mother sat her down and brought out her picture from many years ago, which she had never shown her. She was a very beautiful woman. She showed it to her daughter and said “This is what I looked like”. She said, “But when you were two days old, the house you were in caught fire.
And the whole house was in flames. I wanted to go inside to rescue you, but people held me and said they did not think I would come out alive”. She said they held her down, but she struggled with them, set herself free from their grip, and ran into the burning house. She took out the two-day-old baby, wrapped it in a blanket, and started running out.
On the way out, a burning door that was collapsing fell on her face, and that was how her face got burnt. She said, “Daughter, this is how I acquired the burnt face you have been complaining about”. The young girl started to cry. After that day, she did not say that again. The mother was patient with her, explaining things to her. Are you here, and you are a man flinging your wife towards the generator, smashing her against the fridge? Are you unfaithful to your marriage? That is not love. You say “I am tired of your nagging” but the Bible says, “Love is patient; it suffereth long”.
Listen, husband: you are not supposed to be your wife’s preacher, and wife, you are not supposed to be your husband’s referee. Patience and endurance are what the Bible calls love. Patience is the most outstanding quality of love. All those people who keep our marriage committee have to endure for their marriage to work. But you, with any small thing, you say “I do not love you anymore. I regret marrying you.” That is not love as defined by the scriptures. Any love that is able to turn to hatred overnight is not love.
True love will go through fire, sorrow, and trouble for you. True love will endure suffering and yet remain sweet and kind. Impatience against anyone is evidence that there is no love. This is a very, very serious situation. Love learns to wait. I agree that there are many difficult people to live with, but when love is in our hearts, we are patient with those who make life hard for us. So the first character of love that Paul describes is patience.
Am I patient?
Am I impatient?
Do I complain about any small thing?
Do I equate others with myself?
Do I believe that others ought to know what I know?
Do you think your level of endurance is like that of other people?
Do you think your thinking capacity is on the same level as that of others?
Some can think very well. Some are very poor at thinking right. This is why we have to be patient. Love is patient. That is the first character that Paul points out. When, at any small provocation, you pack up and scatter everywhere, lose your temper, and begin to beat up everyone and fight everyone, you have no love. Fasting is about to start. It is good for you to know what we are talking about.
1 Corinthians 13:4 (KJV): “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,”
The second characteristic of love that Paul expressed is kindness. Kindness is love in action. Ask yourself, “Am I a kind person?” I read the story of a man when we were in primary school. He was doing good. One day, he felt that the good he was doing was not paying him. So he woke up one morning and thought, “I have been doing good, but it seems as though they are paying me back with evil. From today on, I am going to be wicked”. It was that day that he died. Straight to hell fire. If you must smear others with mud, you will stain your own fingers first.
Are you an expert at speaking unkind words? You speak words that others hear, and they cannot sleep. Do you have unkind attitudes? Do you write people unkind letters? It means there is no love. Most of the “I love you” people tell themselves are lust 90% of the time. That person you are calling a boyfriend or a girlfriend is a boy enemy or a girl enemy in the actual description.
“… charity envieth not….” True love does not envy the success, gifts, talents, or possessions of others. True love is not carried away by the prosperity of the wicked. When we used to break Sunday school into classes, some found it difficult to learn at the feet of young believers and be taught by them. They forgot that Paul came last of the apostles, but he made more impact than them all. If you are not happy that God has exalted somebody, then there is envy in your heart.
If you have true love, you will rejoice with that person that God has elevated. So love is not jealous. It is not possessive. And it is a serious matter when envy has caught up with somebody. I read a story of some demons trying to torment a bishop. They tried all kinds of methods to torment but failed. They wanted him to make mistakes, but they did not succeed. Then, all of a sudden, the devil came and asked all the small demons to stand aside. He said, “You have tried your methods; they are very crude. Now let me try my own”.
The devil then whispered into the ears of the Bishop and said “Your younger brother, who became a priest ten years after you, has just become an archbishop”. At that, the Bishop lost his temper. The demons could not get him through other methods, but when they tried envy, they got him. Envy is based on materialism and carnality. I have never heard of somebody who was envious of someone else’s good nature; it is always about position, wealth, and talent.
They say if you put crabs in a basket, you do not need to cover the basket because each crab will be looking for ways to pull down any crab that is trying to climb out.
Unfortunately, many of us are a lot like the crabs. This is a serious matter. You should be happy that God has promoted somebody.
“….. Vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up.” It says that love is humble. If you see a proud person, he does not have love. Love is not proud. It is not boastful. It does not show off. It maintains humility. It does not make a vain display of itself. “I want them to know I have new shoes/bags/clothes /car”. It always prefers others to itself. Love is not proud. Love does not brag. Love does not make a parade. Love is never anxious to impress or cherish inflated ideas about itself. Love does not have a high opinion of itself. Love is not proud. It teaches us to be humble. This is a very, very serious matter.
When you do not have love in your heart, you display all the characteristics of pride. You have already come late, but you are marching majestically to the front as if you did not come late. You go to a place, and you always require special attention. You need total deliverance. People who lack humility are easy to locate. This is a serious matter.
When I was a choirmaster in those days, we arranged for people to sing. Some were tall and could sing well. Some were short and could sing well. Some were tall and could not sing at all. They were just in the choir to make noise and increase the volume. Some were short and had very bad voices. Now, this kind of choir would face the congregation. It is your job as a choirmaster to arrange the best people who can sing well. But the proud ones would scatter the choir practice, insisting on staying at the front without knowing the music. That is pride.
1 Corinthians 13:5 (KJV) “Doth not behave itself unseemly.” That is, love exhibits good manners. It does not behave unseemly. Sometimes, when people attend other people’s functions, like naming ceremonies, wakes, burials, or weddings, they collect multiple plates of food while there are others there who have not even gotten one plate. Bad manners. Robbery manners. Love exhibits good manners. It does not behave unbecomingly. It is not indecent. It is never rude. If you see an ill-mannered or very rude person, it means the love of Christ is not in that person.
Love is cautious all the time. Love is polite, tactful, and good-mannered. Being polite means to do and say the kindest thing in the kindest way. It is sad, but it is true that we are the rudest, even to the people that we love most. This is a very serious situation. Love, which involves decency and good manners, dictates that you cannot talk to anybody anyway. It dictates that you can make your point to somebody without being abusive. You can talk to someone without being rude. This is a big problem.
“1 Corinthians 13:5 (KJV) …. seeketh not her own,” means that love is unselfish. For some people, it is “me, me”. They are not bothered about others. They cannot do anything for anyone for free. True love does not insist on its own way and does not think of its own advantage. Some people cannot help anybody unless there is something they are getting out of it. True love does not wish to prove that it is always right. It sacrifices and gives generously.
True love does not get angry if they reject your suggestion. It does not do things to its own advantage. This is a serious matter.
A brother saw a sister homeless. He offered to give her accommodation, but that was the undoing of that sister. Every night, he would rape the sister. She got pregnant, but he denied the pregnancy and threw her life into turmoil. Then something happened. Somebody eloped with his own sister too. He then went and bought a cutlass to cut the man into pieces, not minding what he himself had done. Love does not seek its own. It always gives.
1 Corinthians 13:5 (KJV): …. is not easily provoked,….”
Beloved, this is the Bible, and that is why we are reading from it, and I am explaining it to you. That is, true love, has self-control, is not irritable, absorbs much, and has self-control. All the baby husbands have one thing in common: they verbally abuse their wives and beat them up. All the baby wives have something in common. They generally talk and talk until they are beaten up. Whereas, the most powerful prayer partners are husbands and wives. Some complain and say, “Oh, they have said something in the church against me, and I will leave that place,” but love is not easily provoked. This is a very serious matter.
Love, according to 1 Corinthians 13:5, is not easily provoked and thinketh no evil. That is, it does not harbour any evil thoughts about anybody. It does not keep data or a diary of what somebody has done wrong. It does not imagine evil. It forgives and forgets. It is never happy when things go wrong for others. It will not say “Oh, you have done yours, but I know how to get you”. This is a serious matter. Many sit in church for years, but there is nothing like the love of Christ in their hearts. This is why they fight each other. But true love refuses to be insulted or hurt.
I am going to stop here because of our time, but I want you to go home and look at this again. The Bible says that love “Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth, Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.” The Bible says, “And now abideth faith, hope, and charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”
1. Every power working against my next level, die! in the name of Jesus.
(Talk to the Lord and say, My Father, repair me where I need repair. Lay your hands upon my life. Let the agape love of Christ be in my heart. Sing this:
My lifetime, I will give God my lifetime,
My lifetime, I will give God my lifetime,
If I give God my lifetime, He will take care of me,
He will never never let me down,
I will give God my lifetime.
Send down revival, Lord,
Let it start within my soul,
Holy Ghost revival,
1. Every power working against my next level, you are a liar, die! in the name of Jesus.
2. Voices crying in the night to waste my blessings, die! in the name of Jesus.
3. Powers that hate to hear good things about me, your time is up die! in the name of Jesus.
4. Powers assigned to pursue me with sickness destroy yourself! in the name of Jesus.
5. My enemies shall fight themselves, kill themselves, drink their own blood, and eat their own flesh! in the name of Jesus.