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The Heart of the Matter (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)

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    We talked last week about the call to be disciple makers, a call that extends to all of us, regardless of who we are. If we have believed in Jesus and accepted the forgiveness of sins through His blood, then we are to be disciple makers. We can be other things too, pastors, evangelists, missionaries, teachers, greeters, prayer warriors, but we all must be disciple makers.
    I told you a story too, about Jonny and I’s encounter with a cult and having coffee with some of the cult members. We know that if we make the decision to be obedient to God and to do what He has called us to do: make disciples; He is going to ask us to step out of our comfort zones and talk to some people we might not otherwise talk to.
    Today, we’re going to talk about the motivation to go and make disciples. Why do we go and make disciples? Yes, like we looked at last week, Jesus told us all to do that, but is that the reason we do it? Do we make disciples just to be obedient to God? That’s not a negative thing at all, and in fact, we should be obedient to God in every way, but is that the only reason we make disciples?
    I want to tell you today that it can’t be. It can’t be the only reason we make disciples, because if it is…then our motivations aren’t entirely where they should be.
    This morning we’re going to look at 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, and we’re going to talk about the heart of the disciple, us; what should be our intentions when we seek to make disciples.
    “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.”
    Most of us have probably heard what comes next, that love is patient, kind, and is not jealous, that it isn’t arrogant or selfish.
    This chapter, appropriately given the nickname “The Love Chapter” is a popular one. It’s often read at weddings, or recited in the context of romantic love, but that’s actually not what Paul was talking about when he wrote this part of his letter at all.
    Now, that doesn’t mean that what he wrote isn’t applicable to that context. Paul’s words about the true nature of love are true whether we’re talking about marriage or friendship, or something else entirely.
    But, what Paul was speaking about was spiritual gifts, and the proper motivation behind using our spiritual gifts.
    Now, there’s quite a bit of back-story behind why Paul wrote this letter to the Corinthian church, but just know that the bottom-line is that many Corinthian believers were not using their spiritual gifts for the right reasons, so Paul felt it necessary to correct them. Paul wanted to make sure that they knew that if they were going to be doing God’s work in God’s name, they needed to have the right motivator.
    So, since we’re seeking to make disciples, to follow Jesus’s command, to do the works God has prepared for us in His name, we can take this passage in 1 Corinthians 13 as a guide for us. Listen again to what Paul says about the motivation behind doing God’s work in His name.
    “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.”
    Knowing what the context is entirely changes what this passage means, doesn’t it? What Paul is saying is that you could speak in the actual tongues that angels speak in, but if your motivation is wrong, you’ll just be a noisy gong. A clanging cymbal. Paul said that it didn’t matter if you have the strongest faith of anyone on the earth, if your faith is so strong you can move the highest mountain, if your motivation is wrong, you’re nothing! Paul said that if you do all the charitable things, feed the poor, become a father to the fatherless, even if you become a martyr, you’ll gain absolutely nothing if your motivation is wrong.
    The motivation for why we do what we do is just as important as the actual act.
    In James 3:1-12, James talks about the power our speech has over people. He says that with our words, we have the power to either give life or destroy life. Our words come from what is within, so if our hearts are in the right place, then what comes out of our mouths reflects that. The opposite is true: if what is in our hearts is wrong, then the words we speak will be a reflection of that wrongness in our hearts.
    1 Samuel 16:7 says, “God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” That’s the first blank in your bulletin’s sermon notes this morning. The Lord looks at the HEART.
    The heart is where our motivation for making disciples comes from, and from that motivation comes our words and our actions, what we actually say and do. If the motivation is just because we want to be obedient to God, then that will come out in what we say to people and how we approach making disciples.
    Have you ever been approached by someone trying to sell you something? A car, a house, cleaning supplies, tupperware, kitchen gadgets, makeup? Anything really. They might start the conversation with small-talk, but they quickly move on to what they really want to talk about, which is making a sale. All of a sudden you just become a number. You realize that the person talking to you isn’t interested in you as a person, they just want to make a sale. You’re just dollar signs to them.
    If your only motivation to make disciples is to be obedient to God, the conversations you have with people you are trying to disciple will seem like they are not genuine. It’s going to seem to them like you’re just trying to make a sale. Again, it’s not bad to be obedient to God, we should be, but there’s another motivation that has to go along with obedience.
    That motivator is of course, love. Love is what must be the driving force behind our desire to make disciples.
    Love is remedy #1 in your bulletin’s sermon notes.
    If we go back to 1 Corinthians 13, when Paul goes on to tell us what love looks like, we start to understand what it means to truly let love be our motivator for making disciples.
    If we are making disciples out of love, we are going to be patient with them, even when we get frustrated, even when they get frustrated. Even when they ask questions that seem silly to us.
    If we are making disciples out of love, we are going to be kind. Even when we have to call out sin, it will be done in a kind way.
    If we are making disciples out of love, we will not be jealous.
    If we are making disciples out of love, we will not be proud or arrogant. Afterall, it isn’t our power or anything special about us that draws people, it’s God’s love that draws people.
    If we are making disciples out of love, we won’t act in an unwholesome way toward those we are discipling.
    If we are making disciples out of love, we will not seek what is best for ourselves, we will not be selfish, rather, we will be selfless, seeking what is God’s best for the other person, even if it means that we must sacrifice something.
    Do we see why love must be the motivator yet?
    Love changes the conversation. Love changes the things we do. Love lets us see people the way God sees them, as eternal souls longing to spend eternity with their Creator.
    1 John 3:14 says that if you have truly passed from death into life in Christ, it will be shown through your love for one another. So, the reverse of that, is that if you do not love others, John says, you live in death still.
    Love is even the motivator for our obedience to God. Even Jesus said as much, that those who love Him will obey Him. So, if we’re going to obey His command to go and make disciples, to baptize them, and to teach them to obey Him, then our driving force MUST, absolutely must, be love, if we don’t want to become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
    There’s another thing that helps to keep us from becoming useless, a noisy gong, or a clanging cymbal. Remedy #2 in this morning’s bulletin sermon notes: Be an EXAMPLE. Be an example.
    Love is the motivator, it must be. But, how can we expect that our love will mean much of anything to anyone if we’re not living out that love? If we’re going to be lead disciples, leading others to be disciples, we have to let God’s love for us truly change us. We have to let His Word truly transform us.
    Hebrews 13:7 says, “Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.” The writer of Hebrews tells us to imitate the faith of those who have led us, who have spoken the Word of God to us. He says that if their conduct is worthy, then we should imitate them.
    Students follow their teachers. They become like their teachers. Jesus said as much. Paul talked about making sure that he was imitating Christ as closely as possible so that those following him would also be following Christ. We know that if we set out to make disciples, those disciples will follow our example. So we need to make sure that the example we’re giving is one that comes from God’s love and points people to Christ.
    We must be a good example of what it means to truly follow Christ, not because we have to, not just because He told us to, but because we love Him, and because we love Him, we love His people.
    I want to close again with three questions to challenge you this week. I want you to take a bulletin home so you have these questions, and I want you to read them and really think over them, then answer them.

1. Up to this point, would you say that your desire to make disciples has been motivated by love? Why or why not?

2. In addition to praying fervently, what practical steps can you take to increase your love for people?

3. Would you say that your life is being transformed by the truth of God’s Word? Why or why not? What changes do you need to make in order to live the truths that you will be teaching other people?

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