Love Endures All Things

1 Corinthians 13:9-12(2)

Sermon preached on May 22, 2016 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2016. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at

Unless otherwise noted, quotations are from The Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

I tend not to like that products that have a built in obsolescence. You buy a product that comes with a one year warranty and one or two months after the warranty is up it breaks. You get it fixed and two or three months later it breaks again. We bought a dishwasher four years ago and 14 months after we bought it it stopped working. It needed a new motor and to fix it cost us something like $300. When the guy was installing the new motor he asked us if we had any trouble with the racks that hold the dishes. He told me that they were noted for breaking. I told him we hadn't but about a month later the top rack broke. The company sent us replacement plastic parts for free, but even they kept breaking. Finally I gave up using their parts and fixed it using plastic zip ties. Then it stopped working again and we got it fixed again. Then a few months later the motor went again. At that point I gave up on it. After less than two years a dishwasher that still looked like new was taken to the scrap heap. What a waste of materials.

I know we can't make machines that last indefinitely. But when companies artificially shorten product life in order to get you to buy replacements—that planned obsolescence is not good for consumers.

In the early 1920's several big companies set up the Phoebus cartel to limit the life of the light bulb. They standardized the life of a light bulb at 1,000 hours. The things was, manufacturers could easily make light bulbs that lasted quite a bit longer than a 1000 hours. But they were told that 1000 hours was the limit and if the light bulbs that they supplied lasted much longer than that—they were fined or punished in other ways. The big companies wanted to sell more light bulbs and after the market was saturated, what better way to do it than by making light bulbs that, by design, had a much shorter life span. At the same time they raised prices because there was no competition.

The light bulbs of that cartel had a planned obsolescence. They were designed to fail prematurely. After a certain period of time it was lights out and the consumer had no choice but to buy another bulb.

One of the wonderful things about love is that it is not like that. Throughout this chapter Paul has been telling us that love endures, it perseveres, it never fails.

Is your love like that? Does your love persevere? Does it always endure? Does your love overcome all obstacles? Or does your love have a planned obsolescence?

The love that we human beings show is often not like the love we read about in 1 Corinthians 13. It doesn't endure, it doesn't persevere. At a certain point it fails. We often restrict love in such a way that whether it lasts or not is based on the actions of those we love. If they prove worthy, if they are grateful—we continue to love them. But if they misuse our love we withdraw it and stop loving them. If someone betrays us, hurts us, gossips about us, slanders us—our love for them withers away.

That should not be. The reason it should not be is because

God's love for us never fails.

Jesus told us to love as he has loved us. In John 13:34 He said to His disciples,

"As I have loved you,
so you must love one another."

How did Jesus love His disciples? In John 17:12, in His prayer to the Father, Jesus referred to His followers. He said, (John 17:11–12)

"I will remain in the world no longer,
but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you.
Holy Father, protect them
by the power of your name—the name you gave me—
so that they may be one as we are one.
While I was with them,
I protected them and kept them safe
by that name you gave me.
None has been lost
except the one doomed to destruction
so that Scripture would be fulfilled."

Jesus didn't lose any of those that the Father gave Him. Here's the way that John put in in John 13:1. (HCSB)

"Before the Passover Festival,
Jesus knew that His hour had come to
depart from this world to the Father.
Having loved His own who were in the world,
He loved them to the end."

He loved them to the end. The word that Paul uses there often has a eschatological connotation and relates to reaching a goal. Jesus loved His disciples right up until the end, till He reached His goal of laying down His life for them and securing their salvation. His love was never going to desert them.

The wonderful truth is that Jesus loves us with an everlasting love. In Jeremiah 31:3 the prophet said,

"The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying:
'I have loved you with an everlasting love;
I have drawn you with loving-kindness."

The context in which Jeremiah says this is amazing. In the first chapters of Jeremiah God complains that His people were great sinners. In a number of places God designates the sin of the nation as adultery. (3:2, 5:7, 9:2, 23:10) Yet God tells them that He loves them with an everlasting love. Of course this did not mean that they could sin with impunity. They were in exile. They were being punished for their sin. Leon Morris writes of the chapters that came before Jeremiah 31. (Testaments of Love, p. 10)

"There is nothing in all this to prepare us for God's resounding declaration—'I have loved you with an everlasting love.' "

In the face of all their sins God still loved Judah and was still committed to them. Morris continues, (p. 11)

"He does not simply tolerate people—he loves them with all the fervor of his holy nature. That is the extraordinary message Jeremiah brings about God's love. When everything else leads us to expect that God will abhor these sinful people, we find that instead he loves them, loves them with an everlasting love."

God's love for us is everlasting. It is not affected by the varying circumstances of life. In a certain sense you could say that it is not affected by our sin.

Now I need to clarify here. This does not mean that we should presume on God's love in any way. This does not mean that it's okay for us to sin. It is not. One of the reasons God saved us was to free us from the bondage of sin. He saved us to make us holy. As Peter wrote in 1 Peter 1:15–16,

"But just as he who called you is holy,
so be holy in all you do;
for it is written:
'Be holy, because I am holy."

Anyone who does not follow Jesus basically shows that he does not belong to Jesus. As Jesus said in John 14, (verses 15, 23, 24)

"If you love me, you will obey what I command…
If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching.
My Father will love him, and we will come to him
and make our home with him.
He who does not love me will not obey my teaching."

So anyone who chooses to live a sinful lifestyle shows that they do not belong to Jesus.

Sin is a terrible thing. Our sin disappoints God. It is against His revealed will. Our sin grieves the Holy Spirit. Our sin is a great offense to God and an affront to His holiness and righteousness. Our sin is an insult to His goodness to us. We must strive to be holy.

But as a Christian you should realize that God's love for you is not founded on, is not based on, is not dependent on—your obedience.

He loved us before the foundation of the world. He chose us not because of anything good he saw in us. In 2 Timothy 1:8–10 Paul said to Timothy,

"So do not be ashamed to testify
about our Lord,
or ashamed of me his prisoner.
But join with me in suffering
for the gospel, by the power of God,
who has saved us and called us to a holy life—
not because of anything we have done
but because of his own purpose and grace.
This grace was given us in Christ Jesus
before the beginning of time,
but it has now been revealed
through the appearing of our Savior,
Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death
and has brought life and immortality
to light through the gospel."

God did not love us because we were worthy, because we deserved it, because we earned in. No, quite the contrary, He loved us when we were sinners. He saved us because of something in Him—His own purpose and grace. We see the same principle in Ephesians 1:3–6. Paul wrote,

"Praise be to the God and Father
of our Lord Jesus Christ, who
has blessed us in the heavenly realms
with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
For he chose us in him
before the creation of the world
to be holy and blameless in his sight.
In love he predestined us
to be adopted as his sons
through Jesus Christ, in accordance
with his pleasure and will—
to the praise of his glorious grace,
which he has freely given us
in the One he loves."

In love we were predestined to be adopted as His sons, 'in accordance with His pleasure and will'. Paul continues, (Ephesians 1:11–13)

"In him we were also chosen,
having been predestined according to
the plan of him who works out
everything in conformity
with the purpose of his will, in order that we,
who were the first to hope in Christ,
might be for the praise of his glory."

God did not choose us because of something in us. It was because of something in Him.

God did not love us because we were better than others. In Ephesians 2:1–5 Paul said to the Ephesian Christians,

"As for you, you were dead
in your transgressions and sins,
in which you used to live when
you followed the ways of this world
and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air,
the spirit who is now at work
in those who are disobedient.
All of us also lived among them
at one time, gratifying the cravings
of our sinful nature
and following its desires and thoughts.
Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.
But because of his great love for us,
God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ
even when we were dead in transgressions—
it is by grace you have been saved."

Notice how he told them they were, 'like the rest'. There was no difference between those who were chosen in Christ than those who were not chosen. We were all by nature objects of God's wrath.

Why did God love Jacob and hate Esau? In Romans 9:11–17 Paul tells us,

"Yet, before the twins were born or
had done anything good or bad—
in order that God's purpose in election might stand:
not by works but by him who calls—she was told,
'The older will serve the younger.'
Just as it is written:
'Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.'
What then shall we say?
Is God unjust? Not at all!
For he says to Moses,
'I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,
and I will have compassion
on whom I have compassion.
It does not, therefore,
depend on man's desire or effort,
but on God's mercy."

Paul himself was a prime example of that. When God called him, he was persecuting the church, breathing out murderous threats against God's people. (Acts 9:1) Yet, it was at such a moment that God effectually called him. In Titus 3:3–7 Paul showed that that what was true of him was true of all Christians.

"At one time we too were foolish,
disobedient, deceived and enslaved
by all kinds of passions and pleasures.
We lived in malice and envy,
being hated and hating one another.
But when the kindness and love
of God our Savior appeared, he saved us,
not because of righteous things we had done,
but because of his mercy.
He saved us throughthe washing of rebirth
and renewal by the Holy Spirit,
whom he poured out on us generously
through Jesus Christ our Savior,
so that, having been justified by his grace,
we might become heirs
having the hope of eternal life."

The point is that God's love for us is the love for the unworthy, the sinful, the obstinate, the ones who disappoint Him day after day. He chose them and He loves them with an everlasting love.

Our love for others is to be the same as God's love for us.

Again, remember Jesus said, (John 13:34)

"A new command I give you: Love one another.
As I have loved you, so you must love one another."

Yet so often—how different our love is. The problem with our love is that we often design it to have a planned obsolescence. We put up with people to a certain point and then they go too far and we stop loving them. We give up on love.

But God calls us to love others with a love that does not give up. This is what Jesus' love was like.

For example, consider how He treated Peter. Have you ever wondered how Jesus must have felt when Peter started sinking into the water when he was walking on it? Jesus said, (Matthew 14:31

"You of little faith,
why did you doubt?"

What a gift and honor Jesus had given Peter. As far as I know, Peter was only the second man in history to walk on water. Yet, in the middle of it, he started to doubt. His faith was not what it should have been. But Jesus, rather than letting him sink, immediately reached out His hand and caught Peter.

How do you do when you give someone a great gift, a great honor and they mess it up? Does your love stay with them as Jesus' love stayed with Peter?

Or consider how Peter boasted about his faithfulness to Jesus. When Jesus told His disciples that that very night they would all fall away on account of Him, to fulfill the prophecy, (Matthew 26:31, Zechariah 13:7)

"I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep of the flock will be scattered."

Peter reacted by saying, (Matthew 26:33)

"Even if all fall away
on account of you, I never will."

Peter is being so presumptuous. Jesus is quoting Scripture and saying it will be fulfilled in them that night—and Peter denies it.

But that night Peter denied Jesus three times. The third denial involved Peter calling down curses on himself. (Matthew 26:34) What an incredible denial of Jesus. Peter is declaring, in the most emphatic way—that he doesn't know Jesus and is asking that he be cursed if he was lying.

Jesus was in His great hour of need. As far as physical proximity goes, Peter was probably the nearest friend, perhaps the only friend near him at that time. For Peter to reject Jesus so emphatically, at such a time—one might, if he didn't know the Bible, think that that was an unpardonable sin. If you didn't know the Bible you might be forgiven for thinking that at that point Jesus would stop loving Peter. How wrong you would be. Jesus looked at Peter, calling him to repentance. The angel at the empty tomb mentioned Peter by name, indicating that Jesus was going to appear to him and the other disciples in Galilee. (Mark 16:7) Later Jesus restored Peter to his office of apostle. (John 21:15-19)

Despite Peter's great sins—Jesus' love never left him. Peter's sins could not extinguish Jesus' love for Peter. Rather it was Jesus' love for Peter that extinguished Peter's sins.

It was the same with Thomas. After all the time Jesus had been with him, after all Jesus had taught him, after Jesus was crucified, after the other disciples had seen Jesus, Thomas didn't believe. He said to them, (John 20:25)

"Unless I see the nail marks in his hands
and put my finger where the nails were,
and put my hand into his side,
I will not believe it."

Did Jesus give up on Thomas? No. A week later He appeared to Him and said, (John 20:27

"Put your finger here; see my hands.
Reach out your hand and put it into my side.
Stop doubting and believe."

Or consider Jonah. God told him to go and warn the city of Nineveh. Jonah took off in the opposite direction and tried to flee from God. He went to Joppa and boarded a ship. God sent a storm and the sailors threw Jonah overboard. Did God abandon Jonah? Did He let him drown? No. God sent a big fish to swallow Jonah and three days later the fish spit him out on dry ground. Jonah went to Nineveh and warned them—and Jonah was disappointed when they repented. What a terrible way for God's messenger to behave. Did God's love desert Jonah? No.

The point is that your love for others is to be like that. The apostle Paul didn't give up on the lost. He didn't give up on those who tried to kill him. He kept preaching the gospel to them.

Your love must be like that. It needs to persevere, endure. It must not give up on people. I've often heard people say,

"I'll never forgive them. They did something too bad. They've gone too far."

There was a limit to their love. Their love was 'in part'. It didn't endure. When that person betrayed them they gave up.

Don't give up on people. Love them as Jesus loves you. That's what you're called to do.

May God give us grace to do so.