There is something Jesus said that I want you to think about. Jesus said to those who followed Him: “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
As we see a war-torn world–a world that is sick, pained, confused and bewildered–we believe that this is the hour for the church to speak out. This is the hour for the church to show forth the love and grace of God! This is the hour for the world to hear Christ saying through the church, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).
There is something Jesus said that I want you to think about. Jesus said to those who followed Him: “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).
That verse of Scripture is tremendously important at this hour in American history. In another part of the Bible we find the same thing stated by John: “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:7-10).
The Bible declares that we who follow Jesus Christ should be just as much in love with each other as God was in love with us when He sent His Son to die on the cross. I want you to see what it means to love as God loves, because the Bible says, “God is love” (1 John 4:16).
The basic attribute of God is holiness, but love is another basic attribute of God. It is a part of God’s nature to love, and all who know Jesus Christ as Savior also have this supernatural love instilled within their hearts by the Holy Spirit. The greatest demonstration of the fact that we are Christians is that we love one another.
In 1 Corinthians 13, we have first a description of a man who does not possess love. The Apostle Paul says, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1).
In other words, suppose I could speak with the oratory of a William Jennings Bryan. Suppose I could speak with cryptic language like Churchill. Suppose I could speak with the power of Roosevelt, in which he used to sway an entire nation. Suppose I could sing opera like Enrico Caruso. Suppose I had a thousand tongues that could speak a thousand languages at the same time. The Bible says all that is nothing, and I am nothing, unless I have this divine, supernatural love that God gives.
The apostle goes on to write, “Though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge … but have not love, I am nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:2). I could be a man of tremendous knowledge; I could understand all the mysteries and all of history, and be able to put all the patterns together. I could know the Bible from one end to the other; memorize thousands of verses of Scripture. I could be a great Bible teacher; I could even be a preacher from the pulpit–and have not love. I know people in this country who are conservative in their theology–people who would die contending for the inspiration of the Bible–and yet there is so little love. I might know the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, but if I had not love, it would mean absolutely nothing in the sight of God.
I might be a man of great faith. The Bible says that I might have faith so that I could move mountains, but if I have not love, it is nothing. Suppose I could stand here today and say to that mountain, “Move into the sea,” and it would move! You would say, “Well, Billy Graham is certainly a man of tremendous faith to pray a mountain into the sea.” The Bible says that is absolutely nothing unless my faith is tempered with love.
I could be a man of great charity. The Bible says, “though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor … it profits me nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:3) unless I have this divine love that God gives. I could give everything I have to charity, but if the motive were not divine love, it means nothing in the sight of almighty God.
Here in this country we give billions of dollars away, but sometimes I wonder if our motive is not selfish. We are always asking the other nations and the other people, “What return is America going to get?” The motive of all giving and all charity should be love.I could also be a man of consuming zeal. Paul continues, “though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:3). Suppose I were like many Korean pastors during the Korean War. Seventeen hundred Korean pastors paid with their blood for their faith in Jesus Christ. Suppose I died at a stake or was shot for my faith in Jesus Christ. You would say, “Billy Graham is a man of consuming zeal. He died as a martyr.” God says it is nothing, unless I am filled with the love of God.
What a brilliant life this man lived–this mythical man the Bible describes. He was a man of eloquence, knowledge, power, charity, zeal, but the Bible says he was absolutely nothing without love.
What a powerful thing love must be! How much stock God puts in love.
You say, “Well, Billy, what do you mean by love? What is a demonstration of love?” We have it demonstrated in 1 Corinthians 13. This might cut some of us to the heart. It is going to probe down deep, because one thing that the church of Christ in America lacks is the demonstration of love, and Jesus said, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).
This love that the Bible is talking about in 1 Corinthians 13 “suffers long” (verse 5). In other words, it is patient. It is kind. It “does not envy.” There is no jealousy in this divine love that God gives. It “does not parade itself.” It is “not puffed up,” gives itself no airs. It is a love that demands humility. It never pushes itself to the top, never tries to promote itself, never tries to advertise itself. It is always in the background, truly humble. The thing that we need in the church today is genuine, old-fashioned humility.
Then, again in 1 Corinthians 13:5, the Bible says love “does not behave rudely.” It is always courteous and gracious at every turn. It “seeks not its own,” is never selfish. God looks after you, and you are to look after others, the Bible says. It is not easily provoked–not touchy or irritable. If people have to handle you with kid gloves, have to watch out what they say to you, you don’t know anything about this love that God is talking about.
Love “thinks no evil” (1 Corinthians 13:5). It never holds a grudge–never has malice. It rejoices not in iniquity, but in the truth (1 Corinthians 13:6). It is never glad when another falls. I know so many Christians today who, when they hear that another Christian has fallen, say, “Isn’t that too bad?” but they don’t mean it! They are happy that the other Christian has fallen because that places them just a little higher on the ladder of estimation in other people’s eyes.
Then the Bible says that this love “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7). It is slow to expose the evils and faults in others. It is eager to believe the best, and it is always hopeful and optimistic concerning the future. The Bible teaches that love is greater than faith and hope (1 Corinthians 13:13). Love is the greatest thing in all the world.
I will never forget when singer and composer Redd Harper came to Christ in Hollywood. He said that to him the most amazing and thrilling thing after he came to Christ was this fact: “I found that I loved everybody, no matter what race or color or creed they might be. I just wanted to go hug the whole world.”
When radio broadcaster Stuart Hamblen came to Christ, he said the same thing: “I fell in love with the whole world. There were certain people who had different racial characteristics from myself that I did not like before I was converted, but after I gave my heart to Christ, I fell in love with every one of them.”
Only this divine love that God gives will make us love others, and before we have revival in America we must have that kind of love among God’s people.
However, the greatest demonstration of love was God sending His own Son to die for you. You did not deserve to have Him die for you. You are a sinner!
The Bible says that you know nothing about this love if you are outside of Christ. It is impossible for you to have this divine love, because it is a gift of God only to those who love Christ.
But–God loves you! It makes no difference how deep in the mire of sin and transgression you have gone. God loves you today! He proved it by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for you on the cross.
At this moment you can receive Christ into your heart. God will give you this supernatural love until you love the whole world. That is the solution to the international problems that we face at this hour. It is the solution to your personal problems–to let Christ come in. When Christ comes in, love comes in and love shines forth.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version.
You can know this amazing love that the Bible talks about.
The Bible says that when we put our faith in Christ, God pours His love into our hearts. God forgives our sins and gives us eternal life. You need to admit that you are a sinner and receive Him by faith as your Lord and Savior. You can begin a relationship with God by praying a simple prayer like this:
“O God, I am a sinner. I’m sorry for my sin. Forgive me. I want to turn from my sin. I receive Jesus Christ as my Savior; I confess Him as my Lord. From now on I want to follow Him. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”