Love & the Spirit

Love and the Spirit

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge,…but do not have love, I am nothing.” ~ 1 Corinthians 13


  1. *Activity* Make a list of at least ten different moods (like passionate, impish, bored, etc.).  Print out another list of at least twenty different familiar sayings or phrases (like “You can’t keep a good man down,” “Imma let you finish,” or “I just gotta be me”) or write them individually on index cards.  Have a member of your group select (secretly!) one of the moods, and then hand him or her one of the sayings.  The group member must read the saying in the mood chosen beforehand.  Other members in your group have to guess which the intended mood was.  Award points for correct guesses to both guessers and the reader.
  2. *Activity* Carry a pot and a big wooden spoon around with you.  Whenever anyone tries to have a conversation, start banging the pot.  (If necessary, explain that you’re illustrating a point that you’ll make later.  Otherwise, just let them wonder.)
  3. *Discussion* What causes some people to say that they love God, but hate his kids?  Are they just being cranky, or is there something to their complaint?


Main Points (Choose ONE)

1. Empty spirituality will always drive others away, not draw them closer.

2. God gives us the Holy Spirit so that we can love more effectively.

3. We don’t have to ‘fake it’ when we try to love each other, because the love we show is God’s own love being expressed through us.



1. 1 Corinthians 13:1– “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge…but do not have love, I am nothing.”

How important are these things:

*The Baptism in the Holy Spirit?  (That’s the reference of “If I speak in the tongues of men or of  angels)

*Spiritual gifts    like prophecy—but also the other miraculous gifts)?,  Spiritual insight and understanding?

Answer: They’re all VERY important.

2. Paul says that without love, their possessor is nothing.  Notice that he does NOT say that the person “can do nothing” or  “knows                 nothing” or “has nothing.”   These things are actually important.  He’s not saying that they aren’t.

* What does it mean for him to say “I am nothing”?

It means that he’s missed out on the most important thing. Other people will judge him to be irrelevant.  It’s very easy to become    “spiritual”—knowledgeable, pious, well-behaved, and dedicated—without changing the way we relate to other people. That’s one of the primary reasons that non-Christians get fed up with the Church.

If we don’t allow our relationship with God to alter our relationships with other people, then we are nothing.  That sort of empty spirituality grates on the nerves.  It’s as obnoxious as a clanging bell or a noisy cymbal crash.

If that’s all that people hear or see from us, it’s no wonder that they’d rather be someplace else.

John 14:15-15:17         The Holy Spirit helps us understand God’s love.  Consider the following two Scriptures, in which Jesus tells his disciples what it will mean for them to have the Holy Spirit of God as their constant companion.                                                                

John 14:26 – “The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things.”

Jesus makes this promise repeatedly during the Last Supper, right before he was arrested and everything changed.  He wanted his disciples to know that he wasn’t abandoning them.

* What is it that the Holy Spirit is supposed to teach them?  (See below.)         

* John 14:20-21 – “On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.  Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

The Holy Spirit—being God himself—helps us to experience firsthand the way that God loves.  One of the things that the Holy Spirit specifically helps us to understand is that God loves us more incredibly and passionately than we could ever guess.

1. Romans 8:15-16 tells us that it’s the Holy Spirit that makes us feel like we’ve really been adopted by God and have a special relationship with him. Experiencing that kind of love changes us. The Holy Spirit enables us to love each other.

2. Right after telling the disciples that the Holy Spirit would teach them how much God loved them, he gave them a command.

John 15:12“My command is this: love each other as I have loved you.”

John 15:17“This is my command: love each other.”

He repeated his command.  He said it two times.  Twice. He wasn’t just being redundantly redundant.  He was emphasizing it.  It was important to him.

The command comes right on the heels of all his talk about sending the Holy Spirit to be with them permanently and the love that God has for them.

  1. The Holy Spirit would enable them to love more effectively.
    1. That’s good, because some people are pretty unlovable.
    2. It’s also good because we can be pretty lousy at treating others in a loving manner.
    3. The love that they were to show to each other was nothing other than the very love that God showed to them.
      1. God was equipping them to love by showing them what it was like to be loved.
      2. It would be pretty lousy to withhold from someone else the sort of generous love that they were receiving from God.

Human Struggles

  1. It’s sometimes easier to talk about a God we cannot see than to love the jerk sitting next to us.
  2. God’s love is so pure and so relentless that it sometimes makes us feel uncomfortable.
  3. Some people are pretty unlovable.

Application Helps

  1. The very next time you hear or sing a worship song, stop and consider the ways in which its message might be relevant to the way you treat other people.  The connection might not be obvious at first, but keep at it until you gain some insight.  The Holy Spirit will help you learn.  (That’s one of the things he does best.)
  2. Think about one person that you have a really hard time loving.  Write a one-page letter to them—one that will NEVER be sent, okay?—as if it were God writing about his love for them.  Examine how God must look at that person and that person’s choices, keeping in mind just how pure and relentless God’s love is.
  3. Consider ways that we can make our spirituality less empty (in your cell group, in Chi Alpha, or at your church), so that others are drawn to our meetings instead of encountering a bunch of ‘clanging gongs.’