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Jun 06, 2021

Passing the Test

Passage: 1 Corinthians 13:1-13

Speaker: Doug Swagerty

Category: Sermon

Sermon Summary:
This is one of the most familiar but misunderstood passages in the Bible. Paul did not intend this to be inspirational—it is a rebuke.

Verse 12 draws our attention to the perspective-shaping goal of following Christ: full face-to-face communion with God. To reach this goal you need to pass the test:

(1) You're Taking the Wrong Test (vs 1-3) -
  • Paul summarizes everything the Corinthians were striving for: Spectacular gifts, great leadership qualities, tremendous sacrifices. But it's not about talent or accomplishments. Even if you achieve all these things, it means nothing without love!

(2) You Can't Pass the Right Test (vs 4-8a) -
  • Paul lists the requirements for the "Right Test"—and it's everything the Corinthians are not striving for.
  • The Right Test is Pass/Fail, and a passing grade is 100%; anything less than 100% is Fail. "Always, Always, Always, Never Fails."
  • The bar is set too high to achieve!

(3) There is One Who Passed the Test -
  • Replace "love/it" with "Jesus" and you see that He accomplished it all.

(4) Jesus Passed the Test For You -
  • He left face-to-face communion with God to rescue us. He had spectacular gifts, the greatest leadership qualities, and lived a life of immeasurable sacrifice—and He did it all in perfect love. On the cross He bore our failure, and the Father turned away from Him.
  • He did it so that we could have what He has: face-to-face communion with God, fully known and fully loved.

If we look to this passage for inspiration, and are honest with ourselves, we will end up depressed and crushed by failure. But if we see that Jesus passed the test perfectly for us, because of His great love for us, we will be saved and empowered to follow Him.

Discussion Questions:
  1. Think of an accomplishment you are proud of, or a goal you are striving for. Is Paul saying it is worthless without love? Share how this sits with you.
  2. Think of your worst failure, or a sin you are currently struggling with. How do you think Jesus feels about you in light of this? Read verses 4-8a and replace "love/it" with "Jesus". Share how this sits with you.
  3. Jesus has passed the test for you. How does this shape your perspective on your accomplishments and failures?
  4. Pray for each other.