The most essential ingredient in a Christian’s life is love, according to Bishop Delton Fernander, who declared that the Apostle Paul makes this fact known in 1 Corinthians 13. And if believers are going to be like Christ, he insists they have to love like Christ.
“Jesus gave the best example of what a life of love [looks like] because when his life ended on this earth, his love was resurrected and continued by those who love him,” said Fernander during his Valentine’s Day sermon on Sunday past at New Destiny Baptist Cathedral.
“Those who live a life of love are those who know the Lord loved them first. These are the ones whose lives seem to have a little more peace, a little more gratitude, a little more prayer, a little more compassion, [and] a little more real Christian love.”
He said Jesus showed his love on Calvary with nails in his hands and feet and by wearing a crown of thorns on his head and being speared in his side.
“They hung him high. They stretched him wide. He hung his head and then he died. That’s love,” said Fernander. But he reminded worshippers that Jesus again showed his love by rising from the dead three days later.
“He arose from the grave with all power in his hands. His life on earth ended, but even now – his love continues.”
Valentine’s Day, also called the Feast of Saint Valentine, is celebrated annually on February 14. It originated as a Christian fest day honoring one or two early Christian martyrs named Saint Valentine and through later folk traditions, has become a significant cultural, religious, and commercial celebration of romance and love in many regions around the world.
There are a number of martyrdom stories associated with various valentines connected to the day, including an account of the imprisonment of Saint Valentine of Rome for ministering to Christians persecuted under the Roman Empire in the third century.
The Feast of Saint Valentine was established by Pope Gelasius 1 in AD 496 to be celebrated on February 14, in honor of Saint Valentine of Rome, who died on that date in AD 269. The day became associated with romantic love in the 14th and 15th centuries when notions of courtly love flourished, apparently by association with the “lovebirds” of early spring.
Fernander reminded worshippers on the day recognized for love that in Corinthians, Paul speaks to each believer having special gifts, according to God’s purpose, but at the same token, warns believers to not become overly occupied with the quantity and type of gifts, because all gifts come from God.
“In [Corinthians] chapter 13, Paul notes that the most essential element to any believer is love. Without love, which is translated [as] charity, the unique nature of a believer cannot reveal itself.”
Fernander said love is demonstrated more than it is felt.
“It reflects itself in the words and deeds of an individual and is closely associated with actions. In 1 Corinthians 13:1, Paul says that love is more important than spiritual gifts: ‘If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding going or clanging cymbal.’”
The New Destiny Baptist Cathedral senior pastor said on the day of Pentecost, when the first gospel sermon was ever preached, God gave the apostles the special gift of being able to speak in languages that they had never learned, so that the people hearing them could understand what was being said.
But he said in 1 Corinthians, Paul says that if God gave him the gift of speaking every human language – and even the heavenly language of the angels, but if he did not have love, then he would be nothing more than a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
“In 1 Corinthians 13:2, Paul says that love is more important than knowledge. ‘If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge – but have not love, I am nothing’. Paul says that even if you know it all, if you know everything there is to know about nuclear science, about medicine and philosophy and psychology and every other kind of ‘ology’ – if you know it all, but have not love, then you are nothing at all.
“Thirdly, Paul says that love is more important than faith. Now, he doesn’t say that faith is not important. He just says the love is more important. He said, ‘If I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.’”
According to Fernander, even faith is of no value unless it is backed up by love.
“In Galatians 5:6, Paul says, ‘The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.’”
Love he said is also more important than generosity.
“Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13:3, ‘If I give all I possess to the poor, and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.’ Now notice that he doesn’t say ‘if I give 10 percent’ – he says if I empty my checking account, if I cash in my insurance policies, if I give everything away to help the poor, and even sacrifice myself, but I don’t have love, then I gain nothing at all.”
Generosity by itself he assures is not enough. He said if the only reason a person gives is to receive, or to benefit themselves, then love is absent and giving is empty.
Fernander maintains the motive for giving should be love – love for God and love for God’s people. And he assures Jesus gave the best example of what a life of love looks like when his life ended on earth and his love was resurrected and continued by those who love him.
“His life on earth ended, but even now, his love continues,” Fernander told his membership.
Fernander’s sermon on Valentine’s Day, focusing on Paul, makes it known that love is the most essential ingredient in a Christian life.