0242 Love is Our Thing
Encounter Radio Outline #0242
Air date: 10/20/02
Love is Our Thing
by Dr. Stephen F. Olford
Introduction: Paul has dealt with the servitude of lovingness in the membership (#0240) and stewardship (#0241) of the church. Now he concludes with:
C. The Servitude of Lovingness in the Fellowship of the Church (vv. 9, 13)
It is possible to be in the membership of the church and yet out of fellowship with the church. The very essence of fellowship is love, and so Paul proceeds to speak of the fellowship of the church in terms of love. He outlines seven characteristics of this love:
1. Love is Pure (v. 9)
In the greatest chapter on fellowship that we find in the new Testament, the apostle John shares with us the secret of maintaining the purity of our love to God and man (1 John 1:7). Walking in the light is nothing less than moral abhorence of all that is evil, and moral adherence to that which is good. Or to put it in another form, walking in the light presupposes three things in the experience of a Christian: the light of conversion, the light of confession, and the light of communion.
2. Love is Personal (v. 10)
The Bible tells us that if a person is born again he will “love the brethren” (1 John 3:14). In the New Testament, the word “affection” is limited to the members of the Christian family, and without doubt Paul employs it intentionally here to press home the responsibility of personal love within the fellowship of the church. True love seeks out individuals and loves them personally, giving recognition and honor to all Christians without respect of persons. It emphasizes and dramatizes the priority, identity, and security of the individual.
3. Love is Passionate (v. 11)
Passionate love has two essential elements: fervency and faithfulness. In the Greek, the word “fervent” means “to boil with heat” and is used of boiling anger, love, or zeal for what is good or bad. So a passionate Christian is a man or woman who zealously seeks the glory of God and the good of man in all his thinking and acting. But with this fervency there must be faithfulness. This brings us back again to our concept of the servitude of lovingness. Here is the fidelity of the servant whose love and loyalty to his master is unfailing and unflagging. So we see that the whole thought in this verse is that of a passionate love for the Lord Jesus in every aspect of Christian service.
4. Love is Positive (v. 12)
Love is always radiantly optimistic. Whatever the circumstances or crisis of life, love looks through to the final triumph of the Lord Jesus when He comes back again. In the New Testament, hope is not something elusive or ethereal. On the contrary, hope always depicts something living and lasting (1 Peter 1:3). And just as death has no more dominion over our risen Lord, so hope in the Christian’s heart can never die so long as Jesus is real, by the power of the indwelling Spirit. But more than this, hope is lasting (Heb. 6:19). The storms of life may come and go, but the anchor of hope remains sure and steadfast, because it is grounded in the love of God.
5. Love is Patient (v. 12)
Whatever the tribulation or persecution, the frustrations or oppositions, the believer is to endure. In simple terms, patience is “endurance with enjoyment.” It is possible to endure, and yet to moan and groan at one and the same time! But all this is changed when love comes in. Even the endurance of the cross can be a joy when love is the motivating force (Heb. 12:20).
6. Love is Prayerful (v. 12)
Paul links prayerfulness with steadfastness. In the original, this word conveys the idea of “constant attention to the matter in hand.” No Christian with love in his heart can neglect the Person, pattern, and purpose of prayer. Love is prayerful. It is only when people come together in prayer that the fellowship of love is strengthened and deepened.
7. Love is Practical (v. 13)
Paul is personifying love here as a pursuer who seeks out lonely souls in a loveless world in order that they might be given the hospitality of Christian love. Hospitality is the evidence of an open heart, open home, and open hand. So if we know anything of practical love, we are exhorted to pursue the ministry of hospitality rather than waiting for opportunities to present themselves.
Conclusion: What a glorious sevenfold manifestation of love is catalogued before us here! This is the servitude of lovingness in action. This makes the fellowship of the church radiant and real. But as we have seen, this servitude of lovingness is insolubly linked with the attitude of lowliness, and this in turn, is the mind of Christ. You and I can never receive or reflect the mind of Christ without humbling ourselves to the death of the cross. Only such humility will convince the church and the world that we are part of the Body of Christ, and that Jesus is our Head.
Stephen Olford Center for Biblical Preaching
P.O. Box 757800 Memphis, TN 38175-7800
Phone: (901) 757-7977 or (800) 843-2241 Fax: (901) 757-1372
Comments? Send mail to: OMI@olford.org