Turn to 1 Cor. 13 / John 13
Today we move into final section of the Believe series. We began with 10 weeks of What We Believe, then 10 weeks of What We Do, and now we enter the Who We Become section. The idea behind the next 10 sermons is transformation and progress - that the Christian life is not static. We are to grow in Christ-likeness. We are to “work out” our salvation in partnership with God to become the men and woman God wants us to be. Which is exactly what are mission statement is intended to communicate -
Our mission: Helping People Reach Their Full Potential In Christ: Physically, Spiritually, Emotionally.
That’s all about transformation … becoming like Jesus.
If you’re familiar with the Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5, with the addition of humility, that’s what the next 10 weeks are all about. So, can we read that together -
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
Our first topic is love. And our
Key Idea: I am committed to loving God and loving others.
(Choice, not a feeling).
There have been a lot of people throughout history who have said a lot of things about love. Love makes the world go around or it’s the universal language. Love is nothing more than a second hand emotion. And most recently, love wins. Every person has their own opinion on what is love. Therefore, I think it is important that we define authentic love - not from a human or neurological or religious or experiential perspective - we need the creator of love to define love for us.
Of course, we believe the Bible, God’s Word is the standard (canon) for all humanity, and He who commands us to love, not only defines love but walks the talk.
So what is love? I agree that Love Wins - but what do people mean by love? If there is no Creator of this universe, if it’s all by chance, which means that love is nothing more than an emotional or instinctive response - then every person has the right to define love how they see fit. Young people listen to me - if evolution is true, then no one gets to define what love is and what love is not - that is a scary world to live in. A person can do some really nasty and harmful things in the name of love - and they have every evolutionary right to do it. And that is what the spiritual forces of darkness want us to believe - for the fool says there is no god.
But, the wise believe in Yahweh, God who created this world, created humans - created us to love, to be loved and also gave us the definition of love. So, what is love? Let’s look at 1 Cor. 13 (not only).
The Apostle Paul wrote this letter to address the internal problems of the Corinthian church. All their problems - sexual immorality, division, lawsuits, all centered around a lack of Christ-like love. In chapters 12 and 14, he dealt with spiritual gifts. And sandwiched in between these two chapters is obviously chapter 13 - also known as - the Love Chapter.
Paul said this -
But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.
Gifts that edify and build up - because that’s what we want to do - build up, not tear down. Good question - are you building others up in this church? Gifts are awesome, but …
And I will show you a still more excellent way.
Gifts are secondary to love. And truthfully, spiritual gifts, programs, etc. can get in the way if they’re not done in love. That’s the point behind verse 1-3. So Paul says there is a “more excellent way” (ὑπερβολή, hyperbolē) - means to exceed beyond; to surpass. Gifts are great, but there is something that goes far beyond gifts, and it’s called love. Love goes beyond everything.
What is this crazy little thing called love? The Greek New Testament uses 3 primary words for love: Phileō (friend), Storgē (family), and Agapē (unconditional). Agapē is always used of God’s love for us and we are instructed to agapē others. Agapē is a non-sexual high regard for a person and their good (motivates to do what is best for that person) as defined by God and His character. God sets the standard for love simply by His own character (Eph. 5:1). This agapē love is a love that is lavished upon others without a thought whether they are worthy or not.
In verse 4, Paul begins to define how this agapē love expressed or lived out. I’ll highlight a few words - some correspond to our Western understanding - some don’t ….
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.
Agapē is patient. Patience (Greek) is the capacity to be wronged and not retaliate. To love like Jesus is to love with patience - with is internal and external control. One said this - it is delayed reaction.
As a person matures in Christ, as the sinful nature diminishes, and the new nature of holiness and righteousness of Christ increases - we should become slower to anger, quicker to forgive, quicker to love.
Agapē is kind. I think we understand what kindness looks like.
Then Paul gives us some negatives.
Agapē does not envy. To envy, in the Greek sense means to become painfully desirous of another’s advantages. See that in our culture? We have a movement in the US of people who are angry that others have an advantage - whether earned or not … that’s not love - it’s called envy is and envy is dangerous - it corrupts the mind, embitters the heart and it is not Christ-like love. This is one reason why humans are incapable of defining love - cannot trust ourselves to define love.
Agapē does boast. It is not it is not arrogant, proud - self-centered. Verse 5, Agapē is not rude - does not dishonor or shame others (abhorrent). Heart of rudeness is to dishonor another.
Agapē does not insist on its own way. Simple – love - not all about me.
Agapē is not irritable. This is a good one - Godly love is not over-sensitive or ultra-touchy. If you’re the person that causes others to walk on eggshells because you’re so sensitive …. Love does not keep us from being irritated or sensitive, but it should keep us from reacting.
Remember – this is about who we are becoming … we all have things to work on.
Agapē is not resentful, or some translations read keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not refuse to forgive others.
Verse 6 - Agapē does not rejoice at wrongdoing, or immorality or wickedness or that which is evil. The HCSB translates this as “Love finds no joy in unrighteousness.” If you are serious about following Jesus Christ, if you really want to be a godly person, if you really want to shine the Light of the Gospel in this dark world and live a life of love get rid of the immoral and wicked behavior, entertainment … and approval of such things …. The opposite should be the case - Agapē has the highest morals standards …. Agapē rejoices with the truth.
Verse 7 - Agapē bears all things. That means to cover, doesn’t expose dirty laundry of the Church or people …. Agapē believes all things - eager to believe the best …. This does not mean that love is gullible, but that it does not think the worst. Agapē hopes all things. Godly love is forward looking. It’s not blind or naïve optimism - Godly love considers reality. Godly love - God is in control …. Agapē endures all things. Fortitude. Endurance …. Verse 8 Agapē never ends. Love is perpetual - never a moment not to love.
What are we supposed to do with all that? Read it and move on? Or ask questions and listen to the Spirit? After all, we are to meditate on the Word and the Word is living and active, it judges our thoughts and attitudes. What might be some questions here? What does this teach me about God? Myself? Am I … patient, kind …? What would someone else say?
So, now that we have a more Biblical understanding of love, let’s turn to John 13. As you’re turning there, John 13 takes place at the tail end of what we call the Last Supper - Jesus had washed the disciples’ feet, Judas had left the scene … so this is hours before His arrest - then Jesus said …
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
Remember, Jesus is speaking to Jews. They might be thinking - “We’ve got 10 Commandments, over 600 laws, and you even said the greatest commandment is to Love God and our neighbor - and now you’re giving us another commandment!” Listen …
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love (this is the agapē) one another:
“I want you to love God – yes; I want you to love your neighbor – yes; but I also want you to love one another, and here’s how …” - just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
What might be some questions to ask here? How did Jesus love them? When did Jesus love them? How did He love them when the made mistakes? When the got it right?
How would we answer those questions?
I’ll say this - Jesus didn’t fix all their problems - but He did walk with them. Love doesn’t fix everything, but it does walk alongside.
Now, if we superimpose 1 Cor. 13 upon this new command, what do we get? “Be patient with one another just as I have been patient with you. Be kind …. Don’t be rude ….”
Why would Jesus give this new command? Because we’re human. Humans tend to complicate // get distracted // think programs // buildings // …. Jesus said, “If you genuinely love one another the way I have loved you (washed feet), what will happen?
By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
One last thing …
Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
Again, let’s superimpose 1 Cor. 13. We might read this as … I owe you … love. I owe you … patience. I owe you … kindness. I owe you ….
None of this is about feeling. It’s all about believing that you are loved by God (receiving), and then choosing to love others because we were first loved …. Key Idea: I am committed to loving God and loving others.
How do we get there? How do we become people who love like Jesus?
I don’t know - but God does. We all know we need to pray more, read more, do more … that’s all of us.
Have you asked Him? How can I best love God and others? Is the way that I am living now the best way to show God I love Him and show others that He loves them?
Prayer: Phil. 1:8-11 For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.