Love Is Something You Do Pt 2
Love Is Something You Do Pt 2
1 Corinthians 13:4-13
When you plan your family vacation, how do you decide which roads to take? I guess that depends on how old your children are; if they are young you probably look for the shortest route; one that will reduce the number of times you have to hear, “Are we there yet?”
But seriously how do you pick your route? Do you sit down take out a road map and search for the most indirect, complicated and time consuming route to go? Do you choose roads that might be considered small and treacherous? Or do you look for the most pleasant way or maybe the fastest way, maybe even the most scenic way?
Whatever way you choose unless you a little unusual you will choose the way that you think is the best way! If I am going to a place in which I have never been I will take a map and study it for the best way possible and then I will depart with conviction on my way to my destination.
In the 13 chapter of 1 Corinthians Paul is telling us the believers there that the road the choose to travel is not the best way, in fact the verse that reveals the proper context and purpose of this particular chapter is chapter 12:31 which reads,
“ But earnestly desire the greater gifts. And I show you a still more excellent way.”
What Paul is saying to them, “if your desire is right I can show you a more excellent way.”
I shared with you last week that Paul has been dealing with the Church at Corinth concerning one problem after another all the way up to this point in chapter Paul reveals that there is a “more excellent way” and that way involves living a life that characterizes the love of Christ.
The problem back then is still the problem of today and that is one of not knowing that there is a difference in what we call love and what God reveals to be love.
In verses 1-3 of chapter 13 Paul tells the Corinthians,
“I can posses what you revere to be the best spiritual gifts, I can speak of the love of Christ in every language known to man, I can even speak in the language of angels, I can give all of my passions to feed the poor, I can be a martyr, and have the faith to move mountains, but if I do not have Love, agape Love, then I am worthless, I have nothing.”
Now after telling them what life would be like without the love of Christ being a distinguishing mark in his life, Paul will now answer the question that everyone was surely asking, “What is love?”
We try to answer that question from mans perspective and we always come up short, like the line from the old movie, “Love is never having to say I your sorry” to the line from the old song, “What the world needs now, is love sweet love” our definition is wrong, never having to say I am sorry places the focus on you love is about the other person always! And the world does not need love sweet love it needs “Agape Love” in the lives of those who profess to be Christians. As one Christian appropriately stated,
“It is no chore for me to love the whole world. My only real problem is my neighbor next door.”
Turn with me to 1 Corinthians 13, beginning in verse 4.
1 Corinthians 13:4-13
4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant,
5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,
6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;
7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.
9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part;
10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.
11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.
12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.
13 But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.
As I stated earlier the previous passage (vv. 1-3) focuses on the emptiness produced when love is absent.
In verses 4-5 we find the most complete biblical description of the fullness of love.
Paul is going breakdown the many facets of Agape love and use each of these facets to paint a picture of the true meaning of love. In fact Paul will give us 15 true properties of love.
Unlike most English translations, which include several adjectives, the Greek forms of all 15 of those properties are verbs. They do not focus on what love is as much as on what love does and does not do.
Agape love is active, not abstract or passive. It does not simply feel patient, it practices patience. It does not simply have kind feelings, it does kind things. It does not simply recognize the truth, it rejoices in the truth. Love is fully love only when it acts, love is something you do!
John wrote in 1 John 3:18
18 Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.
The purpose of Paul's portrait of love is not to give us a mechanical definition of love, but to break it down into smaller parts so that we may more easily understand and apply its full, rich meaning.
As with all of God's Word, we cannot truly begin to understand love until we begin to apply it in our lives.
Paul's primary purpose here is not simply to instruct the Corinthians but to change their living habits. He wanted them carefully and honestly to measure their lives against those characteristics of love.
Paul is painting a portrait of love, and Jesus Christ is sitting for the portrait. He lived out in perfection all of these virtues of love. This beautiful picture of love is a portrait of Him.
1. Love Is Patient
Love practices being patient or long-suffering, literally, "long-tempered" (makrothumeō). The word is common in the New Testament and is used almost exclusively of being patient with people, rather than with circumstances or events.
Love's patience is the ability to be inconvenienced or taken advantage of by a person over and over again and yet not be upset or angry.
It was Chrysostom, the early church Father, who said, "It is a word which is used of the man who is wronged and who has it easily in his power to avenge himself but will never do it."
Patience never retaliates or gets even.
Like agape love itself, the patience spoken of in the New Testament was a virtue only among Christians. In the Greek world self-sacrificing love and non-avenging patience were considered a weaknesses and vengeance was a virtue.
But love, God's love, is the very opposite. Its primary concern is for the welfare of others, not itself, and it is much more willing to be taken advantage of than to take advantage, much less to avenge. Love does not retaliate.
The Christian who acts like Christ never takes revenge for being hurt, insulted, or abused. He refuses to "pay back evil for evil," but if he is slapped on the right cheek, he will turn the left.
Paul said in 2 Cor. 6:6, that patience was a characteristic of his own heart and should characterize every Christian.
Think of Stephen's last words, Acts 7:20, they were words of patient forgiveness: "Lord, do not hold this sin against them!"
As he lay dying under the painful, crushing blows of the stones, his concern was more for his murderers rather than for himself. He was long-tempered, patient to the absolute extreme.
But the supreme example of patience, of course, is God Himself. It is God's patient love that prevents the world from being destroyed. It is His patience and long-suffering that allows time for men to be saved. Look with me at 2 Pet. 3:9
9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.
Think of this as He was dying on the cross, rejected by those He had come to save, Jesus prayed, "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing."
Robert Ingersoll, the well-known atheist of the last century, often would stop in the middle of his lectures against God and say, "I'll give God five minutes to strike me dead for the things I've said." He then used the fact that he was not struck dead as proof that God did not exist. Theodore Parker said of Ingersoll's claim, "And did the gentleman think he could exhaust the patience of the eternal God in five minutes?"
Since Adam and Eve first disobeyed Him, God has been continually wronged and rejected by those He made in His own image. He was rejected and scorned by His chosen people, through whom he gave the revelation of His Word, "the oracles of God."
Yet through the thousands of years, the eternal God has been eternally long-suffering. If the holy Creator is so infinitely patient with His rebellious creatures, how much more should His unholy creatures be patient with each other?
One of Abraham Lincoln's earliest political enemies was Edwin M. Stanton. He called Lincoln a "low cunning clown" and "the original gorilla." "It was ridiculous for people to go to Africa to see a gorilla," he would say, "when they could find one easily in Springfield, Illinois." Lincoln never responded to the slander, but when, as president, he needed a secretary of war, he chose Stanton.
When his incredulous friends asked why, Lincoln replied, "Because he is the best man." Years later, as the slain president's body lay in state, Stanton looked into the coffin and said through his tears, "There lies the greatest ruler of men the world has ever seen." His animosity was finally broken by Lincoln's long-suffering, non-retaliatory spirit. Patient love won out.
2. Love Is Kind
Just as patience will take anything from others, kindness will give anything to others, even to its enemies.
Being kind is the counterpart of being patient. To be kind (chrēsteuomai) means to be useful, serving, and gracious. It is active goodwill. It not only feels generous, it is generous. It not only desires others' welfare, but works for it. When Jesus commanded His disciples, including us, to love their enemies, He did not simply mean to feel kindly about them but to be kind to them. "If anyone wants to sue you, and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. And whoever shall force you to go one mile, go with him two" (Matt. 5:40-41).
The hard environment of an evil world gives love almost unlimited opportunity to exercise that sort of kindness.
Again God is the supreme model. "Do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?" , Paul reminds us in . Rom. 2:4.
To Titus he wrote, "But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior."
Peter tells us that we should "long for the pure milk of the word" and thereby "grow in respect to salvation," because we "have tasted the kindness of the Lord" (1 Pet. 2:2-3).
In Matt. 11:30 Jesus says, "For My yoke is easy, and My load is light." The word He used for "easy" is the one translated kind in 1 Cor. 13:4.
In His love for those who belong to Him, Jesus makes His yoke "kind," or mild. He makes sure that what His people are called to bear for Him is bearable. The first test of Christian kindness, and the test of every aspect of love, is the home. The Christian husband who acts like a Christian is kind to his wife and children. Christian brothers and sisters are kind to each other and to their parents.
They have more than kind feelings toward each other; they do kind, helpful things for each other—to the point of loving self-sacrifice, when necessary.
For the Corinthians, kindness meant giving up their selfish, jealous, spiteful, and proud attitudes and adopting the spirit of loving-kindness. Among other things, it would allow their spiritual gifts to be truly and effectively ministered in the Spirit, rather than superficially and unproductively counterfeited in the flesh.
3. Love Is Not Jealous
Here is the first of eight negative descriptions of love. Love is not jealous. Love and jealousy are mutually exclusive. Where one is, the other cannot be. Shakespeare called jealousy the "green sickness." It also has been called "the enemy of honor" and "the sorrow of fools." Jealousy, or envy, has two forms. One form says, "I want what someone else has." If they have a better car than we do, we want it. If they are praised for something they do, we want the same or more for ourselves.
That sort of jealousy is bad enough. A worse kind says, "I wish they didn't have what they have" We do not have the time this morning but read Matt. 20:1-16 some time Jesus taught this form of jealousy.
The second sort of jealousy is more than selfish; it desires evil for someone else. It is jealousy on the deepest, most corrupt, and destructive level.
That is the jealousy Solomon uncovered in the woman who pretended to be a child's mother. When her own infant son died, she secretly exchanged him for the baby of a friend who was staying with her. The true mother discovered what had happened and, when her dispute was taken before the king, he ordered the baby to be cut in half, a half to be given to each woman. The true mother pleaded for the baby to be spared, even if it meant losing possession of him. The false mother, however, would rather have had the baby killed than for the true mother to have him (1 Kings 3:16-27).
One of the hardest battles a Christian must fight is against jealousy. There is always someone who is a little better or who is potentially a little better than you are. We all face the temptation to jealousy when someone else does something better than we do. The first reaction of the flesh is to wish that person ill.
4. Love Does Not Brag
When the loving person is himself successful he does not boast of it. He does not brag. Love does not parade its accomplishments. Bragging is the other side of jealousy. Jealousy is wanting what someone else has. Bragging is trying to make others jealous of what we have. Jealousy puts others down; bragging builds us up.
It is ironic that, as much as most of us dislike bragging in others, we are so inclined to brag ourselves.
5. Love Is Not Arrogant
The Corinthian believers thought they had arrived at perfection. Paul already had warned them in chapter 4:6-8, "not to exceed what is written, in order that no one of you might become arrogant in behalf of one against the other. For who regards you as superior? He asked, and what do you have that you did not receive? But if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it? You are already filled," he continues sarcastically, "you have already become rich, you have become kings without us; and I would indeed that you had become kings so that we also might reign with you." Becoming still more sarcastic, he says, "We [the apostles] are fools for Christ's sake, but you are prudent in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are distinguished, but we are without honor" (v. 10). A few verses later the apostle is more direct: "Now some of you have become arrogant, as though I were not coming to you" (v. 18).
Everything good that the Corinthians had came from the Lord, and they therefore had no reason to boast and be arrogant. Yet they were puffed up and conceited about their knowledge of doctrine, their spiritual gifts, and the famous teachers they had had. They were so corrupted by their pride that they even boasted about their carnality, worldliness, idolatry, and immorality, including incest, which was not even practiced by pagans (5:1). They were arrogant rather than repentant; they bragged rather than mourned (v. 2). Love, by contrast, is not arrogant.
6. Love Does Not Act Unbecomingly
Love does not act unbecomingly. The principle here has to do with poor manners, with acting rudely. It is not as serious a fault as bragging or arrogance, but it stems from the same lovelessness. It does not care enough for those it is around to act becomingly or politely. It cares nothing for the feelings or sensitivities of others. The loveless person is careless, overbearing, and often crude.
7. Love Does Not Seek Its Own
Love does not seek its own. Here is probably the key to everything. The root evil of fallen human nature is in wanting to have its own way. R. C. H. Lenski, the well-known Bible commentator, has said, "Cure selfishness and you have just replanted the garden of Eden." Adam and Eve rejected God's way so that they could have their own. Self replaced God. That is the opposite of righteousness and the opposite of love. Love is not preoccupied with its own things but with the interests of others.
Paul wrote in Philippians 2:4, “do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”
The story is told of a chauffeur who drove up to a cemetery and asked the minister who served as caretaker to come to the car, because his employer was too ill to walk. Waiting in the car was a frail old lady with sunken eyes that showed years of hurt and anguish. She introduced herself and said she had been sending five dollars to the cemetery for the past several years to be used for flowers for her husband's grave. "I have come in person today," she said, "because the doctors have given me only a few weeks to live and I wanted to see the grave for one last time." The minister replied, "You know I am sorry you have been sending money for those flowers." Taken aback, she said, "What do you mean?" "Well, I happen to be a part of a visiting society that visits patients in hospitals and mental institutions. They dearly love flowers. They can see them and smell them. Flowers are therapy for them, because they are living people." Saying nothing, she motioned the chauffeur to leave. Some months later the minister was surprised to see the same car drive up, but with the woman herself at the wheel. She said, "At first I resented what you said to me that day when I came here for a last visit. But as I thought about it, I decided you were right. Now I personally take flowers to the hospitals. It does make the patients happy and it makes me happy, too. The doctors can't figure out what made me well, but I know I now have someone else to live for."
As always, Jesus is our perfect model. He "did not come to be served, but to serve" (Matt. 20:28).
The Son of God lived His life for others. God incarnate was love incarnate. He was the perfect incarnation of self-giving love. He never sought His own welfare, but always the welfare of others.
8. Love Is Not Provoked
The Greek paroxunō, here translated provoked, means to arouse to anger and is the origin of the English word par-ox-sysm, a convulsion or sudden outburst of emotion or action. Love guards against being irritated, upset, or angered by things said or done against it. It is not provoked.
Love Does Not Take into Account a Wrong Suffered
Take into account come from a Greek bookkeeping term that means to calculate or reckon, as when figuring an entry in a ledger. The purpose of the entry is to make a permanent record that can be consulted whenever needed. In business that practice is necessary, but in personal matters it is not only unnecessary but, it is also harmful. Keeping track of things done against us is a sure way to unhappiness.
9. Love Does Not Rejoice in Unrighteousness
10. Love Rejoices with the Truth
11. Love Bears All Things
12. Love Believes All Things
13. Love Hopes All Things
14. Love Endures All Things
15. Love never fails
Love never fails. Throughout all eternity love will never end. Love lasts.
Many of the Corinthians continually had their eyes on the wrong things.
They were overly concerned about the temporary and had little concerned I any about the permanent.
Instead of being God's salt in Corinth, they were being flavored by the culture around them.
Instead of penetrating Corinth with a spirit of godliness, Corinth's spirit of ungodliness had penetrated the church.
Instead of being obedient to God's Spirit and controlled by the fruit He gives, they were infected by materialism, pride, antagonism, selfishness, compromise, indulgence, hatred, sexual immorality, jealousy, and virtually every other sin imaginable. They were called to be light, but they did deeds of darkness.
They were called to be righteous, but lived in sin. Instead of Corinth being Christianized, the church was being paganized. Of all their many failings the Corinthian believers' greatest failure was in love. Just as the presence of "love covers a multitude of sins" (1 Pet. 4:8), the lack of love causes a multitude of sins.
The Corinthians had great lovelessness and great sin. What they needed above all else was great love and great righteousness. That which most completely characterizes God Himself should characterize His children.
This is true for us today. We must learn to bear the most distinguishing mark of true Christianity and that is the mark of Agape Love.
We cannot walk in that love without first having a relationship with the lord Jesus Christ. Let us stand and go the lord in prayer. Invitation