A Loving Church Characterized by Love- Part 2
1 Corinthians 13:1-113
INTRODUCTION: Often one of the first criticism leveled at churches is that they are not loving. Once in a church I was pastoring a woman told me that she thought the church was not loving. What was revealing was that she only came once every several months. Most times that is not true of a local church, but it is awful hard to counter the charge. Most times the people making the claim are those who have left and use this accusation to justify their leaving. They lay the fault in the laps of others.
2. Jesus said, "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another"(John 13:35). What does this type of love entail? Scripture gives us the answer.
Modern translations have changed the word “charity” which is found in our KJV Bibles to “love.” That is a mistake. This is why. The word 1 Corinthians 13 is “agape” which is translated most times a “love.” However, a noun is a thing. It is an item. “Charity” is the thing that defines biblical love. Meaning it is given as a benefit to others. The word “benefit” is found in our New Testaments and is the word charis, and is translated “grace 2 Cor. 1:15; it stresses the character of the “benefit,” as the effect of the gracious disposition of the benefactor.
The word “charity” is the better word. The word is defined at “ benevolent goodwill toward others, or love of humanity.”
1. Agape love is active, not abstract or passive. It does not simply "feel patient." It is patient! It practices patience. It does not simply have kind feelings. It does kind things.
Love is fully love only when it acts! Feeling beneficially to others is worthless unless it produces action.
“If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” (James 2:15-17)
2. Scripture tells us, "My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth" (1 John 3:18). The purpose 1 Corinthians 13 is not to give a "technical analysis" of love, but to break it down into "bite size" pieces so that we may more easily understand it and apply it in a practical way.
3. There is only one person whose name could be substituted for "love" in these verses: Jesus. In essence, this passage is a portrait of the Savior. At the same time, the goal of the Christian is to be "conformed into the image of His Son . . . " (Romans 8:29).
Thus, our goal should be to demonstrate this kind of love one to another. V. What then is biblical love. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
How do we really know what it is. Some churches do a lot of hand shaking, some do a lot of hugging. These things expression of caring, but love is a lot more than this. I do not often hug women in this church. Biblically, a man should hug his wife....and not other women. Hugging and kissing is something special for a husband and wife....and for their children and family. I do hug my wife and I occasionally put my arm around a brother in the Lord and hug him.... There is nothing wrong with women hugging each other and showing genuine biblical love.
Let us look at what God says is true love. A. Biblical Love is patient...it is longsuffering (vs. 4)
The word "patient" literally means "long tempered." This word is common in the New Testament, and it is used almost exclusively in being patient with people. Being patient means one is not quick to get angry....or to take offence.
Loving patience is the ability to be inconvenienced or taken advantage of by a person over and over again. Steven's last words were those of patient forgiveness: "Lord, do not hold this sin against them . . ." (Acts 7:60). This is true biblical love. As he lay dying, his concern was for the murderers rather than for himself.
This is the love that Jesus speaks of that "turns the other cheek." Its primary concern is for the welfare of others, not itself.
Philippians 2:3-4 says, "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others."
To Lincoln's credit, he never responded to these insults. Yet, when he was elected President, Lincoln chose Stanton to be his Secretary of War. When asked why, Lincoln said, "Because he is the best man!" Later, when Lincoln had been assassinated, Stanton stood by the coffin which contained Lincoln's body and said through his tears, "There lies the greatest ruler of men the world has ever seen." Patient love in action won this man over in the end!
If that instruction from God was followed....do you think there would be conflicts within churches. If each of us esteems the other as better than ourselves....what could possibility be the source of conflict?
How different this is from the secular thinking of our day, where everyone wants "their rights." The slogan of the day is, "What about my needs?" We declare we are right....and that is the only way it could be. We refuse to look at ourselves and cast the log out of our eyes, before we try to remote the little mote out of someone else’s eye. We don't forgive anymore. We get revenge. We sue. The love we are to have for others is the direct opposite.
C. Biblical Love is kind... (vs. 4)
Just as patience will take abuse from others, kindness will give anything to others. To be kind 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; it works for it. God is our supreme model in this: "Do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience? Not knowing that the kindness (goodness) of God leads you to repentance?" (Romans 2:4).
It is not an act of love or kindness to look for the fault in others. If a person does something...it is not love that puts a negative spin on it rather than a positive one.
ILLUS: Father scolded little Emma for using the expensive paper to wrap an old shoe box. The next morning, she came carrying the poorly wrapped present to her father wishing him a Happy Father's Day. Ashamed of his behavior, he proceeded to open the present only to find the box was empty. Father became very upset and harshly explained that you don't give presents that are empty. With a tear flowing down her little cheek, Emma hurriedly declared the box wasn't empty. That she had spent all day blowing kisses into the box just for him. Needless to say, father was humbled by her little face and apologized as he embraced his little girl. The old shoe box was guarded and cherished till father's death. Emma found the shoe box tucked away in father's closet and inside was a note......"Emma, for every kiss I've removed from this box of love, I've replaced with my kiss for you, my precious little girl."
D. Biblical Love does not envy... (vs.4)
This is the first of eight negative descriptions of what love is not. There are two kinds of jealousy:
2. We wish that someone else didn't have what they had. We often resent what others have. This is more than just selfishness; it is desiring evil for someone else. There will always be someone out there doing better than you. You can either live with it and "be content with such things that you have," or you can be eaten up with jealousy. James 3:14-18 warns:
"But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace."
In other words, love does not brag or "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. Love does not remind a person of the great "sacrifice" you have made for them.
It is trying to show we are more spiritual than someone else...that is what the Pharisees did. We don’t do this or that and that makes us spiritual? We look down on others....judgmentally. We don’t celebrate Christmas...it is a pagan holiday....and all the while that person has bitterness and an unforgiving heart....
This speaks of that aspect of fallen nature where we always want "to have our way." The world should revolve around us, we think. Often those who accuse others of not being loving are themselves very selfish. They see themselves as right and will not concede they have any fault of their own. They seek their own interests and are not really interested in others.
Wouldn’t it be so much better to reach out to others....to be like the “make a wish foundation.” Seeking to fulfill others dreams and desires..... What joy we get out of seeing others happy and see their needs fulfilled.
To provoke means "to arouse anger, a convulsion or sudden outburst." Love guards against being irritated, upset, or angered by things said or done against it. Ephesians 4:26 reminds us, "Don't let the sun go down on your wrath or anger."
It is love that provokes others to anger? And what is the benefit of provocation? Does it not just cause more hurt, hard feels. How can their be any reconciliation where there is provocation?
This means that you do not "take things into account." It comes from a bookkeeping term that means "to calculate; enter into a ledger a permanent record that can be consulted when needed." The love of Christ if in a person’s heart will not judge all they do with a critical eye..... It will not seek to find fault....a reason to criticize.... The love of Christ seeks to bring peace.....to show love and think the best of others...
In other words, love believes the best of every person. It is not suspicious or cynical. If a loved one is accused of something wrong, love will consider him or her innocent until proven guilty. You will stick up for them! What a wonderful thing it is to know when you are accused falsely, when you are criticized, belittled, and put down that a brother or sister stands up for you.... That is what biblical love does.....it stands by a brother or sister.
It refuses to give up, surrender, stop believing or hoping. No matter how ugly or how humiliating the attack....the love of Christ in one’s heart stops the desire to fight back, to lash out and to seek vengeance. It keeps the door open and prays for God’s intervention...it turns the outer cheek. Oh, yes the tears will flow, the hurt will swell up inside till we think it will kill us...but biblical love is not overcome.
Love will simply not stop loving.
2. May God help us to apply these godly principles in our lives and be loving Christians, and therefore may this we here continue be a loving Church.