Sunday, May 19, 2019
This Is Love: The Way of Love
1 Corinthians 13
ILL: Remember "The Dating Game"? Where contestants asked eligible bachelors or bachelorettes questions to determine which one, they would want to go on a date with.
What if we did like "The Christian Game?" Like the Pastor or Administrative Board had to ask potential members questions before they could become Christians?
- Christian #1 I’m looking for new members of my church, what would you do if you found someone beaten up and bleeding by the side of the road? And the Levite Priest answers: "Well it depends, if it was someone that I thought was unclean or unworthy of my help, I would cross over to the other side and pass on by"
Alright! ...Well potential Christian #2, I’m obviously still looking for new members, and I want to know what you would do if you were wronged by someone or found out about someone else’s faults? He answered, well me, I would get a bunch of my friends together and we would drag that person to the feet of Jesus and accuse them of their sin, like say "adultery".
Okay? Well Christian #3, I haven’t made up my mind yet, but you might be able to determine if you are the next new Christian if you could tell me what you would do if you found out someone needed a coat, or was in prison, or hungry? ...The contestant answers back: "Let them get their own coat, and they messed up and deserved prison"... You get the point!
The point is - how can we be a Christian without the character of love? And how can we claim to be Christians and not show love? It is a fruit of the Spirit? It is a sign that we have truly been empowered by the Spirit of God.
ILL: "At a men’s retreat a truck driver told about the change Christ had made in his life, and he was asked to think of some specific way in which he was different. After a pause, he said: “Well, when I find somebody tailgating my truck, I no longer drive on the shoulder of the road to kick up pebbles and rocks on them.”
What becomes clear, is that love is not so much a "Feeling"... "Oooo you make me feel so good" and "O you make my heart race and pitter patter" BUT love is an action. If you rely on feeling, you could easily say "Well I have fallen out of love with you".
But this love is "agapao" or "agape" love. It is "unconditional love". It can’t be lost or fallen away from because it is "unconditional". It is active love.
John 21 Jesus said, "If you love me keep my commandments", not "if you love me get all warm and fuzzy.” He told Peter "If you love me, feed my lambs…tend my sheep…feed my sheep.”
What we come away with here is that if you have everything, but don’t have love, then what do you have? If you have a new car but can’t forgive someone of their sin, then what do you have? If you have a great job but don’t show love to your neighbor, it is like a loud gong or a clanging cymbal. What do you have if you don’t have love? It is and should be our character as Christians.
In fact, Paul writes "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing."
Paul goes a step further to tell us what love is and what love is not. What actions represent love, and what actions do not.
1. Love is patient: Just think how patient Jesus was with the disciples or with the multitudes coming to be healed! How patient he was with Peter! And we have to be patient with one another in the Church! Patient with one another in our households! In our communities.
2. Love is kind: If someone were to pay us ten cents for every kind word we’ve ever spoken about people, and then take back five cents for every unkind word we’ve ever spoken about people, would we be poor or rich? Kindness costs no money. It’s as easy to go around with a smile as it is to go around with a frown. Kindness is a big step in the Christian aim to “overcome evil with good.” To pay a visit to someone, to say a kind word of cheer or comfort, to convey friendliness by a handshake…
Love does not criticize the work of others. It does not attack worship styles of others even if you don’t like it. That isn’t love and isn’t the character of a Christian.
3. Love does not envy or boast: It is impossible for love to covet……in fact, love is the complete opposite of that depraved attitude.
Being enraged by envy and being influenced by self-praise are marks of the flesh, not the Spirit. When we are operating in the Spirit, we then have a proper understanding of the love of Christ who willingly emptied Himself of His divine privileges to rescue us. This should cause us to celebrate and rejoice when honor and accolades are given to others.
4. Love is not arrogant or rude or insists on its own way: Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record when it has been wronged. Are you staying with me on this? If you are in a marriage, or if you are in a relationship, or if you are claiming to be a Christian and you are rude; proud; demand your own way or are keeping a scorecard of wrongs... Let’s see I remember when she did this to me, and she was very curt at the Sunday School meeting, and my husband didn’t pick up his socks last week ... and your keeping score that isn’t love. Love is gentle. It is not self-seeking.
ILL: The Germans have a word that can’t be completely translated into English……but it’s meaning is to take a kind of malicious delight in the misfortunes of others. Christians should never take pleasure in the problems of others… …we are to leave that to the minions of hell!" It is not the character of a Christian.
5. Love is not irritable or resentful: love is not provoked. It is not easily angered or over-sensitive. We are to be careful not to be touchy concerning other people’s words or actions toward us.
6. Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth: Think about that, don’t rejoice in injustice. Remember the scene at camp when you were a kid? The first day when someone dropped their tray at lunch time everybody in the cafeteria clapped. Ha-ha-ha, you big clumsy oaf. Kids laughed and pointed fingers but the victim, how did they feel? Probably not so good. Love says you do not clap at someone else’s suffering, but you get up and go over and help them.
7. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things: Love will last forever: Do you realize that? Love is not downtrodden or beaten! Love is not defeated or dejected! Love is in the hope of a Samaritan that passed by and did a good deed. Love is in the forgiveness of a brother or sister, not seven times, but seven times seventy. It is when Jesus looks up to find the accusers of the adulterous woman have all left because they could not judge her without judging themselves. They in love could not cast the first stone.
"No one is beyond the redeeming love of Christ. No one whom the world thinks of as worthless…is worthless through the eyes of Christians."
8. Love never ends: Nothing can stop the power and action of love! Nothing that is, unless you choose not to have it. Choose not to live it. Choose not to share it!