Fruit of Spirit
Israel of God
Kingdom of God
Power of Tongue
Practice of Love
Sin of Pride
True Worship
Word of God
Fourth Gospel
When They
Hurt You
Walking by Spirit
Sowing and Reaping
Self Control
God's Kingdom
Self Discipline

The Practices of Love

1 Corinthians 13:4

There once was a farmer who was known as the greatest cusser in his community. As the story goes one day he lost the tailgate on the back of his wagon and spilled potatoes for a half a mile up a steep hill. While he was gathering the potatoes he did so in total silence. This astounded the neighbors. So much so that finally one of them asked him why he was not cussing. He said, words are inadequate for this situation.

That is the way I feel when approaching this subject of love. How would you define love? It isn't easy. But we must define it if it is as important as the first three verses of this chapter tell us it is. We must understand something about how it works.

We saw last week that the most gifted person in the world produces nothing, is nothing, and gains nothing without love. Life minus love equals zero. That's how important love is in your life and mine. Do you think that maybe that is overstating it a little? Is love really that important?

Mark 12:28-31 (NKJV) Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, Which is the first commandment of all? 29 Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is: 'Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. 30 'And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This is the first commandment. 31 And the second, like it, is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these.

Paul says the same thing in Romans in a little different way.

Romans 13:8 (KJV) Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
Colossians 3:14 (NKJV) But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.
1 Peter 4:8 (NKJV) And above all things have fervent love for one another, for love will cover a multitude of sins.
Leviticus 19:18 (NKJV) 'You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.

Those verses ought to make it clear enough that love is preeminent. Above everything else, we are called to love God and one another. What does it mean to love God? If we want to know what it is to love we must go to the Scriptures.

John 14:15 (NNAS) If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.
John 14:21 (NNAS) He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.
John 15:10 (NNAS) If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love.
John 15:14 (NNAS) You are My friends if you do what I command you.

Based on those verses what would you say it means to love God? If love here is not formally defined as obedience, it is so closely connected with it that there seems to be no room for anything else.

1 John 2:3-5 (NNAS) By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 The one who says, I have come to know Him, and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; 5 but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him:
1 John 5:2 (NNAS) By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments.

It seems that the visible characteristic of love is obedience and love itself is a desire to obey. The Scriptures also make it clear that our love for God is validated by our love for others.

1 John 4:20-21 (NNAS) If someone says, I love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.

We cannot truly love God without loving one another. To recognize that there is someone I do not love is to say to God, I do not love you enough to love that person. Love is truly preeminent, I hope that you see that. To not be a loving person is not some small character flaw; it is to break the greatest commandment, it is to not love God.

If that is in fact true, if love is preeminent, if life minus love equals zero, if to not be loving is to not love God, then we should all desire to manifest love in our lives shouldn't we? How many of you would like to be loving people? How many of you would like to love as God wants you to love? Stand up! Look around. That we all desire it is evident, so shouldn't that be enough? No! Does anybody know Proverbs 13:4? The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing; But the soul of the diligent shall be made rich. If we want to love we must become diligent in our quest for love.

What we are really talking about here is practical sanctification. Practical sanctification is spiritual growth; it is conformity to Christ likeness. It is becoming a loving person.

1 John 2:6 (NNAS) the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.

How can we learn to live like Christ lived? How do we do it?
How do we become sanctified? How do we grow into Christ likeness? How do we learn to love? These are really all the same question with the same answer. Sanctification is a matter of dependant discipline. The word dependant emphasizes our need for God's power to work in us.

John 15:5 (NNAS) I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.
Colossians 2:6 (NNAS) Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,

How did you receive Christ? By faith, so walk by faith. Sanctification is a matter of trusting God to work in you. But we have a part, God uses means to sanctify us.
Discipline: sums up our responsibility to grow in sanctification, in love. What is our part, what do we need to do? We need to apply the means of Sanctification. Let me give you the mechanics of our part in sanctification.

1. We must renew our minds.

2 Corinthians 3:18 (NNAS) But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.

What is the mirror into which we behold the Lord's glory? The Word of God. As we spend time in the Word of God we are changed by the Spirit into Christ's likeness.

Romans 12:2 (NNAS) And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

Apart from a regular, consistent time in the Word of God you will never grow in sanctification, and you will never love.

2. We must confess and repent of our sins as they are revealed in God's word.

1 John 1:9 (NNAS) If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

3. We must watch how we live.

Ephesians 5:15 (NNAS) Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise,

We must be consciencious of all we are doing as if we were walking through a mine field. Illustration of clovers and bees. We must apply wisdom in every area of our lives.

4. We must choose to obey the Word of God depending upon the Spirit of God to provide the power. Our daily lives contain a constant stream of moral choices. We choose to lie or tell the truth, to forgive or to harbor resentment, to entertain lustful thoughts or to think on what is good. We choose to respond to opportunities or to ignore them. Life is a series of choices. The choices you make will determine how you live.

We are responsible to discipline ourselves toward spiritual growth, all the while trusting God to work in us. Perhaps the analogy of a farmer will help us understand this.

Consider the farmer and his crops. There are certain disciplines, or tasks, he must do. He must plow, plant, fertilize, and cultivate. In some areas, he must irrigate. But he cannot make the seed germinate and grow. Only God can do that. The farmer, whether he recognizes it or not, depends on God both for the physical and mental ability to do his tasks and for the capital to buy his supplies and equipment. And he obviously depends on God for the growth of his crops.

In the same way, the Christian depends on God to enable him to perform his disciplines. But the performance of the disciplines does not itself produce spiritual growth. Only God can do that.

Growth in sanctification, in love is not then a matter of personal discipline plus God's work. It is a matter of dependant discipline, of recognizing that we are dependant on God to enable us to do what we are responsible to do. Then it is a recognition that even when we have performed our duties, we must still look to Him to produce the growth. Paul put it this way in 1 Corinthians 3:7 (NNAS) So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.

Since love is preeminent, since loving one another is a must if we love God, love demands description of some kind. So in verses 4-7 Paul describes for us the practice of love. After emphasizing how essential love is, Paul begins not by defining it, but rather describe the manifestations of it in our lives. He tells us what love will produce. He isolates the evidences, the products, and the manifestations of love in the life of a believer.

In verses 4-7 Paul personifies love. This is a methodology he uses often. In these verses we have a portrait of Jesus Christ. You could substitute Jesus Christ in these verses for the word love. Let's read it that way.

Jesus Christ suffers long and is kind; Jesus Christ does not envy; Jesus does not parade himself, He is not puffed up; 5 He does not behave rudely, He does not seek his own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

This is a beautiful portrait of Jesus Christ. He provides the perfect model for helping us to understand how love acts. By seeing Jesus in these verses we also guard against misinterpreting these attributes. If Jesus were all-loving, but could clear the temple in righteous anger (Mark 11:15-18) or unleash a torrential castigation against the hypocrisy of the religious leaders of his day (Matthew 23), then our concept of love must leave room for similar actions.

In this description of love you have some very marked reflections of the description of love in Galatians chapter 5.

Galatians 5:22-23 (NKJV) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

The next eight words after fruit is lovedescribe what love does and what it produces in the life of a person who has it. If we take those eight characteristics and compare them to 1 Corinthians 13 you will find that they are reflected here. The first one in Galatians is joy- love rejoices in truth. Peace- love seeketh not her own. Longsuffering - love suffers long. Kindness - love is kind. Goodness - love does not envy. Faith - love believeth all things. Meekness - love is not puffed up. Self-control - love does not behave rudely. These are parallel passages. But what you have in 1 Corinthians is a more extensive description. There are fourteen characteristics of love that are given to us in 1 Corinthians 13. They are given to us in seven pairs. The first pair is positive, the next four pairs are negative, the last of those four pair is given negatively and then positively and that is a transition to the last two pairs that are given to us positively. These characteristics of love are chosen by the Holy Spirit because of the experience of the Corinthians. Each one of these is aimed at a particular problem in the church at Corinth. What Paul is telling them here is that the real solution to their problems in the church is love. Love would solve all the problems that the Corinthians were having.

Paul wrote this to the Corinthians but it is just as applicable to us as it was to them. The real solution to the problems we face in our home, church, work place, school, is love.

The first thing Paul says about love is that it is patient. This is the Greek word makrothumeo, (mak-roth-oo-meh'-o) which is a word that almost on every occasion in the NT conveys the idea of having an infinite capacity to be injured without paying back. It is used with regard to people, not circumstances. It is having a long fuse. The loving person is able to be inconvenienced or taken advantage of by a person and yet not be upset or angry. Chrysostom, the early church father, 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. This love is very slow to anger or resentment, and it never retaliates.

To the Greeks it was a virtue to refuse to tolerate insult or injury and to strike back in retaliation for the slightest offense. To the Greeks of Paul's day vengeance was a virtue, and the same is defiantly true of our day. We make heroes out of those who fight back at the slightest provocation. In our society just as in the Greek society of Paul's day, patience is considered a weakness. But the Christian who walks in love is patient, he has a long fuse.

What are the things that keep us from being patient?
Mistreatment? How do you respond to ridicule, insults, and undeserved rebukes, or outright persecution? When you are a victim of office politics or organizational power plays do you respond in patience? When you are rejected or mistreated by a spouse do you respond in patience? How do you treat another believer who is rude to you or gossips about you? I think that if we are honest we will admit that we don't always respond patiently.

How can we grow in this aspect of patience? It starts with renewing our mind. We must consider the justice of God. Peter tells us to follow the example of Christ.

1 Peter 2:23 (NKJV) who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously;

We are not to retaliate but to commit ourselves to God, who judges justly. One of the thoughts that most disturbs a suffering Christian who has not learned patience is this issue of justice. He is concerned that his tormentor will escape justice. Look at God's promise to us in:

Romans 12:19 (NKJV) Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord.

Don't worry that the person who is treating you unjustly will get away with it, leave it to God, he is a just judge.

If we are going to be patient we must also understand the sovereignty of God. I will always act in a patient manner when I realize that God is in charge of everything. Every circumstance, from disease to death, from astronomy to acne, from the nat to the Navy, God controls it all. He is sovereign, nothing happens outside His control, nothing. And furthermore he controls it all for my good. So whatever happens in our life, God is working it for our good.

Romans 8:28 (NKJV) And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

One of the major problems in the church today is the wide acceptance of Armenian theology. It holds, among other things, that God's predestination was conditioned by human choice, that the gospel could be freely accepted or rejected, and that a person who had become a Christian could fall from grace or lose salvation. Armenianism in effect says that Man is sovereign and God is hopeful and helpful.

On the other hand traditional Calvinism or Reformed theology teaches that God is Sovereign. To say that God is sovereign is to say that he is the Almighty, the Possessor of all power in heaven and earth, so that none can defeat His counsels, thwart His purpose, or resist His will.

Psalms 115:3 (NKJV) But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases.

If you don't understand that God is Sovereign you won't understand that every trial is under His total control. Our lives are not the haphazard result of the moving of blind chance. All that comes to pass in our lives is according to the eternal plan of the all-wise, all-powerful, and all-loving God.

Joseph understood the sovereignty of God. After he had been abused by his brothers, they plotted his murder but were talked into selling him into slavery instead, He was able to say to them:

Genesis 50:20 (NKJV) But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.

God can and does take the deliberately harmful acts of others and uses them for our good. If you memorize and meditate on this verse it will go a long way to helping you walk in patience in the face of mistreatment. How could Joseph respond this way? He understood the sovereignty of God.

Genesis 45:4-8 (NKJV) And Joseph said to his brothers, Please come near to me. So they came near. Then he said: I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. 5 But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. 6 For these two years the famine has been in the land, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. 7 And God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. 8 So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.

Abraham Lincoln also understood that His God was sovereign. One of Lincoln's earliest political enemies was Edwin M. Stanton. Fosdick points out that no one treated Lincoln with more contempt than did Stanton. He called him a low cunning clown, he nicknamed him the original gorilla and said that Du Chaillu was a fool to wander about Africa trying to capture a gorilla when he could have found one so easily at Springfield, Illinois. Lincoln never responded to the slander. And when as President he needed a secretary of war he chose Stanton. When his friends asked why, Lincoln responded, because he is the best man for the job. Lincoln treated Stanton with every courtesy. The years wore on. On the night of April 14, while attending a play at Ford's Theater in Washington, Lincoln was shot by assassin John Wilkes Booth. In the little room to which the President's body was taken stood that same Stanton, and, looking down on Lincoln's silent face, he said through his tears, There lies the greatest ruler of men the world has ever seen. His animosity was finally broken by Lincoln's patient love.

When you have confidence in the justice and sovereignty of God you will be able to demonstrate patience in the face of mistreatment. Love is patient, are you?

I think another thing that keeps us from being patient is the shortcomings of others. People are always behaving in ways that, though not directed against us, affect us and irritate or disappoint us. It may be another driver who is driving too slow or in some way doing things that irritate you. It may be a friend who is late for an appointment. It may be a teenager whose pants are ten sizes too big and has a pierced eyebrow and a ponytail. It may be a fellow church member who doesn't raise their children as we think they should.

Impatience with the shortcomings of others often has its roots in pride. John Sanderson observes, Hardly a day passes but one hears sneering remarks about the stupidity, the awkwardness, the ineptitude of others. Such remarks stem from a feeling that we are smarter or more capable than those with whom we are impatient. We may be smarter or more capable of doing things then others, but why?

1 Corinthians 4:7 (NKJV) For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?

Whatever we are or have is a gift from God so why be proud about it? Yet every day because of our pride we are tempted to become impatient with our friends, neighbors, and loved ones. Forbearance or tolerance in the Scriptures is associated with patience

Ephesians 4:1-3 (NKJV) I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Love will cause us to bear patiently with the faults and shortcomings of others.

A train was filled with tired people. Most of them had spent the day traveling through the hot dusty plains and at last evening had come and they all tried to settle down to a sound sleep. However, at one end of the car a man was holding a tiny baby and as night came on the baby became restless and cried more and more. Unable to take it any longer, a big brawny man spoke for the rest of the group. Why don't you take that baby to its mother? There was a moment's pause and then came the reply. I'm sorry. I'm doing my best. The baby's mother is in her casket in the baggage car ahead.

Again there was an awful silence for a moment. Then the big man who asked the cruel question was out of his seat and moved toward the man with the motherless child. He apologized for his impatience and unkind remark. He took the tiny baby in his own arms and told the tired father to get some sleep. Then in loving patience he cared for the little child all through the night.

Patience demonstrates a willingness to take someone's unpleasant character traits in stride and to exhibit enduring patience.

God has limits to his patience, and so must we, but when I turn off suffering for the sake of my pleasure, I turn it off too soon. Neither does patience include the toleration of evil.

This is the passive side of the person who has suffered injury. The next one, kindness, deals with the active side of the person who has been injured.

Love is preeminent in the Christian life and it must be displayed in us if we are going to faithfully represent the Lord Jesus Christ. Love is patient, are you?

Let me say that if you have never trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ you cannot live like this. The only thing that the Lord requires of you is faith, you must put your trust in Him for your salvation. He loves you so much that he died to pay your sin debt. Will you trust in what he has done?

The Practices of Love Part 2

1 Corinthians 13:4

Have you ever noticed that when you are in the process of buying a new car that suddenly you see that type of car everywhere? You may have never known that that car existed before but now you see it all over. That is how I have felt the last several weeks in dealing with this subject of love. The difference is that what I have noticed is the lack of it in the church. Particularly in my own life. As we look at the characteristics of love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 I think that we have to admit that we really don't treat each other very lovingly. We seem to act a lot like the world around us. This love talked about here is in strong contrast to how our society acts. Verse 4 starts out by saying that love is patient, love is kind. But we live in a society that is very impatient and very unkind. If you read the paper or watch the news or if you just go out in public you will see just how unkind our society can be.

The impatience and unkindness of many fans at a soccer game in Guatemala city caused the death of 83 people, and left hundreds hurt. Fans who were not allowed in the match because of overcrowding forced their way through a small stadium entrance and over 83 people were trampled or suffocated to death, and hundreds were injured.

In Charlottesville the wife of congressional candidate George Landrith received a 10-day suspended sentence Wednesday for slapping a pet store owner.

The scuffle occurred in July when Laura Landrith smacked DiNardi the pet store owner after he allegedly refused her a refund, cursed at her and pushed her out of the store.

She said she smacked DiNardi because she was frightened and he was blocking the way to her car. DiNardi said he slapped her three times in self-defense.

Several weeks ago Lindesy and I were riding bikes and as we were riding down the street we saw a boy in a karate uniform standing at the side of the road. There were two boys coming from the other direction on bikes and as they passed the boy who was standing there they mockingly shouted out, hiya! They were making an effort to be unkind to the boy in the karate uniform.

I don't think that anyone would disagree with me that the society in which we live can be very impatient and very unkind. But is it really any different in the church? Would you say that for the most part Christians are patient and kind? We can be as impatient and unkind as the world, sometimes even worse. So much of Christianity is like the world around it, unkind.

God's Word calls us to be patient and kind in the midst of a very impatient and unkind world. As we walk in obedience to the command to love we will stand out from our society, and we will fulfill the command of Matthew 5 and glorify God.

Matthew 5:16 (NKJV) Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

Love is to be the identifying mark of all who are disciples of Jesus Christ. As we love one another in an impatient and unkind society we will be noticed, we will stand out.

John 13:34-35 (NKJV) A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.

Love is the badge of Christian discipleship. It is not knowledge, or church attendence, nor fleshly activities, but love which identifies a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ.

As the disciples of the Pharisees were known by their phylacteries, and as the disciples of John were known by their baptism, and every school by its particular shibboleth, so the mark of a disciple of Jesus Christ is love. As we look at 1 Corinthians 13 we see just what it is that love does and does not do.

We looked last week at the first characteristic listed here which is patience. Love is patient. The word patience conveys the idea of having an infinite capacity to be injured without paying back. It is used with regard to people, not circumstances. It is having a long fuse. The loving person is able to be inconvenienced or taken advantage of by a person and yet not be upset or angry. This love is very slow to anger or resentment, and it never retaliates. This is the passive side of the person who has suffered injury. The next one, kindness, deals with the active side of the person who has been injured.

Love is kind. The Greek word for kind is chresteuomai, (khraste-yoo'-om-ahee)- to show oneself useful, to act benevolently:--be kind. In the NT the verb appears only here. Clement of Rome wrote an epistle to the Corinthian church in which he quotes a saying of Jesus that has the same Greek verb: As you are kind, so will you be shown kindness. The noun and the adjective for kindness occurs repeatedly in Paul's epistles.

Why does Paul choose these two characteristics to begin? It could be because the church at Corinth was crammed full of people who were injured. Some were injured by the divisions and sects that existed in Corinth. They were injured by the personality conflicts that were going on. There were others who were injured through the unethical conduct of others in the church. They were dragging each other into the secular courts. There were some who had been hurt by others using their liberty in a reckless manner. There were some in Corinth who were poor and they were injured at the Lord's Table when those with money would come and eat without them and leave them nothing. The point is the church was full of people who were injured, they had been hurt deeply. And Paul says that love has an infinite capacity to be injured without paying back. And love reacts to injury by doing kind deeds to the person who has injured them. In our cruel and unkind society we have unlimited opportunities to show the world love through kindness.

The NT has much to say about the kindness of God and as his children we are to imitate Him.

Luke 6:35 (NKJV) But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.

Here the Greek word chrestos, (khrase-tos) is translated kind and in Romans 2:4 the same word is translated good.

Romans 2:4 (NKJV) Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?

Kindness and goodness are so closely related that they are often used interchangeably. We could say love is good, it does good, it is useful to all. Peter translates this word gracious.

1 Peter 2:3 (NKJV) if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.

The word gracious is also the Greek word chrestos . God is kind, He does good, useful, helpful, gracious things for people. God is good or kind to the ungrateful and evil. We can see that God's kindness is portrayed in stark contrast to man's total undeservedness.

We are called to be like God, we are also to be kind to all. Love is useful, love does good, love is gracious.

Ephesians 4:32 (NKJV) And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.
Colossians 3:12 (NKJV) Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering;
Galatians 5:22 (NKJV) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

These all use the same Greek word, chrestos, (khrase-tos) -we are to be kind to one another, we are to be good to each other, we are to be gracious to each other. Agape love seeks the good of its objects, it seeks to be useful. Jesus taught this about love in his story of the Good Samaritan.

Luke 10:25-37 (NKJV) And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?

The lawyer here wasn't a lawyer in the sense we think of it like Joynes and Bieber. This lawyer was a professional student and defender of the Mosaic law. They taught the law and also enforced or judged. This lawyer asks Jesus how to obtain eternal life.

26 He said to him, What is written in the law? What is your reading of it? 27 So he answered and said, 'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,' and 'your neighbor as yourself.' 28 And He said to him, You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.

This lawyer reduces the law to loving God and loving your neighbor which he accurately concluded from Lev. 19:18 and Deut. 6:5. Can anyone love like this? Only Christians!

Our greatest responsibility is to obey the greatest of the commandments but we cannot rightly love God or our neighbor until we have seen our sinfulness and come to God in faith, trusting His work in Christ to save us. If we cannot keep the greatest of the commandments (Mark 12:28-34), how can we ever hope to please God? How important it is to see that salvation is by faith, not by keeping the law; but once a person has been saved, he or she can depend on the Spirit to help them walk in love.

29 But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, And who is my neighbor?

The Parable of the Good Samaritan was given to answer the evasive question of the lawyer. Define your terms! is an old trick of lawyers and debaters. Instead of getting involved in abstract terms, Jesus presented a concrete case; and the lawyer understood the point. The point is simply that our neighbor is anybody who needs us, our neighbor is anybody whom we can help.

30 Then Jesus answered and said: A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side.

The priest and Levite were full time servants of God on their way home from serving in the temple. They knew the law and knew that it demanded the opposite of what they had done.

Exodus 23:4-5 (NKJV) If you meet your enemy's ox or his donkey going astray, you shall surely bring it back to him again. 5 If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying under its burden, and you would refrain from helping it, you shall surely help him with it.

They saw the need but refused to be kind, they refused to be useful to the person who had a need, they chose not to love.

33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, 'Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.'

The Samaritans were hated by the Jews, they were a mixed race of Jew and Gentile and
they worshiped God in the wrong manner in the wrong place. But this Samaritan was kind, he immediately responded to the need that he saw, he acted in love.

36 So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves? 37 And he said, He who showed mercy on him. Then Jesus said to him, Go and do likewise.

The Lord shows that our neighbor is any person whose need we know and are able to meet. If we refuse to respond to the need we are not acting in love, we are not being kind, we are not being useful. Love is not an abstract concept; it is a deed of kindness, a deed of generosity, an act that you do for someone who has a need.

Love is kind and it reaches out to meet the needs that it sees. It is useful to others. Jesus
also taught this in John 13.

John 13:4-15 (NKJV) rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. 5 After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. 6 Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, Lord, are You washing my feet? 7 Jesus answered and said to him, What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this. 8 Peter said to Him, You shall never wash my feet! Jesus answered him, If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me. 9 Simon Peter said to Him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head! 10 Jesus said to him, He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you. 11 For He knew who would betray Him; therefore He said, You are not all clean. 12 So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.

Christ's words to Peter in v. 8 are important: If I do not wash you, you have no part [communion] with Me. There is a difference between union and communion. Peter was in union with Christ as one of His own through faith, but sin can break our communion with the Lord. There is a difference between sonship and fellowship. Only as we allow Christ to cleanse us can we remain in fellowship with Him and enjoy His presence and power.

In v. 10, Christ makes an important distinction between washing and cleansing. The verse reads literally: He that has been once-and-for-all washed all over does not need to do anything more than cleanse his feet. In Eastern lands, people used public baths; as they walked in the dusty streets, their feet became dirty. On arriving home, they did not need another bath; they needed only to wash their feet. So it is with the believer. When we are saved, we are washed all over (1 Cor. 6:9-11; Titus 3:5-6); when we confess our daily sins to the Lord, we have our feet washed and our walk is cleansed (1 John 1:7-9).

When the Jewish priests were ordained, they were washed all over (Ex. 29:4), which pictures our once-for-all cleansing; but God also provided the laver (Ex. 30:17-21) for them to use in the daily washing of their hands and feet. Today, Christ is cleansing His church through the water of the Word (Eph. 5:25-26; John 15:3). As we daily read the Word, allow the Spirit to search our hearts (Heb. 4:12), and then confess our sins, we keep our feet clean and walk in the light. (See Ps. 119:9.) It is this daily cleansing that keeps the believer in communion with Christ. Now notice closely what he says in:

14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.
John 13:34-35 (NKJV) A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.

He tells us that we are to wash one another's feet, which is an act of love. What is he talking about? He is not talking about literal foot washing which is clear from verse 7 What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this. Certainly Peter knew that his feet had been literally washed! The water he is talking about is the Word. I believe that he is saying he wants us to apply the Word to our fellow believers walk. We are to help to keep each other in fellowship. We are to meet spiritual needs also!

15 For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.

I have just shown you how spiritual love operates: it is always seeking the good of the object loved. This helps us to understand the idea of kindness. Because of their conformity to the world many think it is unloving, unkind to confront sin, or discipline those in sin when, in fact, the opposite is true.

2 Thessalonians 3:5-6 (NKJV) Now may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the patience of Christ. 6 But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us.

Being kind doesn't mean that we ignore sin. Paul loved the Corinthians and he corrected them sharply. They were to love the adulterous, incestuous man, despite the fact that, while he was in sin, they were not to eat with him (a symbol of fellowship).

Love seeks to restore an erring brother, love is useful.

Galatians 6:1 (NKJV) Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.
James 5:19-20 (NKJV) Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, 20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.

What could be more kind, more useful than to seek to restore an erring brother to fellowship? We are to love one another as Christ has loved us. Seeking to do whatever it takes to be useful to another believer in need, both physically and spiritually.

The first test of Christian kindness and of every aspect of love, is the home. Let me ask you married people: are you kind to each other? Children, are you kind to you parents? Parents, are you kind to your children?

A woman expresses the lack of love in her home in writing to Ann Landers. Dear Ann Landers:

My husband doesn't talk to me. He just sits there night after night, reading the newspaper or looking at T.V. When I ask him a question, he grunts huh, or Uh'huh. Sometimes he doesn't even grunt uh'huh. All he really needs is a housekeeper and somebody to sleep with him when he feels like it. He can buy both. There are times when I wonder why he got married.

I think it is sad but true that many Christian homes are like this, there is a real absence of kindness. Love is vital to our Christian witness and the place to learn and practice love is in the home.

Are you loving those in your home? Do they feel loved? There are two sides to love, giving and receiving. Giving love is the action side; receiving is the feeling side. God made us rational and emotional creatures. He gave us the capacity to feel loved and, equally important, the ability to choose to demonstrate it. The question we need to answer is, how can I love in action so that the person I am directing it toward actually senses love?

In the series Growing Kids God's Way Gary Ezzo talks about the five love languages. A love language is the ability to express love and concern to another person in the primary emotional language of the other person.

Last week after the service Monsita and Maggie were talking to each other and I walked up to them and felt like I was in a foreign country, they were speaking Spanish. Since I don't speak Spanish their words were meaningless to me. What happens in foreign languages occurs with emotional languages. We may speak our emotional language, but it often comes across to other people as an unknown tongue. We say, I love you in one language, while they say it in another. As a result, our efforts to demonstrate love are frustrated. To avoid that frustration, we must learn the primary love language of those in our family. Your primary love language is evident in two ways: You speak it more often than other languages, and you feel most loved when it is spoken to you.

There are five ways of expressing love in action to our mate, our children, and anyone else so that they actually feel loved.

One way of expressing love is by building up others through verbal encouragement. Taking the time to verbally pat someone on the back is a way of saying I love you. For some there is no greater way to express love than by words of legitimate praise and recognition.


1 John 3:18 (NKJV) My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.

We communicate love by serving others, doing things for them that will help them out or that we know that they will appreciate. Whenever you do something for another person beyond the normal course of events, you are saying I love you in action.


Ephesians 5:25 (NKJV) Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her,

Impromptu gift giving (not obligatory holiday gift giving) sends a message I was thinking about you, I care for you.

1 John 3:17 (NKJV) But whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?

This requires that you invest yourself in the other person by listening carefully to what they are saying. It involves two people who are actively participating in the conversation and going beyond the fact level of communication. One of the less obvious but more critical needs that many people have is for someone to listen to them. They don't need our advice as much as our attention.

Holding hands, putting your arm around your spouse, or just standing close to each other sends a special message.

Out of those five love languages, one is your primary language. One of those modes of expression means more to you than the other four, and another one means the least to you. Your primary love language is the one you most enjoy hearing and the one you tend to speak to other people. Learning how to love others means learning and choosing to speak all five languages.

In your home lets say that the wife's primary love language is acts of service, but the husband's is gift giving. The husband is constantly trying to say I love you to the wife by giving her things. But because he is not speaking her language she is not hearing him. What she really wants is for him to help her get the kids ready for bed or clean up the kitchen. Until he learns to speak her language there will be frustration in the home.

If we are going to show the world love it must start in the home and if we are going to effectively love each other it is very helpful to understand the primary love language of the other person. Choosing to love your mate in his or her love language is a greater act of love than exercising your own primary language.

Love is kind. Kindness may be an encouraging word, an act of service, a gift that says I care for you, or the giving of our time to spend with someone, or it may just mean being there in a time of need, a touch of compassion and concern. We see Jesus showing love by a touch in:

Matthew 8:2-3 (NKJV) And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean. 3 Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, I am willing; be cleansed. Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

For the Hebrews leprosy was a dreaded malady which rendered its victims ceremonially unclean--that is, unfit to worship God (Lev. 13:3). Anyone who came in contact with a leper was also considered unclean. Therefore, lepers were isolated from the rest of the community, they were social outcasts. Jesus touching this man was an act of kindness.

How important is it that you be kind? May I remind you again that love is preeminent and that Life minus love equals nothing. We saw in the first three verses of 1 Corinthians 13 that the person without love produces nothing, is nothing, and gains nothing.

Love is preeminent! Apart from love we are nothing. Love is patient and kind. Are you patient and king? Are you walking in love?

If you are not loving as you should you need to confess your sin and begin to apply the means of sanctification that we talked about last week. If we are not kind we must:

1. We must renew our minds through the Word.
2. We must confess and repent of our sins as they are revealed in God's word.
3. We must watch how we live.
4. We must choose to obey the Word of God depending upon the Spirit of God to provide the power.

The world is hurting and in great need of our love and if we do not demonstrate God's love to them they will never see it.

Love is patient, love is kind.

In our relationships with others, often what passes for love is little more than a neat business transaction. People are kind to us, so we repay them with equal consideration. When they treat us unjustly, our negative response is really what they asked for. Everything is so balanced, so fair, so logical with this eye-for-an-eye and tooth-for-a-tooth kind of justice. But Christian love never settles for only what is reasonable. It insists on giving mercy as well as justice. It breaks the chain of logical reactions.

General Robert E. Lee was asked what he thought of a fellow officer in the Confederate Army who had made some derogatory remarks about him. Lee rated him as being very satisfactory. The person who asked the question seemed perplexed.
General, he said, I guess you don't know what he's been saying about you.
I know, answered Lee. But I was asked my opinion of him, not his opinion of me!

Why is it that Lee could respond in this way?
In all my perplexities and distresses, the Bible has never failed to give me light and strength.
Robert Edward Lee (1807-1870)

As God's children we are to walk in love. We are to be patient and kind to everyone. We can live this way, but will we? The choice is ours.

The Practices of Love Part 3

1 Corinthians 13:4

The first three verses of 1 Corinthians 13 teach us that Life minus love equals nothing. We saw in these three verses that the person without love produces nothing of value before God, is nothing of value before God, and gains nothing of value before God. We could say that love is the Soul of Christian Existence.

If love is the soul of Christian existence, it must be at the heart of every other Christian virtue. Thus, for example, justice without love is legalism; faith without love is ideology; hope without love is self-centeredness; forgiveness without love is self-abasement; fortitude without love is recklessness; generosity without love is extravagance; care without love is mere duty; fidelity without love is servitude. Every virtue is an expression of love. No virtue is really a virtue unless it is permeated, or informed, by love. (Richard P. McBrien in Catholicism. Christianity Today-Vol. 40, #1)

I feel that we need to be constantly reminded of the preeminence of love. This fact must dominate our thinking.

Let me show you this truth from another angle: the Christian who does not love will have a dead faith. Just as without use a muscle will atrophy so your faith will atrophy if it is not exercised in love. Apart from love our faith will die!

James 2:17-26 (NKJV) Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 18 But someone will say, You have faith, and I have works. Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe; and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. And he was called the friend of God. 24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. 25 Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? 26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

It should be clear from this passage that faith without works is dead. This is a very misunderstood passage; if you would like an in depth study of it you can get the tape Salvation by works. What is the work that keeps our faith alive? The answer is Love!

Galatians 5:6 (NKJV) For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.

This can also be seen by comparing two passages:

James 2:14-16 (NKJV) What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, Depart in peace, be warmed and filled, but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?

Save here is not used in the sense of the new birth. It is used in the way the wisdom literature uses it as deliverance from the damage that sin brings. Without love, which here is meeting a brothers need, your faith is dead. This is clear from:

1 John 3:16-18 (NKJV) By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
17 But whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? 18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.
James 2:15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, Depart in peace, be warmed and filled, but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?

I think that from comparing these passages you can see that the thing that is missing in the passage in James 2 is love. Dead faith is a faith that is inactive, it does not love. Without works of love our faith dies. But this does not affect our eternal destiny, but it does affect our temporal life and our eternal rewards. Love is actually the key to the vitality of faith.

Rahab and Abraham are used as illustrations of living faith. Their faith was alive and strong because they acted upon it. Rahab reached out in love toward the spies and saved their lives. She saw brothers in need and she meet that need. Abraham's faith was strong because he acted upon it: he obeyed God and offered his son as a sacrifice. Love toward God is manifested in obedience and love toward our brothers is manifested in meeting their needs. Love is preeminent! If we don't act in love our faith will die and we will produce nothing, be nothing and gain nothing of value before God. Love is to be our distinguishing characteristic according to:

John 13:34-35 (NKJV) A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.

Our discipleship, or we could say our living faith, is made manifest by our care for one another. The world will know that we belong to Jesus Christ when they see us caring for each other. As they see our love they will be open to our message. For a God who couldn't care more cannot be represented by a person who couldn't care less.

Lee Iacocca once asked legendary football coach Vince Lombardi what it took to make a winning team. The book Iacocca records Lombardi's answer:

There are a lot of coaches with good ball clubs who know the fundamentals and have plenty of discipline but still don't win the game. Then you come to the third ingredient: if you're going to play together as a team, you've got to care for one another. You've got to love each other. Each player has to be thinking about the next guy and saying to himself: 'If I don't block that man, Paul is going to get his legs broken. I have to do my job well in order that he can do his.'

The difference between mediocrity and greatness, Lombardi said that night, is the feeling these guys have for each other.

In the effective church, each Christian learns to care for others. As we take seriously Jesus' command to love one another, we contribute to a winning team. It is no wonder that the twentieth century American church is so ineffective, because it is so unloving. Only as we understand the preeminence of love, and begin to act in love will we be effective for the Kingdom of God.

So far we have looked at two of love's characteristics. Love is patient. The word patience conveys the idea of having an infinite capacity to be injured without paying back. It's having a long fuse. The loving person is able to be inconvenienced or taken advantage of by a person and yet not be upset or angry. Love is very slow to anger or resentment, and it never retaliates.

Love is kind. This is the Greek work chresteuomai, (khraste-yoo'-om-ahee); it means to show oneself useful, to act benevolently, to be kind or good. Kindness and goodness are so closely related that they are often used interchangeably. We could say love is good, it does good, it is useful to all. In our cruel and unkind society we have unlimited opportunities to show the world love through kindness. Proverbs puts it this way:

Proverbs 19:22 (NKJV) What is desired in a man is kindness...

What are the things that stop us from being patient and kind? First on Paul's list is jealousy. We are often not patient or kind because we are jealous. We are spiteful and short with people because we see them enjoying something that we want. They have a relationship that we envy; they have a quality about themselves that we do not have and we are angry about it, so we are short and spiteful. That is one reason why we are not patient and kind.

Love is not jealous. This is the first of eight negative descriptions of love. We can not only identify love by what it is (patient and kind) but we can identify love by what it is not. Love is not jealous. The Greek work is zeloo, (dzay-lo'-o). It is used 17 times in 11 verses in the NT. It is translated as envy, jealous, covet, zealous, and desire. It comes from the Greek verb that means to boil. It is used both favorably and unfavorably in Scripture. It can refer to a virtue- it is the term from which we get zeal. It is used favorably in:

Revelation 3:19 (KJV) As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

We are to have zeal for the things of God.
Jealousy is used in three senses in Scripture;

1. as intolerance of rivalry or unfaithfulness. God is jealous for His people Israel in this sense. God is intolerant of rival gods

Exodus 20:5 (NKJV) you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me,
Deuteronomy 4:24 (NKJV) For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.

One expression of God's jealousy is God's protection of His people from enemies.

Zechariah 1:14 (NKJV) So the angel who spoke with me said to me, Proclaim, saying, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts: I am zealous for Jerusalem And for Zion with great zeal.

Paul speaks of his divine jealousy for the Christians at Corinth:

2 Corinthians 11:2 (KJV) For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.

Jealousy is not used in our text in a positive way but in a negative way. Here it is used of a vice. Most often human jealousy involves hostility towards a rival, or supposed rival.

2. Jealousy can be used as a disposition suspicious of rivalry or unfaithfulness. It is right for a husband to be jealous if his wife is being unfaithful. That would be the first sense. But too often we allow jealousy to arise over nothing. Sometimes we are overly suspicious of our spouse.

When Adam stayed out very late for a few nights, Eve became upset. You're running around with other women, she charged.

You're being unreasonable, Adam responded. You're the only woman on earth.
The quarrel continued until Adam fell asleep, only to be awakened by someone poking him in the side. It was Eve.
What do you think you're doing? Adam demanded.
Counting your ribs, said Eve.

Christians are often guilty of this type of jealousy. For example you may have a friend, and if that friend spends time with another friend you can get jealous. This is a sin. There is no need to be jealous, people can have more than one friend. And if you really loved that person you would be happy for them, not angry with them because they have other friends. Unless they have entered into a covenant with you to have no other friends (which would be sin itself) you have no reason to be jealous.

3. The third use of Jealousy is as hostility towards a rival or one believed to enjoy an advantage.

What Paul is saying here is that love doesn't boil over when it sees someone else being promoted, receiving honor, or being successful.

Jealousy can be the attitude that says I want what someone else has. If they have something better than we do, we want it, be it a house, car, boat, job, wife, children, or popularity.

Jealousy like all sin has its degrees, and jealousy can go to the point of saying I wish that you didn't have what you have. It is desiring evil for someone else. That is the type of jealousy that was uncovered in the woman who came to Solomon pretending to be the 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 their 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).

This is the deepest form of jealousy, wanting evil on someone who has something that you want.

Two shopkeepers were bitter rivals. Their stores were directly across the street from each other, and they would spend each day keeping track of each other's business. If one got a customer, he would smile in triumph at his rival. One night an angel appeared to one of the shopkeepers in a dream and said, I will give you anything you ask, but whatever you receive, your competitor will receive twice as much. Would you be rich? You can be very rich, but he will be twice as wealthy. Do you wish to live a long and healthy life? You can, but his life will be longer and healthier. What is your desire? The man frowned, thought for a moment, and then said, Here is my request: Strike me blind in one eye!

We laugh at that, but we know the depth of this sin, we may have felt this way ourselves. Love is not jealous.

The Bible is filled with illustrations that portray the disastrous effect jealousy has on personal relationships. The first sin in the Bible is a sin of jealousy:

Genesis 3:5 (NKJV) For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.

Eve was jealous of God's knowledge; she wanted to be like God. Cain envied Able and killed him. He was jealous because his brother's sacrifice was accepted and his wasn't. Jacob's sons were jealous of Joseph and sold him into slavery (Gen. 37). Daniel was thrown into the lion's den because of the jealousy of his fellow officials in Babylon. The high priest and his associates were filled with jealousy and jailed the apostles.

Acts 5:17-18 (NKJV) Then the high priest rose up, and all those who were with him (which is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with indignation, 18 and laid their hands on the apostles and put them in the common prison.

The word indignation is the same word used in our text, zelos.
The prodigal son's brother was jealous when his younger brother came home. And there are many more biblical illustrations of jealousy and its disastrous effects.

The Scriptures strongly condemn the sin of jealousy.

Proverbs 27:4 (NKJV) Wrath is cruel and anger a torrent, But who is able to stand before jealousy?
James 3:14-16 (NKJV) But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. 16 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.

Every evil work spawns itself out of envy and jealousy.

Galatians 5:19-21 (NKJV) Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
1 Corinthians 3:3 (KJV) For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?

Their envy was a sign of their carnality. This was a real problem in the church at Corinth as it is today. This would have applied to those who had lesser gifts and felt inferior to others.
Those who are ears are not to envy those who are eyes.

Jealousy and envy usually lie in the same line of work or skill. It's very hard to rejoice over somebody who does exactly what you do, but does it better. I am never jealous over someone who can sing, no matter how good they are. But when it comes to someone who is a good preacher jealousy can easily arise.

Many years ago Michelangelo, the sculptor, and Raphael, the painter, were commissioned to execute works of art for the beautification of the Vatican. Although each had a different job to do and both were highly respected, there arose such a bitter spirit of rivalry between them that at last they would not even speak when they met. Their jealous attitude toward one another was obvious to all who knew them. The most amazing part of it all was that both were supposed to be doing their work for the glory of God.

The only thing that can conquer jealousy is love. If we loved others we would rejoice in their happiness and accomplishments. We see jealousy defeated by love in the life of David and Jonathan. Jonathan was king Saul's son and was in line for the throne. But when David came along who was a greater warrior and more popular than Jonathan, and who also was a threat to the throne that Jonathan normally would have inherited, Jonathan was not envious or jealous. Why? Because he loved David and love is not jealous.

1 Samuel 20:17 (NKJV) Now Jonathan again caused David to vow, because he loved him; for he loved him as he loved his own soul.

Charles L. Allen in The Miracle of Love writes of a fisherman friend who told him that one never needs a top for his crab basket. If one of the crabs starts to climb up the sides of the basket, the other crabs will reach up and pull it back down. Some people are a lot like crabs. We hate to see anyone do better than us because we are jealous.

If you struggle with jealousy and envy how can you overcome it? How can you grow in love? Again we must focus our thoughts on the sovereignty of God. It is God who gives us talents, health, wealth, popularity, and promotion. And jealousy says to God that we are not content with what He has given us. The opposite of envy or jealousy is contentment. Discontentment is questioning the goodness of God. When we learn to trust in the providence of God we will be content and stop envying.

Until you come to the place in your life that you understand that God is sovereign and is ordering everything for His own Holy purposes and is working all things after the council of his own will you will never be content. Jealousy is not some little harmless sin; it is a very destructive sin that destroys relationships. We are called to love one another and love is not jealous.

The next characteristic speaks to those with the greater gifts. Next on Paul's list is boastfulness: Love is not jealous or boastful. Oftentimes we are not patient because we cannot wait to listen to others. We are so anxious to brag about ourselves so they can begin to admire us. But that must be surrendered for love to appear.

Love vaunteth not itself, says the KJV. Love does not parade itself, says the NKJV. Love does not brag, says the NNAS. The Greek word here is perpereuomai, (per-per-yoo'-om-ahee); the root of this word means a windbag, a braggart, to boast. This Greek word is used only here in the NT. This verse was meant to take care of the problem of the greater members looking down on those with lesser gifts.

Bragging is the other side of jealousy. Jealousy is wanting what someone else has. Bragging is trying to make others jealous of what you have. Think about that. The whole idea of boasting is to make someone feel that you are superior to them. But that is the opposite of love which says I want you to feel superior. It is ironic that, as much as most of us can't stand bragging in others, we are so inclined to do it ourselves.

Three little guys were doing what little boys do so well: bragging about their dads. One said, My dad owns a factory. Another said, So what! My dad owns a farm. The third boy, a preacher's kid, said, That's nothing. My father owns hell. Oh, yeah, said one of the boys How can a man own hell? Well, the pastor's son said, I heard my mother tell my grandmother that the deacons of our church gave my dad 'hell' last night.

All too often we brag about things that we should be ashamed of. And no matter what we think we have to boast about there is always someone who can top our story. In his book The Witness is Withness, David Augsburger told an imaginary story about a man who had just arrived in heaven. Attracted by a large crowd, he inquired what was going on, Oh, it's 'show and tell' time, came the answer. He was asked if he had anything he'd like to share. Why sure, the new arrival quickly responded, I'll tell about the big flood we had back in 1889 when I was a boy in Pennsylvania. That will be fine, he was told, but remember, Noah will be in the audience.

Psalms 34:2-3 (NKJV) My soul shall make its boast in the LORD; The humble shall hear of it and be glad. 3 Oh, magnify the LORD with me, And let us exalt His name together.

Our boasting should be of the Lord or of others but never of ourselves. Will Rogers said, Get someone else to blow your horn, and the sound will carry twice as far. Scripture says:

Proverbs 27:2 (NKJV) Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; A stranger, and not your own lips.

Sounding our own praise always does more harm than good. From Mongolian folklore comes this helpful little fable of the boastful frog. Two geese were about to start southward on their annual autumn migration, when they were entreated by a frog to take him with them. When the geese expressed their willingness to do so if a means of conveyance could be devised, the frog produced a long stalk of grass, got the two geese to take it one by each end, while he clung to it by his mouth in the middle. In this manner the three were making their journey when they were noticed from below by some men.

The men loudly expressed their admiration for the device and wondered who had been clever enough to discover it. Whereupon the vainglorious frog opened his mouth to say, It was I, lost his hold, fell to the earth, and was dashed to pieces. Moral: When you have a good thing going, keep your mouth shut! Love does not boast, it does not parade itself.

Such bragging and boasting is just a symptom of a much deeper problem in our life. In the next characteristic Paul goes from a symptom to the cause. Paul says, love is not puffed up, KJV NKJV. Love is not arrogant, NNAS. The Greek word here is phusioo, (foo-see-o'-o) blowing; to inflate, i.e. (fig.) make proud, puff up. This word differs from the previous word in that boasting is the expression of pride, and puffed up is pride itself. A man may be very proud but not express it in boasting.

This word is only used in the NT six times, five of those occasions are in 1 Corinthians. One of the great problem of the Corinthians was their pride.

1 Corinthians 4:6 (KJV) And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.

The pride of the Corinthians demonstrated a lack of love. Love is not puffed up. So often we are impatient and unkind because we think we deserve better treatment that we are getting; this is pride. And we need to understand that the root problem in any conflict between two people is pride.

Proverbs 13:10 (NKJV) By pride comes nothing but strife,
Proverbs 13:10 (NIV) Pride only breeds quarrels,
Proverbs 13:10 (KJV) Only by pride cometh contention:

Whenever there is a division between a husband and wife, between a parent and child, between one believer and another believer, there is always a root cause, which is pride. And where there is pride there is no love. Love is not proud.

Pride revolves around three steps.
1. The person begins to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, he has an unrealistic view of himself. Paul warned the Romans of this attitude:

Romans 12:3 (NKJV) For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.

And once a person has an unrealistic view of themselves they think that they are better than they are. And it is a very short step to the second step.

2. They begin to think that they are superior to others,

Philippians 2:3 (NKJV) Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.

And when that takes place the third step is,

. He thinks that he has a right to certain things to which he has no right whatsoever.

Isaiah 14:14 (NKJV) I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.'

That is the essence of pride. The solution to the problem of pride is to see yourself in a proper manner. To see yourself as a sinner saved and sustained by the grace of God alone. All we are and all we have is a gift of grace from God, what do we have to be proud about?

1 Corinthians 4:7 (NKJV) For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?
Deuteronomy 8:18 And you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.

James I. Packer, in his book Rediscovering Holiness, writes, Pride blows us up like balloons, but grace punctures our conceit and lets the hot, proud air out of our system. The result...is that we shrink, and end up seeing ourselves as less--less nice, less able, less wise, less good, less strong, less steady, less committed, less of a piece--than ever we thought we were. We stop kidding ourselves that we are persons of great importance to the world and to God.... We bow to events that rub our noses in the reality of our own weaknesses, and we look to God for strength quietly to cope.

Pride and arrogance breed contention, with which the Corinthian church was filled. In such things love has no part. Pride is big-headed; love is big-hearted.

In One Church from the Fence, Wes Seelinger writes: I have spent long hours in the intensive care waiting room ... watching with anguished people ... listening to urgent questions: Will my husband make it? Will my child walk again? How do you live without your companion of thirty years?

The intensive care waiting room is different from any other place in the world. And the people who wait are different. They can't do enough for each other. No one is proud. The distinctions of race and class melt away. A person is a father first, a black man second. The garbage man loves his wife as much as the university professor loves his, and everyone understands this. Each person pulls for everyone else.

In the intensive care waiting room, the world changes. Vanity and pretense vanish. The universe is focused on the doctor's next report. If only it will show improvement. Everyone knows that loving someone else is what life is all about.

Long before we're in the intensive care waiting room maybe we can learn to live like that.

1 John 4:21 (NKJV) And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.

The Practices of Love Part 4

1 Corinthians 13:5

We seem to major on the minors today. All to often when we think of how it is that a Christian should act we think in terms of taboos. Christians don't drink, Christians don't smoke, Christians don't cuss. On the positive side they go to church on Sundays. Are these the things that Jesus said would mark out his disciples? No! Jesus said that the mark of his disciples was love.

Love is profiled in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. Its total lack of self-concern is breathtaking. Love seeks the neighbor's good, and the true measure of it is how much it gives to that end. Love is a principle of action rather than of emotion. It is a purpose of honoring and benefiting the other party. It is a matter of doing things for people out of compassion for their need, whether or not we feel personal affection for them. It is by their active love to one another that Jesus' disciples are to be recognized.

Paul begins the subject of love not by defining it, but by describing the manifestations of it in our lives. He tells us what love will produce. What are the characteristics that mark us out as loving? Paul tells us that love is patient. This word as it is used in the NT is a word that almost on every occasion conveys the idea of having an infinite capacity to be injured without paying back. It means to have a long fuse. Not only is it patient but love is also kind, it is useful and good. It is useful even to its enemies. Love reacts to injury by doing kind deeds to the person who has injured them. Then Paul gives us eight negative descriptions of love, these are things that love does not do.

We all know the perverse pleasure that the flesh gets out of some of these negative qualities. We all too often do not want to give them up. It is too much fun to rip people apart, give them a piece of your mind, make them suffer for all the injuries they have done to you. You know how delightful that is, don't you? We are given these negative qualities to help us understand what we must renounce. These are actions and attitudes that we must put off.

Ephesians 4:22-24 (NKJV) that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

We are not only to put on patience and kindness but we are to put off several things. Paul tells us that love is not jealous, so we are to put off jealousy. Jealousy is the attitude that says I want what someone else has. Or it can go deeper and be the attitude that says, I wish that you didn't have what you have. It's desiring evil for someone else. Love does not boast, so we are to put off boasting. Bragging is the other side of jealousy. Jealousy is wanting what someone else has. Bragging is trying to make others jealous of what you have. The whole idea of boasting is to make someone feel that you are superior to them. Love is not puffed up, so we are to put off pride. This word differs from the previous word in that boasting is the expression of pride, and puffed up is pride itself.

This morning we want to look at verse 5 and a few more of the negatives. Love is not rude, so we are to put off any behavior that would be rude. The Greek word is aschemoneo, (as-kay-mon-eh'-o); this word is used only here and in:

1 Corinthians 7:36 (NKJV) But if any man thinks he is behaving improperly toward his virgin, if she is past the flower of youth, and thus it must be, let him do what he wishes. He does not sin; let them marry.

This word has the meaning of acting inappropriate. The loveless person cares nothing for the feelings of those around him. The word rude is an adjective which first appeared in the 14th Century. It has several different usages but the one we are interested in has the idea of offensive in manner or action. Synonyms would be: DISCOURTEOUS, UNGRACIOUS or DISRESPECTFUL. Rude implies indifference to the feelings of others. It suggests intentional discourtesy, or disrespect. Rude is any action, look or comment that is disrespectful or discourteous. It can be just a look, it can be a word, it can be silence. It is not considering the preciousness of others. This would resolve many problems if we all started acting toward one another in an appropriate manner, if we were courteous and respectful to each other.

The Corinthians were models for rude behavior. Nearly everything they did was rude.

1 Corinthians 11:21 (NKJV) For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and another is drunk.

During the love feast they were showing a total lack of respect for one another. Their worship service was total chaos, each of them was trying to outdo the other. They were rude. They were disrespectful and discourteous to one other.

In Luke 7 Jesus protects a woman from rude behavior.

Luke 7:36-47 (NKJV) Then one of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him. And He went to the Pharisee's house, and sat down to eat. 37 And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, 38 and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he spoke to himself, saying, This man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner. 40 And Jesus answered and said to him, Simon, I have something to say to you. So he said, Teacher, say it. 41 There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more? 43 Simon answered and said, I suppose the one whom he forgave more. And He said to him, You have rightly judged. 44 Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. 45 You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. 46 You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. 47 Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.

Here we see Jesus protecting this woman from a rude self-righteous Pharisee. The Pharisee did not respect this woman, to him she was nothing but a sinner. But before he could be discourteous to her Jesus uses a parable to show the Pharisee that the woman was fulfilling the great commandment to love. She had understood her great need and come to Christ for forgiveness. When it came to the relationship before God, she was loving God much more than the Pharisee. But because he looked down on her He would have treated her rudely had Jesus not stopped him.

I think that Christians loose many opportunities to witness because of their rudeness to unbelievers. Often because of their habits or sins we treat them so rudely that they are turned off to the gospel message. Christians have always believed that actions will either add to or detract from the impact of the gospel message, but we have wrongly assumed that telling the truth, and abstaining from immorality were all that was necessary to make the gospel palatable. But there are other areas of lifestyle commonly neglected by the evangelical community which if practiced will bring greater power to our gospel presentation. And one such area is treating unbelievers with respect and courtesy, and not being rude to them.

I am sure that you could come up with several examples of what rude is. I received a lot of input last week when I asked for your examples of what rude is. Let me share with you a few that capture the essence of what rude is. What is rude to you?

Example: Sarcasm. Example: my kids often chew with their mouths open or talk loudly at the table. They are not considerate of those at the table who do not want to see their food, or of those who are trying to have a conversation over them. Let me add to this; Children interrupting a conversation, as if they were the center of the universe. Children calling an adult by their first name, showing no respect for age. Example: talking loudly during a public program, movie, ect. Speeding across lanes of traffic, cutting off other drivers, breaking line, ect. Example: I was in the Regent computer room in Robertson Hall for most of the morning one day this week. I noticed that a student had left the room with his computer still on and his belongings strewn about. In other words, I'm am still using this computer, and I'll be right back. He came back an hour and half later. During that time, about 10 students came in to see a room in full use. What's worse, when he came back, he turned off the computer, and left! That's rude. Example: One day I was talking to a fellow officer and an enlisted technician politely interrupted and began to talk to us. I looked at this person, acknowledging him. As a few moments went by, the other officer began to talk to me totally off the subject and ignoring that person. I thought this was a rude or discourteous, ill-mannered action. It's tough to exactly describe, but I felt this officer didn't show that enlisted person any respect of humanity by not acknowledging him and changing the conversation mid topic discussion. I know Love is not like this. He's right, that was rude and love does not act rudely. Love demonstrates respect for the personal dignity of the other person.

Not being rude does not stop with words and attitude. It also pertains to one's apparel and appearance. If you ladies were to go to Gateway church or school wearing pants that would be rude. It would be flaunting your liberty, and would be discourteous. Dressing immodestly is rude. It is disrespectful of others' spiritual health.

Paul also says that love is not self-seeking, so we must put off selfishness. This is probably the key to everything. The well known Bible commentator Lenski said, Cure selfishness and you have just replanted the garden of Eden.

A recent survey conducted by a team of professional pollsters, asked the question, What do people love the most in life? Categories were children, animals, God, the United States, their enemies, and themselves. It was discovered that 92% of the people said they loved children, barely edging out God at 86% The United States, surprisingly enough, came third at 75%; animals were fourth, at 66%. Only 33% would acknowledge loving themselves (fifth place), and only 20% confessed to loving their enemies. Who are they kidding? They placed loving themselves fifth. They are either liars or they don't understand themselves at all. We all love ourselves! The commandment of Jesus to Love thy neighbor as thyself, presupposes that we love ourselves. If this were not a fact Jesus couldn't have told us to love our neighbor as ourselves. If we did not love ourselves we wouldn't have to love our neighbor either. Our constant desire is to please ourselves, we are very selfish creatures. This is not saying that we shouldn't care for ourselves, but that we should put others ahead of ourselves. Our primary concern should be for the good of our neighbor.

Philippians 2:3-4 (NKJV) Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

We need to hear this: we are so consumed with ourselves that we often have no concern for others. Being unselfish in attitude strikes at the very core of our being. It means we are willing to forgo our own comfort, our own preferences, our own schedule, our own desires for another's benefit. Jesus who is the perfect example of love became man not so people would serve him but so he could serve others.

Matthew 20:28 (NKJV) just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.

We are to have the same attitude that Christ had, that of esteeming others better than ourselves. If the God-Man, Jesus Christ, can consider us better than himself should we really have a problem with this? Paul is also an example of unselfishness.

2 Corinthians 11:23-28 (NKJV) Are they ministers of Christ?; I speak as a fool; I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. 24 From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness;

And you think that you have problems. All this pain and misery in his life and look what he's concerned about.

28 besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.

2 Corinthians 12:15 (NKJV) And I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved.

Paul wasn't seeking his own wants or even his needs, he was concerned about others. Paul's disciple Timothy was also selfless.

Philippians 2:19-21 (NKJV) But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state. 20 For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state. 21 For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus.

Paul's words in verse 21 are a scathing indictment against the sin of selfishness, all seek their own. But Timothy was different, Timothy loved others. Paul says, He sincerely cared for them. The word care is the Greek word merimnao, which means to be anxious, worried or burdened in a serious way, to be troubled with care. It is a very strong verb. This is the same verb that Paul just used in:

2 Corinthians 11:28 besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.

The word concern is the Greek noun, merimna. When you compare the two passages you see how much both of these men cared for others, above themselves. Look with me at another use of this word in:

Philippians 4:6 (NKJV) Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;

The word anxious is the Greek word merimnao. Are Paul and Timothy in violation of this verse? This verb is often used in the gospels, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? What is forbidden in the gospels and in Philippians is anxious care for one's self and one's own interest. Paul and Timothy's anxiety was over the welfare of others. The loveless person reverses this and is guilty of anxiety for their own interest to the exclusion of the well-being of others.

How do we get beyond selfishness? It's something that we all struggle with. How do we overcome it? We can overcome our selfishness when we get our minds off of ourselves and on to the things of Christ.

Colossians 3:1-2 (KJV) If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
Philippians 2:4 (KJV) Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

Fulton Oursler, some years ago told the following story that illustrates our point: A uniformed chauffeur approached the desk of a clerk in a cemetery and said, The lady is too ill to walk. Would you mind coming with me? Waiting in the car was a frail, elderly woman whose sunken eyes could not hide some deep, long-lasting hurt. I'm Mrs. So-and-so, she said weakly. Every week for the last two years I have been sending you a five-dollar bill in the mail. Oh yes-for the flowers! the clerk remembered. Yes, to be laid on the grave of my loved one. I came today, she confided softly, because the doctors have let me know I have only a few weeks left. I shall not be sorry to go. There's nothing to live for anyway, so I wanted to drive for one last look at the grave.

The clerk blinked at her irresolutely. Then with a wry smile he spoke, You know, ma'am, I'm very sorry you kept sending the money for the flowers. Sorry? she asked. Yes, he replied. The flowers last such a little while, and no one ever sees them. Do you realize what you're saying? she asked. Oh, indeed I do. You see, I belong to a visiting society, he said. I go to state hospitals and insane asylums where people dearly love flowers- and they can see them and smell them. Lady, there are living people in places like that. The woman sat in silence for a moment, and then, without a word, she signaled the chauffeur to drive away.

Some months later, the clerk was astonished to receive another visit. Only this time he was doubly astonished, because the woman was driving the car. I take the flowers to the people at the hospitals myself, she said with a friendly smile. You were right! It does make them happy; and it makes me happy, too. The doctors don't know what is making me well- but I do. I have somebody else to live for.

Surely the number one reason both for mental and physical illness in our society today is the overwhelming preoccupation with self. When everyone is fighting for his own rights, no one can really succeed or be happy. In an age in which demanding one's rights is considered a virtue, we must read again and again that love is not self-seeking.

Romans 12:10 (NKJV) Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;

When we are selfish and seeking only our own interests, what happens when we don't get what we want? We get angry, irritated. So Paul continues and tell us that:

Love is not provoked. The KJV says is not easily provoked. That sounds a little more palatable but the word easily is not in the Greek text. It must have been a person with a very short temper who translated this in the KJV. J.B. Philps translates this, Love is not touchy. Now don't look at your husband ladies. How many problems would be solved if people weren't touchy! The Greek word used here is paroxuno, (par-ox-oo'-no) it means to arouse to anger and is the origin of the English word paroxysm, a convulsion or sudden outburst of emotion or action. This word is used only one other time in Scripture.

Acts 17:16 (NKJV) Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols.

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13:5 that love is not provoked, but in Acts 17 it says that he was provoked; was Paul in sin? No! Like the Lord Jesus Christ Paul was angered by the things that angered God. To be angered by injustice or unrighteousness is righteous indignation. If you love the Lord you're going to get angry at those things that anger Him. As an example I was angered by an article in the Virginian-Pilot on Thursday concerning the rally held at Scope yesterday. The Navy was involved in a Christian men's rally that was indorsed by Promise Keepers. The Anti- Defamation League charged that the Navy was promoting Christianity over other religions and is working with a group that encourages men to lead their households. Isn't that terrible, they are encouraging men to lead their households! It angers me that people want to fight against anything that is associated with Christianity.

The being provoked that Paul is talking about here has to do with things done against us or that are personally offensive. Love does not get angry at others when they say or do something that displeases us or when they prevent us from having our own way. We could say that love is not provoked by the rudeness of others.

Dr. William Gaylin, in his book Feelings: Our Vital Signs, pointed out that resentment often arises when we believe we aren't getting what is due us from another person. The author and family therapist, Olga Silverstine, was asked by USA Today to comment on the O.J. Simpson situation, and Dr. Silverstine said, Men are expected to be brutal killers in war and on the athletic field but also to be loving husbands and fathers. We over value the qualities we call masculine, and under value the qualities we call feminine including empathy, and caring, and feeling. Real he-men, she says are allowed only one emotion, anger, never fear and never hurt, just anger. And the man taught from infancy to be a winner at all costs in terms of sports, and career, and sexual conquests, he cannot cope with losing, and he responds with the only emotion he has, rage. I think that she's right in the fact that our society trains us to respond in anger when we don't get what we want. But the person who walks in love is not provoked. Proverbs has much to say about anger.

Proverbs 19:11 (NKJV) The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, And his glory is to overlook a transgression.
Proverbs 19:19 (NKJV) A man of great wrath will suffer punishment; For if you rescue him, you will have to do it again.
Proverbs 22:24-25 (NKJV) Make no friendship with an angry man, And with a furious man do not go, 25 Lest you learn his ways And set a snare for your soul.

None of us are immune to the irritation caused by others. Even Moses lost his temper with the children of Israel when they quarreled with him for lack of water. And he was a very humble man.

Numbers 12:3 (NKJV) (Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth.)

Becoming angry at people when they don't act the way we think they should is something we must all guard against. If you can't control your anger you will be defensless against the attacks of the enemy according to:

Proverbs 25:28 (NKJV) Whoever has no rule over his own spirit Is like a city broken down, without walls.

Paul goes on to say that love thinks no evil; this translation gives an incorrect idea. The Greek verb logizomai implies keeping a record. It is a bookkeeping term that means to calculate or reckon, as when figuring an entry in a ledger. I keep track of my spending on my computer, do you know why? I don't want to forget it, so I log it in a ledger. Love doesn't keep records of the wrongs done to it. Do you know people who are keeping a record of everything that someone has done to hurt them? Why do they keep a record of wrongs done to them? So they won't forget the wrongs, so they will be sure that person gets the justice that is due them.

In Polynesia, where the natives spend much of their time in fighting and feasting, it is customary for each man to keep some reminders of his hatred. Articles are suspended from the roofs of their huts to keep alive the memory of their wrongs-real or imaginary. In the same way many people nurse their hurts, they brood over wrongs done to them until it is impossible to forget them. But love does not keep a record of wrongs done to it, it is quick to forgive.

Proverbs 10:12 Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all sins.

This same Greek word, logizomai is often used in the NT to represent the pardoning act of God toward those who trust in Jesus Christ for their eternal salvation.

Romans 4:8 (NKJV) Blessed is the man to whom the LORD shall not impute sin.

We have all sinned against God:

Romans 3:10 (NKJV) As it is written: There is none righteous, no, not one;
Romans 3:23 (NKJV) for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Because of our sin we deserve death, eternity in Hell.
Romans 6:23 (NKJV) For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

But to all who in faith turn to Christ trusting in his death to pay their sin debt, God marks the record book as paid in full. In God's record book the only entry after the names of those who have put their trust in Him is, righteous! Christ died to pay our sin debt and to all who trust in him he takes their sin and gives them his righteousness. If God so completely and permanently erases the record of our many sins against Him, how much more should we forgive the much lesser wrongs done against us?

Ephesians 4:32 (NKJV) And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.

There is a great verse dealing with our forgiveness in:

Isaiah 38:17 (NNAS) Lo, for my own welfare I had great bitterness; It is You who has kept my soul from the pit of nothingness, For You have cast all my sins behind Your back.

It literally reads you have put my sins between your shoulder blades. Think about that, can you see what's between your shoulder blades? Think about it in relation to the omnipresence of God. To put our sins behind the back of omnipresence is to do away with them totally. God keeps no record of our wrongs done to him. The only thing in the ledger is that we are righteous.

Matthew 18:32-33 (NKJV) Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, 'You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. 33 'Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?'

We are to love as God loves us. We are to keep no record of wrongs done to us. Chrysostom observed that a wrong done against love is like a spark that falls into the sea and is quenched.

I read the story recently of how Louis XII of France treated his enemies after he ascended to the throne. Before coming to power, he had been cast into prison and kept in chains. Later when he did become king, he was urged to seek revenge but he refused. Instead, he prepared a scroll on which he listed all who had perpetrated crimes against him. Behind every man's name he placed a cross in red ink. When the guilty heard about this, they feared for their lives and fled. Then the king explained, The cross which I drew beside each name was not a sign of punishment, but a pledge of forgiveness extended for the sake of the crucified Savior, who upon His cross forgave His enemies and prayed for them.

We all want our loved ones to trust Jesus alone for eternal life. We want our children growing up knowing God's unconditional love. We want our world to understand grace! It can happen. In fact, the grace gospel can be proclaimed with greater clarity and impact than ever before if we'll not only preach grace, but live graciously!

Love is a choice. Christian love is not a feeling, but a choice. We can choose to be concerned with people's well-being and treat them with respect, whether we feel affection toward them or not. If we choose to love others, God will help us express our love. Though the power for godly character comes from Christ, the responsibility for developing and displaying that character is ours. Will you make the decision today to love others as you love yourself?

The Practices of Love Part 5

1 Corinthians 13:6-7

We are studying the practice of love. This is our fifth study of verses 4-7 which give us the characteristics of love. This study has been very convicting for me and hopefully it has been life changing. I really hate to end this study because I want to keep these precepts fresh in my thinking so that I can flash them out. How many of you feel that you have mastered this material and are living in complete obedience to them? I know that I haven't. Maybe we should start over and continue to study this subject until we have it mastered. There is nothing more important in our lives than learning to love like this. As we have seen the NT teaches that love is preeminent. It is the ultimate priority in the life of a Christian. More than anything else in our lives the Lord wants us to love Him and love one another. Without love we are nothing. Life minus love equals zero.

I hope that you understand that we are all personally responsible to love one another. In the NT we are continually exhorted to love. We are told to:

Put on love (Col. 3:14)
Follow after love (1 Cor. 14:1)
Abound in love (Phil. 1:9)
Continue in love (Heb. 13:1)
Increase in love (Thess. 3:12)
Be fervent in love (1 Pet. 4:8)
Be consistent in love (Phil. 2:2)
Be sincere in love (2 Cor. 8:8)

Love is the pinnacle of life. The healthy, happy, positive, glowing, useful Christian is the one who loves. We have a personal responsibility to love and I think you understand this. But do you know that we're responsible to help each other love? I am not only commanded to live like this but I am also commanded to help you live like this. Look with me at:

Hebrews 10:24-25 (NKJV) And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

The word consider is from the Greek word, katanoeo (kat-an-o-eh'-o). Katanoeo is a compound word composed of kata which means down and noeo which means to exercise the mind. It has the idea of thoroughly and carefully noticing someone or some thing. A good English equivalent would be to contemplate. This is a strong and emphatic exhortation: consider others, contemplate others.

Do you realize that individually you and I are personally responsible for the physical and spiritual welfare of each other? This exhortation to consider is not given to the church elders--it is given to all believers. We all are to consider one another. We are to look to the needs, problems, struggles, and temptations of one another. The spirit of rugged individualism so prevalent in America is wholly incompatible with the church of Jesus Christ. We may think that we have discharged our responsibility to the Lord because we are individually walking in love, but we are wrong: we are not only to look out for our own lives, but we are to consider others. Christianity is others oriented! But most of us care only about meeting our own needs; we ignore the many instructions in the Bible about our responsibility to others.

We need each other if we are truly going to be what God has called us to be. Each believer has unique gifts and insights that are invaluable for building up the body of Christ. Christianity is to be lived out in community and God has created us to be dependant both on Him and on one another.

Notice the purpose of our considering one another according to Hebrews 10:25: to provoke unto love and good works. The word provoke is from the Greek word paroxusmos (par-ox-oos-mos') which is a strong word implying a real effort to prod each other onto love and good works. We are not only to live our lives loving others but we are to also be constantly encouraging others to walk in love. If you are going to encourage someone else to walk in love you must be doing it yourself, you need to set the example and then encourage them to follow. Paul told Timothy to be an example of love.

1 Timothy 4:12 (NKJV) Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.

So far we have seen that love is patient; it is patient with people, it has a long fuse, it doesn't retaliate. It is also kind; this has the idea of being useful, or good. Love is useful to those who have a need whether they are friends or enemies. We also saw the characteristics that love does not demonstrate. Love is not jealous, Love does not boast, love is not proud, it does not see itself as superior to others but esteems others better than itself. Love is not rude, it is not intentionally discourteous or disrespectful. Love is not selfish, it views others very highly and gives itself for them. Love forgoes its own comfort, its own preferences, its own schedule, its own desires for the benefit of another. Love is not provoked. Love does not get angry at others when they say or do something that displeases us or when they prevent us from having our own way. Love does not keep a record of wrongs done to it, it quickly forgives any offense.

Paul continues the characteristics of love by saying:

1 Corinthians 13:6 (NKJV) does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;

This sentence is perfectly balanced with two clauses that feature the same verb but have direct objects that are opposites: iniquity and truth. First we see the negative.

Love does not rejoice in iniquity,

The word rejoice is the Greek word chairo, (khah'ee-ro) to be cheerful, happy or glad, to have joy. It is translated as glad in Luke 15 and 1 Cor 16

Luke 15:32 (NKJV) 'It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.'
1 Corinthians 16:17 (NKJV) I am glad about the coming of Stephanas, Fortunatus, and A-cha-i-cus, for what was lacking on your part they supplied.

So it has the idea of being happy, glad, to be joyful. We are told that love does not rejoice, or is not glad with iniquity. We could also say that love does not sympathize with iniquity. Iniquity is the Greek word adikia, (ad-ee-kee'-a) which means iniquity, unjust, unrighteousness, wrong. The general drift of this passage represents love in its relations to others. And injustice has to do with our treatment of our fellow men. So I think we could translate this, Love takes no joy in the sin of others.

If you remember we looked at the word justice several weeks ago. We said that justice has two major aspects. First, it is the standard by which penalties are assigned for breaking the obligations of society. Second, justice is the standard by which the advantages of social life are handed out, including material goods, rights of participation, opportunities, and liberties. It is the standard for both punishment and benefits.

The second table of the law deals with our relationship with men. To break the first table is to act ungodly. Ungodliness focuses on our relationship with God. To break the second table of the law is to act unjust, to not love others.

Exodus 20:13-17 (NKJV) You shall not murder. 14 You shall not commit adultery. 15 You shall not steal. 16 You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. 17 You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor's.

Love does not take joy in any of these actions. If you love someone you won't murder them and you won't find joy in others who murder. Do we rejoice in these things? Do we rejoice in murder or adultery? Love gets no joy from the sin of others, but too often we do. You might be saying surely a Christian wouldn't rejoice in the sin of another. Oh really? The Corinthians did.

1 Corinthians 5:1-2 (NKJV) It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles; that a man has his father's wife! 2 And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you.

They were actually proud, boasting and thus rejoicing in the sin of this man. Why? Maybe because it made them feel superior, or self-righteous. Or maybe they were rejoicing in the fact that they tolerated even the worst of sinners. Often we rejoice in other peoples' sin because it makes us feel superior. Gossip would be a way of rejoicing in iniquity. Love never takes satisfaction from sin, whether our own sin or that of others. We tend to rejoice in the downfall of others who we do not particularly like. They might commit a heinous sin and we take delight in it. Their injustice actually brings us joy. Do you know what I'm talking about? It is quite popular today to take joy in the injustice of our president. President Clinton's alleged immoral sexual escapades are something that comedians use for material for their jokes. And we laugh, we take joy in iniquity.

We know that the world does this, but shouldn't we be different? Knowing the damage that sin brings shouldn't we mourn and weep over it instead of rejoicing in it? The world rejoices in the sin of others.

Romans 1:32 (NKJV) who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.
Revelation 11:7 When they finish their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit will make war against them, overcome them, and kill them. 8 And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. 9 Then those from the peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations will see their dead bodies three-and-a-half days, and not allow their dead bodies to be put into graves. 10 And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them, make merry, and send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth.

The sad thing is that it's not just the world that rejoices in iniquity, we do it ourselves. Don't many of the movies today teach us to rejoice in murder? Don't they teach us to rejoice in adultery? I read an ad in a magazine this week for the video Bridges over Madison County that said, Bring home the most romantic movie of our generation tonight. Clint Eastwood, Meryl Streep, cinema's most notable stars, together in this enchanting performance of a life-changing romance. This movie exalts adultery, it rejoices in adultery which is injustice. Love doesn't rejoice in injustice. Do you? We watch a movie or read a book and often we sympathize with evil. This poem taken from a United Methodist newsletter has a lot of truth to it. Does it apply to you?

The TV is my shepherd, my spiritual growth shall want.
It maketh me to sit down and do nothing for His name's sake.
It keepeth me from doing my duty as a Christian, because it presenteth so many good programs that I must see.
It restoreth my knowledge of the things of this world, and keepeth me from the study of God's Word.
It leadeth me into the paths of failing to attend the evening church services, and doing nothing for the Kingdom of God.
Yet, though I live to be one hundred, I shall keep viewing my TV so long as it shall work, for it is my closest companion.
Its sounds and its pictures, they comfort me.
It presenteth entertainment before me and keepeth me from doing important things with my family.
It filleth my head with ideas which differ from those in the Word of God.
Surely no good thing will come of my life because of so many wasted hours, and I shall dwell in my regrets and remorse forever.
-- Taken from a United Meth. Newsletter, Rustburg, VA.

Today's TV and movies truly fill our head with ideas which differ from those in the Word of God. They teach us to sympathize with iniquity. The world rejoices in the sins of others but they should cause us to mourn and grieve. This was David's attitude.

Psalms 69:9 (NKJV) Because zeal for Your house has eaten me up, And the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me.

What David is saying, is that when God is dishonored he is in agony. You can't rejoice in iniquity if you love God.

Psalms 97:10 (NKJV) You who love the LORD, hate evil!

How do we know what is evil and what we are to hate?

Psalms 119:104 (NKJV) Through Your precepts I get understanding; Therefore I hate every false way.

Only by time spent in God's Word will we know what is evil and what it is that God hates.

The positive side of this is that Love rejoices with the truth aletheia,( al-ay'-thi-a) truth:--true, verity.

Why does Paul compare those two? Because justice is predicated upon truth. You can't be just until you have behaved yourself in accord with God's truth. Justice and truth are connected in the Scripture.

Isaiah 59:4 (KJV) None calleth for justice, nor any pleadeth for truth: they trust in vanity, and speak lies; they conceive mischief, and bring forth iniquity.
Isaiah 59:14 (KJV) And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter.

Truth is used in the sense of something to be done.

John 3:21 (NKJV) But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.
1 John 1:6 (NKJV) If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.

What brings joy to your heart? Bad or good? If you hear something bad about someone who is your enemy or whom you do not like, do you rejoice? Or does it make you sad to see your enemy involved in sin? Love takes no joy in the sin of others but rejoices when others walk in the truth.

3 John 1:3-6 (NKJV) For I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth. 4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. 5 Beloved, you do faithfully whatever you do for the brethren and for strangers, 6 who have borne witness of your love before the church. If you send them forward on their journey in a manner worthy of God, you will do well,

If you love someone you certainly won't be glad when they sin, knowing that sin brings with it destruction and misery. When you love someone you will rejoice when they walk in truth.
Paul concludes this poetic section with a fourfold summary of the positive force of love.

1 Corinthians 13:7 (NKJV) bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love bears all things. Bears is the Greek word stego, (steg'-o) This verb is difficult to be dogmatic on because it has two possible uses. It could mean, to roof over, i.e. (fig.) to cover with silence or it could mean to endure patiently.

Because the last of these four deals with endurance I think it's best to see this as covers with silence. Love covers. When it learns something unpleasant about another it does not run and scatter it all over the church or neighborhood. It does not take delight in some of the misdeeds of others. Love covers it over, keeps it silent. Not that it will not do something about it, but it does not spread it about for others to hear.

It's normal for our flesh to want to uncover everybody's sin. We see this in our children don't we? They love to tattle on each other. It's sad to say but some people never grow out of that. That is not love, love covers the sin of others, it does not expose them.

1 Peter 4:8 (NKJV) And above all things have fervent love for one another, for love will cover a multitude of sins.
Proverbs 10:12 (NKJV) Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all sins.

Have you ever noticed how easily you dismiss the faults of those you love? But how do you respond when someone you don't particularly like does something wrong? Do you cover it or expose it? Are you like Ham or like Shem and Japheth?

Genesis 9:22-23 (NKJV) And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. 23 But Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and went backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father's nakedness.

Love will warn, and exhort, and rebuke, and discipline, but love will also cover that sin and not expose it. Love throws a cloak of silence over what is displeasing in another person.

The adjective pas occurs four times in succession with four different verbs. It can be translated as all things, but it can also serve adverbially and signify always. Either way they must be interpreted with limitations. Love certainly would not cover in silence a rape or murder, but report them to the police.

Love believes all things. pisteuo, (pist-yoo'-o) to have faith (in or with respect to, a person or thing). The context here requires us to understand this of the conduct of others. It doesn't mean that we should join the ecumenical movement and have no discrimination in regard to what we believe. It also does not mean that love is gullible. When Jesus was kissed by Judas in the garden he did not say to him, Oh, Judas, what a beautiful kiss. I'm so glad you have changed your mind and are showing this. No, he understood that this was a traitorous action. He said to Judas, Would you betray the Son of man with a kiss? He was not gullible. He did not believe that action of Judas. Nevertheless, love is ready to believe anything that has a ground of reality to it. It is always ready to start over. What this phrase means is that it is ready to trust somebody anew. It does not assume the attitude, Well you've done that three times before, and you did not do it right again, so I'm not going to trust you anymore. If somebody wants another chance love grants it. Love is not suspicious, it does not read between the lines and come out with the worst. Because we are naturally malicious, we are also suspicious, and take the wrong meaning out of everything. Love believes the best of people. Often when we interpret the actions of others we tend to view them negatively. But if we love them we will interpret their actions in the best possible light.

Adam Clark who was a great theologian was very slow to learn in school. One day a distinguished visitor paid a visit to the school, and the teacher singled out Adam Clark and said. That is the stupidest boy in the school. Before he left the school, the visitor came to the boy and said kindly, Never mind, my boy, you may be a great scholar some day. Don't be discouraged but try hard, and keep on trying. The teacher did not believe in Adam Clark, but the visitor did. Who knows, it may have been that word of faith which made Adam Clark what he one day became. Love believes all things.

Last Friday night at our cell meeting Tom was sharing with the group a prayer request for someone who had lost their job because they had violated the company policy. Ligia said, They didn't do it willfully, it was an accident. And Tom looked at her and said, how do you know, you didn't even talk to them? Ligia knew because love believes the best and Ligia loves this person.

If you are going to make a mistake about somebody's character, do yourself a favor and err on the side of love. Make a mistake in the fact that you trusted and believed in them too much. It's better to err on the side of love. Don't be like one of Job's friends. Job's friends were quick to accuse, weren't they? We all know what you're problem is ,Job: you're evil. That is why you are having all these problems. Job listened to their accusations for as long as he could then he responded.

Job 21:27 (NKJV) Look, I know your thoughts, And the schemes with which you would wrong me.

In other words, all you do is think evil about me. Had they loved Job they would have thought the best and not the worst of him. When you don't like someone, you try to find faults in them. But when you love someone you will cover their faults. If a loved one is accused of something wrong, love will consider him innocent until proven guilty. If he turns out to be guilty, love will give credit for the best motives.

Some people are so negative they always think the worst!
I read a story last week about a farmer that had a brilliant dog? He had a neighbor that just absolutely was negative, no matter what. If it was raining, the farmer would say to his neighbor, Boy, look at it rain, God's sort of washing it clean. Yeah, but if it keeps up it's gonna flood. Then the sun would come out and he'd say, If it keeps that up, it's gonna just scorch the crops.

The farmer thought, What am I gonna do to win this guy? So he trained his dog to walk on water. He didn't tell his neighbor, he just took him duck hunting. Boom! Boom! They brought these ducks out of the sky, and said to his dog, Go get 'em. The dog went across, picked them up, and hopped back in the boat, nothing wet -- just his paws. The farmer said, What do you think of that?

The neighbor said, He can't swim, can he? Don't be a negative person, believe the best of people. Love believes all things, do you? Do you believe the best in people?

Then, third, love hopes all things elpizo, (el-pid'-zo) from to expect or confide: This also refers to the conduct of others. Rather than having a negative and critical spirit, it is always positive and hopeful. Love is hopelessly optimistic, it never stops hoping. No cause, no situation, no person is ever regarded as totally hopeless. Love says, God is still God and He can do it; so that's what I have hope in. Love refuses to take failure as final. There is always a place to begin again. Love will find it; it never gives up hope.

A few years ago the psychology department of Duke University carried on an interesting experiment. They wanted to see how long rats could swim.

In one container they placed a rat for whom there was no possibility of escape. He swam a few moments and then ducked his head to drown. In the other container they made the hope of escape possible for the rat. The rat swam for several hours before finally drowning. The conclusion of the experiment was just the opposite of our common conclusion. We usually say, As long as there is life, there is hope. The Duke experiment proved, As long as there is hope, there is life. Hope gives us endurance, the Scriptures teach us this.

Romans 8:25 (KJV) But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.

We can endure a lot when we have hope! Without hope, we easily cave in to pressures and trials. When we hope, in some one we hang on, we keep believing in them.

Thus Paul adds the final word in this section, love endures all things. hupomeno, is a military term that has to do with being positioned in the middle of a violent battle. ; to stay under, remain, have fortitude, persevere. Love stands against incredible opposition and still loves. Love never quits; it never gives up on anyone. It cares too much to give up.

Loves covers the faults of others; it believes what otherwise is unbelievable; it hopes in what otherwise is hopeless; and it endures when anything less than love would give up.

Love is the character of Christ. That is what the Holy Spirit is seeking to reproduce in us, so that becoming Christlike means becoming a more loving person. This is the measure of our spiritual growth. I know Christians who do not seem to have changed in twenty years. They are just as querulous and cantankerous and difficult twenty years after they became Christians as they were at the beginning. Something is wrong in a life like that. The whole purpose and thrust of the work of the Spirit is to teach us to be loving, patient, kind, forgiving, understanding, giving others a second chance, trying over again, open to correction and instruction ourselves, easy to be entreated. These are all the qualities that can be produced in a Christian life. That is what makes life worth living. This is the measure of true Christian spirituality.

The solution to your deepest and most complex problem is love. Take your problem, just consider it for a moment. Maybe it's your marriage, or it could be a conflict with your children or parents, maybe it is a sin or temptation that you have not been able to gain the victory over, maybe it's someone you haven't forgiven. What is your problem this morning? Wouldn't this kind of love solve your problem? All problems are not spiritual problems, but all problems have a spiritual solution. And the solution to many of your problems is this kind of love in your life. You might say yes that kind of love would solve my problem but I don't have that kind of love. This love is the fruit of the Spirit. Only God can produce this love in your life. Only as you walk in fellowship with God can you live like this. The Corinthians were carnal and therefore they did not love like this. Only the Spiritual man can live in love.

So the real solution to your problems is to cultivate your spiritual life. As you grow in your spiritual life the Spirit of God will produce this fruit of love which will solve each one of your problems. The solution to your problems is a good spiritual life. How is your relationship with God? I think our relationship with God is evident by the love that we demonstrate.

Love is not for the halfhearted, the sentimental or the weakling. To live by love is one of the most difficult things there is. It takes the most strength, the most discipline, the most commitment, and the most faith of anything I've ever discovered in the Bible. But without it we're nothing.