|Messages By Ovid Need|
Love 1 - 1 Corinthians 13
At the start of this year, we mentioned that the passage in Phil. 3:13 needed to be preached often, maybe once or twice a year. This is another passage that also needs to be covered regularly. This is an area that we need to be constantly reminded of from word of God.
The first point or so will be along the line that we covered a couple of weeks ago, but we need to hit them to lay the proper foundation.
As a whole, we are very selfish people. Our interests lie in my and mine and it is extremely difficult to get out of this. Love one for another will bring us out of this problem. Paul, in Vs. 4-7 gives us a detailed definition of love.
I have put off preaching on this passage because I wanted to do a series in 1 Corinthians, but we will use this anyway. If we get to come back in a study, we'll cover it again. Although we do need look at a little of the context to see the setting of chapter 13. This chapter is given to deal with some major problems between people which had arisen in this Church at Corinth.
This church was made up of very carnal people. I just quickly scanned through the previous 12 chapters and found over 30 problems which Paul addressed and which some day, Lord willing, we will look at and develop.
They can all be summed up into two major groups. Sins of commission and sins of omission. They were involved in evil deeds as well as indifferent to the things of God that they should have been doing.
As we look at this chapter, let me call your attention to three points.
1. Any type of Godly love one for another must be based in a proper love for God, John 14:15 (If ye love me, keep my commandments).
We love God by doing what He has told us to do in His word. That love for God does for our neighbor what God has told us to do. 2. Paul here in 1 Corinthians only adds the proper attitudes to the practical actions already outlined for us in the OT.
2. Acts 18:1-6 gives us the record of the start of this church. As we see there, when Paul went into a new area, the first place he went was into the Jewish Synagogue. In these synagogues would be all who had any kind of desire to know Jehovah God. These inquisitive people would include both Jews and non-Jews. There he would preached Christ and some would believe and some would not.
The point being here is that these people who were the first converts to Christianity and with which the new Christian Church was started were people out of the synagogues. These people were well trained in the law of Moses, and Paul, nor any of the other Apostles, did not go into these synagogues telling these devout seekers of God, that Christ now did away with what they had been studying, the law of Moses.
What they did was preach the finished work of Christ in addition to the law and the prophets that was already being taught. They taught that faithfulness to the law had never been, nor was it now, sufficient for justification before God. The whole Book of Galatians deals with this very thing.
Therefore, this church at Corinth, as was all the other of the first century NT churches, was made up of an overwhelmingly large percentage of Jews which had been raised up and taught in these Jewish synagogues. There would have been a few Gentiles, but very few, and they would have been Gentiles who were going into the Synagogues with the Jews to hear about the God of Abraham.
Now, the point I want to make with this chapter 13. As Paul gives these 15 points that define love one for another, he is not doing away with the OT definition of love for our neighbor. As he gives these things he is taking for granted that these people already know about the requirements back there.
The OT emphasis actions such as:
Thou shall not kill and all the implications of this command. By Paul failing to mention this again, he is not saying that it is now permissible to kill each other as long as you do it with the right attitudes listed here.
When he did not mention again the laws, Thou shalt not steal, nor thou shalt not commit adultery he did not say that these new Christians were now permitted to do these things as long as they kept their attitudes right. The Apostle takes for granted that they had been and were being taught these actions of love one toward another.
The promise of the new covenant was the new heart in the gospel. Therefore, the NT emphasis the attitude which comes with this new heart as a result of the gospel.
In fact, the New Heart is a required sign of the new man that is created in the image of Christ Jesus, 2 Corinthians 5:17 (Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.) All of 1 John makes the emphasis that if these prober attitudes are missing, genuine love is missing, and the hope of salvation is very slim indeed. (3:15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.)
3. The third point that I want to call your attention to as we look at these things, is that Godly love must start in the home, husband for his wife and one for another. This is where God starts in the development of love in our lives. This is where children learn proper love for each other. This is where the proper attitudes and actions are learned.
I like what someone said, Proper attitudes and actions are caught not taught in the home. What are our children catching from us?
We hear the excuse used often today, "That is not how I was raised." Or, "Considering the kind of home they are from...." And with these words we blame our parents for the way we are. The Apostle Peter (1 Peter 1:18) tells us that one of the works of the gospel is to free us from the past.
If these things mentioned here in 1 Cor. 13 are not present in our interpersonal relationships in the home, any outward action which conforms to these things is nothing but a lie.
There is sort of a term that fits here. CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME.
(1) In a general sense, love, benevolence, good-will;
(2) In theology, it includes supreme love to God and the universal good-will to men;
(3) In a more particular sense, it denotes the love and kindness which springs from the natural relations, as the charities of father, son, brother;
(4) Liberality to the poor, to the needy, and to objects of benevolence, as we speak commonly of charity, meaning almsgiving, and of charitable societies;
(5) Candour, liberality in judging of men's actions; indulgence to their opinions; attributing to them good motives and intentions; a disposition to judge of them favorably, and to put on their words and actions the best construction.
We are looking at the general sense, love, benevolence and good-will.
We might also mention here that if we do not have these qualities one toward another, God tells us that we do not love Him.
There are a great many interesting statements in 1 John along this line, of which we will only look at a very few.
I John 3:12 tells us that the reason that Cain did not love his brother was because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous. And we could assume that this is true more often than not. The main cause of hatred is this very thing. We dislike them because they are more righteous than we are, or they have something that we want - position, possessions, talents, abilities, and sad to say in our day, a spouse.
All of the Book of 1 John is extremely strong in this area of love, but we will restrict our look at it now to Chapter 4, and with this, only read it. This is another Book that I would love to study out for myself and then teach.
We see here that God has set the standard for love, because when we were in rebellion against Him and not worthy in any way of His love, He loved us. Therefore, we owe this love to everyone whether we feel they deserve it or not. Love is a key doctrine of the Christian religion.
In 1 Cor. 13:1-3 Paul gives a list of things which a person might have but if Christian charity is missing, all of their actions are empty and worthless. (The cross reference is Leviticus 19:18, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord. Then the next verse, 20 Ye shall keep my statutes...) Therefore, he is not doing away wit anything, nor really adding. He is calling attention to these attitudes and emphasizing what is already required in the OT word of God.
I would say that all of the abilities that God has provided us with, without the added love as defined here are nothing, v. 2.
This list that Paul gives to us here is a very practical list, with no emotion attached to it. This list covers just about every attitude we can think of between people.
James 2:17, 18 (Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.)
Here we are told that faith without works is dead, and that our faith is shown by our works. This is exactly what Paul is saying here. He says that the words of love are nothing without the works of love. Then he describes these works which are added to the existing law, which if not present, make our words and works dead, being alone.
There are 15 points given to us by Paul which define the proper attitude of LOVE, and not a one would be connected with what we would define as love today, some ecstatic emotion although these do deal primarily with the emotions. We will not even try to cover them all today, so we will only go as far as time permits.
1. suffereth long.
I think that it is significant that the first thing he mentions here is slowness to anger. We mentioned this one a couple of weeks ago in another context, so we will only spend a little time on it this week in a different light.
The very first thing that Paul mentions is the very first thing that goes in our dealings with others, patient endurance and forbearance. This is opposed to haste; hasty conclusions and decisions about people which we are so prone to make.
This long suffering is the bases for all the rest of these practical applications of love. Nothing else amounts to anything without this slowness to anger. As we mentioned, a quick temper destroys our testimony.
We could safely say that almost all of our problems with others would work themselves out if we would only wait on the Lord and be patient with others.
A. The Lord gives us a parable along this line in Matthew 18:23-35.
Here we see that the Lord was patient with the man as long as the man had an repentant attitude, v. 26. Then when the man would not show the same patience to another, the Lord lost patience with him, v. 29.
This is another indication that we will reap what we sow. If we are long suffering toward others, the Lord will be long suffering toward us. This goes farther -- Luke 6:38 (Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.) Here the Lord tells us that we can expect to receive back from others what we sow toward our fellow men.
The Lord controls the heart of even the king. He has a way of returning to us our attitude toward others, even our hidden attitude.
B. 1 Thes. 5:14 (Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.) Here we have the command given to us to be patient toward all men. In my life, I have found that it is easier to be patient with others outside of my family than it is to be patient with my own family. If we could show the same patience to the ones that we are closest to as we show outside of the home, our personal relationships would be revolutionized.
C. Romans 2:4 (Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?) Here we are told that the long suffering of God is designed to lead men to repentance. It does not mean that He has forgotten anything, only that His love holds back the just reward of our sins for as long as He can.
His love is patient, but doesn't override His justice. As we follow on down in Romans 2 we find that the patience toward the unrepentant sinner only makes matters worse when judgment does come. Remember, He waited for 40 years before He judged the Hebrew nation for their killing of His son before He brought Rome against them in 70 A.D. And then when it did come, there has never been nor ever will be anything that can compare to the judgment that came.
How long suffering - how long do we suffer before we lose our cool in our home, on the job, with those around us? We say that we love them, then let's show that love for those who are closes to us by being long suffering, suffering long toward them.
2. and is kind...
Refers to mildness. This word is related to the word kind that is found in Eph. 4:32 where kindness is contrasted with bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor and evil speaking. (Eph. 4:31, 32 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour.)
How can we be kind to others? -- Paul is emphasizing that we must be continually on guard as to what we allow in our heart toward them. What is in the heart will come out in words and deeds.
This must even be toward an enemy that might seek to kill us. Remember what Michael the archangel did when he contended with the devil about the body of Moses in Jude 9? (Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.)
Surely we could do as much toward others that we might contend with. Bitterness and hate will consume us, even if that bitterness and hate is toward an evil person. If any one deserved an unkind word, Satan did. Yet Michael did not do that.
Also included in this kindness is being an assistance to others in any way we can. Having a kind word of encouragement. Even hoping for the best for them. Kindness looks for ways to be constructive and helpful. It sees the needs in others and moves to meet those needs.
Luke 6:35, 36 (But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.)
We are to act like the children of the Highest Who is kind to even the unthankful and evil persons. Kindness does not have to support them in their evil deeds, in fact, kindness stands against their evil in terms of God's word.
Just think for a moment --- Would we rather be around someone who is patient and kind with very few words, or around some one who tells us how much they love us but are set into a tirade over the least little thing that comes along? Which one would we feel loves us the most?
Love is defined here by the great Apostle Paul, not as words of love, but with actions of long suffering and kindness in every situation.
Now, this is not to downplay the words. God is love and as such, He not only exhibits these qualities, but He tells us of His love very often. The point is this: words without the deeds that are described to us in the total of God's word are dead words, being alone. Godly love will say in word and deed that we love others.
To show my love, we had better quit here for now. The next three definitions of love (envieth not; vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up) need to be taken together, and we cannot do them justice in just a few minuets.
All we did this morning is lay a foundation with the importance which the word of God places upon the actions of love. And again, the words of love without these actions are dead being alone. Our words must be backed up with deeds, and our deeds need to be backed up with words.
Are our words dead, being alone?
How short are we with our family? friends? Loved ones?
If the Lord would return to us the attitude that we show to others, what would we receive?
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