|Messages By Ovid Need|
Love 7 - 1 Corinthians 13:5
We have been in a series here in 1 Cor. 13 and Paul's definition of Christian love. He uses about 15 different things to define love, and as we are seeing, these 15 points cover just about every aspect of Christianity that we can think of.
These things were given to a very worldly Church, the Church at Corinth. They were fighting, bickering, choosing sides, involved in immorality, and confusion of all kinds.
We have not gone into the wickedness that brought on Paul's words here, but I would sure like to some day.
Now, as we have said about this chapter 13, with each one of these points, Paul is dealing with a problem that was prevalent in this church. This shows us that genuine Christian love will solve all the ills of a church and all of the emotional and spiritual ills of an individual. Medicine has proven that these things will also cure a very large percentage of the physical ills of the individual.
I. The first point was LONG SUFFERING, able to hold our tongue and temper.
II. The second point is kindness and mild one toward another. This is especially required toward the household of faith.
III. envieth not. As we mentioned, this is the feeling of displeasure produced by seeing or hearing of the success or prosperity of others.
IV. VAUNTETH NOT ITSELF. It does not brag or boast.
V. is not puffed up. This means to blow, to pant; then to inflate with pride, vanity. In today's vernacular, - self-esteem.
VI. Doth not behave itself unseemly.
1. Proper relationship between the sexes.
2. Good manners at all times.
3. Respects the opinions of others.
4. Avoids profane language.
5. Shows due respect for superiors.
6. Proper regard for those under and around us.
7. This is also against breaking down the God-ordained distinction in all areas of life. Christian love will protect the God-ordained differences, and treat each person as the word of God requires in their different statuses of life.
VII. Seeketh not her own. Love is not selfish.
A. Christian love prohibits self-love and the seeking of praise and honor from others.
B. Christian love will go about doing good at every opportunity.
C. Love does not seek its own happiness exclusively or mainly.
1. If the Christian's main goal is to promote his own happiness and salvation, the love of God dwells not in him.
2. The love of God does not dwell in the one who will not deny himself, his comfort, time, wealth or ease, to advance the welfare of mankind and the kingdom of God.
3. It is because those who profess Christ will not deny their own self and desires that the world has not been won to Christ.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if the selfishness of the human heart were laid aside and love would take over? The world would be reached quickly for the Lord. The only hope for this sin-sick world is for Christians to put works behind their words of love.
VIII. is not easily provoked. The use of this term would mean here that Christian love is not prone to violence or exasperation. Christian character is not hastily excited, passionate, impatient. It looks soberly at things and restrains its temper and keeps its feelings and emotions under subjection.
This makes the fourth time here in these two verses that he refers to the hasty, uncontrolled spirit. We would think that this is the major problem with sinful nature.
The word of God has a great amount to say about the uncontrolled spirit. Three very pointed passages are:
Pro. 14:29 He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly.
Pro. 16:32 He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.
Pro. 25:28 He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls. We could go on with the thought of this verse and say, "He is open to the attack of the enemy at the enemy's will."
Love will not be angry without a Biblical cause.
Now, to pick up where we left off.
The second point under is not easily provoked.
B. Love is not touchy. It is not easily hurt or offended. It doesn't take things too personal.
It seems like we are surrounded by extremes. On the one hand we have the person that no matter how much hinting we do, they just will not take the instruction as being for themselves. You can use illustrations which match their situation perfectly, yet they miss the point. But if you come right out and say that it is for them, they get angry or think you are picking on them, they get offended.
Then on the other hand, we have those who, if you say anything that can be construed in any way as a reference to them, they are offended and hurt. It is extremely easy to offend them.
Also here is Psalms 119:165 Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them. Our love for the Lord and His word is shown by how easily we are offended.
Notice here that He does not say, Great peace have they which love one another: and nothing shall offend them. Even the world can show love for each other, and many times they do show much more love than does the Child of God. The standard for our love is always our love toward the Lord and His word. This love will be shown by our faithfulness to His house, to His law and to His people.
This love for the Lord and His law will be shown by our lack of offence when others do not do what we feel they should do, or even when they do something to us which they should not. The verse says that nothing shall offend them.
How easily are we offended? We all know people, even people who claim to love God, yet being around them is like "walking on egg shells" for fear of offending them. This shows how much they love the Lord and His word.
Godly love does not permit anything to offend us.
And Godly love will not be an offence to others. Christian love will not intentionally offend or provoke others.
This is one of the things that the Apostle is dealing with. In 1 Corinthians 10 he had dealt with the meat offered to idols. They were to eat whatever lawfully clean meat was set before them unless the host told them that it had been offered to idols. Then they were to reject it because of the offence that it would cause to those watching, 1 Cor. 10:31-33 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.
We are not to give any person an occasion to talk against us as Christians.
Paul is stronger 1 Chor. 8 as he points out that Christians do things which are 'lawful' for them to do under Christ, yet those things lead others into sin, and maybe even cause others to reject Christ. 1 Cor. 8:13 Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.
On the other hand, the preaching of the kingdom of God will offend. In this we have no choice but to continue working for the Lord in His kingdom, Romans 9:33, no matter who it offends.
But, as we know, many professed Christians would rather walk in their self-will, offending others, than sacrifice their desires for the sake of the Gospel. Christian love will not be offended, nor will it intentionally offend others.
1 John is clear, our love for the Lord and His law is exhibited by our love one for another.
The effects of Christ are the most evident in the change of a personality from one of short temper, irritable and easily offended and offensive, to one that is calm. It has been said that if we truly loved all men, we should be soon angry at none.
IX. The ninth point of Christian love is Thinketh no evil.. The word thinketh means to reckon, charge or impute to a person. Christian love will not impute evil to a person unless it is absolutely necessary.
A. Christian love will not be hateful, spiteful, nasty or malicious. It will not be looking for faults in others. Some folks look for faults in others as though it makes them better or something.
B. True Christian love will not think ill of, or charge that person with evil motives unless forced to by irrefragable evidence. It puts the best possible motives behind the conduct of others, and is not suspicious without good cause.
Love will not be suspicious about the motives of others. After all, aren't all of our actions pure in our own eyes? Then let's give others the benefit of the doubt.
Christ is saying here that it is the hypocrite who tries to be honest about others, without first being honest with and about themselves.
They judge others according to the word of God without first judging themselves according to the word of God.
They are quick to point out the faults of others from God's word, but if anyone tries to say anything to them, they are unbelieving and maybe even hostile.
Human nature looks at everyone in the worse possible light. If they do a good work, we say that their motives are impure, or they are doing it for themselves, or that they are working against us.
Paul points out here that love desires to think the best of others, therefore will not connect evil or improper motives with the actions of others. Christian love views that individual in the best possible light until confronted with cold hard facts otherwise.
X. Rejoiceth not in iniquity..
Of course the unsaved rejoice when a Christian goes wrong, but this is not addressed to the unsaved.
First, the Child of God doesn't gloat over other's wickedness or when the results of sin catches up with them. It does not rejoice in any manner when someone falls into sin or if they have disgraced and ruined themselves and their family.
This includes our enemies or those we might have a problem with. We use the term "Personality clash" to justify this failure to get along with others. When I see someone stumble and fall that I may have had a clash with, down deep I want to rejoice.
I have been doing a study in Isaiah and after 8 months, I am in chapter 15. Isaiah 15 and 16 are identical to Jeremiah 48, and both Isaiah and Jeremiah speak against Moab. There are only 23 verses in Isaiah describing this judgment against Moab, and there are 47 in Jeremiah.
This very important principle of not rejoicing when evil befalls those who we have a difficulty with, is obvious in Jeremiah's account. So let's look a little at it.
As we said, it is a prophecy against Moab, who was the eldest son of Lot. When Israel came out of Egypt, Moab refused to help them and Balaam seduced then to sin with the daughters of Moab, Num. 25. But, Israel was forbidden to take Moab's land. Eglon, as king of the Moabites, oppressed Israel, and was killed by Ehud, Judges 3:21. Naomie's family found refuge in Moab in a time of famine in Israel, and one of her sons married Ruth, the Moabitis.
Something that stands out to me in our day of the misuse of prophecy is that this prophecy against Moab is totally fulfilled, yet it is still considered a prophetic passage. The point being that prophecy is from the time it is given, not from the time of the reading. The time frame is determined by the context, not by the reader. Today, a great amount of prophecy is considered yet to be fulfilled, when it obviously has already been fulfilled. Christ came to fulfill all things, and He did.
David subdued Moab and Ammon, and made them tributary (2 Sam. 8.2-12; 23.20). The right to levy this tribute seems to have been transferred to Israel after the division of the kingdom; for after the death of Ahab, they refused to pay the customary tribute of 100,000 lambs and as many rams (2 Kings 1:1; 3:4; Isa. 16:1). Soon after the death of Ahab they began to revolt (2 Kings 3:4, 5). They were subsequently engaged in wars with the Jews.
Isaiah doesn't go into detail of the reason for God's judgment against Moab, but Jeremiah does.
Jeremiah 48:1-6 tells us of the destruction of the major cities of Moab. It tells us of the terrible distress of the people of Moab, and even the mighty men of war weep as they flee from the destruction.
Then v. 7 gives us the reason for the destruction. (For because thou hast trusted in thy works and in thy treasures, thou shalt also be taken: and Chemosh shall go forth into captivity with his priests and his princes together.)
Paul gives the same warning in 1 Tim. 6:17. (Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;)
This warning is given many times: Ps. 49:6,7; 52:7; Jer. 9:23; Rev. 18:17.
Moab trusted in his works and in his riches instead of in the Lord. And I might mention, What would we expect the pagans to trust in? But Paul warns the Christians.
As a result of their self-confidence, the Lord called a nation against them to destroy them. Jeremiah 48:10 places a curse upon this nation if they do not destroy Moab as they have been told to do. Cursed be he that doeth the work of the LORD deceitfully, and cursed be he that keepeth back his sword from blood.
This is too close of a parallel to avoid. The preacher who will not lay the sword of the Spirit against the works of men and their dependance upon riches, is asking for the curse of God against himself.
So we see, Moab had been a personal adversary against Israel every since they came out to Egypt, and now both Isaiah and Jeremiah are pronouncing judgment against them for their self-reliance.
The point that I want to make is found in Isa. 15:5 My heart shall cry out for Moab; his fugitives shall flee unto Zoar, an heifer of three years old: for by the mounting up of Luhith with weeping shall they go it up; for in the way of Horonaim they shall raise up a cry of destruction.
And again in Jer. 48:31, 32 Therefore will I howl for Moab, and I will cry out for all Moab; mine heart shall mourn for the men of Kirheres. O vine of Sibmah, I will weep for thee with the weeping of Jazer: thy plants are gone over the sea, they reach even to the sea of Jazer: the spoiler is fallen upon thy summer fruits and upon thy vintage. And joy and gladness is taken from the plentiful field, and from the land of Moab, and I have caused wine to fail from the winepresses: none shall tread with shouting; their shouting shall be no shouting.
Notice here that both of these passages express the two prophets distress at Moab's coming destruction, even though this destruction was not against their own people. Jeremiah gives us a more detailed reason for this terrible calamity coming against Moab, v. 29, We have heard the pride of Moab, (he is exceeding proud) his loftiness, and his arrogancy, and his pride, and the haughtiness of his heart. and v. 42 And Moab shall be destroyed from being a people, because he hath magnified himself against the LORD. It was because of their pride and arrogance.
In other words, Moab was getting what he deserved for his pride and arrogance and both of these prophets knew it. But both of these men wept and mourned over the coming calamity.
And I must admit, this is difficult indeed. We warn and warn the sinner and they ignore the warning. Then the evil comes upon them and down deep we want to rejoice and wish we could say out loud, "I told you this is what would happen. I told you soon enough that you could have stopped it." But this is not what these men of God do. Their heart cries out over the calamities of Moab. My, how we need a work of God's grace in our hearts.
What takes place in our hearts when we see a terrible calamity come upon a person or family that we have had a problem with? Love for someone does not rejoice in their fall into sin, or when the calamity of their sin catches up with them.
Love will weep for them.
Do we weep or rejoice?
The Lord knows which is in our heart.
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