Description of Love
Love God, Love People – Message 7
May 28, 2023
Introduction: I am continuing the series, Love God, Love People (our mission and ministry).
- Mark 12:28-31; John 13:34; 1 Corinthians 13:1-3
A. Jesus was asked by a lawyer, “What is the most important commandment?”
- Mark 12:29–31 (NLT)—29 Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. 30 And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ 31 The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ [our theme] No other commandment is greater than these.”
- Bryan dealt with four aspects of loving God: with your heart, soul, mind, and strength.
- Today and next week, I will focus on loving others from 1 Corinthians 13.
- Paul wrote to the church because they were practicing spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 1:7) and following Paul’s teachings (1 Corinthians 11: 2), but love was lacking in their treatment of each other.
- It is easier to have right beliefs than practice right attitudes toward people.
- It’s easier to help people than it is to love the people you are helping, but it is love that qualifies our knowledge and our efforts as pleasing to God.
- Church growth is not an appropriate goal unless it is motivated by love for God and love for people who don’t know Him personally.
- Today’s passage provides us with a Description of Love. (Title to today’s message.)
- Love (Greek agapē) is rare in ancient Greek literature, but common in the New Testament.
- Agapē does not refer to nice feelings, even warm affection, about something or someone.
- It does not mean close friendship or brotherly love, for which philia is used.
- It never refers to romantic or sexual love; that’s eros, which isn’t in the New Testament, and is often motivated by self-love since it can be selfish at its core.
- Agape love is unnatural to human nature, because it requires sacrifice of self for the sake of others, even for others who are indifferent toward us or even dislike us.
- This love is a determined act of will, which results in intentional acts of self-giving.
B. Love… ([according to] 1 Corinthians 13:4-5)
1. Remains others-centered. (1 Corinthians 13:4a. C/R: 2 Corinthians 6:6; Ephesians 4:2; Colossians 3:12)
- 1 Corinthians 13:4a (NLT)—Love is patient and kind.
- Patience and kindness are not primarily attitudes or feelings, they are practices.
- Patience (makrŏthumĕō) is more literally translated “long-tempered,” and is used almost exclusively of being patient with people, rather than circumstances or events.
- Love’s patience is the ability to be inconvenienced, even taken advantage of, by a person repeatedly, and yet not become upset or angry.
- Patience was a virtue only among Christians because, in the Greek world, self-sacrificing love and non-avenging patience were considered weaknesses. (Ex.: Heroes strike back!)
- Vengeance was valued in New Testament culture and in ours, but God's love doesn’t retaliate.
- Ephesians 4:2 (NLT)—Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.
- Kindness is the counterpart to patience: patience accepts mistreatment, kindness expresses compassion (even when mistreated).
- To be kind (chrēstĕuŏmai) means to serve, to be useful, actively doing good.
- APP.: Are you patient? (With whom?) Are you kind? (What are you doing?)
2. Refuses comparisons. (1 Corinthians 13:4b. C/R: Proverbs 27:4; Galatians 5:26; James 3:14-16)
- 1 Corinthians 13:4b (NLT)—Love is not jealous or boastful or proud…
- The Corinthian Christians were spiritual showoffs, competing for people’s attention and admiration, clamoring for the most prominent positions and the most impressive gifts.
- Love and jealousy are mutually exclusive; you can’t envy someone you truly love.
- Jealously (or envy, using them synonymously) means wanting what someone else has (possessions, popularity, praise); it may include wishing the other person did not have it.
- We must recognize and resist jealousy because there is always someone who is a little better or has a little more (or even a lot more) than we do.
- Further, if we truly believe that God created each of us and apportioned our gifts, then we are undervaluing, even despising, the way and the purpose for which God formed us.
- 1 Corinthians 4:7 (GNB)—7 Who made you superior to others? Didn’t God give you everything you have? Well, then, how can you boast, as if what you have were not a gift?
- When we love someone, we are glad when they are successful, beautiful, or talented, we are not envious, because our love desires for that person to be blessed and recognized.
- Boasting (or bragging) is the other side of jealousy; jealousy is wanting what someone else has, but bragging is trying to make others jealous of what we have (from insecurity).
- Boasting is perhaps the clearest expression of pride.
- Pride (Greek phusiŏō, lit. means blowing; to inflate, fig., to puff up, become arrogant, haughty or conceited).
- When a loving person is successful, they will not boast of it because they would not want anyone to feel inferior to them; they are not proud, not trying to inflate themselves.
- Loving people are humbled by success, knowing they were blessed by a gift from God.
- There is nothing wrong with being pleased with an accomplishment achieved by diligent effort, but it becomes wrong when we want people to see us as better, superior, to them.
- If we love others, we will never diminish them, we will value and dignify every person as made uniquely in God’s image. (Jerry did this so well.)
- Comparisons and competition damages relationships; you can’t be close to someone you want to exceed; love wants to build the other person up, not better them.
- Knowing—and I mean experiencing—the love that comes from Jesus provides secure contentment and prevents us from flaunting our knowledge, abilities, or achievements.
- Our identity, our value, and therefore, our security, must be found in Jesus Christ.
- APP.: Are you jealous, boastful or proud?
3. Resists selfishness. (1 Corinthians 13:5b. C/R: Romans 12;10; 1 Corinthians 10:24; Philippians 2:3-4)
- 1 Corinthians 13:5 (NLT)—[Love is not] …rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, …
- Rudeness results from not respecting other people enough to act politely or thoughtfully.
- A rude person’s lack of love for others will be expressed by thoughtless words, overbearing actions and often crude comments, since self is the only person who matters. (Waitstaff?)
- Corinthian Christians were rude and unloving when they celebrated the Lord's supper, meal, because they hoarded what they had, refusing to share with the poor. (1 Corinthians 11:20-22)
- During worship services, people tried to outdo each other in displaying their ability to speak in tongues, with everyone talking at once, creating chaos without being concerned about unbelievers in the audience—and speaking so they could understand. (1 Corinthians 14)
- They used their gifts to build themselves up instead of building up the church. (1 Corinthians 14:12)
- Christians can lose the chance to communicate the love of Christ if they offend people they don’t know by rude comments, criticisms, or behaviors. (Such as stingy tipping.)
- Demanding my own way makes my preferences and desires most important and pushes everyone else’s wants and opinions, including God’s, out.
- This need to control, to have my way, expresses deep insecurity, even fear, within.
- When I don’t receive what I want, I become irritable, expressing my dissatisfaction.
- Love puts others first, which prevents dissatisfaction and precludes irritability.
- Philippians 2:3-4 (NLT)—Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.
- APP.: Are you rude, demanding, or easily irritated? If so, you are not loving.
4. Rejects resentment. (1 Corinthians 13:5c; C/R: Acts 7:59-60; Colossians 3:13-14; 1 Peter 4:8)
- 1 Corinthians 13:5c (NLT)—… and it keeps no record of being wronged.
- Greek Lŏgizŏmai means take into account; a bookkeeping term, making an entry in a ledger.
- The purpose of the entry is to make a permanent record that can be consulted in the future.
- Keeping track of offenses against us is sure to cause unhappiness—our own, those on whom we keep the records, and anyone else who has to hear our recitals of the wrongs.
- In God's heavenly record, the only entry after the names of His redeemed children is “righteous,” because we are counted or reckoned, righteous in Christ. (Romans 4:24)
- Christ’s righteousness is placed to our credit; No other record exists.
- Records of wrongs produce resentment, which turns to bitterness and yields depression.
- Love forgives; keeps no record of wrongs, nothing is ever recorded for later reference.
- If God completely and permanently erases the record of our many sins against Him, how much more should we forgive and forget the lesser wrongs committed against us?
- Colossians 3:13 (NLT)—Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.
- APP.: Are you keeping records of hurts you’ve received? Reliving pain experienced?
- “But it was cruel, painful, and done deliberately; I can’t forgive.” (No, you won’t!)
- You likely refuse to forgive because you think it is punishing the person who hurt you, holding them accountable, but that person is likely unaware or unconcerned about you.
- Ask God what He wants you to know about your belief. Then release him/her. (TPM)
- APP.: Do you want to change this community, this county, this country, this world?
- John 13:35 (NLT) [Memory verse]—“Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are My disciples.” [And it will offer the opportunity to share the love of Christ.]