The Love Chapter — Reviewing

Title: The Love Chapter — Reviewing

Text: 1 Corinthians 13:4-5

Time: April 29th, 2007

We’re back in 1 Corinthians 13 after a while away from it because of the Easter season and last week dealing with violence in our culture due to the shootings in Virginia. So we get back to the love chapter; but before I press on I’d like to take this week to review and remind us all where we’ve been, so we don’t forget. We’ve already covered six characteristics of love Paul describes for us in this chapter — there are more characteristics but so that we don’t forget the ones we’ve already learned, let’s review them. If you remember I started the 2007 New Year by challenging us all to be better Christians by being better at loving this year. The Bible teaches so much about love, and of course Jesus teaches us so much about love, but because there is so much teaching about love in the Bible it’s easy to get overwhelmed with it all and then just ignore it all by saying, “Oh well, I can never live up to all that teaching about love. I know I should be more loving, but it’s just so overwhelming, all the teachings about how I should love God and love my neighbor, that I get frustrated and forget the whole thing.” Have you ever felt that way before? I thought so! The truth is that there is a lot of teaching about love in the Bible, and the truth is also that nobody, I mean nobody, is able to fulfill all the teachings about love in their life. But just because it is impossible to perfectly love like Jesus doesn’t mean we should give up trying. We must try to be more loving, and when we fail we must confess our failures, repent or promise to do better, and then start trying to love better again. God will see our intentions and help us to actually do better at loving. Like I said, we’ve already covered six qualities of love as described by the Apostle Paul, and today I want to quickly go back over those six qualities before we move on to the other qualities of love in 1 Corinthians 13 (read). The six qualities are: love is patient, love is kind, love doesn’t envy, love doesn’t boast, love isn’t proud, and love isn’t rude. Now let me ask you this: have you been trying to live out what you’ve learned this year about love in church on Sunday? Have you been more aware of what is loving and what is not in your life? Have you been more sensitive when you fail to live up to God’s expectations of love in your life? Have you confessed more of your own sins of failing to love? Have you repented and recommitted your life to God again and again to being a more loving person than you were? Have you seen any progress in your life in being more loving? More importantly, have other people noticed that you are a more loving person lately? If so, these are signs that God’s Word is getting into your heart and workings itself out in our life. That’s good, that’s the goal. Just learning these teachings on love is not going to change you overnight; but hopefully it will give you an agenda to work on with the help of God over time for the rest of your life. So let’s review Paul’s teachings on love so far.

First, love is patient, 1 Corinthians 13:4. We live in a very impatient world, and it teaches us to be impatient. Modern advertising and marketing teach us to expect and even demand that our needs are met. Some companies even boast that if you are not served quickly enough you can demand the product free. That teaches use to be impatient. For example, Dominoes Pizza boasts that if you order a pizza and it doesn’t arrive within 30 minutes you can demand a free pizza. That trains us to be impatient. It shows up in society. If you don’t drive immediately after the light turns green the person behind you will probably honk on the horn. Why? Because he gets impatient. So we are taught that way of life by the economy, by advertising. Everything is going instant these days. We get impatient if our food isn’t cooked immediately in the microwave oven. We’ve grown used to instant this and instant that. But what this does is make us all impatient. But God teaches us to be the exact opposite of impatient; He teaches us to be lovingly patient. And that goes against the direction of our society and culture today. Marriages break up today because couples are not patient with each other. People can’t get along at work because people aren’t patient with each other. God calls us to love in a patient way. Don’t always demand people operate on your own personal schedule. Give people some slack. Don’t always require that people be some place, do something, say things in the very same way and at the very same time you might prefer. Part of being a loving person is cutting people some slack in life. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Second, love is kind, 1 Corinthians 13:4. Again, we live in a world that seems to be growing meaner and meaner. Even people who recognize this problem sometimes resort to meanness in combating meanness. I mentioned before that I saw a bumper sticker on a car the other day that said, “I hate mean people.” Just because somebody is mean to you doesn’t give you the right to mean back to him or her, although that’s what we naturally want to do. As Christians we must rise above our own natural sinful human reactions to meanness and not resort to meanness back. Somebody might say, “Well, that’s just human nature to be mean to somebody who’s been mean to you.” Yes, that’s human nature, but as Christians we have our old human nature we are born with replaced with a new nature when we surrender our lives to Jesus Christ. He gives us a new heart so that we don’t have to be slaves to the old ways. If you don’t have a new heart, if your soul hasn’t been changed by God through the born again experience, you need to re-examine whether you are truly saved or not. If you are truly a person converted to Christ you have been given a new heart by God not only forgiven of sin but capable of putting to death little by little the sinful old human nature, which includes meanness. Do you have a mean streak? Don’t make excuses; don’t explain it away. Confess it as sin to God and ask for his help in overcoming it. Ask him to make you into a kind and loving person instead. That should be a lifelong prayer for all of us.

Third, love doesn’t envy, 1 Corinthians 13:4. I’ve must say it again, in this world we are taught to be covetous and envious. Advertisers entice us to desire and purchase all kinds of things. They train us to look at the good things other people have and be anxious to get them. Commercials teach us to be envious enough of other people to go out and get what they have so that we can turn things around and get other people to envy us! Next time you are watching television see if you notice how the commercials play to our lower, sinful, natural, fleshly natures of coveting and envy. I amazed, but I have actually seen commercials role model people coveting and envying directly, and then telling us that we should feel these same ways, and that it’s ok and good to feel this way! I’ve seen lots of commercials where the guy comes out of his house to get the morning paper and looks over at his neighbor’s house and sees something he wishes he had and desires it (covetousness) and is jealous when his neighbor uses it (envy). The commercial is trying to get us to feel this way so we by their product! But God calls us to be totally opposite this. A loving person doesn’t envy another person. If my neighbor has something nice I must be happy for him (if it’s something good), and content with what God has given me. If my neighbor gets a new car, good for him, that doesn’t mean that I need to get a new car or should start desiring a new car. I need to learn to thank God for what I have and thank God for how it meets my needs, period. Now if my car breaks down or stops meeting my transportation needs, then I can start looking for something better. I’ve seen another bumper sticker that reads, “Please run into my car, I need a new one.” That’s not allowed as a Christian. God teaches us to love by being content, to not envy.

Fourth, love doesn’t boast, 1 Corinthians 13:4. We also live in a vain world. Again, our society teaches us to boast and brag. I just read about the Dean of Admission to the famous engineering school MIT who was caught lying on her resume from 30 years ago. She claimed that she graduated from such and such a school, but really didn’t. She was boasting about something she really didn’t even accomplish. But it all comes from a society that promotes self-exaltation. Burger King tells people on its commercial to “Have it your way.” Another commercial sells shampoo that’s expensive with the celebrity saying, “I buy this expensive shampoo because I’m worth it.” Vanity, boasting, bragging, it’s all pushed in our culture today. And naturally that tempts us to join in. But God teaches us to be the very opposite. A loving person doesn’t go around tooting their own horn. Do you toot your own horn a lot? Do you boast and brag about what you did, what you are doing, or how important you are? That’s not loving. The epitome of this kind of stuff is the celebrity interview. This is the epitome of the it’s-all-about-me mentality. That’s self-love, not God’s kind of love. Love does not boast. Love doesn’t exalt self. Love actually thinks about other people too. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength; and love your neighbor as you love yourself,” says Jesus. If you do that you won’t boast about yourself.

Fifth, love isn’t proud, 1 Corinthians 13:4. Again, the world is 100% wrong in its emphasis on exalting self. What is it the celebrities say when asked about the key to their success? “I’ve had to believe in myself.” What is the secret to their achievements? “I just had to never stop believing in me. There’s nothing you can’t do if you just believe in yourself.” Isn’t that the message we hear over and over again from society. It’s also taught in public schools, colleges, and state and federal government counseling services. Just believe in yourself, put yourself first, and love yourself. The worst example of this is the awful popular song sung by Whitney Houston called “The Greatest Love of All.” What is the greatest love of all? Is it love for God? No. Is it love for spouse, or family, or friends, relatives, neighbors? No. Here’s a line from that song, “The greatest love of all is happening to me. Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.” This is not the great love of all according to God. Love isn’t proud, it isn’t self-exalting, it isn’t self-centered. The greatest love of all is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, strength, and to love your neighbor as you love yourself.” That’s what Jesus teaches us. We’ve got to resist this self-exalting, self-centeredness, self-love emphasis in our society. The secret is really forgetting all about ourselves. There’s a Christian song that gets it right that goes, “Let’s forget about ourselves and concentrate on Him and worship Him.” If we do that we won’t get caught up in pride.

Sixth, love isn’t rude, 1 Corinthians 13:5. A radio disc jockey just got fired a few weeks ago for being crude and rude on the radio. He had been acting rude and offensive for a long time, years actually, but it finally caught up with him and he went over the line even in our rude and crude society. He got fired. We live in a rude and crude society that is getting worse and worse every year. I was shocked when I visited California for the first time in the 90s and I had stopped in to a 7-11 to get directions. As I came out I heard somebody shout out loud, “Hey nigger come here!” I turned around and a black man was shouting at another black man to hurry up. I couldn’t believe my ears. It’s called an insult when one black man calls another black man a nigger. It’s called a riot when a white man does it. But it just shows how rude and crude our society is getting. I hear language coming out of high school students walking down the street that I can’t believe. And we wonder why there is violence; we wonder why people are shooting other people. It starts with anger and hate in the heart, then spreads to rude, crude, mean, hate speech. And finally it leads to outright physical violence. A loving person is a sensitive person. Not overly sensitive. Some people are so fearful to give their opinion or speak because they are afraid of offending that they just clam up. That’s no good. But a polite person gives their opinions but tries not to hurt anyone personally. We need to be strong enough to speak the truth, but do so in a loving, sensitive way. That’s what God is calling us to.

Are you a loving person? Would you like to be a more loving person? Learning about what is love isn’t enough, we have to be willing to submit to God in order for him to control our lives enough to allow him to love through us. The truth is we aren’t able to love as God calls us to love on our own. We need the power of God flowing through us to remind and enable us to love. Let’s pray together and ask God to break us out of our selfishness and give us the power to love as Christ loved. “Jesus I confess that I am selfish and unloving, but I desire to love you and others better. Please forgive me of my past sins of selfishness and pride. Help me to love you as I should and love others as I should. I give you my life again today. I put my absolute trust in you to not only save me from my sins for eternal life but to save me out of my sins while on this earth. Please take away all the unloving things in my life and make me a loving person so that I might remind people of you and lead them to you. Create in me a new heart O Lord, a loving heart. Amen”

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