March 22, 2015  I Corinthians 13   Love 


     One of the popular Christian songs today says your love is like a water falls running wild and free.  Your love is like a water falls running down on me.   It is wonderful to think about that.  God your love is falling on me right now.  It is not a dribble but like a bucket or like Niagara Falls.  It is falling down because of Calvary.  Your love is falling on me.  Your love is falling on my family right now.   Your love is falling on Bethel Church right now and His church right now.  .   I am surrounded and walking in God’s love right now.  Francis Chan’s book Crazy love sold over 1 million copies.  It has to be crazy love that would cause a creator God to die on a cross for the sins of those he created.   As we move into Easter season I wanted to spend a few minutes thinking about Jesus. 

     Jesus said lo I have come to do thy will O God your law is within my heart.  This means that He came into the world not to gain but to lose.   He came into this world not to be served but to serve.   He did not come to get bread but to be bread – broken bread.   He said this is my body, which is broken for you.   God says to us let this mind be in you, which was also in Jesus.   Jesus humbled himself and became a servant.  Jesus put aside what He wanted to do to serve.   Jesus put aside His personal desires to minister.  His meat was to see people come to God.  Jesus came to work, to suffer, to be an example, and to die.   He saw the fields white unto harvest.   He came to minister to people.     He did not come to demand His own way but came to serve and came to obey even when it was tough.   Jesus humbled himself and Jesus did it from a heart of love.  If I give my body to be burned but do not love it profits nothing.  Jesus death opened the door for His exaltation.  Jesus promises that those who serve him will also be glorified.   Jesus death opened the door for others to have life and forgiveness in God.  Jesus is love because God is love and Jesus came in love.  Jesus came to heal, to bless and to reconcile families and man to God.  He came with a heart full of passion.  

    Last week we considered that love is patient, kind and is not proud.  In verse 5 we see that love is not rude, it is not self centered, is not easily angered and it is a very poor accountant in that it does not keep a record of wrongs.  Love is not rude.  David Owen shares this story about a pastor and what happened after church one Sunday.   As one person left church he shook the minister’s hand, and said, ‘Thanks for the message. I would have to say that you are smarter than Einstein.”   Beaming with pride the minister said, “Why, thank you, brother!”  As the week went by, the minister began to think about the man’s compliment.   The more he thought, the more he became baffled as to why anyone would deem him smarter than Einstein.  The next Sunday, he asked the church member about the previous Sunday’s compliment.   The minister asked: “Exactly what did you mean that I must be smarter than Einstein?”   The man replied, “Well, brother, they say that Einstein was so smart that only ten people in the world could understand him, but you’re even smarter because no one can understand you!”  Maybe that was not rude but truthful.  People are rude today.  I went to a couple of Coe Browns basketball games this year and some of the fans are just rude.   When the Coe Brown select chorus group sang the National Anthem at the State Championship game at Southern University the opposing team sang it to be rude.    Some folks think rudeness is in but not God.  

      Love considers the other person and does not behave unseemly or act in a crass manner in the presence of others.   God is not rude.  The King James says love or charity does not behave unseemly.   Others say it does not force itself.   Lover does not act improperly.  The person who loves has manners.  But we also need to remember that love has character.  Jesus was neither rude nor behaved unseemly when he made the whips and drove the folks, the money changers, and the circus from the temple.   He was not unseemly or rude when Jesus told the Jewish leaders off in Matthew 23 what I call the woe chapter.   Some people believe that Christians should never offend anyone and that Christians are door mats to be walked on and those people would never want to become a Christian because of that.   I think love has class.  I do not have much class.  My home life as a child was a wreck.     I know a couple of guys have what I call class.  That is an amazing quality to me.  They create a certain atmosphere.   I think it would have been wonderful to experience Jesus in the many difficult situations that he was in and to observe Him operate with what I would call class.   I think my mouth would just hang open.  No wonder the people said he does all things well.  I would say in a good way Jesus was a class act. 

    Love is not rude and it is not self seeking.   There are basically 2 ways to be self-centered.   One way is think that you are better than others around you and another way to be self-centered is to say I am no good and I cannot do anything and woe is me and not give God credit for your life.   Both ways are self-centered.   The HS tells us that love is not self-seeking.   Love does not seek its own.  Those that love are not thinking about him or herself all the time.   Love is interested in others.   On a tombstone in an English village are written the words here lies a miser who lived for himself, and cared for nothing but gathering wealth.   Now where he is or how he fares, nobody knows and nobody cares.  In contrast in St. Paul’s Cathedral in London reads Sacred to the memory of General Charles George Gordon who at all times and everywhere gave his strength to the weak his substance to the poor, his sympathy to the suffering, and his heart to God.

     Love does not seek its own.   There are 2 kinds of people in the world.  One kind is always trying to defend themselves and seeks all of their rights and privileges.  And there are those that think about their responsibilities and others.  Since this is an unfair world those that seek to have all of their privileges are in for a lifelong battle.  Some think about what life owes them and others think about what they owe to others.  God gives us the ability to serve others.  He grants to us the power and the freedom to serve others.  We can break out of the destructive patterns of sin and selfishness.  He not only gives us the ability but He also gives us the desire to serve others.   It is more blessed to give than to receive.   It is more blessed to minister than to be ministered unto. 

      It is important for our health not to seek our own.  Love heals people.  We usually do not think of love as a healing agent.    Love gives a strong reason to live.  Rockfellow was at the point of death and began to give away some of his huge wealth that he had accumulated and as he began to give some of it away his health was restored and he became stronger.       John MacArthur tells the story of a lady whose health was failing.   Her chauffer drove up to a cemetery.   The chauffer asked the minister who served as a caretaker to come to the car, because his employer was too ill to walk.  Waiting in the car was a frail old lady with sunken eyes that showed years of hurt and anguish.   She introduced herself and said she had been sending 5 dollars to the cemetery for the last several years to be used for flowers for her husband’s grave.  I have come in person today she said because the doctors have given me only a few weeks to live and I wanted to see the grave one last time. 

     The minister replied you know I am sorry you have been sending money for those flowers.  She was taken aback and she said what do you mean?   Well I happen to be part of a visiting society that visits patients in hospitals and mental institutions.  They dearly love flowers.  They can see them and they can smell them because they are living people.   Flowers are therapy for them because they are living people.  Saying nothing she motioned for the chauffer to leave.   Some months later the minister was surprised to see the same car drive up but with the woman herself at the wheel.  She said at first I resented what you said to me that day when I came here for the last visit.  But as I thought about it I decided you were right.   Now I personally take the flowers to the hospital.   It does make the patients happy and it makes me happy too.   The doctors cannot figure what made me well, but I know.   I now have someone else to live for. 

      Jesus said it is more blessed to give than to receive.  The key that opens the door to many things is love.   Lenski a bible commentator said cure selfishness and you have just replanted the Garden of Eden.  Adam and Eve rejected God’s way so that they could have their own way.   Man has been living like that since then.  I would say that sin is a curse and therefore selfishness is a curse.   That curse is healed in Jesus.   Because man chose sin self replaced God.   That is the opposite of righteousness and that is the opposite of love.  Love is occupied with the things of others.  The Corinthians were selfish to extreme.   They did not share food at their love feasts.   They sued each other in a secular court of law.  They thought they had the best spiritual gifts for themselves and were better than others.  Paul tells them in chapter 14 since they were zealous of spiritual gifts that they should seek to build up the body of Jesus and use the gifts to edify others.  Their tendency was to use their gifts to pump themselves up.   The better way is love. 

     Love is not easily angered.   In James scripture tells us everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.  Love is not easily provoked or angered.   Now righteous anger is not ruled out.   Jesus expressed righteous anger.    He expressed anger when he cleansed the temple but He did not express anger when He was personally abused.   Righteous anger is anger at the injustice that others experience.     Love guards against being irritated upset or angered by the things said or done against it.  Love does not react with retaliation.   Personally I think we can defend our life if necessary although Jesus did not do that.  Paul at one point reminded the authorities that he was a Roman citizen when they wanted to beat him.    Being provoked is another side of seeking one’s own way.   Being provoked is seeking your way and seeking control.   The great preacher and theologian Jonathan Edwards had a daughter with an uncontrollable temper.   When a young man fell in love with her and asked her father for her hand in marriage, Dr. Edwards replied you can’t have her.   But I love her and she loves me he replied.  It does not matter the father insisted.  Asked why he said because she is not worthy of you.   But she is a Christian the young man replied.  Yes said Edwards but the grace of God can live with some people with whom no one else could ever live.  

       Surely this is a huge issue today that everyone is fighting for their rights.  Many get angry when they feel they do not get all that belongs to them.   Road rage is a sign of the times and sports rage is on the increase.  In sports rage it is not only the players but also the parents of children and the fans.  When we are angry we are not happy.   It means little to a person or a spouse if you say that you love them and then you are always mad at them.     It means little to a spouse to say that you love them if you always have to be in control of them.   If I tell my kids that I love them and I am always upset with them it sends the wrong message to them.  What is the message a person gets if someone is angry with them.   Isn’t anger a form of rejection?   As parents we can blame our children for acting like we do.  Clean up your behavior and your child will follow.  

       And love does not count the times it is wronged.  Love is a very poor accountant.   It throws the debit and credits right out the window.   Keeping track of things done against you is a sure way to be unhappy.  Accounting is important in business but it is unnecessary in personal matters.  Again God is the standard of this.   Paul writes in Romans that blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not take into account his sin. In I Corinthians God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself not counting their trespasses against them.  When God forgives us our sin it is blotted out and removed.  I believe that God does not forget it because He knows all things past present and future but He will never hold that sin against us again.   The slate is clean and we are righteous in His eyes.      Love records no wrong for future reference.  Love does not hang onto or cultivate bad memories.