Monday, August 8, 2011

A Little Something About Love

Today I want to talk about love.  The world, and many Christians, have this idea that love is the warm fuzzy feeling that someone gives you.  That is a kind of love, but it is not the kind of love generally spoken of in the Bible. True love has nothing to do with how someone makes us feel because true love is the selfless concern for another.  Oftentimes, love is more of a choice than a feeling as some people are harder to love than others.  But we are called to not just love our friends and family and brothers and sisters in the Lord, but we are even called to love our enemies.  Today I want to show what the Bible says about what love truly is.  Today we will be talking about 1 Corinthians 13.
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have [the gift of] prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed [the poor], and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 NKJV
Love needs to be the driving force behind the things we do for God.  Our actions need to be an outpouring of our love and not some attempt at getting others to love us.  This is a perfect picture of our relationship with God.  Our works for God can not be out of obligation or some attempt at earning favor with God nor can our works be a means to our salvation.  If that is the case, we are nothing and all that we do amounts to nothing.  On the other hand, if we love God for the things He has done for us and out of that love we do these things, then we are really getting it.  Love is superior to any service we can do for God. Love is superior to all that we can do for God.  Even the law is summed up in two things.  The first is that we love God with all that we are and the second is that we love our neighbor as we want to be loved.  Everything we do needs to be an expression of those two principles.  And so the first thing we can about love is its superiority to all else we can do and that is needs to be the foundation of all that we do.  Even Jesus went to the cross because God so loved the world.  And so in that example, what we do for the ones we love has to be motivated by our love for them and to benefit them and not to curry favor with them or as a means to get them to do something for you. 

And now we will see just what this Godly kind of love looks like.  The question we need to ask ourselves as we go through all these examples is whether or not our love looks like God's love.  If the answer is not "yes", we need to examine our hearts to truly see if we understand just what it means when we tell someone "I love you."   This passage has so much more to do than with romantic love, but I am going to focus today on the love between a husband and a wife and romantic love in general.   
Love suffers long [and] is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;  1 Corinthians 13:4 NKJV
First of all, love is patient.  Love is in no rush because love is not about personal gratification.  Think about that the next time you try to rush or pressure someone into doing something you want.  That is not love.  Love is kind. That means we desire to do good things for each other.  Love also does not envy.  Envy is wanting something for your own sake, which is the complete opposite of what selfless love is supposed to be.   We should never be jealous of when someone we claim to love has good things that we might want for our own.  If the one we love has more friends, more things, more anything, then love feels happy for that person and does not get angry in not having them for his or her self.  Love is not prideful.  In other words, if you love someone you do not need to brag about it.  I am not saying to not share your love for someone, but to go around saying you love your loved one more than the next person is wrong.  That does not express love at all.  That is just pride.  Love has no pride because pride is, once again, a selfish idea.
does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;  1 Corinthians 13:5 NKJV
Love is not rude.  That sort of speaks for itself.  If you are rude to each other or rude with each other in the presence of others, you are not expressing love.  If you call your loved one rude names or use rude gestures, even if in fun, what you are doing is expressing filth not love.  Sadly, I see this happen too often.  All you are really doing is making fools of yourselves while setting a horrible example of the metaphor of Christ's love that your marriage is supposed to be.  Love does not seek its own.  In other words, if you love someone you will be more concerned with them getting their way instead of you imposing your own will upon them.  You concern should always be for the other over yourself.  Anything else is not love, but selfishness.  Love is not provoked in that we are not supposed to be angry at someone we love, especially for our own sakes.  If someone we love hurts us, our response (if we truly love) is one of forgiveness and not of anger.  And love thinks no evil, that is love is not suspicious.  In other words, you are not worried that every text or email your loved one gets has some nefarious purpose behind it. 
does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;  1 Corinthians 13:6 NKJV
Love does not rejoice in sin.  There is no much to say about this verse and I can do a whole post just on this.  The world utterly distorts love in this area whereas living together before marriage or sex before marriage somehow define love.  They do not.  They are sin and celebrating that sin means anything but love.  If you love someone, you will never put them in a position to sin.  That is completely and utterly selfish and shows no concern for the other.  You can not say you love someone if you put them in a position to sin.  You can not say you love someone if you just accept the sin in their life or even partake of it with them.  Love wants nothing to do with sin. Love rejoices in truth. Love rejoices in righteousness.  Love rejoices when a drunken husband decides to sober up and not thinks it is cute when he is drunk in front of others.  Love rejoices when before marriage, the breaks are put on a situation quickly becoming sinful and not when two people try to "make" love before they are married.  If a relationship is based on this kind of sin, it is not love as love does not flourish in sin. 
bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  1 Corinthians 13:7 NKJV
In other words, love can not be destroyed.  If someone does something where you can no longer say you love that person, then you can never say you loved that person to begin with.  If we are called to love even those who are our enemies, what can be done to us by someone who is not an enemy that can justify us no longer being able to say we love them?  There is nothing.  There is no life circumstance, bad deed, change of personality, or anything else that can be done that can destroy true love.  That is because this kind of true love is selfless and in that your concern is only for the other and so what is done to you should be of no consequence.  I am going to stop here, but move just a bit ahead as this leads right into the beginning of the next verse.  The next thing said in verse 8 is that love never fails, that is it never ends.  There is no such thing as "I don't love you anymore."  There is no such thing as "I have fallen out of love with you."  Any spouse who says there is even that possibility has no idea what real godly love is about. 

The overriding theme of love today is that it is selfless, superior, and never-ending.  This is the example of the love the Lord had for us.  Jesus did not die for us for what we can do for Him.  That is why it is meaningless to do anything for him if there is no love.  Jesus died for us because He loved us.  Jesus died for us so that we can be saved.  Jesus was absolutely selfless in what He did for us.  The love of Jesus is also superior.  It is even greater than faith and hope and there would be nothing to put our faith and hope in if Jesus did not die for us.  We also know that Jesus will never stop loving us.  No matter what we do, not matter how we have sinned, Jesus loves us.  Now I wrote today on how when we say that we love someone, that our love should be in this example given to us by God and lived for us by Jesus Christ.  That is not the end of the story, though.  Now that we know how to love the ones who love us back, we need to take that same love to those who do not.  That is our calling, to share that love God shared with us to the rest of the world, even our enemies.
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Romans 5:8 NKJV

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