Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. (1Co 13:7-8)
This section of Paul’s descriptive definition of Agape love emphasizes the permanence of Love. It is not something that shows up every now and then, whimsically. It is something that continues. Like the energizer bunny rabbit, it keeps going and going….and going.
Love, Agape love, will never end.
This section of Paul’s description of Love has a primary application and, I think, a legitimate secondary application.
The primary application: Love others
As we relate with others, whether family members, brothers in the Lord, people in the world, or even enemies of the cross of Christ, the one thing we should always show is love. Love is doing what is in a persons best interest. Paul could have written:
Love bears all things to do the best for others, believes all things for the other’s best, desires and expects the best for others always, endures every thing for another s best interest. Love will never stop doing what is in a person’s best interest.
Believe all things? Hope all things? Not to the point of being gullible!
It is not good, nor is it doing what is in the person’s best interest (love), to believe everything that you hear! When you loan a prodigal son more money because he promises with tears that he will change and then say “I love him so much” you miss the point of “best interest”. To say “I am supposed to believe him and hope he means it” is not love, it is wishful, gullible, and harmful (to them and to you) type of behavior.
On the other hand, we are to bear the burdens of others. When it is in their best interest to do so, we need to step up. When others would (or already have) given up, love is there. Sometimes with a hand out, sometimes with a rebuke but it is always for, and in, the person’s best interest.
The difference between helping and not helping can be as simple as distinguishing between boulder size burdens and the knapsack size burdens as Dr. Henry Cloud mentions in his book, Boundaries. We help with the boulder size burdens and encourage them to deal with the knapsack size ones themselves.
This is the type of Love God shows and has shown to us. Even while we were enemies, He showed his love toward us in Jesus.
Second application: love God.
A secondary application can be seen in our love for God. The greatest commandment is to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind. But if, as we have defined agape love, it is more duty bound and not based on emotion, how do we ‘love‘ God in that manner? How do we do what is in His best interest?
We who are Christians do what is in God’s best interest when we honor to the name that we wear. If we are going to wear his name, claim to serve Him, then our conduct should be “worthy of” the calling and Gospel we say we are loyal too. To use a Scripture:
As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1Pe 1:14-16)
To use an example from current events, we could point to Prince Harry of England. His conduct recently in Las Vegas did not bring credit to either the family, the nation, or the army he serves in. Of course, I know we can all point to ourselves at some time or other in our life when we did something that brought discredit to family or others, especially to the God we serve. Some of those were even worse than Prince Harry.
It was failure to do what is in God’s best interest (e.g. love God) that got David into so much trouble with Bathsheba. After the adultery, murder and rushed marriage to hide her pregnacy, Nathan rebukes David and adds that David had given reason to the enemies of God to blaspheme (2 sam 12:14 nkjv). Imagine that, David gave a reason for people to blaspheme God!
Peter says that we should live in such a way that the enemies will glorify God (1 Peter 2:12). We don’t want our lives to lead to others turning away from God. Doing what is in God’s best interest will keep Him being glorified and honored.
Love for God will bear all things necessary to be faithful. We are to bear the reproach of Jesus who suffered to justify us (Heb 13:11-15) and we are the bear His cross if we wish to be His disciples (Luke 14:26-27)
Love for God will believe all things he tells you. No need to worry about being gullible, if God says it, it is true; God does not lie. (Heb 6:18) That belief will result in trust and obedience to His will.
Love for God will hope all things. Hope is a combination of desire and expectation and the Christian will continue to hope, putting his/her trust in the God who never changes and cannot lie. We hope for what we cannot yet see but expect that we will receive it.
Love for God endures all things for the cause of Christ. Even when family and friends turn against you, you endure to the end and receive your salvation (Matt 10:21) Even when you suffer trials and tribulations and perhaps even prison, we do it for the Gospel and,even if we are bound, the Gospel is not bound. (2 Tim 2:8-10) Be faithful unto death and we shall receive the crown of life (Rev 2:10)
Love never ends.
Question: Does thinking of Love as a duty and not an emotion, help you to show more love to those you have difficulty having warm fuzzy feelings toward?
photo credit: Freepix.com via Google images
Love does not rejoice in wrongdoing. In the last few posts we have looked at the wrongdoing of ourselves but now we need to turn to the wrongdoing of others and our reaction to it. It may be a surprise that people would rejoice in the wrongdoing of others but there are times when that happens. Two specific examples come to mind from the Scriptures.
Being tolerant of another’s sins.
In First Corinthians chapter 5, there was a brother in the church living with his father’s wife. The church, knowing this, did not take any action to stop him. It seems that they were tolerating his immoral behavior and, if I read it correctly, happy to be so tolerant of behavior that Paul says “even the Gentiles” don’t put up with!
Of course, we should remember that the intolerance of another person’s sins is more pronounced when the person is supposed to be (claims to be) a Christian. We do not expect, nor do we insist on righteous behavior from those who want to live in the world.
This may seem to be hard to accept but the Gospel spells our the message and only those who are willing to receive it place themselves under the rules and commands of Jesus. I do not expect godly behavior from the world but we should expect it from those in the church.
Rejoicing when the righteous do wrong.
While we should not accept the sins of other Christians and be tolerant of them, neither should we rejoice when another follower of God stumbles into sin.
And Noah began to be a farmer, and he planted a vineyard. Then he drank of the wine and was drunk, and became uncovered in his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. But Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and went backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father’s nakedness. (Gen 9:20-23 NKJV)
When Noah’s son, Ham, saw that his father had gotten drunk, he delighted in that. Many interpretations exist but they center in the fact that Ham was only to happy to rejoice in his father’s sin. “The mighty preacher of righteousness has stumbled and fallen!” Both First Corinthians and James deal with the ambition of those who would only be too happy to have a rival fall into some sin.
Do you rejoice in unrighteousness?
The sad fact seems to be that we do not even recognize those times we rejoice in unrighteousness. Television and movies bring to our attention all sorts of scenes and scenarios that no Christian should be watching. It is not enough to say “but that is real life”, the fact is that T.V. and now even commercials are showing us images that do not even cause us to blush! We justify it in many ways, but I will suggest that if we enjoy and look forward to shows which have non married couples living together and root for the relationship of those who shouldn’t be dating, that we are, in fact, rejoicing in sin.
We need to take extra precaution to avoid some themes in our T.V. watching if we even choose to have a T.V.! Movies, even the seemingly innocent ones, bring in to our minds, via implication, language, and other means those things which can tempt Christians by piquing interest that otherwise would not be there.
Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness.
Question: Let us learn from others: What are other ways the we rejoice in unrighteousness?
Love does not rejoice in wrongdoings of others and should not rejoice in it’s own wrongdoings either. Yet, it seems that we do find some who do rejoice (take pleasure in) in the things that they did/do/will do which are wrong.
Peter tells us that the past life is to be forgotten and left behind:
Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. (1Pe 4:1-3 ESV)
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. (Jas 4:8-10 ESV)
And they rose up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play. And the LORD said to Moses, “Go down, for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. (Exo 32:6-7 ESV)
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”– James 4:13ffMy son, if sinners entice you, do not consent. If they say, “Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood; let us ambush the innocent without reason; Proverbs 1:10-14Woe to those who devise wickedness and work evil on their beds! When the morning dawns, they perform it, because it is in the power of their hand. They covet fields and seize them, and houses, and take them away; they oppress a man and his house, a man and his inheritance. (Mic 2:1-2)
But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Mat 5:28)
What does it take for someone to rejoice in wrongdoing? To rejoice in the sins and unrighteousness of others, or yourself, is exactly what love does not do.
It should be obvious that we should not rejoice in our own wrongdoings and yet, that is not the way it always works. Rejoicing in one’s own wrongdoing can sometimes take a variety of forms.
“I am suffering for the cause of Christ.”
So many times people use their suffering as a proof of their devotion to Christ. While it is true the Christians will suffer and suffer for the cause of Christ, there are times when they are suffering out of their own fault. We should not go looking for suffering, nor should we bring it upon ourselves, nor suffer for doing what is wrong.
For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. (1Pe 2:20)
If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. (1Pe 4:14-16)
Playing the martyr for one’s own glory or being a thief or evildoer and yes, even meddling in the affairs of others is not love. When you suffer because of those things, do not think that it is because you belong to Christ. Do not justify suffering brought upon yourself as a suffering for Christ.
This is just the way I am!
While you might not think of this as a “rejoicing”, the person who makes this statement about things they do wrong, is saying in effect, that they are fine with how they are. “I like me the way I am and there is no need to change.” That is truly rejoicing or taking pleasure in wrong doing.
But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. (Jas 3:14-16 ESV)
You hear this kind of rejoicing when it comes to things like “temper”. Someone flies off the handle and loses their temper and then says “But that is the way I am.” Whether someone is short tempered or unkind or weak against some type of temptation is NOT just the way they are. We need to recognize what we do and then work to change it. Someone once said “God saves me “just as I am” but wants me to grow so that it is “just as I was””
Love also does not rejoice in it’s wrongdoing regardless of whether it is Past, Present, or Future, which is for the next blog.
Question: We might know what past and future sins are, but what are the future sins we should not rejoice in?
When you contemplate Love, Agape Love, you are focusing on the pure Love that God is. While we sometimes read the characteristics from First Corinthians 13 and romanticize them, they are serious attributes. These are not traits that we simply expect others to develop but we are to strive to develop them ourselves. As a Christian, we add or eliminate the traits Paul mentions because we want to become more like God.
Rudeness has no place in the Christian life. A fine example of rudeness (that may be an oxymoron) happens in the political realm. If it is not bad enough that the politicians behave rudely, those who claim to be of faith behave rudely too. In this country, we have made political issues out of behavior. Because they are viewed to be political issues, political rules are applied. Rudeness is allowed. This religious group is ok with abortion, that one is not. This one tolerates a homosexual lifestyle, that one does not. And the way it is discussed does not show love.
Sadly, people forget that behavior is not a political issue but a heart and soul issue. It does not belong to governments to regulate but to God.
Even though Politics allow for rude behavior, being rude about it is not what love is about. Love will speak the truth but it does not need to bring out contempt filled, belittling or degrading words, slogans and actions in order to make its point. Another Bible version says that Love does not behave itself unseemly. That is to say, inappropriately to the situation.
As true as it is among those in Christ, it is vital that love is shown to non Christians. If God is Love, how can we show ourselves to be God’s children if we act like the world does (and yes, the world is rude)?There is a group, you may have heard of that protest funerals of the military and other assorted individuals. The protests are filled with hateful rhetoric. The rhetoric makes it difficult for a person to see beyond it.
If the Scriptures teach (and they do) that God considers the homosexual lifestyle to be a sin then how do you teach that message?
If you have ever had to deal with a person involved in heterosexual lifestyle that was sinful, how did you deal with that? Protesting with signs and slogans? It isn’t the best way and in fact, it is not a way to do it all.
Peter exhorted his Jewish audience to save themselves from a perverse generation after he had preached a coherent sermon that they accepted and believed. He urged them to act but did not treat them rudely.
The greatest example of Love is the death of Jesus on the cross. No where do you see rudeness in His life, or in His trial, or in His death. You see direct points, you see rebukes, and you read tough warnings, but rudeness…? No!
Let us be sure we take steps to eliminate rudeness from our life.