1 Corinthians 13: Love

Love

1 Corinthians 13

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.

Love is patient

There is a tendency for us to more readily spot flaws in others than in ourselves.

Matt 7:3

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?

One challenge is that having identified the flaws, we want them to be removed quickly. We get upset when the change that we require does not take place immediately. We are increasingly upset when the undesirable behaviour occurs.

There is an important fact that many do not recognize or accept.

In many instances, we are especially frustrated and annoyed at behaviours in others that we have struggled with in our own lives.

This is usually some event or action or behaviour that happened or continues to occur in our lives that we detest.  Our feelings about it are so strong that we want to hit out at it – wherever it appears with a passion.

We project the frustration that we have about ourselves (past or present) unto the offender with increased intensity.

Consequently, it is useful to review those things that bring out your wrath to see if at some stage they were or still are issues for you.

1 Corinthians 13 is reminding us that in the context of the overarching command to love our neighbours, patience is required.

Colossians 3:

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each otherand forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

A charge to you today is the examine ways in which you are impatient. See if in those moments of frustration a feeling of deep and sincere love for the other person is your primary motive.

When love is at the heart of what we do, the level of impatience with others is not as great.

 

Love is kind

One key to letting kindness be an active part of our lives is to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes.

If we were in their position, what would we want?

That mindset has a way of bringing out the best in us.

It is important to remember that being kind is not only about providing money and things.

At the same time, sometimes our kindness should extend to providing for physical needs.

I John 3:

16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us, And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

 

Love does not envy

Aristotle (in Rhetoric) defined envy (φθόνος phthonos) “as the pain caused by the good fortune of others”, while Kant defined it as “a reluctance to see our own well-being overshadowed by another’s because the standard we use to see how well off we are is not the intrinsic worth of our own well-being but how it compares with that of others” (in Metaphysics of Morals). Source: Wikipedia

If we go back to wanting for others what we want for ourselves then we will be happy with whatever blessings they have received.

The command to “love your neighbour as yourself” directly opposes any thought of envy.

 

Love does not boast and is not proud

Boasting and pride are linked to our EGO or deceived SELF.

Recall the two main highways that lead to a corrupted way of thinking.

The first one leads us to getting attached to things, people and positions.

The more things we can claim as “mine” the fatter the EGO and the greater the level of deception.

The second highway takes us to a place where we focus on thinking how different we are from others.

The more different we are the bigger the EGO and the more deceived we become.

Christians are called to renew their minds (Romans 12). They are to reject the corrupt way of thinking that is wrapped up in “Mine” and “I am not like that”.

The key is to recognize that we are merely stewards of our material possessions and the positions that we hold. That situation can be dramatically changed without warning.

When we realize that things and positions are not an intrinsic part of who we are, then we deny self the right to boast or to be proud.

Only the insane will boast about a castle on a hill as if it belonged to them when they have no connection at all with it. Be careful how we use “my” and “mine” to impress others and to feel good about ourselves. We really do not own anything in a real sense.

The love of which 1 Corinthians 13 speaks comes from a renewed mind. This mind no longer conforms to the dictates of the EGO – the deceived Self. It does not hang on to things and positions.

 

Love does not dishonour others

Something that is unique – one of its kind – is highly treasured. A normal man who runs 100 meters in 11 seconds will not be widely celebrated. If you are the only one that runs it in 9:59 seconds then respect and adoration for you abounds.

The EGO feeds on adoration and on being celebrated.

If you put these two thoughts together you will recognize why it is important for the EGO to work hard at being different. The more we are just like everybody else the less respect and adoration we can claim.

A well fed EGO – our deceived SELF – actively puts down others in a drive to elevate itself.

Alternatively, it constantly reminds others of things that make them standout so others feel diminished and “less valued.”

Think about the “My father..” verbal contests among young boys or the “Your Momma” insult trade off of adolescents.

The love that comes from a renewed mind is humble. It seeks to relate to others where they are and to respect them.

 

Love is not self-seeking

The scriptures consistently prod us to become “equal opportunity thinkers”.

We should have a mindset that wants the best for not only self but for all others.

Php 2:3  Don’t do anything from selfish ambition or from a cheap desire to boast, but be humble toward one another, always considering others better than yourselves. (Good News Bible)

2Ti 3:1  Remember that there will be difficult times in the last days. 2 People will be selfish, greedy, boastful, and conceited; they will be insulting, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, and irreligious; 3 they will be unkind, merciless, slanderers, violent, and fierce; they will hate the good; 4 they will be treacherous, reckless, and swollen with pride; they will love pleasure rather than God; 5 they will hold to the outward form of our religion, but reject its real power. Keep away from such people. (Good News Bible)

 

Love is not easily angered

Anger is a melting pot of many ingredients. These include:

An action/event … a stimulus

Personalities

Relationships

Historical events

State of mind

How the event is processed

Implications & Consequences

Circumstances under which event took place – private/public etc.

Mindset

Col 3:12

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 

The Mindset has the power to overwrite the impact of all the other elements. That is why with a renewed mind, we can turn the other cheek.

We cannot overemphasize the importance and value of working on the way we think and getting to the point where we are more Christ-like in our thinking, feelings and actions.

 

Love keeps no record of wrongs

Col 3: 13 Bear with each otherand forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.

The false sense of “ME” that we embrace and protect so vigorously is a major contributor to the difficulty we have in dealing with what we perceive to be the wrongs of others.

The more highly we think of ourselves the greater the chance that someone is going to do or say something that does not fit well with our self image.

That is why some people get the feeling of being disrespected so easily.

Amazingly, people who have low self esteem are also very easily hurt by the actions of others.

The arrogant and conceited personality as well as those that have doubts about their competence and self worth tend to hold on to hurts for a long time.

When you feel good about who you are, the darts that others throw at you tend to bounce off more easily.

Another mindset that promotes unforgiveness is the desire to take revenge and punish the offender.

This is the eye for eye mentality that Christ warns against.

Matt 5: 38

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.

Lev 19:18  Do not take revenge on others or continue to hate them, but love your neighbors as you love yourself. I am the LORD.

Rom 12:

19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him;     if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

 

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

The love of 1 Corinthians 13 is associated with a transformed and renewed mind.

It is tied to a mind that manifests the fruit of the Spirit:

Gal 5: 19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like, I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control.

It is clear here that the flesh (our sinful nature) is the source of behaviour that wars against the Spirit.

Mat 5:6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

 

Love always protects

Think about the love that a mother has for her newborn baby and you get the picture of what this means. Nothing more needs to be said here.

 

Love always trusts

Trust is the glue that holds healthy relationships together.

When we act in ways that betray that trust, we weaken the bond of love and place the relationship at risk.

At the same time, trust is a two-way street. The failure of one party to trust makes it difficult for true bonding to take place.

In the scriptural framework, it is far better to trust and be betrayed than to withhold trust and be constantly imputing dishonest actions or motives on the part of others.

 

Love always hopes

When we love someone we want the very best for them. We hold out great hope that their wishes and aspirations will be achieved.

No surprise then that a love that is anchored in loving God with all our heart, loving ourselves and loving others as we love ourselves is full of hope and positive expectations.

The mind that allows the fruit of the Spirit to ripen in it will demonstrate a pure love and will rejoice in hope.

 

Love always perseveres

True love is not fickle. It is not easily disappointed or discouraged.

There is a sense of looking beyond faults and focusing on the end goals.

 

2 Peter 3:9

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

 

Love never fails

The love of 1 Corinthians 13 overcomes all obstacles.

Its poster example is reflected in Romans 5:8:

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

The challenge to you today is to let love be central to your very existence.

Repent of the unloving ways in which you have acted and continue to act.

Develop a deeper relationship with Christ and His teaching. Obey His commands and follow His example.

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Echoes Of Ezekiel

Echoes Of Ezekiel

I. WHO OWNS THIS?

Ezekiel 29: In the tenth year, in the tenth month on the twelfth day, the word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, set your face against Pharaoh king of Egypt and prophesy against him and against all Egypt.Speak to him and say: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says:

“‘I am against you, Pharaoh king of Egypt, you great monster lying among your streams. You say, “The Nile belongs to me; I made it for myself.”
But I will put hooks in your jaws and make the fish of your streams stick to your scales. I will pull you out from among your streams, with all the fish sticking to your scales. I will leave you in the desert,
 you and all the fish of your streams. You will fall on the open field and not be gathered or picked up. I will give you as food to the beasts of the earth and the birds of the sky. Then all who live in Egypt will know that I am the Lord.

 Multiple scenarios:

  • Up early and rushing about. Today, I need to get some important things done.
  • Can’t make it to Church or Bible Study or Youth Group Meeting – need to study for exam.
  • Climbing up the corporate or professional ladder – consumed by the work activities.
  • Overrun by financial woes – unable to make ends meet and facing rising debt.
  •  New: Love interest, Home, car, phone, child

The Questions:

Who does your day/brain/work belong to?

Did you think to pray?

Did you stop to read your Bible?

Have you lost your passion for the Lord?

Is this why you are distracted from focusing on God?

The message:

I need to get your attention. Something bad/worse is going to befall you.

Then you will know that I am the Lord.

Our take away from the Echoes of Ezekiel is to always focus on the Source of everything. Anything that consumes our attention, denies Him.

Jeremiah 9:23 This is what the Lord says:

“Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, 24 but let the one who boasts boastabout this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord.

1 Corinthians 1:31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

II. RESTITUTION

Eze 33: 14 And if I say to a wicked person, ‘You will surely die,’ but they then turn away from their sin and do what is just and right— 15 if they give back what they took in pledge for a loan, return what they have stolen, follow the decrees that give life, and do no evil—that person will surely live; they will not die 16 None of the sins that person has committed will be remembered against them. They have done what is just and right; they will surely live.

The echoes of Ezekiel point to the need to work to undo, correct or make compensation for the wrongs that we have done.

Repentance has a sense of restitution woven into it.

Numbers 5:6-8

“Say to the Israelites: ‘Any man or woman who wrongs another in any wayand so is unfaithful to the Lord is guilty and must confess the sin they have committed. They must make full restitution for the wrong they have done, add a fifth of the value to it and give it all to the person they have wronged. But if that person has no close relative to whom restitution can be made for the wrong, the restitution belongs to the Lord and must be given to the priest, along with the ram with which atonement is made for the wrongdoer.

It is not enough to be sorry. Corrective action is required.

 

III. WATCHMEN

Ezekiel 33: “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to the wicked, ‘You wicked person, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade them from their ways, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. But if you do warn the wicked person to turn from their ways and they do not do so, they will die for their sin, though you yourself will be saved.

The echoes of Ezekiel leave no room for doubt about our responsibilities to be responsible for the souls of others.

This is reinforced by the Great Commission:

Matt 28: 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

 

IV. RESTORATION

Eze 36:16

Israel’s Restoration Assured

16 Again the word of the Lord came to me: 17 “Son of man, when the people of Israel were living in their own land, they defiled it by their conduct and their actions. Their conduct was like a woman’s monthly uncleanness in my sight. 18 So I poured out my wrath on them because they had shed blood in the land and because they had defiled it with their idols. 19 I dispersed them among the nations, and they were scattered through the countries; I judged them according to their conduct and their actions. 20 And wherever they went among the nations they profaned my holy name, for it was said of them, ‘These are the Lord’s people, and yet they had to leave his land.’ 21 I had concern for my holy name, which the people of Israel profaned among the nations where they had gone.

22 “Therefore say to the Israelites, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: It is not for your sake, people of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone. 23 I will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Sovereign Lord, when I am proved holy through you before their eyes.

24 “‘For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. 28 Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you will be my people, and I will be your God 29 I will save you from all your uncleanness. I will call for the grain and make it plentiful and will not bring famine upon you. 30 I will increase the fruit of the trees and the crops of the field, so that you will no longer suffer disgrace among the nations because of famine. 31 Then you will remember your evil ways and wicked deeds, and you will loathe yourselves for your sins and detestable practices. 32 I want you to know that I am not doing this for your sake, declares the Sovereign Lord. Be ashamed and disgraced for your conduct, people of Israel!

Echoes of Ezekiel provide the hope of restoration.

You might be down and almost out, but restoration is possible.

Be faithful and put your trust in God.

Heb 6:10  For God is not so unjust as to forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have ministered to the saints and continue to minister to them.

V. What must WE do to save our souls and obtain restoration?

Hear the Word – the Gospel

John 6: 45 It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.

Rom 10:17  So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

 

  1. Believe

Heb 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

John 8:24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.

  1. Repent

Acts 17:30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent.

Luke 13: 1 Now there were some present at that very season who told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And he answered and said unto them, Think ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they have suffered these things? 3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all in like manner perish.

    3.      Confess Jesus is Lord

Matt 10:32 Every one therefore who shall confess me before men, him will I also confess before my Father who is in heaven. 33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father who is in heaven.

Rom 10:10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

 4.   

  • Be baptized for the remission of your sins

Acts 22:16 And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

Acts 2:37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? 38Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

1 Pet 3:21The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

  1. Remain in Christ

John 6:3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?  4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

Rom 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

1 Pet 2: 1 Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, 2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.

 

Inspiring Story

The army readies for battle.

The General commands the drummer to beat the “Attack” rhythm.

The army advances and suffers heavy losses.

The General commands the drummer to beat “Retreat”.

The drummer continues to beat “Attack” despite the General’s desperate shouting for “Retreat” to the played.

In tears the drummer confesses: “Attack is all I know General. They never taught me Retreat.”

Happy ending: The army continues to push forward to the beat of “Attack” and overcomes the enemy.

Discard “Retreat” from your playlist so that “Attack” will be all that you know. When the chips are down and defeat stares you in the face  – attack.

Attack – doubt.

Attack – fear.

Attack – with a clarity of purpose and thought.

Attack – with a carefully crafted plan of action.

Attack – with the goal in mind.

Attack – with God as your leader!

 

Hope

Hope is said to spring eternally in the human breast.

I am concerned that I notice that the level of my positive expectations is greatly increased when I am able to see some solution to the issue at hand for myself.

That does not tie in with what I understand “blind faith” to mean.

How does one learn to be full of joy in the face of calamity when they cannot even imagine a way out?

That is true Faith. That is the level of spiritual maturity to which I aspire.

One important step is to accept that God has promised to care for His people and He always keeps His promises. Consequently, whatever the outcome, it will be best for us in God’s plans.

Rom 8:28  We know that in all things God works for good with those who love him, those whom he has called according to his purpose.