God is love, therefore God's children need to be loving people. This sermon looks at practical application of 1 Corinthians 13, the "love chapter."
[Randy D'Alessandro] We certainly appreciate that special music. It was so lovely. Always nice to have that on the Sabbath day. We’re spoiled here in Chicago. We are so used to having lovely special music, and I always enjoy it, and I know you do as well.
Well, as I made mention, brethren, we have a very special weekend. You are well aware of that. We have our young adults here – probably close to 40, I believe. To that end, we have put together a program that we hope will be beneficial to you – to strengthen your walk with God. But not all of us here are young. Most of us are adults, but I was given an assignment. Pastors are given assignments from time to time. I was given an assignment to speak on a certain topic and I’m going to do that. But I also want to preface what I am about to say…you know, in just a few weeks, we will be observing the Passover, and I feel what I have to offer today, in terms of a message, is not only good for our young adults, but good for all of us who are thinking about and getting ready for the Passover.
One last time, let’s go to 2 Timothy, chapter 2, and verse 21. Those of you who are young adults, you’ve heard this on several occasions now. Those of you who are here today, you’ve heard it already a couple of times, but we are going to do it one more time – 2 Timothy, chapter 2, and verse 21:
2 Timothy 2:21 2 Timothy 2:21If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel to honor, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared to every good work.
American King James Version×– Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.
So, we notice here in verse 21, it says, “If anyone cleanses himself from the latter….” The latter what? Well, when you look at verse 20, we see at the end of the verse, that some of the vessels were for dishonor. We want to cleanse ourselves from being a vessel of dishonor. All of us, at one point in our lives, whether we were born into the church or not, weren’t always living the way we should live. And we were, at that point, vessels of dishonor. If we look at the end of verse 19, we see a little bit more about that – how we need to be departing from iniquity. So, as we were in iniquity, we were in a state of dishonor toward God. But now, we are striving very hard not to be people that are in that position. We want to be a vessel, going back to verse 21, “a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master” – sanctified and useful.
Now to this point, for those of you who have not been to the things we have had so far for the weekend, Mr. Bradford gave a very fine interactive study, last evening, talking about appreciating and valuing the fact that we have been set apart by God – that we are sanctified Christians – a very fine study on that point. And earlier today, Mr. John May gave a very thought provoking Bible study about the life lessons that Abraham learned as he was going through his life – why he became the father of the faithful. He wasn’t always as faithful as you might think. I’m hoping that Mr. May will give that sermon to all of us at some point in the future. Again, it was a very fine presentation, again as was Mr. Bradford’s. Tomorrow Mr. Fahey will be going through and presenting a personal plan of how we can become an instrument of honor – an action plan – and I am looking forward to that.
Today, I have been given the opportunity to speak on the subject of the attributes and characteristics that describe a sanctified person of God – the attributes, the characteristics that describe a sanctified person of God. You know brethren, many times in sermons or in messages, we spend a great deal of time discussing the meaning, sometimes the theory, behind various sections of scripture. My desire today is to drill down deeply into the application of what we are going to be looking at. I want to drill down into one thing very specifically – one attribute – and then take that attribute and really expand on that – to show how we are sanctified – what that means – and how being sanctified, we are useful – and exactly, what does that mean for us who are Christians and set apart by God? So, I am hoping I will have a laser-like focus, so this content will drill down into a hallmark characteristic of what we are to be as sanctified Christians.
My theme for the message today is this: Godly love is the ultimate characteristic of a sanctified Christian. If you are taking notes, that is the major point. Godly love is the ultimate characteristic of a sanctified Christian. Again, my hope today is…I’m going to drill down to specifics and taking a look at application – how do we apply that in our lives? – and as you and I are preparing for the Passover, something for you and me to look at in terms of a checklist. How are we doing with all of that?
We have heard some definitions. I would like to convey those again. What does it mean to be sanctified? To be sanctified is to be set apart for a sacred purpose – to be dedicated to the great God; to be consecrated; to be made holy. Now in biblical Hebrew and Greek, there is a family of words, that are translated very similarly. Those words in English are holy, saint, and sanctified – all from the same root. They’re all the same family. From Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, one of the things I want to discuss – and we discussed the definition of sanctification or sanctified – is the definition of holiness. I want to break into the last part of this definition here in Vine’s: “…it is used of men” – the topic of holiness – “it is used of men, in so far as they are devoted to God. Indeed, the quality, as attributed to God, is often presented in a way which involves the divine demands upon the conduct of believers” – divine demands upon the conduct of believers. “These are called the hagios – the saints – the sanctified or the holy ones. Hasting’s Biblical Dictionary, talks about how this family of words talk about a characteristic of God-likeness. As we are preparing for the Passover, and as we, as young adults, are wanting a closer walk with our God, what does it mean for us to have a walk that is God-like?
If you would, turn to 1 John, chapter 4. In our Chicago congregation, we have a number of young adults. They are a very fine group. I have always been very impressed with them – we’re talking about Passover preparation, so let’s not get big heads – but a very fine group of young adults – very skillful in the scriptures – very articulate when it comes to discussing the scriptures and biblical precepts. We had a young adult meeting not too long ago, where Mr. Fahey gave us an assignment to draw a tree and branches of the tree as to our belief structure, and what was most important, and kind of getting out into the other structure of what was important. It was interesting – we broke down into 4 or 5 groups here in Chicago – and the trunk of the tree, I believe – if I am remembering correctly – the trunk of the tree for each of the groups was the subject of love – the chief characteristic of who we are as Christians. Of course, that is true. 1 John, chapter 4, and verse 8:
1 John 4:8 1 John 4:8He that loves not knows not God; for God is love.
American King James Version×– He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. God is love.
So today, what we want to do, as we are looking at godly love being the ultimate characteristic of a sanctified Christian, is to look at the subject of godly love. We want to drill down – not just understand theory, not just understand what the bible is saying in terms of the academics of it – but we want to look at how do we apply this? As we walk out of this building today, what do you and I do to be more loving people? – to have people look and say, “Wow, I’m not a Christian, but if I was a Christian, I would like to be like that person there. They claim to be a Christian, and you know what? They look pretty good as a Christian in my eyes.” We want people to be able to glorify God as they see that in us.
So, we want to now go to the primary area for our discussion today. It’s 1 Corinthians, chapter 13 – otherwise known as “the love chapter.” Let’s take a look. I want to read these first 3 verses and then I want to comment on them. 1 Corinthians 13, verse 1:
1 Corinthians 13:1 1 Corinthians 13:1Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
American King James Version×– 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 have my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
In these first three verses, it is clear that the apostle Paul was inspired to make a statement. That statement is that he’s basically taking some very fine principles here – in the first three verses – and he is taking them to the Super Bowl – we had a Super Bowl here recently – taking these to the Super Bowl.” Nothing wrong with these things, but if we don’t have the underlying facet of love being a part of our life, then these aren’t all that they could be. In verse 1, talking about having the tongues of angels…. In other words, we could be really articulate and be able to discuss all sorts of things in a very profound way, but if it is not based upon love, as it says here at the end of verse 1, we are just so much noise. We are just so much noise. In verse 2, we can have gifts, understanding and knowledge, but again, if it isn’t underscored by love, then what does Paul say at the end of verse 2? It’s nothing. Verse 3. Do wonderful good works, feed the poor, do all sorts of wonderful things, but again, if that is just so much mechanics – if it’s just so much mechanics – Paul says, “It’s nothing.” It’s nothing. So, having that as a basis, Paul goes through verses 4, 5, 6 and 7, to discusses what love is and what love isn’t.
We want to look at that in some detail this afternoon. Let me read through those 4 verses here, as an outline, and then we want to go through and look at each section here bit by bit. Verses 4:
V-4-7 – Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself; is not puffed up; love does not behave itself rudely; love does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.
So, in verse 4 – I will give you a little bit of an outline before we get into more specifics. In verse 4, we see two general statements about love. Love is…. I’m going to go over that in just a couple of minutes. The rest of verse 4, and going through verse 6, we have contrasts. So many times, as human beings, we learn by contrast. We see what love isn’t – what we don’t want to be doing. Finally, in verse 7, we see four characteristics – overall characteristics of love. So, let’s get into the more specific things. 1 Corinthians 13, verse 4:
1 Corinthians 13:4 1 Corinthians 13:4Charity suffers long, and is kind; charity envies not; charity braggs not itself, is not puffed up,
American King James Version×– Love suffers long…. Some translations have it: love is longsuffering, or love is patient. In the Greek, according to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, the word here for being longsuffering or patient, means “to persevere patiently and bravely in enduring misfortunes and troubles.” It goes on to further define that “to be patient is bearing the injuries and hurts of others.” So, if we want to be sanctified Christians in God’s use, the bottom line here is we need the kind of love that makes us tough enough to be able to handle whatever people throw at us.
Do you and I have that kind of tough love? Jesus Christ had tough love. Jesus Christ was a great loving person and yet He was the toughest person we would ever meet if we were to meet Him in the flesh – if we lived back 2000 years ago. Whatever came His way He was able to handle because of His relationship with God – because His love was a tough love.
Application. Application. Are you easily offended? Do we sometimes walk into a situation, walk into a room with a chip on our shoulder looking to get into a fight? Do we tend to take things a little too personally? Something for us to think about. For the Christian, being longsuffering, being patient is not optional. I am not going to turn there, but in Galatians 5, and verse 22, we see where longsuffering, or this kind of patience, is one of the fruits of the Spirit. Yes, we want to have tough love. People throw things at us. People threw all sorts of things at Jesus Christ. I gave a 2-part sermon several years ago, in Michigan, and I asked the question, “Are we as tough as Jesus Christ?” We think about love, but love can be tough. There are times, brethren, where in the heat of the battle – and I say. “battle,” in terms of the daily conflicts we go through – that we sometimes find ourselves facing friendly fire. You know the term – friendly fire – where people that love us, whether they be in our family, or business associates, or whether it be people in the church – people that really do care for us and have a regard for us – sometimes they do and say things that really hurt. They really, really hurt. Yet, if we are applying this kind of love, if we’re being patient, then we’re going to have a thicker skin and we are going to be able to realize – you know, like Christ said – “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing. They don’t know how much they just hurt me. They don’t know that the phrase that they just uttered really cut me down – and I won’t forget that for some period of time – maybe never – but I’m thinking they just didn’t mean it that way.” So, love is patient.
V-4 – Love is kind. Love is kind. According to the New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, it means “to show oneself useful.” To show oneself useful. Remember, that was our definition going back to 2 Timothy, chapter 2 – being useful for the Master’s purposes. “To act benevolently.” We want to be kind. Being kind, brethren, means we not only seize on opportunities – we heard about seizing the moment in our sermonette today. We heard about redeeming the time – buying back the time. For us to be kind, we not only seize the opportunities for doing good, but we search for them.
How can we be kind today? As we get on our knees in the morning, we ask our Father, “Please give me the eyes to see.” As a group, there are people that would laugh at what you and I believe – what you and I hold dear. They would just laugh us to scorn. In some cases – most cases – we are never going to convict them. God is not calling them. God’s not working with them. We are not going to convict them about our doctrinal stances, but one thing they recognize, and one thing they appreciate is that they appreciate acts of kindness that come their way. They may not agree with us about the Sabbath, or holy days or tithing, or what we eat or don’t eat, but if we are kind to them, they appreciate that.
David, in the Bible, was a striking example of someone who understood kindness. We understand what David was going through when Saul was wanting to kill him – chasing him relentlessly, wanting to do him in. There came a point where Saul and Jonathan died. You know that story. David wanted very much to honor his great friend – his best friend, Jonathan – and he didn’t know how to do it. His best friend was gone. How do I honor him? Then David found out that Jonathan had a son – the grandson of King Saul – a man who was crippled in both of his feet. What did David do? Now in world societies, somebody like David, who is now king, they would look at those who had persecuted him, those had done wrong – such as Saul had done – and he would go and try to wipe out the whole family. Not David. See, kindness is when you do something that is helpful to somebody else – not always when the people are being nice to you, but when, sometimes, the people aren’t being very nice to you. David had all sorts of things he could have thought about Saul’s grandson. But what did David do as an act of kindness for a man who was crippled in both of his feet – in that society he wasn’t going to prosper very much. Yet, David took and granted to this man Saul’s former estate – the lands Saul used to have. David made sure that this man had servants. And David made sure that this man ate at the king’s table. He was being kind. Kindness is also a fruit of God’s Holy Spirit.
So, we see two characteristics of love there in verse 4 – beginning of verse 4 – Love suffers long and is kind. So, you and I can take a look – and I don’t know about you, but I know about me – every year that I conduct the Passover – this year I’ll be over in Beloit – I am sitting at the table with the bread and the wine, everything is white, and everything looks so pure and beautiful and so forth, and I am thinking, “Wow! What am I doing sitting behind this table? What am I doing standing in front of this group of God’s people – God’s kids?” If you were in my shoes, you would probably be thinking the same thing, because each of us knows how desperately we need the Passover – how desperately we need the Passover. We are also so very thankful that God is longsuffering with us. We are thankful that God is kind to us. We are God’s kids. We need to show the same traits as our Father – patience and kindness.
As I made mention earlier, many times we learn by contrast. By contrast. Now, starting with the rest of verse 4, going through verse 7, we see some contrast – love isn’t…. Love suffers long and is kind. Love doesn’t envy. Love doesn’t envy. When we see people who have qualities that we wish we had and we don’t, we don’t get down on them. We’re not negative toward them. We’re not grieved at their gifts. We’re not grieved at the qualities they have. Rather, as we see people who are – if we want to put it this way – better than us – along certain lines – they are more faithful, they are more loving, they are more kind, they are more generous, we applaud the fact they have those things. We applaud the fact that God is working with them in such a beautiful way and, if we can, we can learn from them. We can learn from them.
Put a marker here in 1 Corinthians. Let’s go over to Romans, chapter 12. No, we don’t want to be envious. We want to be loving people. Romans, chapter 12, and verse 10, where it says:
Romans 12:10 Romans 12:10Be kindly affectionate one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another;
American King James Version×– Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love in honor, giving preference to one another. In honor. There is that word. We saw it in the themed statement for this weekend – talking about “vessels of honor.” Well, we want to be kindly affectionate – looking for ways that we can be of service to others – not looking down in any way shape or form on others, if we think they are progressing better than we. As we are here in Romans 12, let’s look at verse 15:
V-15 – Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. We are not in competition with our brothers and sisters in the faith. We are only in competition with ourselves, as you and I fight Satan the devil. Let us not be envious of the success that other people have – whether it be in business or in a church.
As a church pastor over the years, I have known there are various ones that have been ordained. Generally speaking, probably 99% of people are happy a person has been ordained, but you’ve always got somebody who says, “Why them? Should have been me.” You always have that one person out of a hundred. We don’t want to live that way. We don’t want to think that way. Maybe somebody has been given a leadership position. Let’s not envy that. Let’s applaud the fact that God has allowed them to have that. Let’s ask God to help us, if we want to be a leader, let’s ask God to help us understand what it is that’s holding us back. Maybe nothing is holding back. Maybe we could be a leader. Maybe it’s just not properly being seen by those who are in charge. Then again, we become patient, don’t we? All these things work together, in terms of being loving people. That doesn’t mean that we don’t call and ace an ace and a spade a spade, and we understand things as they are. We don’t walk through life as “goody two-shoes.” We don’t walk through life as a Pollyanna. But we don’t allow envy – which leads to all sorts of negative things – we don’t allow that to take hold. You see, Satan was envious of God. Satan loves to use that as a tool. In the toolbox of Satan, that thing is not dusty and old. In Satan’s toolbox, envy is something that is bright and shiny, and it’s used all the time with great effectiveness. So, love doesn’t envy.
Going back to 1 Corinthians 13, verse 4, it says: Love doesn’t parade itself. Love isn’t puffed up.
In your notes – I’m not going to turn there – but in your notes, you might want to jot down Proverbs 27, verse 2. I’ll read that for you. It says: Let another man praise you and not your own mouth – a stranger not your own lips. This section of the Love Chapter – love does not parade itself and is not puffed up – we don’t want to be boasters. We don’t want to boast of what we have or what we’ve done. One of the great building blocks of Christianity is the trait called humility – the trait called humility. When you look at the beautiful attitudes, what attitude is listed first? Humility – being poor of spirit.
Put a marker here and let’s go over to the book of Philippians. The apostle Paul had a lot he could boast of. He was quite a fellow – well educated. The teacher who taught Paul, if we were to try to take that positions and put it in today’s world, would be probably like a Supreme Court Justice – very renown, very famous man who taught Paul. Paul was an exceptional student – very bright, very gifted and very talented. Paul had a lot that he could crow about, if he wanted to. Philippians, chapter 3, starting here in verse 3…well, let’s start here in verse 4.
Philippians 3:4 Philippians 3:4Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinks that he has whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:
American King James Version×– Though I also might have confidence in the flesh – if anybody could boast, he could – if anyone thinks he might have confidence in the flesh I am more so – circumcised the eighth day – “My folks followed God. I’m a church kid.” – of the stock of Israel – God’s chosen people – of the tribe of Benjamin – from Saul’s people – the very first king. He is ticking off all these various things that people could have a great deal of pride over. …a Hebrew of the Hebrews, concerning the law of Pharisees; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the law, blameless. But what things were gained to me, these I counted loss for Christ. Yes, indeed, I count all things but loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, whom I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as – in my New King James, it says rubbish. I think in the Authorized King James, I believe it says, dung.
So thatscripture should help us be grounded and not be swollen up with pride and elated with what we have accomplished, and what we have, or our position in life, or anything like that. We want to be humble conduits in God’s hands. We want to be vessels for honor. And we are vessels of honor as we are humble people before our great God. We show love in that way.
Verse 5 – going back to 1 Corinthians 13 – verse 5:
Years ago, when I first came into the church, as I mentioned just briefly last night to some of our visitors, God called me into the church when I was 15. He didn’t call my folks or anybody else. My folks would not let me go to church. So, from age 15 to 18, I just stayed home and every once in a while, I would sneak out and find a pay phone and call the Pastor – normally got his wife – and asked how to keep the Sabbath and the holy days. I had to quit the basketball team, the football team and all of that. And eventually, I was accepted to Ambassador College, under my parent’s protest. The minister came over – Alan Manteufel. I believe he worked here for a while. Mr. Manteufel came over and said, “You know Randy, you have been conversing with me and mostly my wife over the last three years on how to do these various things – keeping the law and what have you. You are going to Ambassador College. You are going to be in Pasadena, California. You should be able to go to church one time before you go to Ambassador College.” I said, “Boy, that would be wonderful!” So, I talked to my folks, and they said, “Fine, go ahead. See what a fool you are.” So, on the third Sabbath of August 1970, I went to church for the first time. The next day I was in Pasadena California. My dad called and said, “Randy, it takes a big man to admit you are wrong. I’ll give you three weeks. Call me after three weeks and I will send you air fare to come back home.” Three weeks later, I said, “Hey Dad, how about if you take that air fare and you come out here and take a look. I’m not coming.” But you know, when I was there at Ambassador College, I was fortunate enough to be there when Mr. Armstrong was there some of the time. He wasn’t there very often. Back in those days, in the early 70’s, he was usually gone 300 days of the year traveling the world. This goes back to the point I am trying to make here about not behaving rudely. Mr. Armstrong, in a Bible study one night, commented…he said, “You know, too many of God’s people lack dignity. Too many.” He didn’t say the majority or great numbers. He said, “Too many of God’s people lack dignity.” I have never forgotten it. No, we don’t want to be stuffed shirts. We don’t want to be people that don’t know how to tell a good joke – not a bad one or a off-color one. I can tell you, from personal experience, I saw Mr. Herbert Armstrong give a great big belly laugh on several occasions. But we don’t want to be the village idiot either. We want to go through life with the proper kind of dignity – not behaving rudely – not telling – again, application – not using profane language, improper allusions, double meanings, innuendos, coarse and vulgar expressions, dirty jokes. We’ve probably all been guilty of that, but does God want that? Let’s take a look at 1 Peter, chapter 2. Here is what God does want for us – not to be rude – 1 Peter, chapter 2, and verse 9:
1 Peter 2:9 1 Peter 2:9But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light;
American King James Version×– But you are a chosen generation. Mr. Bradford went through that in great detail – a very fine message last night. I wish these messages were taped so the rest could get the benefit of these. But you are a chose generation, a royal priesthood. There should be a certain carriage that we carry ourselves with. And again, brethren, I have done things that I am not proud of too. I look at that, and I am convicted as well to watch my language, and watch how I express myself, watch my deportment – not being a stuffed shirt, but not being a village idiot either. …a royal priesthood. We are God’s kids. We are princes and princesses – not in a negative sense, but in the sense we are representing a great God. We are representing the great God. So, we don’t want to behave rudely.
1 Corinthians 13:5 1 Corinthians 13:5Does not behave itself unseemly, seeks not her own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil;
American King James Version×– Love doesn’t seek its own. Love doesn’t seek its own. In other words, love is not self-absorbed. Love often neglects its own for the sake of others.
I am sure, probably, all of us here can talk about a mother or a father that neglected their own for the sake of us, as their kids. I remember growing up, my dad was not a godly man. My dad wanted to hear the very first sermon I ever gave. That was sometime in 1977, and I said, “Dad, I am going to give a sermonette in church. There is going to be around 300 people. Dad, I would like you to come and hear my very first message.” “Sure, I’ll come.” And so dad was there. I told him about what time to come in. And he came in and listened, and left immediately. He didn’t leave immediately because he hated the message. He needed to go out and grab a smoke. That is who Dad was. But Dad was something else. Dad was a man who gave his all for his family. He was a mechanic by trade. A lot of your fathers are college graduates. My father never graduated from high school – a very humble man, but in his own way, a very brilliant man – a mechanic by trade. He worked on a fleet for Michigan Consolidated Gas Company. There were many times when the weather was horrible, and they would call on Chuck. “Hey Chuck D’Alessandro, we’ve got a truck – a vehicle broken down. You need to go out there and fix it.” He would get in his wrecker and drive out there. And many times, he would be laying on his back in the slush fixing the underside of some vehicle. Now he didn’t make a lot of money, so on the weekends my dad played the piano. He played the piano in a bar. So, Friday night and Saturdays, he was playing a piano in a bar. And if that wasn’t enough, he also drove a cab. My dad worked so many hours the first five or six years of my sister’s life, my sister called him Mom, because he was just never was around. Dad didn’t seek his own. Dad was not self-absorbed. He wanted the best for his kids. He was born in Italy. He knew what it was to be an immigrant. He knew what it was to have people poke fun at you because you couldn’t speak the language. He knew those things, but he wanted the best for his kids.
Let’s take a look at Philippians, chapter 2, verses 3 and 4:
Philippians 2:3-4 Philippians 2:3-4  Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
American King James Version×– Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind, let each esteem others better than himself. Let each look out for not only his own interests but also for the interest of others. So, if we want to be loving sanctified Christians, set apart for God’s use, then we won’t be seeking our own. We will be seeking acts of kindness. We will be seeking how we can serve. Yes, we will be seeking a foot-washing attitude – a foot-washing attitude.
Going on to the next section in 1 Corinthians 13, and verse 5 – it says:
1 Corinthians 13:5 1 Corinthians 13:5Does not behave itself unseemly, seeks not her own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil;
American King James Version×– Love is not provoked. Love is not provoked.
Now this particular one came hard to me, early on in my life. Again, Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, talking about what it means to be provoked, says it means not to be exasperated. And this is an exact quote from Thayer’s: “not to burn with anger.” Application. Are we a short-fused person? Do we blow our cork, lose our cool, blow a fuse? Do we find ourselves going through life with a chip on our shoulder, looking for someone to knock that thing off – so we can find some way to ventilate all the anger that is inside of us? Love doesn’t do that. Love does not do that. Love isn’t touchy. Love is not ready to take offense. It is not easily angered. If our God was easily angered, where would we be? Where would we be? Again, God is such a great parent to us. He teaches us so many lessons. Look at 2 Peter, chapter 3, and verse 9:
2 Peter 3:9 2 Peter 3:9The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
American King James Version×– The Lord is not slack concerning His promise as some count slackness but is longsuffering toward us. If He is longsuffering toward us, what should we be toward our fellows? You remember the scripture – I don’t have time to turn there – where the one man was forgiven. He pleaded and asked for forgiveness and he was forgiven. Then when somebody owed less than him, and came to him, and said, “Please forgive me,” and he would not. Brethren, that’s our story, if we are the kind of people who are easily provoked. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise as some count slackness but is longsuffering toward us not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. All should come to repentance. So, let’s not be easily provoked.
I don’t often quote the New International Version of the New Testament, but the NIV has a great translation for that particular phrase. The King James and the New King James just say, “Speaks no evil.” In the NIV it says, “keeps no record of wrongs.”Keeps no record of wrongs. Why, brethren, do we want to make sure that we don’t keep a record of wrongs? Because if we do that, it leads to resentment, which leads to anger, which leads to a place we don’t want to be as sanctified children of God. We want to drain anger out of our system. We want to drain that poison out. We don’t want it just welling up inside of us. Nothing good comes of that. Let’s take a look over here at Luke, chapter 7, and verse 37.
Luke 7:37 Luke 7:37And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster box of ointment,
American King James Version×– Behold a woman in the city, who was a sinner – who was a sinner – when she knew that Jesus sat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil and stood at his feet weeping and she began to wash His feet with her tears and wipe them with the hairs of her head. And she kissed his feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he spoke to himself saying, “This man, if he were a prophet, would know what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner.” Guess who’s keeping a record of wrongs here? Guess who is puffed up here? Guess who is in no kind of a good position here? Verse 40: Jesus answered and said, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” So, he said, “Teacher, say it.” “There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii and the other fifty. And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?” Notice the aspect of love tied to forgiveness. Simon said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have rightly judged.” And he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “You see this woman? I entered your house and you gave me no water for my feet, but she has washed my feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed my feet with fragrant oil. Therefore, I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much.” She loved much. “But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”
If we are keeping record of other people’s wrongs, then we are not going to find ourselves in a position of being forgiven ourselves. Love simply does not keep a tab on sin. Love does not impute sin to others.
Going back to Mr. Armstrong…. I mentioned this to the Chicago church in the past, but we do have some visitors, so I will mention it here as well. Somebody came to Mr. Armstrong once and asked him how does he pray for his enemies? That they would slip and fall and break their necks? How does he pray for his enemies? Mr. Armstrong said he prayed for his enemies that they would either come to the state of conversion, or that God would work with them in such a way that they would see better values and act on those values. Now that’s love.
We don’t want to rejoice in iniquity. Now how can that happen in our lives? It can easily happen in our lives. I was watching something on TV. They were talking about the death of Queen Elizabeth I in England in the early 1600’s, and how King James, of Bible fame, came into power. Back in those days, Spain was England’s biggest threat. And in England at that time, the Protestants were the religious power of the day. We have all heard about what the Catholic’s have done in the inquisitions. What I saw on TV the other evening showed me that the Protestants did the same kind of thing. If you were a Catholic in England, at that point, and you were a priest, I can’t – because of the children in this audience – I can’t begin to tell you what they did to those guys. Now, you are not a Catholic, and neither am I, but what one human being did to another was just horrible – just horrible what they did to practicing Catholics, if they found them and wouldn’t repent of being a Catholic. It was just absolutely horrible. People back in those days, would rejoice about them being tortured in that way. Well, we don’t want to do that. But on the other hand, sometimes if we are not careful, this thing called gossip comes to the fore. Maybe somebody that hurt us had something happened to them. “Oh, did you hear? Did you hear?” Brethren, we’ve got to watch our hearts with that kind of thing. We’ve got to watch our hearts. I mean, sometimes people can be really sincere. Their heart is in the right spot. They say, “I’m really concerned about so and so. I have a prayer request for so and so.” If your heart is in the right spot, that is one thing. But if your heart and my heart – if our heart – is not in the right spot, it can be gossip and all sorts of negative and wrong things.
Going back to many years ago, when I was relatively new in the faith, at Ambassador College, I remember one of the classes we were going through prophecy. After the class, one of my classmates – we had just been discussing the great tribulation – one of my classmates said, “I’m going to be so happy when that time comes and all these people in this world get beat up and they get persecuted. They are going to get what’s theirs!” What? Definitely not the attitude God wants to see in us. Now, he was as young in the faith as I was. I’m sure he outgrew, or I hope he outgrew, that.
Let’s go to Psalm 119. Here is what a loving person does – Psalms 119, verse 136:
Now again this is predicated on the proper frame of mind and proper frame of heart. But if our minds and hearts are as loving sanctified believers, when we see people doing wrong, we want them to see the right. We want them to see the truth. We want them to go the way that is really helpful to them and we sigh and cry, as it says in the book of Ezekiel 9:4 Ezekiel 9:4And the LORD said to him, Go through the middle of the city, through the middle of Jerusalem, and set a mark on the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the middle thereof.
American King James Version×. We sigh and cry over the sins of the world. We don’t take pleasure in any of that – which takes us to the segway of the next section of 1 Corinthians 13:6 1 Corinthians 13:6Rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;
American King James Version×. It says:
1 Corinthians 13:6 1 Corinthians 13:6Rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;
American King James Version×– Love rejoices in the truth. Love rejoices in the truth. Wherever truth is seen, wherever it is witnessed, we, as sanctified Christians, rejoice – even if it is only a little bit of the truth. Even if it is only a little bit of the truth. We see the blessings and we see the benefits and the rewards that will come as people put that into action in their lives.
Okay. 1 Corinthians 13, verse 7:
1 Corinthians 13:7 1 Corinthians 13:7Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
American King James Version×– Love bears all things, love believes all things, love hopes all things, love endures all things. Basically, this scripture – verse 7 – shows the consistency of love.
Now we must read this with understanding – verse 7. The second phrase here, love believes all things…. Well, love doesn’t believe everything, right? If you believed everything, especially what is happening in Washington DC right now, we would be totally messed up people. Because one side…the Republicans say one thing, the Democrats say another. It’s a mess. So, we can’t believe everything. So, what is this verse talking about here? I have three different translations I have used to help us come to see the meaning here. The New King James…I don’t know if we have an official Bible of the United Church of God, but if we did that would be it. Most of our literature is pegged to that. Again, I don’t think it’s an official translation, but we use it a lot. I want to look at some other translations here that I feel are very good. New Living translation. If you want something that has a little more pep to it. I think that is great translation – New Living. Phillips is one of my favorites for the New Testament and the New English Bible are all good translations. Let’s look at 1 Corinthians 13, verse 7, in those 3 translations. In the New Living it says this: Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful and endures through every circumstance. In the Phillips: Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to it’s trust, no fading of its hope. It can outlast anything. New English Bible: There is nothing love cannot face. There is no limit to it’s faith, it’s hope and its endurance.
So, we look at 1 Corinthians 13:7 1 Corinthians 13:7Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
American King James Version×– love bears all things. The idea here is the enduring quality of love and more especially, the intensity. The intensity. Love never caves in under duress. Love always holds up with God’s help. If we try and do it on our own, it is a recipe for failure. But if we do it with God’s help, we will be successful. Love always bears up. Notice what the translations say: the New Living says, love never gives up. Philips: love knows no limits to it’s endurance. New English Bible: there is nothing love cannot face. So, that is something, again, that we want to think about as New Covenant sanctified Christians.
Second phrase there in verse 7: love believes all things – really, a couple of ideas here when it comes to man. Love should believe the best. Work at believing the best. In my ministry, I have had the occasion to work with God’s people in a lot of different areas. A good number of years, I worked in the South. Lovely folks. Not just the south, but the Appalachian south – a lot of very poor folks where I was pastoring in years gone by – and one man had a saying he used all the time that never escaped me. I always thought that it was really good. He said, “As Christians, we don’t want to be hard-hearted, but we don’t want to be soft-headed.” Don’t be hard-hearted, but don’t be soft-headed – a good southern phrase there. Basically, what that’s talking about is to believe the best. Don’t be heard-hearted, but don’t be soft-headed. Don’t believe everything, but try to believe the best. Now regarding God, it says, “Love believes all things” – even when life seems to be crumbling around us. We heard an excellent Bible study today by Mr. May – how things weren’t going well for Abraham for decades and decades and decades. He had lessons to learn, to be sure. We learned about that today, but he came to really appreciate what God had in store for him. He really came to understand that when his world – when he didn’t think things were going the way that they should – finally, after various things had taken place – you can hear that sermon later sometime in the future – he was a faithful man – the father of the faithful. New Living says: love never loses faith. Phillips says: love has no end to it’s trust. New English Bible says: there is no limit to it’s faith.
Let’s move on to the third section here in verse 7. Love believes all things, bears all things, love hopes all things – hopes all things. What do we see in Hebrews, chapter 11, verse 1? Faith is believing in what is ultimately real. And what is ultimately real is what is of God. What is of God? God lives in a different dimension. Love looks in that dimension of faith – believing that God is, that God is going to be there for us – and whatever is best for us in a particular situation we find ourselves in. Sometimes that means that God comes in to save the day. Other times, it means that God doesn’t save the day. We see that in Hebrews, chapter 11. It doesn’t save the day in terms that He takes us out of our trials, but He helps us through the trial many times. He doesn’t always take us out of the trial. New Living says: love is always hopeful. Phillips says: love has no fading of its hope, New English says: love is hopeful.
Lastly – last part of verse 7 – love endures all things. Love endures all things – very similar to the very first thing we discussed, which talked to the intensity. Bearing all things – the first phrase in verse 7 – speaks to the intensity. But the last part of verse 7 is talking about the duration – the duration. You know, there are folks, and most of us in this room have gone through trials of significant duration. I have gone through those. You have gone through those. They are not pleasant. But notice what the New Living translation says. It says: love endures through every circumstance. The Phillips says: love can outlast anything. The New English Bible says: love endures. The word used here is hupomeno – I don’t think I’m pronouncing that properly – but it’s a military term talking about standing against the attack of the enemy. We want to endure through the attack of Satan the devil and whatever it is that he is trying to do to get us to buckle in our faith. Verse 8 – 1 Corinthians 13:8 1 Corinthians 13:8Charity never fails: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
American King James Version×:
V-8 – Love never fails. If it is of God, it won’t fail. Verse 13, or 1 Corinthians 13:
V-13 – Now abide hope, faith and love, these three. But the greatest of these is love.
So brethren, today my purpose was to try to put some meat on the bones in terms of application. Hopefully I have succeeded to some degree in that venture. We have been called to be God’s kids. As God’s kids, we want to be just like our Father. And our Father is love and godly love is the ultimate characteristic of a sanctified Christian.