Summary: Altruistic love can be identified by asking whether one agrees with statements that define altruism, such as, "I’d rather suffer myself than let the one I love suffer," and "I’m willing to sacrifice my own wishes to let the one I love achieve his or hers.
Disclaimer: Source material for this sermon has been gleaned from many different sources. I have attempted to acknowledge these sources whenever possible.
Introduction: A man received the following letter: Dearest Jimmy, No words could ever express the great unhappiness I’ve felt since breaking off our engagement. Please say you’ll take me back. No one could ever take your place in my heart, so please forgive me. I love you, I love you, I love you! Yours Forever, Marie – P.S. And congratulations on winning the state lottery!!! (copied) Marie’s in love alright but not with Jimmy. A recent study revealed, however, that there is a strong link between altruistic love and happiness. According to Tom Smith of the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, “altruistic love is associated with greater happiness in general and especially with more marital happiness". Altruistic love can be identified by asking whether one agrees with statements that define altruism, such as, "I’d rather suffer myself than let the one I love suffer," and "I’m willing to sacrifice my own wishes to let the one I love achieve his or hers." According to God’s Word what are the characteristics of altruistic love?
I. Altruistic Love does Not Envy – verse 4
A. Is not grieved because another possesses a greater portion of earthly, intellectual, or spiritual blessings.
B. This kind of love does not envy from others the happiness which they enjoy; it delights in their welfare.
C. Dwight L. Moody once told the fable of an eagle who was envious of another that could fly better than he could. One day the bird saw a sportsman with a bow and arrow and said to him, "I wish you would bring down that eagle up there." The man said he would if he had some feathers for his arrow. So the jealous eagle pulled one out of his wing. The arrow was shot, but it didn’t quite reach the rival bird because he was flying too high. The first eagle pulled out another feather, then another--until he had lost so many that he himself couldn’t fly. The archer took advantage of the situation, turned around, and killed the helpless bird. Moody made this application: if you are envious of others, the one you will hurt the most by your actions will be yourself. - copied
D. Titus 3:3 - 7 For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
II. Altruistic Love does not demand its own way – verse 5
A. It is not selfish; it does not seek its own happiness exclusively or mainly; it does not seek its own happiness to the injury of others.
B. According to Barnes the expression used in verse 5 is “comparative,” and denotes that one’s own way or happiness is not the main, the chief, the only thing which one who is under the influence of love or true religion will seek.
C. 1 Corinthians 10:24 Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being.
D. Bart Starr, former quarterback of the Green Bay Packers, was describing to a group of businessmen how his coach, Vince Lombardi, held absolute power. He stated that, as you entered Vince’s office, you noticed a huge mahogany desk with an impressive organization chart behind it on the wall. The chart had a small block at the top in which was printed: "Vince Lombardi, Head Coach and General Manager." A line came down from it to a very large block in which was printed: "Everybody Else!"
E. 1 Corinthians 10:32 - 33 Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.
F. James 3:16 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.
G. William Gladstone, in announcing the death of Princess Alice to the House of Commons, told a touching story. The little daughter of the Princess was seriously ill with diphtheria. The doctors told the princess not to kiss her little daughter and endanger her life by breathing the child’s breath. Once when the child was struggling to breathe, the mother, forgetting herself entirely, took the little one into her arms to keep her from choking to death. Rasping and struggling for her life, the child said, "Momma, kiss me!" Without thinking of herself the mother tenderly kissed her daughter. She got diphtheria and some days thereafter she went to be forever with the Lord. Real love forgets self. Real love knows no danger. Real love doesn’t count the cost. The Bible says, "Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it."