Summary: Let’s apply these principles in 2 Corinthians 6:3-13 of expressing love in a practical way to our love for others (adapted from Bob Russell's book, Take Comfort, the chapter on genuine expressions of love)
No point in going to see the person dying, will not even know I am there. Hold their hand- “they probably will not know it is me”- is that really the point?- just to have someone there- they’ll know we are Christians by our love- behold how they love one another
We normally think of Paul as a tough troubleshooter. But Paul was also a tenderhearted Christian who knew how to communicate affection. Skipping ahead to chapter 6 of 2 Corinthians (hopefully come back to chapters 5 and 6 around Easter). 2 Corinthians 6:3-13
Thesis: Let’s apply these principles in a practical way to our love for others
I. Avoid that Which Offends
2 Cor 6:3- Paul was always concerned about how other people interpreted his actions. Since he loved God and he loved people, he didn’t want to do anything that would damage his testimony in Christ. Paul did not have the attitude, “Well, I’m going to live as I please and the rest of you can like it or lump it.” He was willing to eliminate from his life style anything that would be a stumbling block to other Christians. Some things in the OT are no longer binding upon NT Christians. Those who came from a Jewish background held on to many of the customs and traditions handed down from their ancestors. One of those things was food restrictions- pork a big no no. The Jewish persuasion did not want to eat any meat that came from a pagan butcher. Paul spent many of his words on this in the NT. To sum it up, unless the NT mentions this as binding, Paul basically said, “Look, it’s just a matter of opinion. Don’t make a big deal out of it.” “Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling-block or obstacle in your brother’s way. As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died.” Romans 14:13-15. If we love people, we’ll express it by eliminating things that are an obstacle for them to follow Christ, or that will influence them in a negative way. If we love people and seek to influence them for Christ, we have to be aware of things that can offend. They may not be Biblically prohibited, but they are a stumbling block to leading others to Christ. Sin (breaking God’s law) is always an offense; in other areas we may be free as a Christian, but because of our love for people, we choose to abstain.
I choose not to gamble because it can harm my witness. Been around the boats, so many work there in this community, but gambling can be a stumbling block. Many associate gambling with sin, and it would do harm to my witness for Christ if I went and gambled regularly and publicly. If my picture was on the video screen on US 50 as winning a big amount of money, many would be disappointed with me and it would be a stumbling block.
Same with alcohol. There is no verse in the Bible that says, “Thou shalt not drink liquor.” But what would people think if they saw me out in public with a 24 pack of beers drinking some?
Don’t participate in an activity that is going to harm others. We have to be sensitive to younger or weaker Christians who are watching, who could be led astray. We have to be sensitive to unbelievers who are watching and may be influence negatively.
This can be taken to an extreme, some are offended at the most trivial things and we can’t please everybody. We need to be sensitive as to how our behavior is affecting the majority of people.
II. Be Faithful in Times of Adversity
2 Corinthians 6:4, 5- Here Paul lists 9 types of adversities that he endured for the sake of the gospel. The first 3 are general trials that come to us all- troubles, hardships, and distresses. They have to do with pressures we all experience. For example, the word distress means literally, “too narrow a place.” It means to be trapped in our circumstances. Moments when we feel shut in
Next 3 are adversities that are inflicted by others: beatings, imprisonments, and riots. Paul was in jail several times. He wasn’t in jail because he disobeyed the law, he was in jail because he preached the gospel. Today this probably will not happen but we will be ridiculed and isolated