Summary: Exposition of 1 Cor 13:4 regarding biblical love
Text: 1 Corinthians 13:4, Title: The Hallmarks of Love 1, Date/Place: NRBC, 2/21/10, AM
A. Opening illustration: the lady who wanted to divorce her husband in the most painful way possible. The suggestion was to go and act like you love him for 2 months, and make him believe it, then drop the bomb on him. At the end of two months, she said, no way, she did love him. Emotion followed closely behind motion.
B. Background to passage: After clearly making a case for the indispensability of love for the Christian life, Paul moves to the greatest definition of love ever penned. He gives us fifteen verbs, not adjectives, which show the defining qualities of how love is practiced. These are not potentialities, nor is it a salad bar theology of choice, these are the essential characteristics of practicing Christian love.
C. Main thought: We will look at the first three hallmarks of genuine Christian love
A. Love is Being Patient
1. The NKJV renders it “suffers long.” This word comes from two Gr words meaning long or distant and wrath. It means to be long-tempered, opp of short-tempered. It meant to “remain tranquil (peaceful) while waiting.” It was always used to deal with people, not circumstances. It is speaking of love’s self-restraint. It endures willingly much suffering at the hand of another, refuses to retaliate. It spoke of love’s ability to be wronged or taken advantage of without anger. Its primary concern is for the welfare of others, therefore it is much more willing to be taken advantage of, than to take advantage of another, much less retaliate. It was a word often used of God in His patience toward us. Elaborate on the restraint of God’s wrath toward sin, and our constant failings, and His not rendering to us according to our deeds. This word was not a virtue among men in the first century, nor is it in ours. In fact the Corinthians were not suffering long. They were angry, jealous, suing one another, etc.
2. Rom 2:4, 1 Tim 1:16, Rom 12:17, Matt 5:39, Pro 20:22, 1 Pet 2:19-23, Hosea’s analogy
3. Illustration: A man's car stalled in the heavy traffic as the light turned green. All his efforts to start the engine failed, and a chorus of honking behind him made matters worse. He finally got out of his car and walked back to the first driver and said, "I'm sorry, but I can't seem to get my car started. If you'll go up there and give it a try, I'll stay here and blow your horn for you. Robert Ingersoll, a well-known atheist of the last century used to give God five minutes to strike him dead, in a supposed proof that God did not exist. Someone said, “Did this gentleman think that he could exhaust the patience of an infinite God in five minutes?” “Christians need to be given the painful reminder that frequent displays of temper betray the absence or at least the severe limitation of love.” Paige Patterson, Charlie and his temper. Talk about Derek Abbott’s patient ministry to a wife who had cheated, betrayed, and left,
4. This doesn’t preclude any anger. This doesn’t preclude admonition—1 Thess 5:14, because love and patience does not include the tolerance of evil. As Christians, we must remember whose responsibility vengeance is. The anger of man does not work the righteousness of God. We must remember the absolute sovereignty of God in allowing difficult circumstances and people into our lives. We cannot control those circumstances sometimes, but we can control our reaction and attitude. “He makes me so mad.” If we are truly practicing agape love, then we will endure wrong for the good of another. This works out in our marriages, jobs, and other relationships in a powerful way. When you defer your anger at work before other employees, it demonstrates your agape. I want to challenge husbands and wives this week to a test, each time you are frustrated with your spouse, practice love in the form of deferring your anger. When you deal with that person at work or in your class or family, exercise restraint as an expression of your love. That doesn’t mean the restraint of not going on a shooting spree, but of smiling and holding your tongue, confessing your anger, and praying good things for that individual. Note the kind of results that it will have on your relationship. But don’t simply do it for the results (one of my concerns about the Marriage Conference), do it because you love as Christ loves, without expectation of benefit. If you need help in this area, pray that God may fill you with His patience, and may love others through you. Confess your anger, bitterness, harsh words or actions, and ask for forgiveness from God first, others next. Surrender and submit to the will of God on this matter.