Summary: When I love like Jesus loves I persist even when others resist
For all of us there will come times in our lives when we attempt to love other people in the manner that we have been learning about for the past 8 weeks, in which the other person is going to reject those efforts. I can almost guarantee that if you’re a parent you either have experienced that or you will in the future. I don’t think I know a single parent who hasn’t heard their children tell them “I hate you” on more than one occasion regardless of how well her or she has loved his or her children.
But that is not the only relationship in which others are going to resist or reject our efforts to love them with the love of Jesus. We are in good company when that happens, aren’t we? After all, Jesus did the most loving thing anyone could do for another – He died on everyone’s behalf – and yet multitudes have continued to reject Him every day for nearly 2,000 years. And yet, Jesus keeps right on loving those people even after they have turned away His love.
We don’t do that nearly as well as Jesus does, do we? When others resist our efforts to love them, our natural reaction is to just throw in the towel. But if we’re going to love like Jesus loves, we have to learn to move beyond those natural tendencies and to persist in our love even when we really don’t feel like doing that.
So as we wrap up our current sermon series this morning, let’s see what we can learn from the example of Jesus about how to persevere in loving others.
We will complete our study of Paul’s description of love in 1 Corinthians 13 by looking at his last two descriptions of Biblical love:
Love…endures all things. Love never ends…
(1 Corinthians 13:7-8 ESV)
Let’s look at both phrases in a bit more detail. The verb “endure” is a compound word that literally means “to remain under”. In secular Greek it was a military term that was used to describe an army holding its position at all costs.
“to remain under” =
“perseverance in the face of difficulties”
That means that we hang in there even in those difficult circumstances that occur when someone rejects our love.
Now let’s look at the phrase “never fails”. The word translated “never” is a compound word that carries the force of “absolutely never”. And the verb “to fail” more literally means “to fall”. That verb can be used in a literal sense to describe some object like rain or a tree falling down. But when used metaphorically like Paul uses it here, it indicates something that no longer functions according to its intended purpose.
“never fails” =
“will never fail to function”
We know that we can count on God to be the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. So since God is love, that means we can also count on the fact that genuine Biblical love will never fail to operate even in the face of the most difficult circumstances.
Once again this morning, there is no shortage of passages we could look at where Jesus exemplified that kind of love in His life. But let’s look at the account we find in chapter 13 of John’s gospel account:
Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”