Summary: As idealistic & beautiful as this love is, you & I can experience this kind of love. In a world that is complicated - in a world of pain & sorrow - this kind of love can & should exist. (PowerPoint available - #164)
MELVIN NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
(PowerPoints used with this message are available for free. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and request #164)
ILL. A movie pictures 2 people in a canoe in the middle of a lake, with a beautiful moon shining above. The sky is filled with twinkling stars. In the background a thousand violins are playing softly as he sings to her. And the song writer says, "That's love." But most of us know that it is not necessarily so.
Ideal love is a beautiful thing. The composer writes that "Love is a many splendored thing." Another author writes, "Love is never having to say that you are sorry."
But those of us who have been married for a few years know that love contains a lot of apologies. We are often saying, "I'm sorry, honey. I shouldn't have done that. I don't know what I was thinking. I'll never do that again."
The Apostle Paul comes close to being the composer of a great love song in the 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians. In that chapter he pictures for us perfect love - ideal love. Like the composer & song writer, he steps out of himself for a moment & pictures how love ought to be.
He expresses it in words, dangles it before us, & says that this ideal love can be yours & mine. Listen to what he says in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a,
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
“Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
Paul knows that we are real people working men & women in a competitive world where love is not often evident - moms & dads, husbands & wives, sons & daughters trying to relate to one another.
He writes these words & says, "As idealistic & beautiful as this love is, you & I can experience this kind of love. In a world that is complicated - in a world with pain & sorrow - this kind of love can & should exist."
I. LOVE IS PATIENT, LOVE SUFFERS LONG
Notice that Paul begins this passage by saying, "Love is patient," or as the KJV puts it, "Love suffers long." The Greek word that he uses can be translated either way.
It basically means that love is something that "endures a long time" - that doesn't easily give up, but keeps on persisting in spite of everything.
A. It doesn't take a great deal of talent to suffer. All of us suffer in one way or another. We don't have to graduate at the top of our class to suffer. We don't have to be rich or poor, young or old, male or female to suffer.
And some may suffer more than others. Some may suffer with more grace than others - but all of us suffer.
In this passage Paul is saying that a unique quality about the love he is describing is that this love is willing to suffer for a long time - it suffers long.
I suppose that we need to define "suffering." Synonyms that come to mind are words like "pain," or "sorrow," or "rejection & tribulation."
But to boil it down to one simple idea, I think that I would say that "Suffering is experiencing something in life that we want very much not to experience."
The key to that is "very much." Suffering is something that hurts - that says, "I do not want to experience this!" That is suffering.
B. That opens up a door to all kinds of possibilities. It may be trivial suffering, or it may be tragic suffering.
It may be nothing more than being in a great hurry & getting into the express line at the grocery story & finding that everybody in front of you is writing a check. Now, that is "experiencing something that you want very much not to experience."
It may also be tragic. You may have a cancer which constantly reminds you of its presence - because it is always inflicting pain. That is suffering, too.
We don't like to suffer, but Paul says that the love he is talking about is willing to suffer for the object of its love. It is willing to endure that which it very much does not want to experience - but it does so, because of its love.
I suggest that such love is greatly needed in our time. Yet I suppose that if we asked, "Hey, do you want some love - it suffers long?" - most of us would not be anxious to sign up. Who wants to suffer long?