Summary: What Paul tells us about how to love one another.
The Church - Love
November 8, 2015
There was a Peanuts cartoon in which - - - Linus tells his kind and loving sister, Lucy, he’s going to be a doctor. She responds - - - “You, a doctor? How can you be a doctor? You don’t love mankind.” Linus replies, “I do too love mankind. It’s people I can’t stand.”
Many of us are tempted to love that way. To love in the abstract, because it’s much less costly to love that way.
The problem is that love is not an abstract concept but a living reality. So, what is love? Paul gives us an amazing description in 1 Corinthians 13. We’ve looked at the first 3 verses, now we are moving into the nuts and bolts of love. In 4 very short verses, Paul gives us an amazing look at love. In these 4 verses Paul lists 15 virtues of love — describing what love is and what love is not. He tells us ~
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant
5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Today . . . we are only going to look at verses 4 and 5. Next week we will finish looking at this section, on the 22nd we will have our guest speaker, then believe it or not, we jump into Advent and prepare for the coming of the Christ child.
Love is Patient. The word used for patience is made up of two Greek words meaning “long” and “passion, anger, rage.” When combined, it literally means long tempered or that the temper is a long time in rising. The word means waiting a long time before the you give in to anger. It’s the quality of self-restraint in the face of being provoked, so that we do not act before we think. It’s the quality of having a long fuse.
As we all know, this is not always easy to do. We can jump to conclusions, we can be offended and make rash decisions, we can become angry and slam something which breaks or even causes us some physical pain.
It’s not easy to be patient when we are being hurt. It’s one of the acts of love I am still learning, and I believe will be learning all of my life. I grew up in a home where anger was quick and explosive. It’s not easy to get that image out of your heart and head. We often live with this all of our lives and fight a daily battle with what we don’t like within ourselves.
So, Paul calls us to be long-tempered - long-sufferers . . . . to have a long fuse.
Paul continues be telling us not only is love patient, but love is also kind.
Love sees people’s imperfections and still cares. Love is not unkindly sever in its criticisms or disagreeable in its actions. As I was preparing for today, I was convicted again and again of my shortcomings. Am I always patient? Am I always kind? Maybe I should stop now.
We’ve heard these verses many times before, but when we slow down to consider their meaning in our lives, they are not easy!
The word kind means “useful, gracious, kind.” It comes from the word “to use.” This is meant to be an active form of love. It is a call for you and I to make ourselves useful. In a sense it is a victory over idle selfishness and comfortable self pleasure.
Have you ever noticed how much of Christ’s life was spent doing kindness? He spent so much time and energy simply helping people. That’s a great demonstration of love - - - which we can also do for our heavenly Father - - - be kind to His children. Everyone needs kindness, you do, and I do.
This verb is a call to serve others. Paul starts with passive love in being patient, which is slow to act and moves to active love — doing good for others.
One of the things I’ve learned about life in the past few weeks is that when we love . . . we must love our grandmother, our cranky neighbor, an insensitive boss, an off-key choir member, a troublesome daughter, or someone who is mean spirited. If we keep love in the abstract we will insulate ourselves from its sacrifices and actions. How about you? Is your love abstract or concrete?
At the same time love must have boundaries so that we don’t get hurt and we must be able to protect ourselves. Because people will act like wolves in sheeps clothing. At times it is easy to be deceived, but we must stay true to God and seek to follow God’s call.