1 Corinthians 13
Have you heard the story about the actor who was playing the part of Christ in the Passion Play in the Ozarks? As he carried the cross up the hill a tourist began heckling, making fun of him, & shouting insults at him. Finally, the actor had taken all of it he could take. So he threw down his cross, walked over to the tourist, & punched him out.
After the play was over, the director told him, "I know he was a pest, but I can’t condone what you did. Besides, you’re playing the part of Jesus, & Jesus never retaliated. So don’t do anything like that again." Well, the man promised he wouldn’t. But the next day the heckler was back worse than before, & finally the actor exploded & punched him out again.
The director said, "That’s it. I have to fire you. We just can’t have you behaving this way while playing the part of Jesus." The actor begged, "Please give me one more chance. I really need this job, & I can handle it if it happens again." So the director decided to give him another chance.
The next day he was carrying his cross up the street. Sure enough, the heckler was there again. You could tell that the actor was really trying to control himself, but it was about to get the best of him. He was clinching his fists & grinding his teeth. Finally, he looked at the heckler & said, "I’ll meet you after the resurrection!
From “The Most Excellent Way” Melvin Newland
The word of God says that God is Love (1 John). It is not just the way he acts it is who He is in his very character. As the Children of God we are to reflect God’s likeness in our character and our actions. This is only possible, because he lives in us. The degree to which we are loving is determined by how well we cooperate with the Holy Spirit living in us. Have we allowed him only to be a resident in our lives, and not the president (or Lord) of our lives. We can never be the loving person we should be until Jesus is crowed Lord of our life, and the old self is crucified. Then as we spend time in his presence, and meditating upon his word we can become more like him. Ray Stedman said,
“In the eyes of the world, it is not our relationship with Jesus Christ that counts; it is our resemblance to him!” This thirteenth chapter of Corinthians is very popular for weddings, but it can’t produce these characteristics in your life- only intimate contact with Jesus can. The Word of God here declares Love’s supreme importance, and defines what true love looks like in action. It is the measuring stick of love, so we can measure our likeness to God’s love. It can show us our short comings, but we must flee to Jesus in order to change into a loving person.
I The Prominence of Love (I’m not going to spend much time here.)
A. Over the Gift of Tongues
B. Over the Gift of Prophesy
C. Over the Gift of Word of Knowledge
D. Over the Gift of Faith
E. Over Giving to the Needy
F. Over Martyrdom
II The Postive Definition of Love
a. Love is Patient - Long suffering or long tempered -Almost always used with reference to people in NT not circumstances. (MacArthur p338) It is the ability to be inconvenienced or taken advantage of by a person over and over again and yet not be upset or angry.
1. In our world (as well a the Greek) self-sacrificing love and nonavenging patience are considered weaknesses.
2. But God’s love is patient. It is much more willing to be taken advantage of than to take advantage, much less retaliate.
Robert Ingersoll p338 MacArthur
Robert Ingersoll, the well-known atheist of the last century, often would stop in the middle of his lectures against God and say, I’ll give God five minutes to strike me dead for the things I’ve said." He then used the fact that he was not struck dead as proof that God did not exist. "Theodore Parker said of Ingersoll’s claim, "And did the gentleman think he could exhaust the patience of the eternal God in five minutes?"
Lincoln and Stanton
One of Abraham-Lincoln’s earliest political enemies was Edwin M. Stanton He called Lincoln a "low cunning clown" and "the original gorilla." "It was ridiculous for people to go to Africa to see a gorilla," he would say, "when they could find one easily in Springfield, Illinois." Lincoln never responded to the slander, but when, as president, he needed a secretary of war he chose Stanton. When his incredulous friends asked why, Lincoln replied "because he is the best man." Years later, as the slain president’s body lay in state, Stanton looked into the coffin and said through his tears, "There lies the greatest ruler of men the world, has ever seen.” His animosity was finally broken by Lincoln’s long-suffering, nonretaliatory spirit. Patient love won out.
b. Love is Kind-
1. Patience takes anything, kindness will give anything to anyone, even enemies.
2. It means to be useful, serving, and gracious. It is active good will.
c. There is no reference to feelings of love. The love he is speaking about is an act of the will, and not just an emotion. Our feelings are difficult if not impossible to control, but our thoughts and actions are under our control.
A woman seeking counsel from Dr. George W. Crane, the psychologist, confided that she hated her husband, and intended to divorce him. “I want to hurt him all I can,” she declared firmly.
“Well, in that case,” said Dr. Crane, “I advise you to start showering him with compliments. When you have become indispensable to him, when he thinks you love him devotedly, then start the divorce action. That is the way to hurt him.”
Some months later the wife returned to report that all was going well. She had followed the suggested course.
“Good,” said Dr. Crane. “Now’s the time to file for divorce.”
“Divorce!” the woman said indignantly. “Never. I love my husband dearly!”
Bits & Pieces, August 22, 1991
III The Powerful Love Busters
Willard F. Harley Jr. A Christian marriage counselor discovered that many good marriages go bad without Abuse, Addictions, or Affairs. He found that feelings of love are triggered by how we are treated by our spouse. He likened it unto a Love Bank into which deposits and withdraws were made. When a loving deposit was made feelings of love grew, but when unloving things were done a withdraw was made from the love bank. He named these withdraws “love busters”.
It is not such a mystery why couples fall out of love. They make more withdraws than deposits in the other’s love bank. The difficult part is that most things we do by habit, and so they are difficult to see and difficult to change. The five love busters he defines in his book are 1 Selfish demands, 2 Disrespectful Judgements, 3 Angry Outbursts, 4 Annoying Behaviors, and 5 Dishonesty. You will see most of them right here.
(From “Fall in Love Stay in Love”)
a. Love isn’t Jealous (envious)
1. Jealously or envy has two forms.
1. I want what someone else has”
2. “I wish they didn’t have it”
2. Jesus called it an “evil eye” Matthew 20:15 KJV
3. When love sees someone who is popular, successful, beautiful, or talented, it is glad for them and is not jealous or envious. There is always someone better.
4. It can only be done with confidence that God will give you all that is good for you.
What A Catastrophe
Irish novelist and playwright Samuel Beckett received great recognition for his work—but not everyone savored his accomplishments. Beckett’s marriage, in fact, was soured by his wife’s jealousy of his growing fame and success as a writer. One day in 1969 his wife Suzanne answered the telephone, listened for a moment, spoke briefly, and hung up. She then turned to Beckett and with a stricken look whispered, "What a catastrophe!"
Was it a devastating personal tragedy? No, she had just learned that Beckett had been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature!
Today in the Word, February, 1991, p. 15
b. Love doesn’t boast (sings its own praises)
1. Love doesn’t parade its accomplishments
2. Jealously is wanting what someone else has, Bragging is trying to make others jealous of you.
3. Jealously puts others down, Bragging builds us up.
c. Love is not Proud (arrogant, conceited)
1. Is thinking you are superior to others, and acting it.
2. Spiritual pride is ramped in the church.
d. Love is not rude -(ill mannered) (behave disgracefully)
1. It is not thinking the people around are important enough to treat respectfully and politely.
2. It cares nothing of the feelings of the other person.
There was a person who used to attend church where I pastored. This man rode a bike everywhere he went, and always wore a suit and tie. Because he was mentally challenged I noticed people would made fun of him behind his back, and would treat him rudely to his face. They would walk away when he was talking, and ignore or avoid him altogether. He was treated differently than other people because he acted strange, and sometimes smelled strange. As I reflected on this verse I realized the church people felt superior to him, and could treat him rudely because he was inferior.
e. Love is not selfish - Does not insist on its own way -demand it own way
R.C.H. Lenski, the well know bible commentator has said, “Cure selfishness and you have just replanted the garden of Eden.”
The story is told of a chauffeur who drove up to a cemetery and asked the minister who served as caretaker to come to the car, because his employer was too ill to walk. Waiting in the car was a frail old lady with sunken eyes that showed years of hurt and anguish. She introduced herself and said she had been sending five dollars to the cemetery for the past several years to be used for flowers for her husband’s grave. "I have come in person today," she said, "because the doctors have given me only a few weeks to live and I wanted to see the, grave, for one last time." The minister replied, "You know, I am sorry you have been sending money for t those flowers." Taken aback, she said, "What do you mean?" "Well, I happen to be a part of a visiting society that visits patients in hospitals and mental institutions. They dearly love flowers. They can see them and smell and Flowers are therapy for them, because they are living people." Saying nothing, she motioned the chauffeur to leave. Some months later the minister was surprise to see the same car drive up, with the woman herself at the wheel. She said, "At first I resented what you said to me that day when I came here for a last visit. But as I thought about it, I decided you were right. Now I personally take flowers to the hospitals. It does make the patients happy and it makes me happy, too. The doctors can’t figure out what made me well, but I know. I now have someone else to live for."
“Commanding your spouse (friend, etc) to do things that would benefit you at your spouse’s expense, with the implied threat of punishment if refused. (If you refuse me you will regret it)
It make one a sergeant and the other a private.
Demands are nothing short of abuse. Thoughtful requests are a wise alternative to selfish demands.”
Thoughtful Request- “Respectfully explaining what you would like and allowing your spouse the option of granting or denying your request”
“I’ve already tried that, and it doesn’t work.” Dr Harley says learn to Negotiate then until the solution satisfys both of you.
Alan Redpath tells the story of a young woman who came to her pastor desperate ,and despondent. She said, "There is a man who says he loves me so much he will kill himself if I don’t marry him. What should I do?" "Do nothing," he replied. "That man doesn’t love you; he loves himself. Such a threat isn’t love; it is pure selfishness."
f. Love isn’t irritable –Doesn’t fly off the handle (easily provoked)
1. Means to arouse to anger, a sudden outburst of emotion or action.
2. Love guards against being irritated, upset, or angered by things said or done against it.
Angry Outbursts- Deliberately attempting to hurt your spouse because of anger, usually in the form of verbal or physical attack.
3. Although the primary reason for angry outbursts is trying to get what we want, our instinct deludes us into thinking otherwise. When we are angry, we usually feel that someone is deliberately making us unhappy (by not giving us what we want), which just isn’t fair.
4. We tell ourselves our angry is to protect us, but it is really to hurt the troublemaker and get our way.
5. Ridicule, sarcasm, put down’s, and name calling are some of the weapons.
(I had a roomate in college that would call me our when I used sarcasm to show my disapproval. I thought I was hiding my disguist in spiritual sarcasm. He would say, "What do you mean by that?" It really showed me what my heart didn’t want to acknowledge.)
Jonathan Edwards Daughter p 346 MacArthur
The great colonial preacher and theologian Jonathan Edwards had a daughter with an uncontrollable temper. When a young man fell in love with her and asked her father for her hand in marriage, Dr. Edwards replied, "You can’t have her." "But I love her and she loves me," he protested. "It doesn’t matter," the father insisted. Asked why, he said, "Because she is not worthy of you." "But she is a Christian isn’t she?" "Yes," said Edwards, "but the grace of God can live with some people with whom no one else could ever live."
g. Doesn’t keep a record of wrongs (doesn’t keep score of others sins)
1. A bookkeeping term-the purpose of the entry is to make a permanent record that can be consulted whenever needed.
2. Resentment is careful to keep books it reads and rereads, hoping for a chance to get even.
3. Love keeps no books , because it has no place for resentments and grudges.
" One of most miserable men I ever met was a professed Christian who actually kept in a notebook a list of the wrongs he felt others had committed against him. Forgiveness means that we wipe the record clean and never hold things against people (Eph. 4:26, 32)
Warren Weirsbe Bible Exposition Commentary
h. Love is not happy with evil (never glad about injustice) (delight in evil)
1. Love never takes satisfaction from sin, whether our own or that of others.
2. Some Christians glowingly tell of former life of sin.
3. Most popular magazines, books, TV programs, and movies glorify sin, and literally rejoice in unrighteousness.
4. Christians are not immune from enjoying being entertained by them and enjoying it.
5. We are to love what Jesus loves and hate what he hates. Not enough not to do them, but we are to feel like Jesus does toward them. We need his affections and Hatred.
6. In Gossip we can rejoice in the sins of others. Gossip that is true is still gossip.
i. Love is happy with the truth (or when the truth wins out)
1. Not just factual truth, but The Truth of God
2. The opposite of dishonesty
3. Love can’t exist without truth, or compromise with truth of God
j. Love always protects-(bears all things) alt. Puts up with anything-never stops being patient
1. bear means to cover or to support and therefore protect.
2. Love bears all things by protecting others form exposure, ridicule, or harm.
3. “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers a multitude of sins” Prov. 10:12
4. We are quick to cover the faults of the one we love.
5. Like our children to others -“She didn’t really mean what she said.”
6. But if we don’t love our reaction is the opposite -“That’s just like that jerk, John”
7. It doesn’t mean lying or covering up sin or condoning it. But not advertizing it.
Oliver Cromwell p353 MacArthur
During Oliver Cromwell’s reign as lord protector of England a young soldier was sentenced to die. The girl to whom he was engaged pleaded with Cromwell to spare the life of her beloved, but to no avail. The young man was to be executed when the curfew bell sounded, but when the sexton repeatedly pulled the rope the bell made no sound The girl had climbed into the belfry and wrapped herself around the clapper so that it could not strike the bell. Her body was smashed and bruised, but she did not let go until the clapper stopped swinging. She managed to c climb down, bruised and bleeding, to meet those awaiting the execution. When she explained what she had done, Cromwell commuted the sentence.
k. Love believes the Best (Believes all things)
1. It doesn’t mean being naive and believe everything you are told.
2. It means love is not cynical or suspicious.
3. Love believes innocent until proven guilty -then gives credit for the best motive
4. Always believe the best until you must believe the worst.
5. Jobs friends showed no love. They believed the worst about him, because of his circumstances.
l. Love always hopes- (hopes all things) (hopeful) (never looks back)
1. Even when belief in a loved ones goodness or repentance is shattered, love still hopes.
2. God would not take Israel’s failure as final. Jesus would not take Peter failure as final.
3. Don’t lose hope for backslidden children, unbelieving spouse, erring church brother or sister
4. There are more than enough promises in the Bible to make love hopeful.
m. Love never gives up - (endures through every circumstances) (keeps going to the end)
1. To Endure a military term used of an army’ holding a vital position at all costs.
2. Every hardship and every suffering was to be endured in order to hold fast.
3. Real love will cost you something.
4. Love doesn’t through in the towel when the relationship gets hard
5. Love doesn’t dispose of the relationship.
Esau could have just cut off all ties to Jacob
because of what Jacob did, but he initated a reunion.
III The Permanence of Love
a. The Spiritual Gifts are Temporary (Just for this life)
-in the Lords presence they won’t be needed
b. The Spiritual Graces of Faith Hope and Love are Eternal
-Love is the greatest of them all.
-Let love be your highest goal 14:1
Conclusion: God has given us marriage and close family relationships to learn to practice true love.
Marriage License: A Learner’s Permit
It’s a wise groom who has to be dragged to the altar. He knows what love is. It’s death. If lovers don’t know this, they are headed for trouble. Never will you have your way again. You can’t be happy if this other person isn’t. No matter who wins the argument, you lose. Always. The sooner you learn this the better off you will be.
Love is an exercise in frustration. You leave the window up when you want it down. You watch someone else’s favorite TV program. You kiss when you have a headache. You turn the music down when you like it loud. You learn to be patient without sighing or sulking.
Love’s doing things for the other person. In marriage two become one but the one isn’t you. It’s the other person. You love this person more than you love yourself. This means that you love this person as she or he is. Acceptance. We ask ourselves frankly what that impulse is that makes us want to redesign a person. It isn’t love. We want the other person to be normal like us. But is that loving the other person or ourselves? Love brings out the best in people. They can be themselves without artificiality. People who know they are loved glow with beauty and charm.
Let this person talk. Create the assurance that any idea, any suggestion, any feeling can be expressed and will be respected. Allow the other person to star once in a while. A wife’s joke doesn’t have to be topped. Don’t interrupt your husband in the middle of his story. Cultivate kind ways of speaking. It can be as simple as asking them instead of telling them to do things. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Married life is full of crazy mirrors to see ourselves. How stubborn, how immature we really are. You may be waiting for your wife to finish because you never lift a finger to help her.
Love is funny. Its growth doesn’t depend on what someone does for you. It’s in direct proportion to what you do for him or her.
The country is swarming with people who have never learned this. So are divorce courts.
“Men are from Mars...”, Part 3 - Ephesians 5:23,24”, Countdown! Golden Minutes Ministries Newsletter, (Long Beach, CA, October 1996).