Summary: Considering Paul’s description of love, and applying it to our lives.
“The Most Excellent Way”
By: Kenneth Emerson Sauer, Pastor of Parkview United Methodist Church, Newport News, VA
At a men’s retreat a truck driver told about the change Christ had made in his life, and he was asked to think of some specific way in which he was different.
After a pause, he said: “Well, when I find somebody tailgating my truck, I no longer drive on the shoulder of the road to kick up pebbles and rocks on them.”
How simple but profound is this understanding of what it means to love people in relevant and demonstrable ways!
Karl Menninger once said, “Love cures people—both the ones who give it and the ones who receive it.”
In our Epistle Lesson for this morning, Paul deals with some of the practical aspects of the Spirit of Love as it ought to manifest itself within Christians.
He is anxious for the church to follow the supreme way of life; the way that never fails; the way that…
…in the end leads straight to God’s plan for our lives---the way of love!
“Love is patient.”
Christ is patient and kind, and those of us who bear His name and are members of His Church---organic elements in “the body of Christ,” should manifest the same characteristics as Christ when dealing with relationships with other human beings.
Just think how patient Jesus was with his disciples and followers…
…with the multitudes that gathered around him…
…first to praise Him…
…then to curse Him.
How patient Jesus was with the sick and the poor!
How patient Jesus was with Pilate!
How patient Jesus was with those who crucified Him: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”
We are to love others as Christ has loved us, and love is patient toward all people.
Love endures all the weaknesses, ignorance, errors, infirmities, stubbornness, and weak faith of the children of God.
Love also endures all the malice and wickedness of the children of the world.
Love suffers all these things, not only for a time or a short season, but also to the end!
Love continues feeding the enemy when he or she is hungry.
If he or she thirsts, love still gives the person a drink!
“Love is kind.”
If someone were to pay us ten cents for every kind word we’ve ever spoken about people, and then take back five cents for every unkind word we’ve ever spoken about people, would we be poor or rich?
Kindness costs no money.
It’s as easy to go around with a smile as it is to go around with a frown.
Kindness is a big step in the Christian aim to “overcome evil with good.”
To pay a visit to someone, to say a kind word of cheer or comfort, to convey friendliness by a handshake…
…well, these are small tokens, perhaps of a loving spirit, but they are symbolic of the very nature and purpose of God.
Moreover, the consequences are incalculable.
When we treat others with kindness we send out into the spiritual and moral atmosphere of the universe in which we live ripples that never exhaust themselves!
Only God can calculate the full consequences.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
Love “does not envy.”
It is impossible for love to covet…
…in fact, love is the complete opposite of that depraved attitude.
As John Wesley wrote: “Love cannot be upset over God’s bestowing any good gift upon any human being. If people who love have received God’s blessings, they do not bemoan others receiving the same benefits.
Indeed, they rejoice when others are also blessed.
If people who are loving do not have all these benefits, they bless God that at least others have them.
They are far more willing for others to receive blessings than for themselves to have them.
The greater one’s love, the more one rejoices in the blessings of all humankind.
The greater one’s love, the farther one is from every kind and degree of envy.”
Jealousy is a sin.
And a sin is like an infected wound: the infection spreads.
It is an infected wound in the soul and it breeds further infection…such as hatred and conflict.
Christian love values the spiritual over the material.
Jesus Christ is the supreme standard of this kind of love.
The love of the indwelling Christ centers it’s attention on the object of love…
…which is other than itself…
…and it rejoices in the wholesome success and prosperity of others.
This kind of love is not only unselfish, it is sacrificial.
“Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”