Radio Broadcast Tuesday 7/21/2020

Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at Faith, Hope & Love P41 (07-21-20)

Synopsis

We just really do not know what love is, this love of God. We think the opposite of love is hate, but the opposite of love is pride. Pride is what caused the fall of man in the garden of Eden, and what we are naturally born with. Pride seeks to go its own way, is not teachable, and is in essence, self seeking. This sin nature is what you see in a child that will holler and scream until he gets his own way. That has to be trained out of a child.

And, then people in the Christian world tend to think of love as what you do on Sunday morning, when you smile real big and greet someone in the pew next to you, but then promptly forget his name or anything he said, or what you boast about when you tithe, have your quiet time, read your bible, or pray all the time. That is not love. Love is what you do, that you should do every day and every moment of the day, when you rely on Christ to do that in you and through you. It is not something you can pull off. If love is perfection, something that never fails, then we are incapable of loving in the energy of our flesh.

So we look at God’s definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13. Whereas before we substituted the word “love” with “God”, let us substitute the word “love” with “I” in the passage. As you have done this, think about how well you do in loving others.

I am always patient, always kind. I do not envy, and I do not boast. I am never proud. I do not dishonor others. I am never self-seeking. I am not easily angered, and I keep no record of wrongs. I do not delight in evil but always rejoice with the truth. I always protect, always trust, always hope, always persevere. I never fail.

When we ponder over this, we marvel at the mercy and grace of God. We realize we cannot do this, but God can. And that is where we have to put our faith and dependence as a child of God on Him, to boast in our weakness so that He is strong. That is why Paul says that he puts no confidence in his flesh, but boasts in his weakness, and all the more in Christ Jesus, for when he is weak then He is strong.

When we ponder over John 15, the story of the vine and the branches that Jesus taught us, we realize that is how Christ lives in us and through us, so that we may bear fruit for God, which is the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control, as listed in Galatians 5:22-23. We could never pull that off, so we must rest in Christ Jesus to produce that. We are weak in our natural sin-indwelling self. But the Spirit of God living in us is strong, and is how we overcome the world.

Transcript

This is dealing with the definition of God’s love that He gave to us in chapter 13 of 1 Corinthians. He talks about love as something that never fails. He says in verse 8.

1 Corinthians 13:8-9
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.

When perfection comes the imperfect disappears. He is trying to correct the Corinthians in the misuse of gifts by explaining that you can have all the gifts of the world but if you do not have love, you do not have anything. If you are majoring in minors instead of Christ Himself, then you are thinking like a child.

1 Corinthians 13:11-13
11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

So the apostle Paul is explaining that when we come right down to the nitty gritty of life, it is how you are doing in the love department. As a matter of fact, did he not say in the scripture.

Galatians 5:6
The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

Again, he did not say one of the things. He said the only thing. From God’s vantage point, what he is looking for is how we are doing in the love department? It is not how we are doing with our tithing records, our church attendance, our potlucks, or how we are doing with our numbers or nickels and noses, but how are you doing in the love department? One of the things that that does, and one of the reasons we do not talk more about that is because of the fact, to be really honest with you, when you are talking about the characteristics of love. I guess you could exercise those characteristics in an assembly, but it seems to me in, my experience in the assembly, about the most you see of someone is the back of someone’s head.

I do not see much interaction in a group assembly. I guess, inasmuch as we put spirituality and confined it basically to what we do in a service of some kind. Why you cannot really do a lot of patience and kindness in a service, maybe one or two people. How can you do that with a thousand people? “Yet, when you gather that many, you are really successful”. We define what true spirituality is on how you act in a service. “Man, you are anointed. You are a gift of God if you can do something in a service. If you can get everyone doing something in a service then that is where spirituality is”. Sorry, but Jesus said the only thing that is important is love.

I do not know how you are going to get all that kind of love, especially as defined as how you are treating people in a service. You might get someone of that, but very little. But how you conduct yourself outside service, at home and on the way to service and on the way back, that is where love can be demonstrated. What you do in an assembly with hundreds of other people, I do not see how much love can be demonstrated there. Unless you think if you have a big grin on your face is an evidence of love, but God gave us a definition of love. I do not think you are going to do that on a Sunday morning evening, Wednesday evening or other or church service. I do not think you are going to be doing that in a so-called revival meeting, but you are going to demonstrate that on the way to that meeting or back from that meeting and how you conduct your life just on Sunday but Monday through Saturday. How are you doing in the love department where you work, where you play, where you worship, and where you live? That is where love is spelled out, not in a service.

If you are confined spiritually as to what goes on in a service then you really do not have to pay much attention to 1 Corinthians 13 because it is really not applicable in a service. You have other criteria you go by. That is why we are so obnoxious to confine everything to a service. There nothing is personal. It is a group mentality. What is a crowd like at a Cowboy game? That is recently sad. Then it depends on who you are playing. If you are playing a high school team, it would be quite joyful. But with another pro team, we have trouble with those. I am just kidding.

What the issue is, what we do in a crowd is not an indicator of spirituality. So what God did is give us a definition. He gave that to us in 1 Corinthians 13. Many times we read that with a very loving sound of our voice. The issue is not what we sound like when we read it, but how that is lived out in our experience. The one thing we have to understand in regard to the Christian life, I do not think anyone is ever going to come to the exchange of life in Christ Jesus except through brokenness. I do not see any other way there. It is in that desert that you have to come to the point of ending your sufficiency in the flesh.

We talked last week about the book of Philippians, which gives three characteristics of being a true born again believer. One, have no confidence in the flesh. What brings that about? Brokenness. God is going to bring that brokenness one way or another and many times uses things to do that. Our problem is that God wants to fix you but we are trying to fix what God is using to fix us with. That is what happens to us. God allows these things in our life that will bring us to the end of our self sufficiency and we are trying to get rid of that thing that God brought along instead of letting it do its work. If that thing he is using does not work, then something else will come into existence. God wants us to come to the end of our self sufficiency.

It is interesting to me how Paul says that we should glory in our weakness. Yet man says, “No, you just get strong in the Lord and how we are to get big faith and that is what makes us strong”, but God says that it is to be weak. I do not know why it is a shock to us to say, “You cannot when Jesus, himself who is God, says, ‘I do not do anything unless the Father tells me to do it and I do not say anything unless the Father tells me to say it and how to say it’”. Here is God in the flesh saying, “I cannot do anything. All I do is listen to the Father”. Yet, we stand with our chins on the floor when someone says, “I can’t”. Where is our strength going to be found? In our weakness. What a combination we have here, my weakness and his strength. A phenomenal combination. And we say that is the exchanged life. “Lord, I give you my weakness in order to receive your strength”. When we look at 1 Corinthians 13, you will see how weak you are.

It is amazing to us as to why it should be so hard for us to see, that in and of ourselves, that we can do nothing. We can build ships. We can ride in cars. We can do all that type of thing. You can be a big developer in New York and run for president. But I am looking for things God is looking for, to be able to have love, joy, peace, patience, kindness and goodness, and to experience those things and never be jealous or envious or boastful. Try that on for size, folks. I do not care if you have more degrees than a thermometer, what you are absolutely dealing with is your ability to carry out these things in your weakness. You may be as strong as Arnold Swartzenegger, but nothing to pull this off. I do not care how strong you are physically, how rich you are or how talented you are, or educated you are, you cannot pull off the fruit of the Spirit. You cannot love. Because we cannot, people substitute other things for love. Many times, people substitute what spiritually is by what we are doing inside of an assembly, which can be shown and viewed, oohed and awed, yet how spirituality is carried out, many times, is in one on one relationships.

We talked about that, and God has given us a definition of love. We talked last week that the opposite of God’s love is not hate, but pride. Pride is the enemy of love. Pride always wants it’s own way whereby Agape love is always looking out for the interests of others. So, again, what we are going to do today, is to complete this list of God’s definition of love. But before we do, we will take some time what we talked about last week.

There are many people walking around thinking they are spiritual about ready to make their ascension into heaven. The reason for that is “I have my quiet time, and I do that every day and I do it early. If you do mine at 5:00, I will do mine ast 4:30. I am always praying all the time. We pray anytime anything comes up. I am always praying for it. I had my quiet time. I read my bible. I go to church I tithe. I do all those things.” I say, “That is really neat. Now, let me ask you a question. How are you doing in the love department?” The way to find out is read the definition of God’s love and then ask yourself, “Am I always that way?” While you are sitting there and reading this, I am going to ask the question. “Now, substitute the word ‘love’ with ‘I’ and see how well you are doing?”

I have taught these things before, and people listening will come up and remind me of that. “Man, I wish my husband was here. I wish my wife was here. I cannot wait to show this to my cousin”. I have got news for you. This is not for them. This is for you. This is not for you to be thinking, “I can hardly wait to teach this to someone else. I cannot wait for my spouse or children to hear this”. This is for you to listen to these definitions, and ask, “How am I doing?” “How am I, Bob George, doing?” “God, so let me find out how Bob George is doing”. No, the scripture is talking to you, not to your mate, not to your friend, but to you. That is what we must keep in mind. So we are going to do that.

I am always patient, always kind. I do not envy, and I do not boast. I am never proud. I do not dishonor others. I am never self-seeking. I am not easily angered, and I keep no record of wrongs. I do not delight in evil but always rejoice with the truth. I always protect, always trust, always hope, always persevere. I never fail.

I am always patient. How did you do? We talked about how patience is that calm self-restraint from punishing others, either physically or emotionally or wrong suffered or mistakes made, always a forgiving person. What is the opposite of that? Pride. Pride is never patient, always retaliates on a wrong suffered, and always trying to build themselves up by tearing others down. How did you do, folks? Not your husband, or not your wife, but you?

Love is always kind. I am not talking about sometimes I am kind. This definition is not saying, “I wish I was patient. I try to be kind. I would love to never be jealous”. It is not saying that. It is saying, “I am always patient. I am always kind. I am never jealous or envious. I am never boastful or arrogant. I never act unbecomingly”. How did you do? I do not know about you, but I got wiped out on number one, on “I am always patient”. I bet you, folks, that you did too.

We look at this definition and just like reading the passage in scripture that says, “Be you perfect”. How perfect? “As perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect. That is all you can do.”. There is only one thing you can say, “I cannot do it.”, or you could say, “Okay, Lord, I will forgive it a whack”. Or, “you just watch my smoke and you will see perfection in glowing terms”. The only thing you can say when you hear words like that are, “I cannot do that”. Why? I am weak. What does He say about that? Glory in it, folks. Glory in your weakness because He said, “My strength is made manifest in your weakness”. What do we offer to God, a combination deal, my weakness and His strength is marvelous. My strength and His strength is combat. So we have to understand, He is not weak nor am I strong. I am weak and He is strong. Funny, we sing that, “I am weak but He is strong”. But we do not believe one iota of it. Why should that be such a mystery to us? We see people’s jaws hitting the floor when you talk about it when Jesus himself who walked on this earth said, “I do nothing on my own. I cannot do anything on my own. I have chosen not to. Only what the Father tells me to do and only when he tells me to do it and how he tells me to do it”. That is weakness. But his strength was manifested in his weakness.

Folks, we are going to do the remaining definitions of love in 1 Corinthians 13. It says that love does not seek its own. In other words, it does not insist on having its own way or rights. It looks out for the interests of others. Folks, in this kind of a normal attitude we have on this earth, are we born just wonderful people like that? Think of a child. If you think a child does not have a sin nature, you have not had a child. Does a child insist on having its own way? Of course he does. That is part of being a child. “I want my own way”. When? Now. How long? Forever. A child is not sitting in his crib, thinking “My diapers are wet but I do not want to disturb mom and dad. I will just wait for the morning”. They will holler like a Commanche Indian until their diaper is changed. Or, they could be hungry. “I know I am hungry but I think I can survive, so I will just wait until the morning”. They will yell and scream until they get their food. We grow up with that. We become the center of attention. Many times children are the center of attention until their teens. Then we parents wonder why they are out doing their own thing and not listening to what we say. They are the center of attention. I tell you parents do not mess with the center of the universe. “I got my way, and I got my way all my life, so please do not intrude”. We seek our own. We insist on having our own way. We insist on looking out not for the interests of others, but looking out for our own interests only. That is pride. It always demands its own way. It always looks for its own interests over and above anything else. So, loving one another does not insist on having its own way. It looks out for the interests of others. Is that what Jesus was saying, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Now it says love is not easily provoked. In other words, easily angered. Well, what does that mean? It means that love is never easily stirred to anger, never touchy or quick tempered. I wonder today what is going on. Everybody is touchy. I mean in ethnic groups. It used to be that humor was humor. You could find humor around an ethnic deal including Caucasion. There is humor there. Not anymore, brother. You say something and these touchy things we are, we get our tails in the air, and we are angered by the least little thing that might trample on wonderful me. We do not have any appreciation for anything anymore, whether humorous or not, because we are so touchy. You say, what is causing that? Is it the fact that all that stuff is cruel? No, not necessarily. It could be, but it is not a thing of that but it is our pride. Pride is always easily provoked. Our pride is always touchy. Our pride is over-sensitive. Our pride is always angry.

Think about it. Can you say, “I am never easily provoked?” Or, are you one of those so thin-skinned that no one can say anything without absolutely going into detail. If you could sue the world for making that kind of remark about me, that maybe I did not like. That is what the world is today and it has gotten worse and worse. Why are there so many lawsuits in this world more than the rest of the world combined? It is not because we have more lawyers but because of the touchiness of people. What is that? Pride, growing and growing, both personally and collectively growing in our society. Pride is rampant. Pride is always easily provoked. It is touchy, over-sensitive and is angry all the time. Love, on the other hand, is not easily provoked.

Well, the next one. If the others did not get you, this one will. I never take into account the wrong suffered. I never keep records of wrongs. I could not tell you anything that Amy did wrong 20 years ago if my life depended on it. Now, that is a lie, folks. Not only can we remember it, but if we need it for a little ammunition, we can bring it up and we do. But we are talking about what love does. It never keeps a record of someone’s wrong.

We look at that and say, “come on now”. Are you keeping records of people’s wrongs? Are you bringing it up when it is expedient to do so? If someone is getting an edge on you in a discussion, or thought they were getting ahead of you, would you think about bringing up their past. Are you thinking about bringing up someone’;s mistakes they made in order to justify your own sinful responses to people? Do you ever call attention to a person’s past in order to alleviate yourself in how you look so good right now in the present?

We think about all of the things that a man will do to man, the injustices of what man will do to man, the psychological damage it will do to them, the harm people will do with no thought at all to the damage to a human being or their family. It is just that I want to get even. Folks, this is what love says, “It never rejoices in unrighteousness at all. It never takes into account a wrong suffered”. It says that love bears a wrong without holding it against the one who committed it. It never holds grudges. It maintains a forgiving spirit and keeps no records of a person’s wrongs. How many times have we seen in the Christian world? Someone once wisely said that we are the only animal that shoots its own wounded. How many times have you seen in the Christian world where a person goes out and ever pridefully tries to ruin someone in the name of morality and never thinks their whole motivation is nothing but the unbelievable pride that causes us to try to destroy someone with our lips. It is pride. Yet we will fan that. We will clothe that with, “I just am being moral”.

Well, folks, we have to understand that from God’s standpoint, He is not interested in those things. What He is interested in is how are you doing in the forgiving department? How are you doing in not keeping records of people“s wrongs? Why do we want to dig up the records of a person’s wrongs, whether on paper or just in our mind? Why do you want to do that? What benefit is there in doing that? I am watching on television the other night some guy who is a prosecuting attorney some place. He was elected. He is in his 50s and some woman 35 years ago accused him of doing some kind of a sexual deal in high school, when he was a senior and she was a sophomore. She accused him of rape, and some 35 years ago and never brought it up before. What does that have to do with anything? Of course, the guy says, “I did not do that?” How are you going to prove that? So why are you going to bring that up? For the purpose of destroying something that I did not agree with politically. That does not matter. Think what the guy’s family has to go through. It makes no difference. I do not like what the man believes politically and I am going to destroy that. There is no problem that we have in this world that pride is not the root of it.

Proverbs 11:2
2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.

Our unbelievable pride is the thing that says, “I will bring up something to destroy something. I do not care what it does. I do not care if it hurts someone. It makes no difference ”. It is my pride that says, “I am going to get even”. If anyone thinks that is the love of God, he needs to look at these scriptures. The bible calls that pride. In pride, you always hold grudges, you always keep a record of people’s wrongs and you are very anxiously waiting to use it anytime you need to. Sometimes if you are in a discussion or maybe someone is getting a little up on you in this discussion, and you do not know what else to do, you just get into this filing cabinet and find something they did wrong a few years ago, and use that to annihilate an argument and to win. What love is is this. It never takes into account a wrong suffered. It keeps no record of wrongs.

Love never rejoices in unrighteousness. Love is going to view sin as God sees sin. It is never glad over someone else’s mistakes and sins. You look at a person and see weakness. We all have weaknesses. We are just blind to our own. But we have 20/20 vision when it comes to someone else’s.

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A Closer Look at Faith Hope and Love

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