Radio Broadcast Tuesday 8/04/2020

Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at Faith, Hope & Love P47 (08-04-20)

Synopsis

It seems we create our own definitions of love. We say things like, “I love my car”, “I love my house”, “I love the beach”. We love those things that make us feel good. In our natural flesh, we have turned God’s definition of Agape love into something that makes me feel good. Oftentimes we do these things without realizing it. We have lived in the flesh for so long, it just seems to be the natural motivation if left unchecked or our minds are not renewed. And we all have a tendency to drift into these attitudes of the flesh.

Many of us can identify what Bob shared about his early days as a young believer where he would think he was so spiritual when he was sharing Christ to people, looking out of the corner of his eye to see who would notice. Even making demands of others in ministry to do what he does. That is not something he likes to admit, nor would I, but he has done that, and so have I.

See, all of us at times have had a preoccupation with self, that wants affirmation from others, a pat on the back or something. But God wants our motivation to come from Him. Agape love can only come from God, and when you have His love you do not need that love from others. You are amply supplied. God’s kind of love does not draw attention to himself. It has no need to. Jesus said he did not come to glorify himself but to glorify the one who sent him. That is the same attitude God wants to form in us.

So there are several examples of this preoccupation of self, of doing things when your mind has not understood love, or redefined love as something that makes me feel good. It will show up when you serve in church, when you go up on stage, thinking you are so spiritual, as if you are ready to make your ascension into heaven, and hope others notice. It shows up in others when they boast about their speaking in tongues, as if that is a sign of their spirituality, of being filled with the Spirit. It shows up in many different ways in church, whether you believed an error in doctrine or operating in the flesh because you do not know what love is.

But it also shows up in our everyday lives. We wonder why so few people experience what true love is in their daily lives. We can do loving things outwardly. We can serve, cook and clean. But God is looking at our hearts, our inward motivations. Do we get annoyed that someone else is not serving like us? Recall the story told of Mary and Martha. It is not that God does not want us to serve, but when is the right time and motivation to serve? So you are bothered that nobody else is helping, looking down on others, not realizing that what they are doing, at that time, is what God would have them do.

So how do we get away from this preoccupation with self. How can we serve in the attitude of the heart that God desires? When we have not taken the time to learn what love is by sitting and learning at the feet of Jesus, then instead of giving to others we are trying to make ourselves feel good, to meet a need of love and acceptance from others that can only come from God. When we operate like that, we are draining energy out of others that they are not equipped to give you. That is a burden placed on others. That is where much of our interpersonal conflict comes from, not knowing this unconditional love and acceptance from God.

Yes, God lives in us to renew our minds. This renewing of the mind will be happening in us until the day we die. But it is good to recognize in ourselves when our fleshly desires are coming back to the surface. It is like the God-given nervous system God has given us. When we touch a hot stove, we know not to do that again. When we start experiencing a lack of joy or peace, then that is a trigger to us that we need to go back and sit at Jesus ’ feet.

We need to learn from Him and have Him renew our minds. He is our counselor. That is His function in our lives. He is our best friend, our Father, our encourager, and our coach. He is our life. He wants us to experience the abundant life He has given us. He delights in us to come to Him, to boldly go to Him in our time of need. He loves us unconditionally. We are accepted in the beloved. We are free to go to Him.

As we learn to continually depend on Him, God has promised us that we will experience joy and peace. We will begin to see the faulty thinking and behavior we have been doing. We begin to see His work of renewal in our minds. That renewal leads to greater and greater gratitude and praise in our hearts to Him. Oh, what a wonderful Savior and friend we have in Jesus!

Others too will see that we have been with Jesus. There will be a joy in our step, a glow in our face. They will see that when we serve, it is service done in love. People will begin to receive that love, and that love was not you, but Christ living His life in you and through you. You are simply a vessel that God has used to make Himself known.

Transcript

We are going to be dealing with the next few weeks in regard to the substitutes we have for love. We have talked about the fact that although we hear more and more talk about love, it seems we see less and less reality of love in our daily experience. As a result of not seeing this love for one another as God told us to do, we tend to develop our own definitions and interpretations of what love is.

Then we try to diligently live up to our own definitions. We elaborated on that last week. We say that loving Christians witness for Christ and I witness and therefore I am a loving Christian. We know that line of reasoning falls by the wayside. That does not necessarily mean that you are loving. So what we have literally done is defined love as anything that makes me feel good.

That is the redefinition of the flesh’s definition of love. Anything that makes me feel good. That also includes thinking you are spiritual. There are many people based in self righteousness where their attitudes are so much greater than anyone else. It makes me feel good that I got it all together and no one else does. That could certainly be a definition of flesh love.

True love is God centered. Therefore, it turns our eyes outward to others rather than inward as to what makes me feel good. Then we learn that marvelous truth that it is more blessed to give than to receive. We will never see that until we start giving.

A preoccupation with one’s own spirituality of how spiritual we are is self centeredness. Therefore it is all inward. That is what causes people to ask people, “How is your prayer life?” because ours is just wonderful. It is amazing how we think that if I just pray, and have accountability groups and I do this or that then I am spiritual. Rather, you are a spiritual being. You are saved. Then doing those things, and nothing wrong with that, but nothing of that makes an ounce of you spiritual. You are a spiritual being.

You are not going to get any more spiritual by what you do. If we do these things with the motivation that I am doing it to be more accepted in the sight of God or to get more spiritual then we do not understand we already are. It is like going out to be more justified or more glorified or more righteous. God has made you righteous. You are not going to improve on that. But if you say I am going to have my prayer time or quiet time to be more righteous then you have a problem. Your problem is you did not study the word of God or allow it to teach you that you are already righteous. That is why we put on his breastplate of righteousness not ours. If we put on our breastplate, we find it is made of paper and those arrows will go through it right away.

As we studied before, the opposite of Agape love is pride. Of course pride is always self centered and very much concentrated on those things that make me feel good. And we say that don’t we? I love ice cream. Why? It makes me feel good. I love my car. I love my house. I love my furs. I love this because it makes me feel so good when I have them on or driving in it. It makes me feel good, so I love it. I love my job as long as everybody does what is necessary to make me feel good. If they do not make me feel good then I do not like my job. My wife used to make me feel good, and now she does not. So I do not like her. I do not love her. Why? She does not make me feel good. It is a total perversion of what God’s love is. Pride is the root of any substitute for love.

Only God can fulfill our need for love and acceptance. If that need is not met, then we try all kinds of ways to meet that need. It becomes the focus of that search. It is an ever ending cycle of emptiness and longing. So what we are going to do over these next couple of weeks is look at some substitutes for love. What you will see in 1 Corinthians 13 is not a literal interpretation. What you will see is a hyperbole, which is an exaggeration of something to make a point. You will see four of these.

1 Corinthians 13:1
1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels,

Once again, you are talking about, even in this hyperbole, about languages. If I spoke in the language of all the men of the world, then do you know of anyone who can speak all languages of the world? No. Neither do I. This is an exaggeration to make a point. Some people say they have angel language. How do you know? Do you have an angel who can interpret that for you? Why do you think God would have a language up there and some other language over here? Then think of all the languages that God brought in the tower of Babel when He separated all of us so we could not understand each other. If we could all understand each other, then we would all think we were God and would build more towers.

In essence, God is not listening to what you are saying any way. Go is looking at your heart. Man looks on the outside but God looks at your heart. Your verbiage should be a reflection of what is going on in your heart. God is not figuring out what language you are speaking in. He is looking at your heart. If that was the case, why would we ever have silent prayer? Why would you just not be praying silently, if you need to be speaking for God to hear you? There are a lot of contradictions in our lives that we just do not understand.

1 Corinthians 13:1
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

There are many people who think speaking in tongues. I do not know anyone who speaks in biblical tongues. I know people who speak in what they call tongues. But speaking in a language you have never learned but that you can speak, and it is a language that is understandable. Many people think it is a sign of something, a sign of being filled with the Spirit. If that is a sign of being filled with the Spirit then how can you call somebody a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal?

Now, we go on to the next hyperbole.

1 Corinthians 13:2
2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge,

Is there anyone who had a gift of prophecy that was able to fathom all mysteries and all knowledge? Of course not. A prophet might have a piece of information, but to have it all? Nobody. That again is an exaggeration in order to make a point.

The next hyperbole is this.

1 Corinthians 13:2
and if I have a faith that can move mountains,

Now, we hear a lot of people talk about faith, but have I ever seen any of them move a mountain out there? Someone might get a little adjustment on a computer to make it look like it did. But I do not think anyone has done that lately. It is interesting that Jesus said if anyone had faith as small as a mustard seed, he could move a mountain. What the Lord is saying to us is that it is not the size of our faith but the size of the object of our faith. It is the object of our faith. The lost have faith, a lot of faith. Those who teach false doctrine have a terrific amount of faith in their false doctrine. Faith is not the issue. Faith in truth is the issue. Faith is what enters into whether you are going to put faith in error or put your faith in truth.

We do not have people moving mountains and I do not think we ever will. So this teaching that you have to get faith bigger, that annihilates that in my mind. Knowing what this says, I will not go out and get my faith bigger. My God has gotten a lot bigger but my faith is still as small as a mustard seed. So, if you ever see me moving a mountain, then you know I am doing okay. But until that occurs that is the size of my faith.

1 Corinthians 13:2
if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

Well, see that would hit every television in town, that this guy went out and moved a mountain. Talking about publicity to the world. But God says that means nothing to me.

1 Corinthians 13:3
3 If I give all I possess to the poor

You hear about things, such as you are robbing God. You hear that all the time. A man said, “The reason we do not have revivals in our country is because we are stealing from God”. That nonsense gets under my skin whenever I hear it.

1 Corinthians 13:3
and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

So, we look at that, and say, “What were some of the substitutes people have?” I do not think Paul was just trying to think of some ideas to make a point. People were doing these things. People were speaking in tongues, thinking that was the most spiritual thing in sight. People were prophesying, and thinking they could fathom mysteries and knowledge and thinking that was the greatest thing since sliced bread. People out there are thinking how big and wonderful faith is, of the “ name it and claim it ” crowd. There is nothing new. People are giving everything to the poor and surrendering their body to the flames. There were people who were martyred. There were actions that looked good on the outside. As far as God is concerned they mean nothing. You gained nothing through these things if these things are not accompanied with love. Did not the scripture say the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

Think of all the effort people exert to accomplish these things and bragging about these things and promoting these things. People are actively promoting gifts much more than the giver. Promoting healing far and above the healer. All of those things become sources of drawing attention. Raising money and calling attention to ourselves. There is no question of that. It is such a fleshly desire of people, to want the patting on the head to make them feel good. People think that must be love, and therefore I am going to give everything I have to it.

John 9:13-16
13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind. 14 Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man’s eyes was a Sabbath. 15 Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. “He put mud on my eyes,” the man replied, “and I washed, and now I see.”

16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.”

But others asked, “How can a sinner perform such signs?” So they were divided.

Folks, do look at this again. Is that a loving response? Here this guy was blind from birth, and now he can see. The once blind man said, “I do not know all this stuff you are talking about but this I know, that I was blind but now I see.” But all the religious leaders could say is that this guy is a Sabbath breaker. “I do not care if he can see or not. This guy is a Sabbath breaker.”

How many times do we read through things, and maybe we do not have access to the true or deeper meaning to these things, but what is extremely interesting about that, that on the Sabbath, it makes a point to say that Jesus made mud on the Sabbath. Do you know how he made mud? He spit. There is a Jewish law that you cannot work on the Sabbath. So now you have to make up what it means to work. So there are about 613 laws, and one is that you cannot spit on the Sabbath. You can spit on a rock but you cannot spit on the ground, because that would make mud, and that would be considered as work, and you cannot work on the Sabbath so you cannot spit. So they picked up stones to stone him. So you can stone somebody on the Sabbath but do not spit while you are doing it. That is the hypocrisy of that.

So what did Jesus do? The scripture explicitly states that Jesus made mud. He spit on the ground and made mud on the Sabbath. I would not be surprised that they were just as angry for him spitting as for him healing. So they asked the man, “How did you receive your sight?” The man replied, “He made mud and put mud on my eyes, and then I washed and now I see.” Both of these would be considered terrible on the Sabbath, so what did they do because of their interpretation of the law, that you cannot spit and make mud on the Sabbath? That this healing of a blind man who now sees is contributed to who? The Pharisees responded, “He is not from God. He is a sinner”. His works were contributed actually to the devil because he did not follow their tradition. Were they glad the man received his sight? No. They were mad as a hen about it. They were more concerned about making mud and healing on the Sabbath. Do you think they were demonstrating pride or love? Is that the response of love or is that a response of pride?

Does preoccupation with observing the law produce love in a person’s heart or a judgmental spirit in your heart. A preoccupation with observing the law puts you in a position of being totally self centered, self righteous and therefore unbelievably critical of anyone who is not doing what you are doing that you think is what God wants you to do. So from God’s perspective, what is more important, observing the law, or serving someone in love? That is not even talking about God’s love but an interpretation of man’s law.

Luke 10:38-41
38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed – or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Mary and Martha were sisters of Lazareth, for whom the Lord raised from the dead, and were obviously dear women. But Martha was a doer and Mary wanted to sit at the feet and listen to what Jesus had to say. She wanted to learn. She wanted to be taught. She wanted to be discipled. Mary wanted to be busy. If you look at these things and ask, “Where is the balance?” You just cannot sit all day and read your bible and sit at Jesus and say, “I will not do anything for the rest of my life.” You will be a little hungry and a little dirty.

There are a lot of things that can happen there, but it is the preoccupation. There is nothing wrong with preparing things. There is nothing wrong with being a worker, but not at the exclusion of learning. When the time comes to learn, you need to quit the work and set it aside for learning. Quite frankly, that is what the Sabbath day was supposed to be. People were totally preoccupied with their work through the week. They had to. Most of the people were slaves in those days. The one day of the week where they could go and learn was on the Sabbath, knowing the importance of that. You are not going to learn and do all this work.

So then they put all these laws as to what work is. No. This should be a day set apart for learning. That does not mean you cannot push an elevator button or you cannot spit. It means to let us take a day we can study the word together and sit at the feet of Jesus. I do not think it is one or the other. It is keeping those things in proper balance. This is an important lesson for us.

Mary, of course was upset, since she was doing all the work. “Don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself?” Listen to the Lord’s reply.

Luke 10:41-42
41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed – or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Mary has chosen that one thing and it will not be taken from her. Again, to Martha, she thought serving and cooking and all of that was love. I am not saying that could not be but it also does not have to be. The problem is a substitute for what is loving, cooking and serving. He is saying, “No. Mary, that is an act of servitude but love has to come from me. Until you learn to sit at my feet and receive you will never have love. You can do all your deeds. You can work but you will not learn love. The only thing that matters is faith expressing itself through love. You substitute doing for loving. The greatest example of love is Martha sitting at my feet. And I will not take that away from her. I am not going to say, ‘Mary, get up and quit sitting at my feet and learning and go help your sister.’”

The world does not look at it that way. Hold on for a minute. Would not the loving thing to do would be to get up and help your sister. Would that not be the loving thing to do? What are we doing? “Substituting what my definition of love is.” Jesus says, “the most loving thing to do is to sit at my feet and learn from me.” Once you learned about that love then you can serve one another in love. You can serve one another without love or you can serve one another with love. Until you sat at the feet of the Lord and learned of him, not that we loved Him but He loved us first, then you can be serving. But you are not serving in love.

That is what scripture refers to, serving in the flesh instead of being motivated by the love of Jesus. So, I think this is such a powerful story and example for us in regard to our motivations. Are we out working in the flesh? Or are we being motivated to work in the Spirit? In both cases there is work. One is motivated by love and the other is motivated by the flesh that says, “I am going to do what I am doing because it is going to make me feel good when I get a compliment and get patted on the back for what a good cook I am and how well I am serving.” When we look at those things, then we ask, “What is my attitude?” What is Martha’s attitude toward Mary’s? Probably the same one as ours would have been. What was her attitude toward Jesus? “Jesus, do you know what you are doing? You are sitting there teaching while my sister is sitting there at your feet. Something is wrong with you. Tell her to get up and tell her to help me.” Some of these women have some audacity. It is unbelievable. I guess we should not be surprised if that does not happen to us sometimes. Martha’s focus was on doing. Mary’s focus was on the Lord Jesus.

Now again we ask ourselves, “has there been a time in my own life when I substituted service for love?” Yes. I have. What was the attitude in my heart toward those who were serving? What were you doing when you were serving? Were you doing it to draw attention to yourself? I remember a time in my early days as a Christian, sharing Christ with people and kind of looking out the corner of my eye to see who was watching me. I recall praying real loud in a restaurant thinking in my mind that they will think how spiritual I am. I have done those things. I do not like to admit it, but I have done it. To be asked to sit on a platform in church, looking so holy, thinking you are making your ascension into heaven. We are all capable of doing those religious fleshly things. We think that in church you cannot do things fleshly. That is one of the biggest places to do fleshly things. You have to fall in love with Christ. If you have come to Christ, forget thinking about getting busy. Come to know Jesus. “When you come to know My love, then it will be motivated by Me and not by you.”

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A Closer Look at Faith Hope and Love

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