Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at Faith, Hope & Love P42 (07-22-20)
As you have gone through this definition of love, and asked yourself, “How well am I doing?” I think you will think you will come to the same conclusion I did. I cannot put myself anywhere in that list. That love can only be a definition of God. I must conclude that “I cannot, but God can”. So I turn my focus back on Christ Jesus, and have to rely on Him. I say, “I am weak, but He is strong.” I have to say, “Christ is my life. He is my only hope of glory.”
As I ponder over this, I must ask the Lord to work His way in me, that this love, that is a fruit of the Spirit, is produced in me and through me. Do I keep a record of how someone wronged me, pondering over a painful memory and not letting it go, or bringing it back in my mind, so I am hindered in giving out unconditional love to someone else? Am I hard on myself because I failed to act in love? Has God changed His attitude and love toward me when I do fail? No. I am His child and He has promised to never leave me or forsake me. He is my counselor and best friend, and always wants the very best for me. Do I have a critical spirit with someone who does not see things the way I see things, in what is going in this world? Or am I touchy and over-reactive? Am I acting in gentleness, patience, respect, and long-suffering? We all have to ask ourselves these questions. And when we discover where we fall short, we have to ask ourselves, what kind of grace, and patience and kindness should I extend to others?
When I think again about God, that God is love, I marvel at His mercy and grace toward me. I am simply overwhelmed!
God is patient, God is kind. God does not envy. He does not boast. He is not proud. God does not dishonor others. God is not self-seeking. God is not easily angered, and He keeps no record of wrongs. God does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. God always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. God never fails.
When we come to understand the love of God, as that is continually revealed to us more and more, who are in Christ, what kind of thoughts come to mind? What kinds of heart attitudes does that bring about in you? Is fear and anger now becoming more like a shadow in light of His glory and grace? How do you look at the trials and tribulations you face in the world today? Can you see this triplicate of faith, hope and love at work within you? Do you see your present troubles only but light and momentary? Do you see the things of this life, that tend to trouble you, strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace? Do you see these things of life as tests of your faith, to mature you, of God at work within you to transform you into the image of Christ Jesus, to produce in you that which He has promised you, to complete the good work He began in you? So, let us rejoice. Yes, troubled days will come, as God prophesied they would, and even more, as the time of the end draws near. But, we shall see Him face to face, and we will be made new. What hope we have in Christ Jesus! What love He has shown us? What faith is stirred up within us!
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.
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 so blind to our own. But we have 20/20 vision when it comes to someone else’s.
We are so very, very anxious to see the minuses and the negatives of someone else and never realize that we all have good points and bad points. I said, many times before, people, you do not have to love me, but if you are going to, you are going to have to love me with wirts and all. As Bob George, I have some good points and I have some bad points. I have some positives and I have some negatives. All of this is true for each and everyone of us. If we want to camp on someone’s negatives all the time, is that love? No. That is keeping records of wrongs. They do not do things like I do, so therefore, they are wrong.
Rejoicing in the truth is one of those things that is one of the indicators of truly being in Christ Jesus. I believe rejoicing in the truth is saying that I am not going to call sin a sickness. I am not going to call it an illness. I am not going to call it a syndrome. I am not going to call it anything except what it is. I am going to call sin a sin. I am not going to call homosexuality an alternate lifestyle. I am not going to call promiscuity just being a little over-sexed. I am not going to call worry a healthy concern. I am going to have to call sin sin. I am not going to call drunkenness a sickness or to be an alcoholic. I am going to call it what the bible calls it. It is drunkenness. It is of the heart. Jesus said that.
11 “What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”
So, it is a heart problem.
Love says, “I am going to rejoice in the truth”. It is not love to say to someone, “God says this is sin but let me convince you it is something else”. You are leading someone to a primrose path to error. It is not love at all to lead someone to error when God has already led us into truth. We look at that as being loving. No, it is not loving. It is the opposite.
God has already established what truth is. We come along, and say, “That is not truth. I love you so much. I hate to see you feel so guilty over this sin that you are committing. So, let us call it a sickness. I just love you so much that I am going to make you feel good. Maybe there is a pill to get rid of it. Is that love? No. If your appendix was bursting, and someone went down, and said, “Oh, you sweet thing. Let us look at your neck. Your legs are terrific, and your toes. Let us focus on the positive and forget about the pain in the stomach. In fact, it might be indigestion. Let us just call it indigestion and forget about this bursting appendix. Call it indigestion because I love you so much and that is going to help”. So what will we do? Well, we would kill the person.
So we look at love as being sympathetic. Let us get our eyes off the negative and keep it on the positive. There again, is that not like positive confession and positive thinking all the time?
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
10 As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one;
I do not think that is a real positive statement. But that is a truthful statement. “I can’t but He can”. I do not think that would be accepted in positive thinking but that is true.
But again, what is that, such as positive thinking and calling sin something other than what God calls it? It is a lie, but we think it is loving. It is not loving. It is pulling you away from the truth from what the word of God has to say.
What do we want to do? Do we want to rejoice in unrighteousness? That is what pride does. It rationalizes, ignores sin, rejoices over other’s mistakes and sins. It is the pride of man who says, “Thank God I am not a sinner such as that”. We have to look at that and say that in the love department I never rejoice in unrighteousness? How are you doing, folks?
The next one is, “I always rejoice with the truth”. That ties into rejoicing with truth. That is all found in Christ and His word and in others becoming Christ-like and being used by God. Truth is truth and I will rejoice in that. Pride never rejoices with truth and resents others being used by God, and resents other people hanging onto the truth. How many times, in our lives, have we recognized the fact, and called a spade a spade, and absolutely been attacked because of others who sit there and say, “I resent that. I resent you Christian believing what you believe”. That ties into what holiness and being sanctified is. You are not sanctified by wearing something on your head. You are sanctified by what is in your head. Our belief system is what sets us apart from the entire world. That is why we need to rejoice with truth, if we are in Christ, with the truth revealed to us in the word of God.
That is marvelous to realize that truth has been revealed to us by the Spirit. But grabbing a hold of that truth, and endearing yourself to that truth is what sets you apart from the world. When you watch secular television, all you can say to that is, what planet do those guys come from? They are sitting there saying the same thing. In essence, they are sanctified from us. They are holy on the other side of this coin. They are set apart from us as we are set apart from them. We have to understand that what sets you and me apart is what we have come to know is true from the one who said, “I am the truth”.
6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Faith bears all things. So I ask myself, “Do I always bear all things?” What does that mean? Love endures hardship for another’s good. I carry another person’s burdens. On the other evening on one of the shows, a story of two twins, and one of them had Parkinson’s disease. Elderly people but one of the twins with Parkinson’s. Her husband was a miraculous person to me because of his care for her. The tender care. He had to do everything. He had to cook. He had to take her for walks. He had to make the bed and clean the house. When they interviewed him, they asked him if it was hard. Of course it was hard, and he broke down, and he said, “this is my wife. I took her for better or for worse and in sickness and in health. This is my responsibility to care for her”. The comments that came back, later on, by email. Forget about McArthur and General Eisenhower and all the so-called heroes of the world. This man is the hero. What was going on with him? He was bearing all things. He was exercising the love of God. The love of God was manifested through him by enduring hardships for the benefit of another person.
We have a friend of ours that we meet sometimes for breakfast. She had married her husband. An athletic guy had been hurt and been in a wheelchair from the waste down. This woman for years has taken care of him. She has to get him in and out of a chair and push him around, yet she is always joyful. I look at that and say what is happening? He is bearing and enduring hardship for another person’s good and carrying another person’s burden. On the other hand, pride says, “Why should this happen to me? Let someone else take care of him. I am going to go out and get my own life”. That is pride. That happens many times. Women leaving their children because it is hard when they are young. Someone says, “Well, leave them?” Why? Pride does not endure anything. “I am not going to hang in there. I am not going to endure hardship for the sake of the children. I do not like marriage. I do not care if children are down there. They will be okay”. I hear some woman say to men, “They will be better off without me because I am not a good mother”. They rationalize with that. What is that? That is the opposite of love. Love says, “I am in this thing, and I am going to endure this hardship. I am enduring. It is for marriage and everything else. I am going to endure that for the sake of my children”. That is love.
Love believes all things. Do I always believe all things? What does that mean? It thinks the best of other people for Christ’s sake. You look at people realistically. We all have good points and we all have bad points. Quit trying to love somebody because they are perfect. There is nobody who is perfect. Why do bad things happen to good people? Because there are no good people. The people saying that think they are good. There is nobody good but God himself. Let us recognize our own weakness, the weakness of our mate, and people we work with and live around. There is no such thing as a perfect person and not one just like you. Prejudice is not color blind. Prejudice is anyone who is not like me. Anyone who is not like me, you are prejudiced. If you are not a man, you are prejudiced to women. If you are not a woman, you are prejudiced to men. We are all prejudiced. It is all part of the pride of man. We have to identify where the problem is. Pride always thinks the worst of someone else.
Love always hopes in all things. Do I hope in all things? Do I hold onto God’s promises and hold onto the best in myself and others? What does pride do? It doubts God’s promises and asks, “Why me?” It always hopes for the best of myself. I do not care about anyone else. I am doing unto others before they do unto me. That is an attitude that people have.
Love endures all things. What does that mean? It means I am going to last courageously through any trial and with a thankful spirit for the sake of Christ and others. We realize the trials and tribulations we go through today, whatever it might be, there is a purpose in it. God will take that to bring you to the point He wants you to, and that is to the end of your self sufficiency. To be able today, to say, “I am going to get rid of this mindset that says, ‘I do not want to endure trials with patience and faith in Christ, that I am going to complain and resist it’ and to that, to say “no”. God will take this trial and tribulation that I am going through and work it together for my good, to those who love the Lord and who are called according to His purpose. To realize to finish that race is to hang in there with faith that God has given to you in Christ Jesus to complete the work. Do not resist the trials and tribulations. Recognize God can use it for a purpose, that is to conform you and me into the image of Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 4:12-14
12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.
As you go through that list of the definition of God’s love, all of us, if we have any reality to us at all, you are going to look at that list and say, “Lord, there is not one thing about me in that list. I am not always patient. I am not always kind. I am sometimes jealous and envious of other people. I am boastful sometimes. I am arrogant. I can act unbecomingly. I can seek my own way instead of the way of others. I can be easily provoked. I, for sure, keep records of wrongs. I sometimes do rejoice in unrighteousness. Sometimes, I take truth and twist it for my benefit. Sometimes, I do not want to bear all things. I do not want to endure hardships for someone else. I do what I want to do, not what I need to do. In believing all things, thinking the best of others, my first tendency, normally, is to think the worst of somebody. I do not always keep hold of your promises, but I try to manipulate you through my prayers or whatever else it might be. Many times, Lord, I do not want to hang in there. I want this problem over with before you completed the work you wanted to do inside of me.”
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