Home Media Sermons by Pastor Nicki Coertze Series 7. What's love got to do with it? . No 04 The flawlessness of love

. No 04 The flawlessness of love

WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT?

THE FLAWLESSNESS OF LOVE

Introduction.

I have thought long and hard over the title of the next few sermons on love, as it is of utmost importance to make sure that our theme is driven home properly. Over the last two sermons we saw that you can be a Super Christian, but without love you are nothing. Remember, we illustrated it as a mathematical problem, namely 8-1 = 0, or Super Christian minus love = 0. Let me tell you why I decided on ‘the flawlessness of love’. So, what we have here in 1 Corinthians 13 is a Christian that from all perspectives looks like one of the best. Just think about it, he speaks in the tongues of men and of angels, excels in the greatest gift ever, which is prophecy, has all knowledge and understands all mysteries, has faith that is able to move mountains and then to crown it all, this person is so generous that he gets rid of all his possessions and systematically by himself hands it all out to the poor and then not only does he sacrifice his belongings, he gives himself up to martyrdom. What a Christian? Do we know anybody like that? Any case we all know Paul was exaggerating a bit and putting this before us as a hypothetical case. But what Paul clearly was zeroing in on, was the importance of pure love. So a Super Christian without love is nothing, is worth nothing and gains nothing.

So the question now is, what does this love look like that made this Super Christian imperfect or flawed. Let me introduce my title by way of an illustration.

Many years ago my wife and I won a diamond ring in a competition, which we decided to sell and donate the proceeds to the church’s building fund. This ring was supposed to in those years be valued around R 7800, which was a lot of money. We are talking 20 years ago. Any case, I made the journey to Johannesburg with this beautiful ring to the diamond buyers to exchange it for cash. We would sell the diamond, and replace it with a cubic zirconia, which means we would still at least have a memory of our winnings. So, off to the diamond exchange to discover with shock that the diamond was worth no more than R 900.00. But it was such a super diamond, it looked flawless, it had 58 beautiful facets to it, are we now being ripped off? So I immediately took my diamond, rejected the deal and went for a second opinion to a diamond dealer I knew in Johannesburg. I did not tell him about my previous offer, but waved my certificate stating that this diamond is worth R 7800 under his nose. He came back to me and said to me that he can only give me R 750 for the diamond, but because he knows me and because I travelled so far he would give me R 900. I was horrified and queried their knowledge of diamonds. He then took me to the back and showed me the diamond under a microscope. It was full of feather cracks on the inside of the diamond. So from a bird’s eye view it was the perfect diamond, every facet looked beautiful, but yet, based on the feather cracks the diamond was flawed.

The same with our Super Christian, eight glorious facets, we can add another 50 but if it is flawed in the area of love, it is worth nothing, and then 50 – 1 will become 0. So based on this experience, I want to talk to you over the next few weeks about the ‘Flawlessness of love’ and then we will spend another few weeks on the future of love and how it will impact Logos Community Church now and in the end. We are going to go slow, because: ‘what’s love got to do with it?’ Everything. So we do not want to rush.

So read with me.

1 Corinthians 13:1-7 (ESV) 1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.”

My prayer is that God will make us a flawless community, and we need to ask ourselves, what’s love have to do with it? And the answer is very simple: Everything!! We know it, but may it be truly evident that the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost in our love towards one another. My prayer is that Logos will become renowned in Polokwane as a church of love. It is so sad to look around us and to have to face the fact that churches are often actually renowned for their lack of love, which is demonstrated in their interpersonal relationships, how they deal with the weak, and the fallen, and the outcast, and the misfits and in general with one another. Often relationships are dictated on the basis of constitutions and the lead given by their leaders. If their leaders are hard taskmasters who are hard on people and ungracious, so the congregation becomes. It might have a Super Christian appearance, they might display piety to the hilt and seem to have all the facets of Christianity in place, but the feather cracks of love are there and it nullifies all value.

One thing that saddens me is when relationships are governed by law. I have seen this on congregational level, and I have seen this on denominational level. No matter what Scripture says, the constitution will determine how we accept one another and on what basis and terms. The constitution determines how we deal with the fallen brothers and sisters and how they are or are not restored, no matter what the Bible says. If there is a problem with the outworking thereof then we change the constitution or reinterpret it. It has to be the other way round. Jesus Christ goes so far to tell us that even the law and the prophets hang on the New Commandment which is to love God and our neighbour as we love ourselves. So even constitutions should be governed by love. Paul goes as far as to say in Romans 13:10 (ESV) 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbour; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” Love fulfils the law, and is not determined by law. We are to be the model of the fulfilled Law. We are to be the model of godliness in the world and it is our love that makes that visible. It is our love for God that drives us to honour Him. It is our love for others that drive us to honour them. So Super Christianity will only be seen when we can rid ourselves of the flaws in the Christian diamond of love.

Now, one thing that still amazes us is how many Christians model their lives after the Corinthian church, which was one of the weakest churches in that era. Now, keeping in mind the serious flaws in the diamond of the church of Corinth – if I was one of them, I would now after Paul’s comments about a Super Christian sit up and keep my ears pitched as Paul now starts expanding on what real love should look like.

Now as we turn to the characteristics of flawless love, you will notice that Paul does not define any of them as abstracts. He defines all of them as love in action. He presents them as adjectives. They are all verbs. The way we act is what defines what we are. So let’s look at them one at a time and see how we go. I want to look at them as the actual facets of a flawless diamond. So this diamond has fifteen facets, and to understand true love we must look at them one at a time.

Facet 1. Love is patient.

1 Corinthians 13:4 (ESV) 4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant”.

Paul says that love is patient,  (makrothumeo), which is made of two words ‘makro’ and ‘thumos’. We all know Makro, don’t we? Makro as an adjective simply means ‘very large in scale or capability’.  Thumos by the way is the Greek word for ‘anger’. So is Paul saying that we need to become Macro angry? Actually the word is used for the opposite. It actually means extreme patience, that maximum level you can be pushed at towards anger. It is like long suffering, allowing anger to be pushed to the highest level of one’s ability to stay away from it.  It describes the person who is extremely slow to anger, who virtually never ever gets angry no matter how people treat that person. You can keep pushing at his anger to the maximum, but you will not succeed as he is ‘makro thumos’.  It is the spirit that never explodes, the spirit that never retaliates, that never seeks vengeance and never becomes hostile. By the way, this was not a virtue in the Greek world. It is never listed anywhere in any lists among the Greeks as a highly valued virtue. It wasn’t a virtue. On the contrary, Aristotle himself defined the great Greek virtue as this, “Refusal to tolerate any insult, any injury and readiness to strike back at any hurt. That, according to Aristotle, is a virtue.”

 

Some translations actually translate the word as long tempered. The longer you temper metal and the higher the temperature, the better quality steel comes out on the other side. In the same way a patient Christian is truly a Christian who displays love in its most unflawed qualities. You can be a Super Christian, and yet are quickly angered, especially when others do not make your grade. It is hard to be patient with all, isn’t it? And yet this is what God requires of us.

 

2 Corinthians 6:4-6 (ESV) 4 but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, 5 beatings, imprisonments, riots, labours, sleepless nights, hunger; 6 by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love;” The real Super Christian is marked by love. The real Christian loves in return when hurt, when insulted, when injured and when in a position that some might deem gives him a right to revenge, he never takes it.

Look at Paul’s writing to the church in Ephesus. Ephesians 4:1-2 (ESV) 1 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,”

Then he has a word to the church in Thessalonica. 1 Thessalonians 5:14 (ESV) 14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.” So before you can say, ‘ja but people in our church are idle, fainthearted and weak, so they do not require patience’, Paul cancels that view immediately. Okay admonish them, wake them up, but be patient with them. Patience does not mean that we ignore their issues.

Patience might be uncomfortable as you are stretched to Macro Anger, but it has fruit or outcome in mind. Even God’s patience does that. Romans 2:4 (ESV) 4 Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?”

I love God’s love story with Israel. Man, they were a nation that tested God. Every time it went well, they would turn from God, turn to sin, they would serve Him with half a heart. They were in short a rebellious, disobedient, sinful and disloyal people. Just think if God was not Makrothumeo, He could have sent one simple meteor and destroyed the world. If Christ were not patient, the church would have been put out of existence and all of us who have sinned against the very Christ who loves us would be assigned to condemnation. But God is patient, Christ is patient. God bore with the sins of His people, Christ bears with the sins of His people with our foolishness and our disobedience. God is truly what we would call flawless love.

I believe that Peter got a great idea of what this means when Christ told him in Matthew 18 to forgive his brother 70 x 7. That is real patience, as there is obvious trespass on the side of his brother, but greater than the trespass is patience, which means that forgiveness has to be love driven as patience is a facet of love.

Why is patience needed? Well, very simple. Because we are all humans. Patience is needed because life is full of frustrations, hurt and injustices. Patience is needed because our fellow humans like us have many weaknesses and failures and they will irritate us and they will disappoint us. Some are slow to learn, others are resistant to change, others are weak in faith, others are quick to complain, others are hard to work with, others are forgetful of their responsibilities, others are emotionally unstable, others are simply wayward, others are unfaithful in giving and leaves giving to the few, others are slow to use their gifts. But, yet God is patient with people like that, so who am I to be an impatient person?  This does not mean that the people in the above categories are allowed to abuse our patience and wilfully continue in their ways. We will admonish them in love, and speak the truth in love.

So God is the supreme example of patience, it is demonstrated in His Son Jesus Christ. If we claim to belong to God, then we have to be patient with one another, no matter how much they deserve our lack of patience. So, let’s clothe ourselves this morning with patience. You know yourself – and God knows you.  I know that the Spirit has already been speaking to all of us, so let him who has an ear, hear what the Spirit is saying to the church.

My greatest desire was to handle ‘Love is Kind’ in the same sermon as Love is patient, but I could just not fit it in. So come back next week, and let’s continue together to deal with these facets of love, one facet at a time. I did not say one facet per week.

As we work through this series, I am continually going to challenge you to replace the adjective with your name. Can you remove the word ‘patience’ today and write in your name in its place. If you cannot, then being a Super Christian does not mean anything, and 8 – 1 remains 0.

Amen!

Logos Community Church:- 17 November 2013