Home Media Sermons by Pastor Nicki Coertze Series 7. What's love got to do with it? . No 05 The flawlessness of love (Part 2)

. No 05 The flawlessness of love (Part 2)

What’s love got to do with it?

THE FLAWLESSNESS OF LOVE (PART 2)

Last week we began to unpack this more excellent way that Paul was talking about in 1 Corinthians 12. If we do not exhibit these characteristics then being a Super Christian does not help us at all. Again I need to say that we at Logos are going to strive together to become the most loving congregation in this city, not to compete, nor to brag but for no other reason than the fact that it is of critical importance, as we have surely come to understand over the last few weeks. Let’s look at our text again.

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.”

The title of this next batch of sermons is ‘the flawlessness of love’. At the moment we are comparing the 15 adjectives shared by Paul in verse 4-7 with facets on a diamond. It does not matter how beautiful the facets are cut, if there are feather cracks in the diamond the diamond loses value. Remember I told you about a diamond which we tried to sell which according to its valuation certificate was worth R 7800.00, but the diamond buyers would only give us R 900.00 because of feather cracks in it.

The first facet we looked at is Paul’s statement that ‘love is patient’. It is ‘makrothumenos’, which is made up of ‘makro’ and ‘thumos’, ‘makro’ being large, and ‘thumos’ being angry. That does not mean that we become macro angry, rather our capacity to be made angry is increased. It is like long suffering. As reasons for anger are thrown your way, you bite the bullet, and you bite the bullet, and you don’t count to 10 but you count to a million, you do not forgive 7 times but 70 x 7. That was our first one.

Let’s turn now to our second adjective which is:

Facet 2. Love is kind.

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

Here is another glorious facet of love for the church, and I must immediately say that so many Christians are maybe one of a kind, but not kind.  While all these facets of love are useful and applicable to marriage, friendships out there and even in the workplace, the context here is the church. It is in the church where offenses happen, it is in the church where love has to reign supreme, it is in the church where we must be ‘patient’ and it is in the church where we must be ‘kind’.

So, Paul says: Love is kind  (chresteuomai). I don’t often quote Matthew Henry as I hardly ever consult his commentary, but I love the way he talks about patience and kindness. He says:Love is benign, bountiful; it is courteous and obliging. The law of kindness is in her lips; her heart is large, and her hand open. She is ready to show favours and to do good. She seeks to be useful; and not only seizes on opportunities of doing good, but searches for them. This is her general character. She is patient under injuries, and apt and inclined to do all the good offices in her power. And under these two generals (patience and kindness) all the particulars of the character may be reduced.”

Now in Matthew Henry’s summary he says that ‘she seeks to be useful’, because that is literally the route word for ‘kind’ namely ‘to be useful in behalf of someone else’. The idea behind kindness is not so much a sweet attitude or a friendly disposition. The idea rather is that even though one is injured, even though one is mistreated, even though one is hurt or harmed, patience is exhibited and on top of patience, usefulness is rendered on behalf of the offender and deeds of kindness that are useful to that person are shown to the one who has offended. Now wouldn’t that be a transformation for most churches if we behaved like that? Offenses will happen, but where its members receive those offenses with long-suffering and patience and return useful goodness and kindness you have a church that is enormously blessed.

Paul does not picture loving in ideal surroundings. He doesn’t picture love in the realm of very close and intimate and long-term friendships. He doesn’t picture love in the realm of affection, but in the hard surroundings of a sinful, selfish, colliding group of sinners in a church who have all come out of a bad world and have all had bad influences on their already depraved souls, who are by nature selfish. And even though they have a new nature and long for holy things, the old is still resident. This is the atmosphere that we’re talking about here. We’re not talking about your best friend, we’re talking about all the people, all the sinners who collide in the life of the church. We are to demonstrate to one another kindness.

Our model again is God. Peter says in 1 Peter 2:3 (ESV) 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.” Do you think the Lord is pretty good at returning goodness for evil? Has there been any point in our salvation since we came to Christ that we have earned His favour? Isn’t it a constant forgiveness? Isn’t every good gift that He gives to us a gift of grace? Is any of it merited? Do we deserve anything? Not now, not ever. That is why in Ephesians we must always remember that we have been given something that we will never ever deserve. The Apostle Paul puts it this way: Ephesians 2:6-7 (ESV) 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” Even heaven’s kindnesses will be by grace. We will not have earned them.

We need to model ourselves after the loving kindness of God.  When Paul wanted to instruct the Ephesians about that, he said Ephesians 4:32 (ESV) 32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

The model of kindness again is God and God’s forgiveness and God’s outpoured grace to undeserving sinners. It is so sad to see churches flounder in division and discord and animosity when they have received a totally different example from God Himself.

Can I ask you this morning? When it comes to kindness, can you put your name in the place of love? Can you say your name, and that you are kind?

What’s love got to do with it? Everything.

Facet 3. Love does not envy.

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

This is the first of eight negatives. The Greek word here is  (zeloo) which meansto be jealous’. Now something interesting that I have not pointed out earlier, as it would have had little meaning then is that the same word appears in 1 Corinthians 12:31 (ESV) 31 But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.” Take a guess what the Greek word is for ‘desire’? It is exactly the same word as we have here namely  (zeloo). There is an English word that we have derived from this which is the word ‘zeal’. So sadly the Corinthian church was in jealousy over spiritual gifts, they had a selfish passion, they were jealous about the gifts others had and were filled with a zeal to get that. They had this kind of an inferiority complex as they looked at the gifts of others. We see this in 1 Corinthians 12:15 (ESV) 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body.” We see this exact same thing in churches today.

They were fighting over which were the more or less honourable functions in the church, they were jealous for the showy gifts, and eventually Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12:25 (ESV) “25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.” This was a church that had their focus all wrong. They were messed up as far as the gifts were concerned, but remember right in the early chapters they were already torn by carnality over Apollos, Peter, Paul and Jesus.

Jealousy in the body of Christ is such an ugly thing. I remember in a previous church we appointed some deacons and deaconesses. I remember one lady that was standing for election but did not make it. You should have seen that green eyed monster come to the fore. She acted all spiritual, but when she did not make it, the flaws in her diamond of love needed no microscope to reveal it, it was blatantly there. I will not even venture to use the language that she used for the two ladies that were chosen by the democratic vote of the church. But let me tell you, even though her foul language was used with reference to them, it actually told us more about her. Within weeks she and her husband resigned and they ran off to another church.

Solomon in all his wisdom had the following to say about jealousy or envy. Proverbs 14:30 (ESV) 30 A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.”

If you truly love, then you are not jealous or envious about the gifts of others, or any other grace that they might be experiencing at the hand of God. Jealousy and envy is actually self-worship. I remember as a kid a blow-out we had at a church. My dad was pastor of the congregation. He earned a pathetic salary. But he earned more than this one guy in the church, and my, did he fight my father? His view was that he worked harder than my father and that he should therefore earn more. Well, he was not going to earn more at the business he worked for, so therefore my dad had to earn less. All it was, was jealousy driven by flawed love.  I have seen this in the pastorate. We often talk about pastoral jealousy. There are guys out there that cry when you are rejoicing and they rejoice when you are crying. They just cannot stand it that God, by His grace is blessing someone else more than them.  But did you know that pastoral jealousy is nothing new. Look in your Bibles at Philippians 1:15-16 (ESV) 15 Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. 16 The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defence of the gospel.”

Let me explain the context. Paul is in prison, out of the mainline ministry, and some rejoice in his position and say something like, ‘ja – he deserved it, but we will step up to the plate, we will take over, we will show Paul how ministry should really work. So, step aside Paul, we will take over’.

But their motive is nothing but jealousy, envy and rivalry. They could just not stand it that God was using Paul in such a tremendous way. The sad fact is that most of these who were serving out of envy or jealousy were actually Paul’s spiritual children. They were beneficiaries of Paul’s hard work and sacrifice in the ministry and yet they turned against their very spiritual father. It is so sad, isn’t it? How in the world could they be so jealous of this faithful man of God, so greatly gifted, so greatly blessed and yet who suffered to greatly? How could they possibly spread terrible rumours about him, adding pain to his already severe suffering? But they are always there, and we see it even today.

Even in our day there are many pastors like that. They are filled with professional jealousy. They find those who are blessed by God and try to take them down, they slander them and they question the reason for their blessing. I have been on the receiving end of it. Just a few weeks ago there was a pastor who shared in his cell group blatant lies about me, simply trying to discredit me more and more amongst his people. What he was trying to achieve, who knows?

But praise God, not all preachers are like that.  Paul says some do it out of love, and love is what makes the real blessing. There are others who step into the gap and who serve out of love. However, Paul’s view on his circumstances is quite clear. No matter what is going on out there, he sees his journey to prison for the defence of the gospel. Paul’s view is that God has opened doors for him to share the gospel there in prison to people that he otherwise would never have reached. So, some are driven by jealousy and others by love.

Church family, listen to me today, love looks at people’s gifts and graces completely differently. When love sees someone who is popular, effective, fruitful, gifted, prosperous, loved, adored, appreciated and abundantly blessed, love is glad and it rejoices with that person. When I see somebody else being blessed in their ministry, I must rejoice.

Jealousy hates the fact that that person is so gifted and so well received, and wants what that person has and then wants that person not to have it. And so, jealousy burns in the heart and leads to nit-picking criticism where behind the scenes the jealous person has to tear down the beloved and fruitful and faithful person through the meanness of their own soul. You really can’t sink lower than that.

Praise God, there is always some light in the situation. I love what Paul says here in Philippians 1. He basically looks at the situation, he looks at those who are simply ministering where they are out of rivalry, envy and jealousy, but look what Paul says in Philippians 1:18 (ESV) 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretence or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice,” I love this. These guys could not destroy Paul. All that will happen is that their jealousy will destroy them, but at least in the meantime Christ is proclaimed.

Christian, I hope you are learning this morning. Jealousy is a terrible thing. It is out of jealousy that Eve wanted to be like God, it was out of jealousy that Cain killed Abel, it was out of jealousy that Joseph’s brother sold him and it was out of jealousy that the prodigal son’s brother could not welcome his brother home with joy. Listen what Solomon says in Proverbs 27:4 (ESV) 4 Wrath is cruel, anger is overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?

Do you know what jealous people do? They always lie about the other person. Let me explain. If the person was simply bad, they would not have to lie, and they would not have to slander as the person will cause his own downfall. But when you are jealous about somebody, it actually means they are what you are not, and possibly have what you want, so therefore, to bring them down in the estimation of others. But, to cause their downfall, you must lie. Listen what James says: James 3:14 (ESV) 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth.

Envy produces bitterness. Bitterness produces hatred. Hatred produces lies. Lies produce strife and chaos and all of this undermines the real work of God.

A loving person, on the other hand, rejoices in everybody else’s success, rejoices in everybody else’s giftedness, and celebrates when others do the same thing he does better. That’s a test, isn’t it?

How well are you doing in this test?

There’s only one thing that can save you from envy and that’s love. Only one thing can save you from jealousy and that’s love. Only one thing can save you from being unkind and impatient and that’s love. Can you say this morning, instead of ‘love does not envy, or love is not jealous’ that ‘I – my name, is not jealous’.

What’s love got to do with it? Everything.

Amen!

Logos Community Church: 24 November 2013