Home Media Sermons by Pastor Nicki Coertze Series 7. What's love got to do with it? . No 06 The flawlessness of love (Part 3)

. No 06 The flawlessness of love (Part 3)

WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT?

THE FLAWLESSNESS OF LOVE (PART 3)

Introduction.

A few weeks ago we started this series on love, and came to realise that love is not just an important aspect of Christianity, but Christianity without love is a contradiction in terms. Christ made no mistake when He said that the world will know that we are Christians based on the love we have one for another. We then turned our attention to 1 Corinthians where Paul looks at a divided church, whose behaviour at times was worse than the behaviour of the pagans. They even go as far as to be envious or jealous for the more showy gifts. However Paul says that he will show them something more excellent than the showy gifts, he will show them a more excellent way which is the way of love. Love is so critical that it supersedes anything else that could characterise a Christian. A person can be a Super Christian who speaks in the tongues of men and of angels, who prophecies, understands all mysteries and has all knowledge, who has faith to move mountains, who gives away everything he owns to feed the poor, and even sacrifices his body to martyrdom, but if he has no love, being a Super Christian means nothing and the person is nothing. All 8 characteristics of a Super Christian minus 1 equals naught.

The question now is, what does this love look like? So two weeks ago we started unpacking the 15 characteristics of love as mentioned by Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. I decided to compare them with the facets of a flawless diamond, because a diamond like a Super Christian can look great on the outside, but if it has even a few little feather cracks on the inside, it is greatly devalued.

Let’s look together again at: 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (ESV) 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, endures all things.”

The first facet of love we looked at was ‘patience’. We saw that  makrothumeou means that we have a large capacity for anger. We are able to sustain Macro Anger. When Macro Anger has reached its fill, then instead of hitting out we then demonstrate that ‘love is kind’.  So instead of repaying evil with evil, we demonstrate a capacity to macro anger and we repay evil with loving kindness. Then we saw in the third place that love is not ‘envious’ or jealous. Unlike the Corinthians who were jealous of each other’s gifts, we learn to focus our zeal on the Lord and not on what others have. Envy normally wants what the other person has and then it wants the other person not to have it. It is an abomination in God’s eyes. Love in contrast rejoices when others seem to be more blessed than I. It desires good for others, and it is happy to be the foot when another is the hand, and the other is the eye in the body. Love realises that the Holy Spirit gives and imparts gifts and blessings and graces according to God’s wisdom, and not according to our desires.

Let’s march on then to the next facet of this love diamond.

Facet four. Love does not boast.

4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast;…”

Maybe the simplest way to say this is that ‘love does not brag’.

There is a very simple scenario here. Do we realise just how close envy and bragging or boasting is to selfish ambition. It is another form of self-exaltation and self-worship. If I am jealous about what somebody else has, and I want to have what they have it very simply is so that I can look good and they not. The final outworking is nothing but bragging. And then the downside of this all is that if I am a braggart, my real motive is to drive somebody else to envy. Oh if only they could be like me, or have what I’ve got. This becomes a vicious circle.

 

The Greek word for ‘boasting’ in the text here is  (perpereuomai) which actually means – to be a ‘windbag’. It is like somebody blowing a vuvuzela. They all make an equal noise but the size of the guy behind the pipe can be totally in different proportions. It is actions and noise which is not backed up by character. It reminds me of what a dear lady said to me one day: ‘Nicki, it is not the car that counts, but the quality of the man behind the steering’.  That’s why I always say to young girls, ‘don’t be fooled by the car or the fat wallet, it can still belong to a pig’.

 

A braggart is somebody who is filled with baseless chatter that elevates oneself and depresses and belittles others. A person such as this is the one who always calculates everything to make himself look good and you look bad.  This is simply a loveless person. Let me give you an example given to us by Jesus Christ. Luke 18:9-14 (ESV) 9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Man, these Pharisees knew how to boast, it is all about I, I, I, I... Boastful people want to be seen, right?  Look at these Pharisees and how they operated:

Matthew 6:1-2 (ESV) 1 “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. 2 “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.”

Matthew 6:5 (ESV) 5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.”

Matthew 6:16 (ESV) 16 “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.”

I love what Solomon said in Proverbs 27:2 (ESV) 2 Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.”

The Corinthian church and many believers today, were no different than the Pharisees.

Remember the statements right in the beginning of the letter:  “I am from Paul, I am from Cephas”. Bragging, right? They bragged about their spiritual gifts. I speak in tongues, you don’t, so this body does not need you. If you simply desire certain gifts to brag, do you think the Holy Spirit should bless you with it? Well, some might say that they do not go after the showy gifts, but sadly many in the body, when they are asked to do lowly stuff, rebel against it. Why? Because it does not make me look good.

 

Do you want to see how depraved the bragging of the church of Corinth became? Let me mention it now, but we will get back to it under the next point. They had this bad guy in their midst who was having sexual relations with his own mother. 1 Corinthians 5:1-2 (ESV) 1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. 2 And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.” The Greek word for ‘arrogant’ here is (phusioo) which means to puff up or to blow up. That is why the NIV used the word ‘proud’ and the KJV the word ‘puffed up’. It all comes back to bragging instead of mourning. There are just far too many ‘blowhards’ in the church, who simply want to be seen and heard. It is all about me!

C.S. Lewis said that boasting is “the greatest sin, the essential vice behind all sins, self-centeredness, the voice of conceit and conceit is the child of pride.”

The Corinthian church even exhibited their boasting spirit in their judgement of others, always comparing themselves. We studied it in our series ‘who are you to judge?’ Look what Paul says to them in this regard. 1 Corinthians 4:6-7 (ESV) 6 I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another. 7 For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?Christian the message is clear. If you have anything that makes you look better or act better than anybody else, thank God for His grace, because whatever you have in any case came from Him. No matter what it is, it is a grace, and you have no reason to compare yourself.

Only love can save us from flaunting ourselves, flaunting our knowledge, flaunting our accomplishments, flaunting our ability and flaunting our gifts. Only love will lift up others even at the expense of myself. Loving people are not self-absorbed braggarts. Loving people promote and praise others, because this is part of the more excellent way.

Can you say this morning that you are not boastful or a braggart? Can you write your name in the place of the word ‘love’ and say ‘…..….. does not boast’.

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

Facet 5. Love is not arrogant.

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

I have already given you the Greek word for arrogant from 1 Corinthians 5. It simply is so close to our bragger who blows his own trumpet as the root word is to blow or to blow up or to be puffed up.

An arrogant person is simply somebody who convinces himself that he is better than others and more important than others and he makes sure that all those around him know it. At times an arrogant person attracts those who want to be close to him or her, for other reasons than their arrogance, like wealth or popularity. But most of the time an arrogant person will drive others away. It is contrary to love as it focusses on self, while love focusses on others.

Again, the Corinthians church were arrogant on all kinds of levels and even as far as their gifts were concerned. And as we saw under the previous heading from 1 Corinthians 5 they were arrogant even as far as sin in their midst was concerned.

The opposite of arrogance is obviously ‘humility’. But let me remind you that ‘humility is so small a grace, that as soon as you think you have it, you have lost it.’

Let me give you an example of humility.  Most of you know of William Carey who was a missionary to India. Now if you think he had no room for arrogance, guess how many languages he translated the Bible into? He translated the whole Bible into 6 languages and parts of the Bible into 29 other languages. Interestingly though, he began his working career as a cobbler. One day he was invited to a dinner party and somebody there was snobbish enough to want to humiliate him. And he said, “Mr. Carey, I hear that you worked as a shoemaker.” Listen to his reply. “Oh no, sir, I was never a shoemaker, I was only a cobbler. I didn’t make them, I just repaired them.”

There was no arrogance, just humility on the part of William Carey. But, arrogant people are in the church. John tells us of such a man in 3 John 9 (ESV) 9 I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority.”

Love, on the other hand thinks modestly and humbly about self and others. Listen to Paul’s instructions in Romans 12:3 (ESV) 3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.”

Love by the way according to Acts 20:19 clothes itself with humility.  Humility is the mindset of a servant, humility is teachable, humility is open to constructive criticism, humility corrects wrong deeds, humility can work with others, humility is willing to do the meager jobs, humility always considers the plight, the feelings and the needs of others, humility stoops down to help others deal with their sins – instead of condemning them, humility is less prone to anger, and humility is quick to reconcile differences. Arrogance does none of the above. It is always self-seeking and self-parading.

Arrogance is so unlike our Lord who washed feet, and so much like the Pharisees who blew their own trumpets.

May we be like our Saviour who according to Matthew 11:29 (ESV) was gentle and lowly in heart.  Look at verse 29:  29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

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

Can you replace the word ‘love’ this morning and state categorically that you are not arrogant.

Amen!

Logos Community Church:  1 December 2013