Home Media Sermons by Pastor Nicki Coertze Series 7. What's love got to do with it? . No 07 The flawlessness of love (Part 4)

. No 07 The flawlessness of love (Part 4)

WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT?

THE FLAWLESSNESS OF LOVE (PART 4)

Many 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 went 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 create a mathematical problem as 8 minus 1 equals naught. A Super Christian without love means nothing.

The question now is, what does this love look like? Three sermons in this series 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.

We spent our time together and will continue today with: 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.”

So far we looked at:

Facet 1. Love is patient. You will remember  makrothumeou which means that we have a large capacity to handle issues before we become angry.

Facet 2. Love is kind. Instead of anger as per facet 1, we pour kindness onto people including our enemies.

Facet 3. Love does not envy. We do not desire to have what our neighbour has at the cost of them not having it.

Facet 4. Love does not boast. When you love you are not a windbag, full of hot air about yourself. A boaster or braggart is somebody who is filled with baseless chatter that elevates oneself and depresses and belittles others. Then the last one we saw so far was:

Facet 5. Love is not arrogant. This is similar to boasting. It is somebody who blows his own trumpet. It is somebody who believes he is more important than others and he makes sure everybody knows it. Sadly he is all show and sounds like nothing but a vuvuzela.

Okay, that should suffice for a recap, so that we can now get on with the series after this long Christmas Holiday break.

So the next one we need to look at then is:

Facet 6. Love is not rude.

4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude.

Some translations say that love is not unbecoming. A simple using of a thesaurus for synonyms brings up words like impolite, bad mannered, uncouth, offensive and vulgar.  The Greek word is  aschemoneo {as-kay-mon-eh'-o} which is to act disgracefully, unseeingly or unbecomingly. If you look at the root verb for vschmone,w aschemoneo it means to be shapeless or without form. To put it in computer language. It is to act outside the limitations what you were formatted for. You cannot load Microsoft software on a computer that is formatted for the Apple operating system and vice versa. Rudeness does not work well with a person that is formatted after the image of Christ.

 

Alexander Strauch says that being rude is “to act disgracefully, contrary to established standards of proper conduct and decency. Thus inappropriate dress, inconsiderate talk, disregard for other people’s time or moral conscience, taking advantage of people, tactlessness, ignoring the contributions and ideas of others, running roughshod over other’s plans and interests, inappropriate behaviour with the opposite sex, basic discourtesy and rudeness, and a general disregard for proper social conduct are all evidence of a lack of love and have no place in the local church.”

 

It is behaviour that is beyond the rules of normality. It is a disdain towards others, or simply being ill mannered. The very same word is used in the context of homosexuality in Romans 1:27. It is behaviour that is in contrast to our formatting, that which we were made for. According to the Word of God it is shameless acts as it is acts beyond what they are made for.  Romans 1:27 (ESV) 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.” Acts with women would be the opposite namely  euschemonos {yoo-skhay-mon'-ose} because that is the shape, form or format according to which we have been created.

Sadly the Corinthian church knew much about people being out of order, at times worse than the behaviour or rudeness of the pagans. You see this rudeness around the communion table as some commit gluttony and others get drunk while some get nothing to eat or drink. Some were out of order and rude in their morality as we saw in the example of the young man that had sex with his own Father’s wife, which was possibly his step-mother. This rudeness was even seen in their worship services. They all spoke in tongues and Paul says to them in verse 23 that their behaviour is so unbecoming that according to 1 Corinthians 14:23 (ESV) 23 If, therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your minds?” It is rudeness to try and top the other believers with ecstatic gifts or to try and outdo everybody else. Why is this an issue to Paul? It is because it goes against the formatting of the church. The church is not programmed for that kind of behaviour. How do we know that? 1 Corinthians 14:33 (ESV) 33 For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. As in all the churches of the saints,…” There is order in the body of Christ and love will honour that order.

The behaviour that God demands in the church is what we see in 1 Corinthians 14:40 (ESV) 40 But all things should be done decently and in order.” The Greek word for ‘decently’ here is  euschemonos {yoo-skhay-mon'-ose} which means to behave seemingly or decently or according to your shape or format.  It is the opposite of rudeness, right?

 

Let me explain all of this in a language we can understand. You do not put a 'square peg in a round hole'. It has not been shaped for it. A rude Christian is a square peg in a round hole. Christ in His love shapes you to fit in the round hole by his grace.

For love the only thought is what is fitting, what is suitable, what is honourable, what is elevating, never demands satisfaction for self, is never rude or corrupt at the expense of others.

So love does not act rudely.

Loving people will always ask how their behaviour affects others. I want to challenge us at Logos here to always consider one another in our behaviour. Even if I ache to behave in a certain way, and even if it could be deemed okay. If it is going to affect others negatively I do not do that. I remember attending an evening service in one of the suburbs of Johannesburg a few years ago. Young people were sitting eating Mac Donald’s while the pastor was preaching, they were sitting on their cell phones on the social networks and they would even turn their back on the pastor while he was preaching and would be talking to one another. I spoke to him afterwards and he had no problem with this behaviour. He simply defended it as the behaviour of post-modern youth.  I believe that kind of behaviour is rude and they need to be taught to consider others.

You could sum it up by saying, “Love yields all personal rights.”

So, love is patient and kind and not jealous, and not bragging, and not arrogant, and it is never rude. If we behave it love it makes for a glorious picture but to act contrary to love simply does not reflect well on us and primarily on the glory of God.

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

Facet 7. Love is not self-seeking.

1 Corinthians 13:5 (ESV) 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; …”

Self-centeredness or self-seeking is a vice that is so incompatible with Christian love and conduct, as we learn the total opposite behaviour from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. If Jesus sought His own advantage, we would have no cross. True love is always unselfish. Selfishness lies at the root of lovelessness. Love is utter selflessness. One of the most beautiful characteristics in people is an indifference to self.

Sadly, we live in a world where people are so consumed with self. If scientists were ever discover the centre of the universe a lot of people will be disappointed to find out that they are not it. We have a ‘me-first’ and a ‘me only’ society. That guy who cannot wait for you at the light when you have the right of way, or who overtakes you on a solid line in the mountain pass because you are going too slow for his liking is consumed with self. That person who presses in front of you in the queue or who overfills his plate at the cost of everyone else when snacks are on offer, is consumed with self.  That person who always complains because others are not caring sufficiently for them and their needs, who is always disgruntled because you have more than them is consumed with self.

Self-seeking is absolutely the opposite of what the body of Christ is all about. I remember growing up in a context where we had all these church meetings, or let’s call them organised fights. The thing you feared most in those meetings is the military point, the call to war called ‘general’. This was the moment that anybody could bring up anything. And this was the moment the self-seekers had a ball. Here were the typical issues. Services too long, or too short, sermons too deep or too shallow, pastor too young or too old, sermons too long or too short, not enough hymns, not enough choruses, organ too loud, organ too soft, too much vibration on the organ, seats too hard, temperature too warm, don’t like colour of foyer, don’t like large communion cup, don’t like small communion glasses. Everybody had an issue and everybody wanted it their way. The meeting floor was filled with words like ‘I want’, ‘I demand’, ‘I like”, ‘I don’t like’ and so we can go on ‘and if you do not do it my way, I will stop giving or I will leave’ or simply be unfaithful. It was all about self, and so little was about others and even less about Christ.

What should the standard of the church be? Paul is clear in 1 Corinthians 14:12 (ESV) 12 So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church.” Paul basically says, that if you really desire to exhibit a Spirit filled life, then you will be a person who seeks to edify the church, to build up the church, to build up the glory of God and not to build up self.

Self-elevation is the opposite of love. Love is unselfish, never demands precedence, never demands recognition, never demands applause, doesn’t demand consideration, and doesn’t care whether it’s honoured or whether it’s elevated. Love is deep, never dwells on what life owes it. It is selfless.

Selflessness is such a beautiful thing. It is the way of the humble. It is the way of those who want to be Christ like.  Paul reminds us in Galatians 6:2 (ESV) 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” We saw this earlier, but what is the Law of Christ? It is the law of love. How do we love? By bearing one another’s burdens. Church family, this is what we saw in the life of Christ. Mark 10:45 (ESV) 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” So why should we be different. Look at what Paul says about Christ in Romans 15:3 (ESV) 3 For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.”

All the way through His life He said, “I do what the Father tells Me to do. I don’t do My own will, I do what the Father wills for Me to do.” And there in the Garden He says, “Not My will, but yours be done.” Love always and only thinks of others. It is consumed with others and utterly indifferent to its own self.

Sadly I have so often seen this self-seeking and self-satisfying attitude even in the ministry. Many a youth pastor or associate pastor will exhibit a lack of commitment and care for the work of God as long as they are not the pastor or the senior pastor of the church. Up till that point they will work half-heartedly with a kind of fear that somebody else might get some glory on the back of their labour. However when they take their own church, suddenly their level of commitment and responsible labour changes, and they even now for the first time expect everybody else’s commitment to change as the ministry for them is self-seeking, self-gratification, personal glory and personal reward. This kind of attitude is sadly rife in the ministry.

Maybe one of the best examples in Scripture about a preacher who was not self-seeking is John the Baptist. Just think about it. The crowds come from all over the show to the Jordan to hear him and to be baptised by him. And what does he do? Christ comes walking along and he says to his own disciples in John 1:36 (ESV) 36 “Behold, the Lamb of God!” What a way to keep disciples for yourself. Because look what happened in verse 37:37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus.” In John 3, his disciples are concerned because all the people are going after Jesus instead of after John, and they come to John telling him that. But that did not fluster John. Look at his response. John 3:27-30 (ESV) 27 John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. 28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ 29 The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.” Remember there was a time when people even asked John if he was the Christ, or the expected prophet or Elijah and what did he say: “I am a voice, crying in the dessert, nothing more and nothing less.”

So, love is not self-seeking, rather it is self-giving. Let’s not be fooled about who we are, as we cannot receive anything unless it is given from our father in heaven.

I believe the best place to end this point and this sermon for today is with the words of Paul in Philippians 2:1-5 (ESV) 1 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,”

Some translations translate Philippians 2:5 (NIV) 5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.”

Christ was never rude and never self-seeking. Oh how I pray that we will be more and more like Jesus.

So, what’s love got to do with it? Everything!

Amen!

Logos Community Church: 26 January 2013