Home Media Sermons by Pastor Nicki Coertze Series 7. What's love got to do with it? . No 09 The flawlessness of love (Part 6)

. No 09 The flawlessness of love (Part 6)

What’s love got to do with it?

The flawlessness of love (Part 6)

 

Today we continue with sermon number 9 in this critical sermon series: ’what’s love got to do with it”. We have already concluded that love has everything to do with Christianity as love is not just an important part of Christianity, but love is what Christianity is all about because God is love and God demonstrated His love by sending His Son to die for us. It is so important that John the beloved disciple of Jesus could say on this topic in 1 John 2:10 (ESV)10 Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling.” He actually turns up the temperature on the issue in 1 John 3:10 (ESV) “10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.”

So according to John Christians who do not practice righteousness and who do not love their brothers are actually not worthy of the title Christian. If you read John, you actually have to conclude that they are not Christians at all. This is serious. Sadly the church of Corinth failed in this area. They were not exactly the model church to follow, but we do learn a lot from their behaviour. Let me remind you again that our text for the sermon stands against the backdrop of a very unloving congregation, the Corinthian Church. As I said last week, there were all kinds of spiritual character deformities in this congregation. They were born into the Kingdom of God, but sadly they had spiritual genetic defects from their old nature that remained. And if anything marked this church, it was strife and chaos and conflict and harming one another instead of building one another up. Paul says that at times they behaved worse than the pagans. The Apostle Paul says that it is now time to stop the childishness and pettiness and to replace all of that with love. They needed to learn the more excellent way. And so he begins to define for them what love does not look like, what love does look like and how love behaves.

Love has its origin in God and love has it’s fullness in God and love has its final fulfilment in God when He will glorify us as sons in his presence. We have been taught by God how to love according to 1 Thessalonians 4:9 and His love has been put in us by the Holy Spirit according to Romans 5:5. It is so part of our spiritual DNA that John sees a Christian that does not love as an oxymoron. I was going to be sarcastic and say a Christian who does not love is just a moron, but we will leave it there, as we are all so easily guilty of it, right?

So in 1 Corinthians 13 Paul says that you can be a super Christian, but a Super Christian without love is nothing, gains nothing and contributes nothing because a Super Christian without love is a zero on a contract, worth zippo. You can have all 8 characteristics of a Super Christian but in spiritual terms 8 – 1 = 0. You can speak in tongues of men and angels, you can prophecy, understand all mysteries, have all knowledge, you can have the greatest and grandest faith, give all you have to the poor, offer yourself up to martyrdom etc., but if you have no love it means nothing, you are nothing, you gain nothing, you are just a noise (vuvuzela).

So to understand love and just how critical it is we have been spending the last 5 weeks to understand the flawlessness of love. What does love look like? We have compared it with the facets of a diamond. These facets are seen in 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 concluded that:

Facet 1. Love is patient.

Facet 2. Love is kind.

Facet 3. Love does not envy.

Facet 4. Love does not boast.

Facet 5. Love is not arrogant.

Facet 6. Love is not rude.

Facet 7. Love is not self-seeking.

 

And then last week we added that.

 

Facet 8. Love is not irritable.

And then our last one from last week: Facet 9. Love is not resentful or as some translations put it, love does not keep record of wrong. Love never does that. Love never makes memories out of wrong. It never rehearses and rehearses and rehearses the wrongs done against you until they’re so embedded that you can’t live your life freely. Love is unable to do this.

 

Now today I want to give you the last negative aspect or facet of love as given by Paul. The other 5 thereafter are all positives.

 

Facet 10. Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing.

 

“6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.”

Some translations say that love does not rejoice in unrighteousness or iniquity. This is sadly one of the charter traits of too many Christians, which is to rejoice when another Christian does wrong, fails or commits an error or sins. And if you do not believe me that people do that, simply lend your ear out to the sin of slander and you will know the extent to which this is true.

So, rejoicing in wrongdoing or the failures or sins of others is part of the human nature. We live in a culture that is fed with spicy, scandalous, sensational material about other people’s wretchedness, isn’t it? And in a bizarre kind of way, we like that stuff because it makes us feel good about ourselves because we’re not extreme perverts and mass murderers and sexual offenders as they are. We love to gossip about other people who in our minds are worse than we are. And so we find some kind of bizarre satisfaction in the iniquities of other people because it makes us feel better about ourselves. We can always find people whose sins are different than ours. That’s part of being human and it sadly comes into the life of the church.

The sad reality is that this rejoicing in the wrongdoing of others is normally backed up by slander. Those who rejoice in the wrongdoing of others normally want others to share in that joy. And what’s behind slander? We saw this in our series ‘The sin of slander’. What is behind slander is nothing but the breaking down of another for the benefit of self-promotion. And because we are so prone to promote ourselves at the cost of others, we cannot wait for them to commit an error because then I can promote myself again. Oh, how we relish the fall of others.

And by the way this happens in the ministry as well. We have a few pastors here at Logos who can testify with me on this issue. I have seen this time and again. The Bible says we must rejoice when others are rejoicing and weep when others are weeping. But what I see in the ministry is so many pastors who weep when others are rejoicing and they rejoice when others are weeping. Some pastors just hate it when God by His grace seems to be blessing another pastor more than what they are blessed, and they actually seem to be praying that the person will fail, as it will somehow make them look good. That is just not love. But pastors are above the demands of Scripture, right? They seem to forget what most Christians seem to forget and that is what James says in: James 3:2 (ESV) 2 For we all stumble in many ways…” We must also never forget Paul’s word in 1 Corinthians 10:12 (ESV) “12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.”

Let me show you how serious it is to rejoice in the wrongdoing or sins of others. Does sin not offend God? Sure it does. Now do you realise that if you rejoice in the wrongdoing of another you actually rejoice in the fact that a fellow Christian would do something that offends God. What you rejoice in is a very fair indication of your character.  A loving Christian must never rejoice in evil of any kind. Love cannot find distorted pleasure in injustice or unrighteousness because all such behaviour hurts people and dishonours God. We must love what God loves and hate what God hates.

Let, me tell you without a shadow of doubt that the only one who should ever rejoice in the wrongdoing of another is Satan himself. The problem actually goes deeper. When we rejoice in the wrongdoing of another, we normally speak about it. That is what slander is all about. Now the same James who says that we all stumble in many ways continues in verse 2: 2 For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.” So, if we all stumble in what we say, how does it make us better than a man or woman who stumbled in another way? And before we think that stumbling in what we say is not bad, can I remind us of the analogies James uses for the tongue. Look at verse 3-11: 3 If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. 4 Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. 5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. 7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water?”

Christians we need to get control over our tongues in general and we need to get control over our tongues when somebody else falls into evil or wrongdoing of a kind.

How do you do that? Love does that. Love controls your tongue. Love prevents you from a scandalous way of gloating over the iniquities of other people because you don’t like them anyway, because they did something to you, or because it makes you feel more virtuous because you have sins that fit into a different category all together. Love doesn’t do that, it never rejoices in iniquity. Love finds no satisfaction in passing on somebody else’s iniquities, rehearsing somebody else’s iniquities, parading somebody else’s iniquities to further offend God. Because when we are guilty of the sin of slander we offend God as well.

I like what W.G. Scroggie says. He says that: “to be glad when evil prevails, or to rejoice in the misfortunes of others is indicative of great moral degradation”.

I think we get the point. People who practice the more excellent way of love abhor what is evil and holds on to what is good. Paul actually says this in Romans 12:9 (ESV) 9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.”

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

Facet 11. Love rejoices with the truth.

“6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.”

Rejoicing with the truth is the positive counterpart of rejoicing with evil. If only the church of Christ will put their focus there, how much a nicer place will the church be? So much of Christianity is sadly built around slander based on wrongdoing, but we fear uplifting one another in conversation as it would somehow make me look bad and they look good. So for me to look good I will rather speak about the flaws of others instead of exalting their good points and their commitment to truth.

Love does not rejoice in the lie or in evil but in truth.

In the context of what Paul is dealing with here I believe he is using the word ‘truth’ in the sense of righteous behaviour that corresponds with the truth of God’s word. Why do I say so? For two reasons, firstly because he uses the word ‘but’ which contrasts truth with wrong doing, and secondly because Paul uses phrases elsewhere that illustrates this kind of behaviour associated with love. So Paul says, learn to focus on the truth issues rather than on wrongdoing. Build up, don’t break down.

We see it in Philemon, where Paul has a request for Philemon, or let’s call it a favour to ask from Philemon with regards to his slave Onesimus that was led to the Lord by Paul while in prison. In Philemon 4 -7 (ESV) Paul talks about this great love that Philemon exhibits in the body of Christ.  He says: 4 I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, 5 because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, 6 and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ. 7 For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.” So Philemon had this kind of deep seated Christian love that was refreshing. This love was so deep that Paul later says in verse 8-10: “8 Accordingly, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is required, 9 yet for love’s sake I prefer to appeal to you—I, Paul, an old man and now a prisoner also for Christ Jesus— 10 I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment.” Philemon could so easily have rejoiced in evil. Yihaa, Onesimus committed some crime, so he is in prison and he got what he deserved. Let me write him off and tell the world about it. It was so easy to rejoice in wrongdoing in this context right, yet Paul depends on his love, and love will do what is right based on the truth of what happened to Onesimus in prison. Paul was so confident that Philemon would act in love that he says in verse 21: 21 Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say.Wow, church family that is what love does. It does not rejoice in wrongdoing, it rejoices in truth and it goes out of its way to act accordingly.

Paul simply does not see ‘truth’ in the abstract, but he sees truth and righteousness welded together and where that is welded together love reigns supreme. Love applauds all virtue and goodness. Like with Philemon, Christians who are full of love rejoice in anything that aligns itself with God, His word, His gospel and that which fits the definitions of a true Christian character.

Let me give you another example.  This time it is John who rejoices in this kind of love behaviour which was evident in the life of a man called Gaius. We see it in 3 John 3-6 (ESV) “3For I rejoiced greatly when the brothers came and testified to your truth, as indeed you are walking in the truth. 4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. 5 Beloved, it is a faithful thing you do in all your efforts for these brothers, strangers as they are, 6 who testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God.” Wow, what a nice guy to have in membership. Tell me, when the church body thinks of you, do they think of you as a person who rejoices in the wrongdoing of others, or do they see you as a person who celebrates truth?

We see this same idea in 2 John 4 (ESV) 4 I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we were commanded by the Father.” So, even though we have Paul expressing the deal about rejoicing in truth in 1 Corinthians 13, it seems like John has the idea worked out to a T.

So true love, loves truth, it rejoices in truth, it will always speak the truth, it will celebrate the truthfulness, the honesty and the integrity of others. Does this refer to doctrinal truth as well? Sure. Biblical truth? Contents? Of course, we need to know it, love it and live it. That is what Gaius did, and it was seen in his caring for brothers and for strangers.

So, loving people always rejoice in the truth, they speak the truth, and they celebrate the fact that others are living according to the truth. The more excellent way is to rejoice in truth and not in wrongdoing. Judge yourself this morning and ask yourself: “how does the body of Christ know me, as one who always speaks bad about others and rejoices in their wrongdoing, or as one who rejoices in truth?” Your answer to this question will tell you whether you are a pleasant person or not.

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

Amen!

Logos Community Church: 09 February 2013.