Saturday, July 11, 2009

Lessons from 1 Corinthians: Part 4 (The End)

(Part 1 - Introduction)
(Part 2 - Characteristics 1 - 5)
(Part 3 - Characteristics 6 - 9)

We’ve been examining the characteristics of love as laid out for us in the first eight verses of 1 Corinthians 13. In the last few posts on this chapter we looked at the first nine characteristics. In this post we will conclude this series by examining the last 5 characteristics of love from this chapter.

10. Love bears all things
This is the second time that this concept is mentioned in this passage. The first time in vs. 4. The thought is the same - love provides a covering. No manner of evil - no amount of evil - should deter us from loving God and man. I think this is a difficult concept to catch hold of.

11. Love believes all things
This doesn't speak to being gullible; however, we are to “unsuspiciously” believe the best about people. Some people are always ready for somebody to fail. In Christianity, why did the news about Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Baker make such national news in the 80's? How about Ted Haggard a couple of years ago? In Fundamentalism, nearly everybody knows about Bob Gray - even those who didn't know the name before know it now. You can look at pop culture and see the same thing: Peewee Herman and Hugh Grant in the 90's - Brittney Spears a couple of years ago....and I could go on. There have been names through the years that nobody would know if they hadn't fallen. Why? People like a good car wreck!

Why don't many churches grow? In many cases I think that one could make the argument taht they are suspicious of outsiders. If somebody looks a certain way, we automatically assume the worse. This isn't love - it's just the opposite. It is a type of hateful legalism that has no place in Christ's Church.

12. Love hopes all things
This follows “believing all things”. Sometimes a person just treats us wrong. We love them, love them, and love them some more. In return, they take advantage of us again, and again, and again. Our reaction, even when there is no more room for assuming the best is to “hope”. Regardless of how low a friend or family member has sunk, we are NEVER to give up on them.

13. Love endures all things
In Job 13:15, Job proclaims, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him”. This idea of enduring all leaves us with the impression that regardless of the troubles that come our way - at the hands of God or man - our love is to remain steadfast. Stepping away from the Job passage for a moment…love has the capacity to never get “rocked” by whatever may happen. I’ve seen so many seemingly strong marriages end because the couple wasn’t able to “endure” some tragedy – the loss of a child, an accident that leaves a child or one of the spouses disabled, financial struggles…A biblical approach to love endures these things and comes out better for it!

14. Love never fails
As we “bear, believe, hope and endure all things” this love will remain steadfast. As Paul begins to draw comparisons to end this passage, we see that nothing else is as sure as love. And, although everything else might crumble and fail, this true, biblical, agape love will not.

A pastor friend once challenged me to read through this passage in I Corinthians 13 while substituting the name of Christ for the word “love” throughout the passage. The fact that God is love leaves us with good reason to believe that Christ perfectly demonstrated agape in His time on earth….let’s take a look at a few examples I’ve tossed together:

1. Jesus suffered long (I Peter 2:23)
2. Jesus was kind (Luke 8:40-56)
3. Jesus was not envious (Matthew 8:20) Jesus just accepted the fact that all his creation was taken care of, but He had nowhere to lay His head.
4. Jesus was humble. (Phil 2:5-8)
5. Jesus acted appropriately (Matthew 22 - render to Caesar)
6. Jesus was selfless (John 13 - he washed the feet of his creation – including those of the man whom He knew would betray Him later that night.)
7. Jesus was not easily provoked (The Passion)
8. Jesus didn't “keep score” (Praise the Lord for that!) (In Matthew 9:24, we hear the people laughing Him to scorn. In Mark 15:29-33 we hear the scoffers walking by a crucified, bloody mess of a man and saying – “come on! Save yourself! Look at you now! HA!” In John 10:20, we hear people saying, “Why would you listen to Him? He’s got a demon.” Yet, what does He say in Luke 23:34? “Father, forgive them…”
9. Jesus rejoiced only in that His Father was glorified (John 13-15)
10. Jesus covered our sins (I Peter 2:24)
11. Jesus forgets our transgressions (Psalm 103:12)
12. Jesus forgives us every time (I John 1:9) "Hopes" (Luke 7:37-46)
13. Jesus is never exasperated by us (I John 1:9 again)
14. Jesus never fails!

That concludes this series....I hope you received some good from it. It's certainly been an educational study for me!

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