We live in a day that is
characterized by the shallow half–read page. We have
everything from instant pudding to instant sermons.
We go through instant marriages like a gallon of
Perhaps in no area of our
lives has this shallow superficiality had its most
ill effect than in our churches and our homes. We go
from one shallow superficial fad or relationship to
another. The day of depth in theology and
relationships is almost gone.
One of the
characteristics of a strong stable home is depth of
relationships. Strong families have a sacrificial
love. The apostle Paul used the word agape, to
define unselfish love. This kind of love always
seeks the highest good in the other person. Where
does one learn that kind of love? It must be
discovered in God's exceedingly great love for us
and nurtured in family relationships. It is not a
product of the natural man; it is the fruit of the
Holy Spirit. You cannot manufacture it. It must
always come from the abiding presence of the Lord.
He expresses His love through us.
Love is not a four-letter
word. It is spelled COMMITMENT. Agape love is
something you do. God loved us by sending His Son,
Jesus Christ, to come to this earth and die for our
sins on the cross. Love is something God did. It
demonstrates His commitment to a lost world. Agape
demands exercise of the whole person in which we
seek the highest good in other people, including
those whom we find it difficult to naturally love.
This kind of love will transform your marriage and
your family. It says I will seek nothing but the
highest good for my mate, my children, my in-laws,
etc. It is not simply a wave of emotion; it is an
attitude and includes the mind and the will.
Let's examine some
characteristics of this sacrificial love in First
Corinthians chapter thirteen, and apply it to our
INFINITE LOVE OF
The apostle Paul
personifies love with a description of its
characteristics. He examines both sides of the coin.
Keep in mind the context is dealing with spiritual
gifts. Here Paul contrasts and compares other gifts
with sacrificial love.
Characteristics of Love
Love "is not jealous" (v.
4). It is not a fervent, boiling with envy and
jealousy. Envy, jealousy and character assassination
are destructive to any family. You won't believe the
"celebrity" mentality that goes on even in churches
and among preachers. We live in a day when bigger is
better, the winner is the one who ends the game of
life with the most toys and is the envy of his
peers. The tragedy is we miss the eternal purpose of
God in our lives and our families are destroyed in
Love "does not brag" (v.
4). True love does not put on a self–parade. Jesus
did not parade Himself, or put on a show. Love
doesn't talk a lot and act presumptuously. Our Lord
humbled Himself, and became obedient even to the
point of death on the cross. Mark 10:45 reads, "For
even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but
to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."
He is the supreme example of humility.
Love "is not arrogant"
(v. 4). It is not puffed up like a big oversized
advertising balloon. "Knowledge makes arrogant, but
love edifies [builds up]" (1 Corinthians 8:1). "God
is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the
humble" (James 4:6). Philippians 2:6-8 is the most
beautiful picture of humility. Jesus Christ "existed
in the form of God, did not regard equality with God
a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking
the form of a bond–servant, and being made in the
likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a
man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the
point of death, even the death on a cross."
Love "does not act
unbecomingly" (v. 5). It is not indecent. It does
not act shamefully. You would have never heard a
dirty joke or off-color story from the lips of
Jesus. He never made a woman, or even a man, blush.
The missionary David Livingston said, "The Lord
Jesus was a perfect Gentleman."
Love "does not seek its
own" (v. 5). It is not possessive. God's love is
unselfish. A possessive parent will destroy a home.
Love "is not provoked"
(v. 5). Love does not yield to irritation or
sharpness of spirit. It is not touchy. Our original
word means to irritate, promote to anger, to be
irritable or touchy. This touchiness is caused by
selfishness. Our Lord had no need to be irritable
about someone else's toys. He had His priorities
straight, and He stated His philosophy clearly in
Matthew 6:33. "Continually seek first His kingdom
and His righteousness; and all these things shall be
added to you."
Love "does not take into
account a wrong suffered" (v. 5). It "thinks no
evil." Love does not record wrongs and doesn't keep
accounts of people's transgressions. Love does not
keep a ledger of evils done. It does not keep a
notebook diary of evil done to it. It does not throw
the whole kitchen sink at the other person when
discussing problems. Love bears no malice. It does
not store up resentments toward people. While dying
on the cross Jesus prayed for those who were
responsible for crucifying Him. He prayed over and
over again, "Father forgive them; for they do not
know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34). Forgiveness
means that we wipe the record clean and never hold
things against people (Ephesians 4:26, 32). Do you
have a perfect memory when you think about wrongs
done to you? Do you have a good forgetter and poor
recall when you try to recall wrongs people have
Love "does not rejoice in
unrighteousness" (v. 6). Moffatt gives us the best
paraphrase, "Love is never glad when others go
wrong." Jesus stood overlooking the city of
Jerusalem a few days before His death on the cross
and He wept over the city. He knew the city would be
destroyed by the Romans in AD 70. He cried, "O
Jerusalem, O Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and
stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted
to gather your children together, the way a hen
gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were
unwilling" (Matthew 23:37). His love did not rejoice
when judgment came. He cried! How often do we fall
on our knees and weep over the sins of those who do
William Barclay observes:
"If we seek nothing but a man's highest good, we may
well have to resist a man; we may well have to
punish him; we may well have to do the hardest
things to him––for the good of his immortal soul . .
. It will always be done in that forgiving love
which seeks, . . . always his highest good. In other
words, agape means treating men as God treats
them––and that does not mean allowing them unchecked
to do as they like" (New Testament Words, p. 22-23).
Love "never fails" (v.
8). It is eternal; it never comes to an end.
Characteristics of Love
"Love is patient" (v. 4).
"Patience" (makrothymia) is to be
longsuffering. It is the capacity to be wronged and
not retaliate. Trench said it is a long holding out
of the mind before it gives into action or passion.
It will remain steadfast and not give in. Peter
asked Jesus, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin
against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?"
Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven
times, but up to seventy times seven." It takes a
long time before becoming irritated and braking into
flames. Paul's emphasis is on the continual and
habitual state of patience. That is love in action.
"Love is kind" (v. 4).
This is the person who demonstrates gracious healthy
wholesome service to others. It is a disposition
that acts with kindness. "Be kindly affectioned one
to another with brotherly love, in honor preferring
one another" (Romans 12:10). We see the kindness of
Jesus when He "felt compassion" for the multitudes,
and healed "every kind of disease and every kind of
sickness" (Matthew 9:35).
Love "rejoices with the
truth" (v. 6). Love does not rejoice in a fraud or
cover-up regardless of whose side you are on. It
rejoices in the truth regardless of whose pride is
at stake. We live in a day that admonishes "don't
hurt anybody's feelings" instead of rejoicing in the
truth. We put carnal feelings ahead of truth. In our
day we are encouraged, almost demanded, to be
"tolerant" and go by personal biases instead of
rejoicing with the truth. This is a day in which it
is wrong to side with truth. Love "rejoices with the
Love "bears [covers] all
things" (v. 7). Love covers like the protection of a
roof, and endures. It has the ability to weather the
storms of life. 1 Peter 4:8 reminds us that "love
covers a multitude of sins." It throws a veil over
things. Love patiently and silently endures
persecution. We see it incarnate in the life of
Jesus as He stood before Pilate and Herod and "He
answered him not one word" (Matthew 27:14).
Love "believes all
things" (v. 7). We are admonished to remain
steadfast in the face of unpleasant situations in
life. You don't have to be suspicious and question
everyone. Try to see things in the best light. Don't
be gullible, but do have faith in men.
Love "hopes all things"
(v. 9). It perseveres and does not easily give up,
even on the hopeless. It does not despair because it
Love "endures all things"
(v. 7). It is dependable; it never fails. It bears
up patiently and survives everything. Jesus endured
the cross, despising its shame and remained faithful
to the Father's will. " . . . While being reviled,
He did not revile in return; while suffering, He
uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to
Him who judges righteously . . . " (1 Peter 2:23).
Love "abides" (v. 13).
What was true of Christ's love toward His disciples
is true of His love now. It abides.
Love is "the greatest"
(v. 13). It is an attribute of God.
Love is something
1 John 4:10, "In this is
love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us
and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our
sins." John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that
He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes
in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life."
Ephesians 5:25, ". . . Christ . . . loved the church
and gave Himself up for her." Galatians 2:20, "I
have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer
I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life
which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the
Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for
me." Cf. 1 John 4:8, 16
Did you notice how love
edifies? It builds up the body of Christ.
Forgiveness means that we wipe the record clean and
never hold things against people (Ephesians 4:26,
characteristics with the fruit of the Spirit in
Galatians 5:22-23. I like what Spurgeon wrote: "Joy
is love enjoying itself; Peace is love resting;
Patience is love waiting; Kindness is love reacting;
Goodness is love choosing; Faithfulness is love
keeping its word; Gentleness is love empathizing;
and Self-control is love resisting temptation."
Perhaps someone is
saying, "Yeah, that sounds great, but how do I
respond with loving attitudes and behaviors in my
situation? How do you do it? How do you put this
into practice in my home?
THE INDWELLING LOVE OF
The Son of God
indwells every believer.
"It is no longer I who
live, but Christ lives in me," wrote the apostle
Paul in Galatians 2:20.
Romans 5:5, "the love of
God has been poured out within our hearts through
the Holy Spirit who was given to us." Wuest
translates, " . . . the love of God has been poured
out in our hearts and still floods them through the
agency of the Holy Spirit who was given to us." (Cf.
Titus 3:5-7) It is "the act of the Spirit at the
time of the conversion of the individual taking up
His permanent abode in his inner being" (Wuest).
Every believer has the Spirit of Christ (Rom. 8:9)
in the sense that He is indwelt by the Holy Spirit
(cf. 1 John 3:24; 4:13).
The Holy Spirit makes
real the living presence of Jesus Christ in the
believer. It was Jonathan Swift, the satirical
author of Gulliver’s Travels, who said, "We have
just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough
to make us love one another." How tragic when Christ
lives within us and desires to love the world
Christ seeks to
live His live through us.
1 John 4:7-8, "Beloved,
let us love one another, for love is from God; and
everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The
one who does not love does not know God, for God is
Has the Holy Spirit
placed someone in your life that is hard to love?
The Holy Spirit releases the love of God in us to
reach out to others. The only way we can love the
unlovely and unlovable is by abiding in Christ. Only
as we walk in the Spirit can we put to death daily
our "flesh" nature that is all together unlovely.
Only by Christ living in me can I overcome jealousy,
arrogant pride, an unbecoming behavior, selfishness,
a quick flash of temper, or tear up a long agenda of
wrongs done me by others.
The Holy Spirit takes
possession of the believer and sheds abroad the love
of God in his heart. It is realistic. It says,
"Lord, I can't love that person's arrogant pride, or
obstinate behavior, or the selfish attitudes. I
can't, but You do. Here is my attitude. Here are my
opinionated views, here I am. Please, you do what I
cannot do. Here I am, You love this person through
me. I sincerely want the very best for this person
the way you view it."
It is Christ living in me
that produces patience, kindness, hope, endurance,
God has provided us the
power to die daily to our selfish ambitions and
unwholesome motives and behaviors. He lives His life
through us enabling us to love sacrificially those
who are altogether unlovely.
C. T. Studd said, "If
Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no
sacrifice is too great for me to make for Him."
expresses love in action. "Let all bitterness and
wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away
from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one
another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just
as God in Christ also has forgiven you."
Husbands, do you love
your wife in the same sacrificial love in which
Christ loved and gave Himself for His church? (cf.
This grand passage of
Scripture reminds us of the ABC's of love.
A = I ACCEPT you just the
way you are.
B = I BELIEVE you are
C = I CARE when you hurt.
D = I DESIRE what is best
E = I EASE the burdens
F= I FORGIVE you of all
There are people all
about us who need that touch of Christ. Christ in
you is the only one who can reach out and touch that
individual. He has chosen to love that person
through you. Perhaps, from past experience, you feel
you cannot do it. The Lord knows you cannot do it in
your strength alone. He does not even ask you to do
it alone. But if you will ask Him He will love that
person through you. May the Lord give us His grace
to apply this great truth in our lives this week.