Throw Away Love Part II

This is a continuation off of yesterday’s blog, “Throwing Away Love” that still sets the scene for the entire series.  If you’d like to get these directly to your inbox, please subscribe to this blog and it shall be done!  Though I will not be going into the specifics of love yet, I will be going over the reality that we must throw away the love that we know or have learned from the world, and redefine it according to God’s Word and promises.

John 3.16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  Yes, we have heard it before.  Yes, we may have memorized it; but believe it.  Christ does not love us because we may be smart or gifted in sports, or because we may obey Him perfectly on the outside.

God loves us while we were His enemies with a radical and impossible love.  Romans 5.8-10, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Since, therefore, we have not been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.  For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.”

We see through this verse, as well as John 13.1, “Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.”  A more literal translation of Christ says that “he loved them to perfection or completion.”  Jesus loved to the fullest degree or measure, he loved to the limits of love for us.  Truly there is nothing greater.

And love is such an absolute for Christians; it is not a choice.  John 13.34-35, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

John 15.9, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.  Abide in my love.”  Jesus left no doubt—agape love, self-sacrificing love—is the supreme mark of discipleship to him.  He both taught it, and demonstrated it on the cross.

What is more, Romans 13.8-9 states, “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.  For the commandments, ‘you shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not murder, you shall not covet,’ and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’

To not love means we are being disobedient to the Lord.  To love, then, is to have the root behind all obedience.  Loving is not optional, and nothing can substitute it.  Just because we may know all the bible, just because we may know every worship song and every songwriter or have memorized a thousand scriptures means nothing; if we don’t love, we are nothing.

What is more, we do not have an excuse that says, “its impossible to love that person, they have hurt me too deeply,” because of Romans 5.5, “because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

We do not have to create love, we simply have to share it

We do not have to learn it from any person either.

Just because our parents may not have loved us or our friends may not have loved us well, it is God who teaches us as 1 Thessalonians 4.9 states.  We are told to pursue love in 1 Corinthians 14.1

To put on love in Colossians 3.14

To increase and abound in love in both 1 Thessalonians 3.12 and Philippians 1.9

To be sincere in love in 2 Corinthians 8.8

To be unified in love in Philippians 2.2

To be fervent in love in 1 Peter 4.8

And to stir one another to love in Hebrews 10.24

1 Corinthians 13.1-3, “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.”

For the next part in the series, I will begin talking about the specifics of life and the pitfalls of performing actions without love; only damage can ensue.  Blessings and see you on here tomorrow!

Throw Away Love Part I

I will begin a several part series on love, coming from the quintessential passage on love found in 1 Corinthians 13.1-8.  I preached through this with my college students before I was to leave, and wasn’t able to finish it.  I want to do so now, as I was extremely blessed by it and feel that now is the time to finish.  The first ten parts or so will be taken from the manuscript I wrote for preaching, so please excuse the writing style as it is not polished and is not “good” by any stretch of the imagination.  Try to picture someone preaching these truths.

There’s a song called Young Wild and Free by Snoop dog and Wiz Kaliffa, and here are some of the lyrics, “So what we get drunk, so what we smoke weed, we just havin’ fun, we don’t care who sees.  So what we go out, that’s how its supposed to be, living young and wild and free.”  The basis for this song, if you haven’t heard it before is that we should just live the way we want to live; it doesn’t matter who sees because it’s all about us.  To be sure, this song really epitomizes the reality that love is all about self, and in our culture, has nothing to do with God or others.

It is tragic in many churches today, as in the one in Corinth, love that should be so basic to Christianity and to Christian character does not characterize its membership or the ministry.  What we see in ancient Corinth through this letter in Corinthians is that spiritual gifts were present in 1.7, and right doctrine was present in 11.2.  But LOVE was absent.

Throughout history it seems that the church has found it difficult to be loving; and sometimes that can characterize us as well.  I wonder, is the ministry we are in defined by Christ’s love?  You can argue that your worship is amazing.  You can argue that your doctrine you hear is correct.  You can even argue that you do many wonderful things in the community and world.  But do you have love?  The supreme characteristic of God is found in 1 John 4.16, “God is love.”  Love is the most amazing manifestation of the character of God.  John continues in 1 John 4.16b, “and whoever abides in love abides in God.”

Therefore the simplest and arguably the MOST PROFOUND description of Christian character is LOVE.  Now, as we draw our attention on this passage in 1 Corinthians, we have to understand that it is such a profound chapter on this concept of love.  And taken as a whole it is beautiful; taking it a part as we are attempting to do is like taking a part a flower piece by piece as John MacArthur suggests.  Part of the beauty of the flower is lost when we separate it, but the Word through the Spirit has some pretty profound things to share with us here.  And if we understand it, it can become even more beautiful.

Now, the reality of this chapter is sort of like a nice filling of fresh air in our lungs.  It is between chapters 12 and 14, two chapters where Paul is seriously correcting and reproving his readers.  Chapter 13 is the central chapter in Paul’s really long discussion of spiritual gifts.  Chapter 12 talks about the gifting of the gifts and receiving them in their proper function, whereas Chapter 14 talks about the proper exercise of those same gifts.

In this middle chapter we see, as Paul ends in 1 Corinthians 12.31, “And I will show you a still more excellent way.”  We see the proper attitude in all of our functioning; that of the overlying value of love.  It makes perfect sense; when we are striving to use our gifts, they will either hurt or discourage if done without love.  Having certain gifts does not make anyone spiritual.  Even displaying the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5.22 does not MAKE one spiritual, it is merely evidence that one IS spiritual, it is not the cause.  Only walking in the Spirit makes one spiritual, and Paul’s way of defining it can be found in Colossians 3.16, as well as here; by loving God and walking in obedience.

These Corinthians were not walking by the Spirit.  They were selfish, self designed, self willed, self motivated, and doing everything they could for self.  The Corinthians did not lack the gifts but they were terribly deficient in the fruit of the Spirit because they lacked the essentialness of love.  I think the problem then as it is today, is that few people have any idea on what this word “LOVE” is all about.

The word agape is different than all the other words for love.  Let me quickly make mention of this as I’m sure many of you have heard this before.  Unlike our English word for love, it does not mean a romantic or sexual love; that word is translated as “EROS.”  It doesn’t mean mere sentiment or a pleasant feeling about something or someone either.  Also, it does not mean close friendship or brotherly love, in which we have the word “philia” as in Philadelphia.  Lastly, it does not mean CHARITY which the King James translators carried over from the Latin text.  We associated charity too much simply with giving to the needy.

Most people, including most Christians, seem to think of AGAPE love in terms of nice feelings, warm affection, romance and desire.  When we say, “I love you,” we really mean, “I love me and I want you.”  This of course is the worst kind of selfishness, the very opposite to AGAPE love.

Alan Redpath tells the story of a young woman who came to her pastor desperate and despondent.  She said, “There is a man who says he loves me so much he will kill himself if I don’t marry him.  What should I do?”  “Do nothing,” he replied.  “That man doesn’t love you; he loves himself.  Such a threat isn’t love, it is pure selfishness.”

Self giving love, love that demands something of us, love that is more concerned with giving than receiving, is just as rare today as it was in Corinth.  The reason is simple:  AGAPE love is not natural to us.  Our society has defined love as “romantic feelings” or “attraction” which has NOTHING to do with love in God’s terms.  Or, as in the song I mentioned earlier, it’s complete selfishness.

Yet how many of us think that God loves us this way?  Does He love Angelina Jolie or Brad Pitt more than us?  I mean, we may laugh, but a lot of us think God will love us more if we act a different way, sin less, look differently, or a hundred other things.  But we are transposing the philosophy of love we either got from our parents or from our culture.

Throw away the Love that you know, and think of this:

John 3.16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

I will end this first part here and leave you to think about what Love truly is.