Calvary Road Baptist Church

“LOVE’S REFUSAL” Part 3

First Corinthians 13.4-7

 

For the last several weeks in our study of Paul’s first Corinthian letter, we have been learning about the nature of real love, or the real nature of love. Turn to First Corinthians chapter 13. What have we learned to date? Oh, a number of things, not the least of which is the recurring observation that real love has a nature that is both different and higher than any love generated in the heart of mere man. This love we have considered, this glorious thing called charity, comes into a Christian’s heart from the heart of God . . . with a character and a nature that sets it apart from other kinds of love.

In First Corinthians 13.4-7, we see the nature of love quite logically divided into three kinds of behavior: The response of love to people, the refusal of love to temptations, and now, the reaction of love to circumstances. If you have found our text, stand and read that passage together with me:

 

4      Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

5     Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

6     Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

7     Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

 

We have already examined the response of love, how it is long-suffering and kind. That is, love does not blow up, and always behaves in a useful way toward others. We are currently dealing, point by point, through eight individual facets of love’s conduct, with the refusal of love . . . what love will not do. Finally, Lord willing, we will conclude this morning with love’s refusal, and will also note the reaction of love to circumstances.

What will this leave us with? I hope it leaves each of us with the conviction that genuine love is both different and higher than what man can generate in his own heart. I hope, also, that you will no longer settle for the inferior type of love that characterizes the lost and too many who claim to be saved.

 

THE REFUSAL OF LOVE

 

Let us read verses 5 and 6 again and deal with the last two things that love refuses to do . . . ever:

 

5      Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

6      Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth.

 

Seventh, the last phrase of verse 5, charity refuses to think evil.

 

Again, a definition. The word “think” is an accounting term or a bookkeeping term that has to do with calculating things. It has to do with crediting someone’s account.[1] The word “evil” has a Greek definite article in front of it, which probably means that Paul has in mind a specific evil. That is, there is something that you can definitely point to for the ill feeling you have for another. Ponder that for just a moment. We can all understand and imagine that love would not think evil of another person for no reason. However, Paul is going so far, here, as to say that love will not even think evil of another person when there is a specific reason for thinking evil of that other person. That means love will not even think evil of a person who has done you wrong. Not even if you have what unsaved people would say are “good reasons” for animosity toward that other person will love register the evil. Do you realize what this does to grudge holding? Hey, it is the remembrance of a specific evil against you that causes you to hold something against someone. He stole money from you. He broke his word. He lied. He mistreated you. He harmed your friend once, etc. Real love will not even calculate ill toward another person then. Got a problem with your pastor? Not if you love me, you will not. I have sinned against you if I have been your pastor for any length of time. If I am aware of my sin against you, I should already have sought your forgiveness. If you love me, you will not hold my sin against you against me.

A biblical example is in order. The Philippian church was a marvelous congregation. If personal remarks are any indication, they were Paul’s favorite people. However, there were two women in that congregation who continually butted heads. In Philippians 4.2, Paul appeals to those two women for unity: “I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord.” Now look to Philippians 4.8, where he tells them what their thought life ought to be like, and which up to that point in time was not: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” See the word “think” in Philippians 4.8? It happens to be the same word Paul uses in First Corinthians 13.5, “thinketh no evil.” Therefore, in First Corinthians 13.5, he tells us what not to calculate and record, and in Philippians 4.8, he tells us what to calculate and record. If you love, you will not think evil. Instead, you will think on the things mentioned in Philippians 4.8.

Let me apply that. Folks, realistically, everyone you know gives you good and sufficient reason for thinking evil of him. You do not know anyone who does not do you wrong in one way or another, or who does not do things you find uncomfortable or irritating. Admittedly, most of the things people do that affect you will be ignored because you care about them and want to preserve the friendship, preserve the marriage, preserve the family unity, and so forth. All Paul is telling us is that we ought to love everyone enough to be this way toward them, not just the ones we decide to love. And love is a decision, after all. Isn’t it really?

Let me make an appeal to you to love me. As we continue our transition from a decisionist ministry to a truly scriptural church, I feel some resistance from time to time. The reason I am getting resistance, I think, is twofold: First, every human being tends to resist change that is not his own idea. I understand that, which is why I have moved so very slowly over the last fifteen years. Second, there come times when a change in attitude requires a change in action. We are now to the point where your commitment to New Testament evangelism, to really reaching souls for Christ, is put to the test. So I urge you to do two things as I seek to gradually lead this church, alter the schedule of your week to participate in all aspects of our church’s life, and alter your thinking so that you will be willing to pay any price and make any sacrifice to reach the lost for Christ’s sake: First, write down what you think is actually wrong with what I seek to lead you to do. Second, come and talk to me about what you are having difficulty with.

What is wrong with finger food fellowship that you refuse to participate in it? What is wrong with Saturday night evangelism that you refuse to participate in it? What is wrong with sending your child to a service instead of bringing your child to a service? Let us make sure in our dealings with each other that we deal with real God-given love in action, and not allow issues or resentments to build up that we will regret later. Amen?

 

Eighth, charity refuses to rejoice in iniquity but rejoices in truth, instead.

 

Definitions? None here that need clarification or explanation.

A biblical example. Instead of looking at a Biblical example of rejoicing in iniquity, let me show you an example of someone rejoicing in the truth. Third John 3-4: “For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” Here we see the heart of the Apostle John. Here we see what the heart of a Christian is supposed to be like. Here we see the heart of God in a man’s life.

Let us apply this. What happens to you when someone you know does right? What happens to you when someone you know is instrumental in bringing a soul to Christ? What happens to you when someone you know receives some public praise or recognition for God’s work in his life? If your response is joy, if it is just tremendous for you when another Christian glorifies God by his life, then this aspect of love is truly in your life. Praise God for that in a vocal and public way. These, then, are the eight refusals of genuine love. On the other hand, if you like it when something bad happens to another Christian, or if you think of other Christians as competitors, then there is something terribly wrong with you that needs fixing quickly.

 

NOW LOOK AT THE REACTION OF LOVE TO CIRCUMSTANCES (13.7)

 

“Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.”

 

I want you to notice the phrase that appears four times here. “. . . all things.” For some perspective about “all things” let’s read some verses together:

 

·         Romans 8.28: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

·         Romans 11.36: “For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.”

·         Ephesians 1.11: “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.”

·         Revelation 4.11: “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.”

 

Since God created and controls “all things,” no wonder the person with the love of God reacts the way he or she does to “all things.”

Four reactions:

First, charity reacts by bearing all things. A definition. This Greek verb has to do with protecting and covering. This is precisely the function of a roof.[2] As a matter of fact, in Modern Greek the word has come to refer to the roof of a house. Therefore, you see, the word really has nothing to do with the idea of enduring hard times or hard people, but does carry the idea of covering, protecting, forbearing another who is enduring hard times of hard people. A Biblical example of this protecting love is the husband’s love for his wife, in Ephesians 5.23 and 29: “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body . . . For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church.” The portrait that Paul paints in Ephesians chapter 5 is one of this aspect of charity, or love that we are presently dealing with. A loving husband will provide protection for his wife . . . physically, emotionally, financially, spiritually. A wise wife will conduct herself in such a way so as to allow her husband to express this aspect of his love for her. To provide for his wife the security that she needs, the Christian man can be expected to bear all things for her sake rather than demanding that she bear all things for his sake. Application? I am finding less and less of this kind of love in Christian homes, for two distinct reasons: First, because husbands are being seduced by the world into thinking that love is a taking kind of thing instead of the giving kind of thing that it must be to bear all things. Second, because wives are seduced by the world into behaving in a more independent fashion than they used to, wives do not appear to be in need of this aspect of love. Therefore, when the husband is prepared to offer this kind of love his wife either behaves as if she does not need this protection in her life, which may result in him no longer even offering it, or he does offer it and she refuses to accept his sometimes clumsy attempts to protect her. Husbands? You need to love your wife in this way whether she appears to be in need of it or not. The Bible says she needs this kind of love whether she is sensitive to her need to this kind of love or not. Ladies? You need to allow an aged woman to show you how to be receptive to this kind of love from your husbands. Sure he will be clumsy in his initial attempts to protect you, often doing little more than just getting in your way. However, if you are responsive and show your appreciation, he will grow more skillful and discerning in expressing his love for you as time goes on. Think of this as your husband running interference for you. Every wife needs for her husband to run interference for her so she can conduct her ministry without disruption.

Second, charity reacts by believing all things. Definition. This does not mean gullible. Love is not gullible. That means some of you mothers do not really love your sons, because when it comes to your baby you show yourself to be completely gullible. What it does mean is that instead of being gullible, love trusts God through any and all circumstances. Let me give you some biblical examples. When Paul and Silas were beaten in Philippi; when Simon Peter was in jail awaiting execution in Jerusalem, their love believed all things. In each situation, those men of God simply loved God enough to believe that He was in absolute control of the situation they happened to be in. The result? Paul and Silas sang when it was glorifying God to do so, and Simon Peter slept when it glorified God to do so. In their own way, real love produced spiritual optimism in some of the darkest hours of their lives. Are you pessimistic? Then you do not really believe all things, do you? Let me apply this. Seems to me that this aspect of love really influences how a child of God handles pressure. And the way the pressure is handled is by keeping things in perspective. Think for a moment about Paul and Simon Peter. What is the worst thing that could have happened to them in the situations they were in? They could have lost their lives. Amen? However, what is losing your life for doing right to a Christian? A promotion. Hey folks, looked at in this way, everything else in life is comparatively insignificant, is it not? No pressure at all. Not real pressure, anyway.

Third, charity reacts by hoping all things. Definition. Hope is not wishful thinking. Hope, in the Bible, is the confident expectation of future blessing, based on the promises of God. Whereas believing all things knows everything is okay now, no matter what things look like right now, hopeth all things knows it is going to be okay tomorrow, as well. Consider another example of Paul. Turn to Second Timothy 4.18 and read: “And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” See how confident Paul is of his future? This really is “hopeth all things,” is it not? Just so happens that at the time he wrote this he was awaiting execution. Hopeth all things really is special.

Finally, charity reacts by enduring all things. Definition. Remember when we saw that love is long-suffering? Remember also that long-suffering has to do with people. Endurance, or patience, is almost the same thing, but with respect to circumstances instead of people. Furious over a flat tire? Angry because the mail is not on time? Blow your stack because the wind storm knocked out your electricity for six hours and all the ice cream in the freezer melted? That is not the kind of behavior that knows God to be in control of all things, is it? If God is in control of all things then He is in control of everything.

Let me give you an example. In Acts 27, we find the apostle Paul a prisoner on his way to Rome to face Caesar. However, at present in the narrative he is on board a ship at sea that is caught up in a violent storm. When everyone fears for their lives, that is, when everyone is overcome by circumstances and not enduring circumstances, notice Paul’s behavior, in verses 21-26:

 

21     But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss.

22    And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man’s life among you, but of the ship.

23    For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve,

24    Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee.

25    Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me.

26    Howbeit we must be cast upon a certain island.

 

Folks, Paul endured all things.

Now for an application. There can only be two reasons why the things that happen to you happen to you. Either you bring them on yourself through sin or lack of wisdom . . . or God allows it to happen to you for your benefit, if you are truly converted. If you bring the circumstance on yourself, it is ridiculous not to endure it. You brought it on yourself. However, if you have nothing to do with the circumstance happening to you then it is God. And since all things work together for good to them that love God, again, you should not be overcome by circumstances. Do not fuss and fume when the tire goes flat. You are the one who should have put new tires on. Amen? Bottom line? Charity, love, does not stop loving, even when all of the circumstances seem to go wrong.

 

Have you noticed how love covers all the bases? It responds to people. Not reacting like so many people do, but responding. And in a society of permissiveness and unbridled sin, love simply refuses to be lured into the trap of self-indulgence, pride, and impure thoughts. What love does react to is circumstances. However, it does not react by losing control, or by being caught up in the heat of the moment. Instead, love protects others and trusts God to, both now and in the future, protect them.

Wouldn’t you like to have this uncommon love in your life? You can you know. You can both have and give this love of God. How sad it is for you, for those close to you, and for the cause of Christ, when you do not choose to love in this fashion, when your life’s choices rob yourself and others of God’s very best love.

Would you like to know the greatest impediment to loving after the fashion Paul describes in First Corinthians 13.4-7? Turn to Romans 5.1-5, and stand as we read to conclude the service:

 

1      Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

2      By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

3      And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;

4      And patience, experience; and experience, hope:

5      And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

 

The greatest barrier to having love to give to others is being lost, being unsaved, not trusting Christ.



[1] Fritz Rienecker & Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key To The Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Regency Reference Library, 1980), page 432.

[2] Ibid.

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org