The Spirit of Love

1 Corinthians 13:4: "Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up."

Our world is always in such a hurry.
That is why we have instant tea, instant coffee, and an instant results mentality.
Hurry, worry, and bury are words that characterize our generation today.
We do hurry and worry, only to ultimately bury.

A housewife complained to her doctor, "I'm all run down."
To which the doctor replied, "No, ma'am, you are all wound up."

Have you ever noticed that evil is often done in a hurry.
On the night of our Lord's betrayal, He spoke to Judas and said, "That thou doest, do quickly." (John 13:27)

On the mount of temptation, Satan offers Jesus "the kingdoms of the world " (Luke 4:5),
and promised them immediately if Jesus would fall down and worship him.
Satan promised Jesus a shortcut.
Essentially he was saying, "You don't have to die on the cross to gain the kingdoms of the world,
I will give them to you immediately
."

In contrast to an impatient world, God's love is supremely patient and kind.
As an artist blends colors to produce a painting, Paul draws together the characteristics of love,
which gives us a portrait of Jesus.
We definitely could say, "Jesus suffered long and was kind.
Jesus never envied.
Jesus vaunted not Himself."


Every characteristic of love listed by Paul was true of Jesus.
However, as beautiful as that sounds, there is a catch.
First Corinthians 13 was written not to describe Jesus, but to describe what we are to be like.
The questions are:
Are we patient and kind?
Are we free of envy and self-importance?

Love Is Patience.
"Love suffereth long, and is kind." (1 Corinthians 13:4)

The Greek word for the phrase "suffereth long" literally means "to have a long temper" as opposed to a short temper.
Exodus 16 describes the Children of Israel as they wandered through the wilderness.
Exodus 16:2 says, "And the whole congregation of the Children of Israel murmured
against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness."

The Lord could have responded by raining down fire, but instead,
"Then said the Lord unto Moses, Behold I will rain bread from heaven for you." (Verse 4)

God is patient!

Jesus Christ spent His life caring for others.
Throughout His ministry, Jesus went about healing the sick, feeding the hungry, comforting the bereaved
– always helping others.
And though He was often misunderstood, misused, and rejected, Jesus remained patient.
He never stopped showing love.

Jesus was long-suffering with His weak-willed disciples, who disappointed Him so often.
He was merciful to the despised and the mentally disturbed.
He was long-suffering with Pilate, the Roman Centurion, and with the crucified thief. (Luke 23)
Jesus suffered long, and was kind even in His dying hours.
After the nails had done their cruel work, He cried out, saying,
"Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." (Luke 23:34)

I read the story of two mountain goats who approached one another on a narrow ledge high up
on the side of the mountain.
Realizing that there was no room to pass, they reared, and bucked, but neither budged.
They backed up, charged at each other, and locked horns again, but each held his ground.
Again they parted and charged; then like Rocks of Gibraltar they stood unmovable.

Finally, the more sensible one knelt down, and let the other climb over him.
Both went merrily on their way.
Sometimes, we must let people walk over us.

Love is Long-suffering.

Dr. Harry Ironside used to tell of a young man who, impatient because a church business meeting
was not going his way, disrupted the meeting by shouting, "I want my rights! I want my rights!"

An elderly church member responded, "Did I hear our young friend saying that he wanted his rights?
If he received his rights, he would be judged and sent to hell.
Jesus Christ went to the cross and died for our "wrongs" to make us "right" with God
."

Hearing that, the younger man apologized for acting out of impatience rather than love,
and the meeting continued.

Christian love is willing to suffer for a long time.

Love is Kind!
"And is kind." (1 Corinthians 13:4)

Goethe wrote, "Kindness is the golden chain by which society is bound together."

Our world is starving for kindness – for the expression of a warm, sympathetic nature.
Wordsworth described it as "the best portion of a good man's life."

The word, kindness,, from the same root word as kindred and implies affection for those
who are our own flesh and blood.
Paul reminds us that kindness is a mark of Christian love.
Love acts kindly.
Kindness is also God's attitude toward us.
In spite of our unloveliness, God keeps on being kind.

How can we show kindness when we have differences with those around us?
We must keep four words foundational in our relationship with Jesus Christ as well as with others:
"I'm sorry; I'm wrong."

The world says to us, "Win through intimidation, take care of yourself first,"
but God's Word reminds us, "Love suffereth long and is kind." (1 Corinthians 13:4)
Divine love is kind, even when misunderstood.
Love knows how to take heartaches, victoriously.
The Greek verb translated "is kind" implies active service.
In ourselves, we are often hasty, hotheaded, and unkind.

God's love is not unkind.
God's love actively seeks to show kindness.

A pastor once said, "Some years ago, I was misunderstood and criticized by people
from whom I had expected support.
I desperately wanted to retaliate, or at least argue for my side of the conflict.
With bulldog determination, I clenched my fist, bit my lip, and managed to keep my mouth closed.
But I was not kind
."

A large part of being kind is being patiently willing to put up with abuse that comes our way.
Usually, that patience is needed most just what it is exhausted.
Our tolerance wears thin, and our spirits of kindness melt.

Vance Havner once said, "A bulldog can beat a skunk any day – but it just isn't worth it."

We need to take our grievances to the Lord instead of taking them out on others.
Paul reminds us, "Vengeance is mine; I will repay," saith the Lord. (Romans 12:19)

The kind of love described in 1 Corinthians 13 goes beyond our understanding, yet this is the kind of love
that God wants to communicate through us.
It is constant in the face of neglect, ignorance, lack of appreciation, and even undeserved, violence.

When Stephen, one of the early church deacons, was being stoned to death, he prayed,
"Lord, let not this sin to their charge." (Acts 7:60)
This kind of love is possible only through Jesus Christ.
He gives us the capacity to love.

Someone has written these words which could be taken as a description of Christian kindness:
"Able to suffer without complaining;
To be misunderstood without explaining;

Able to give without receiving,
To be ignored without grieving:

Able to ask without commanding,
To love despite misunderstanding:

Able to turn to the Lord for guarding;
Able to wait for His own rewarding."

Love that suffers long and is kind is beyond our natural ability.
It is only as we experience God's love flowing through us that we can demonstrate that kind of love.

How much long-suffering and kindness do we have for others?
How willing are we to put another person's desires above our own?
Are we willing to go an extra mile, and turn the other cheek?
Do we go out of our way to be cooperative and to show love through acts of kindness?

Love Is Not Envious.
"[Love] envieth not." (1 Corinthians 13:4)

A Latin proverb says, "Envy is the enemy of honor."
Someone has defined envy as the sorrow of fools.
Solomon described it as "the rottenness of bones." (Proverbs 14:30)
William Shakespeare spoke of in the as "the green sickness."

Envy, in contrast to love, destroys relationships.
Paul states that Christian love is never envious of anyone or anything.
Christian love is not possessive.
Envy and jealousy are deadly in anyone's life.

The envy of Cain led him to murder his brother. (Genesis 4)
Envy caused the brothers of Joseph to sell him into slavery.
They were resentful because he was the favorite son of Jacob. (Genesis 37)

The elder brother in Jesus' story of the prodigal son was envious when he heard rejoicing
over his wayward brother.
Luke 15:28 says, "He was angry, and would not go in."
Both brothers missed the father's love.
The younger brother because he had been rebellious.
The elder brother because he was envious.

Envy is resentment of the good fortunes of others.
Envy says, "If I cannot eat, then I want all of us to starve.
If I cannot see in one eye, I want you to be blind in both eyes."

Envy is hatred.
It cripples us and prevents us from living victoriously.
Almost everyone has been envious at one time or another.
If allowed to grow, envy is a disease that disturbs the mind and can cause physical illness.
Envy observes no holidays.
It works against love continually.

According to James, envy is a characteristic of earthly wisdom that results in confusion, disorder,
and all kinds of evil:
"But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.
This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.
For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work
." (James 3:14-16)

The terrible results of envy were displayed in King Saul, who envied David so intensely
that he lost control of himself, and tried to kill David. (1 Samuel 18)

Love rejoices when others excel.
1 Samuel 20:17 illustrates that, "Jonathan, Saul's son, could have been smitten with the same disease
as his father; but he dethroned envy with love.
He loved him [David] as he loved his own soul
."

Love Is Not Proud.
"[Love] vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up." (1 Corinthians 13:4)

Falling in love is exciting.
Most of us know that strong sweep of emotion that leads us to forget ourselves, and promise our beloved anything.
We meet someone who helps us leap over the walls of our own self-centeredness.
We stopped being concerned about ourselves, and start thinking only of our loved one.

Without expecting it or working toward it, we spontaneously fulfill the law of God.
That is, we do at least toward one person by loving someone else as much as we do ourselves.
We have no desire or temptation to "puff" ourselves.
Our only concern is to build up our beloved.

We take pride in his or her company, attention, and abilities.
We are radiant, and everyone recognizes love in our behavior.
However, we discover after a month or year, that this lofty condition is temporary, or at best, intermittent.
Our old self-centeredness, which we thought we had set aside, reappears, demanding attention and recognition.
Only as our human love bows before the love of God and allows His humanity into that relationship
can it become dependable and lasting.

Divine love does not seek the applause of the crowd, but places itself below all others.
Someone is said that "God keeps His best gifts on the lower shelves."

Humility precedes honor, but "an haughty spirit [goes] before a fall." (Proverbs 1618
The Apostle Paul said, "Knowledge puffeth up, but [love] edifieth." (1 Corinthians 8:1)
A "puff" is any sudden, short blast of wind.
It does no one any good.

The love of Christ is not sudden or brief – it is eternal.
Love edifies – builds up – forever.

The missionary was translating the word, "pride", into a native language.
To properly convey the meaning she wrote, "The ears are too far apart."
Pride is simply an inflated head.

The proud have exaggerated ideals of their own importance.
Their primary interests are in themselves.

One of Aesop's fables tells of a fly who said on the axle of the chariot and exclaimed,
"What a dust do I raise!"

Have you ever noticed that "empty trucks make the most noise."
Our world says,
"If you've got it, flaunt it.
If you've got it, you know it.
If you've got it, show it."

The Bible says, "Love does not brag."
A. W. Tozer said, "Humility is as scarce as an albino robin."
Believe me – they are scarce!

Pride is one of the greatest enemies of the Christian.
It is often at the bottom of our biggest blunders.
A proud and puffed-up spirit shows that a person does not have a proper self-image.
When we see ourselves as God sees us, we cannot help, but be humbled.

When a committee from Jerusalem asked John the Baptist if he was the Messiah,
he answered simply, "I am not."

Then they asked, "Who are you?"

John said, "I am the voice." (John 1:19-23)
He plainly, clearly told them that he was not the way, but just the messenger to show the way.
John was so filled with love for Jesus that self-conscious pride was impossible.
John said, "He must increase, but I must decrease." (John 3:30)

"Oh, the bitter pain and sorrow
That a time could ever be,
When I proudly said to Jesus,
"All of self, and none of Thee."

All of self, and none of Thee,
All of self, and none of Thee,
When I proudly said to Jesus,
"All of self, and none of Thee."

Yet He found me; I beheld Him
Bleeding on th' accursed tree,
And my wistful heart said faintly,
"Some of self, and some of Thee."

Some of self, and some of Thee,
Some of self, and some of Thee,
And my wistful heart said faintly,
"Some of self, and some of Thee."

Day by day His tender mercy,
Healing, helping, full and free,
Brought me lower while I whispered,
"Less of self, and more of Thee."

Less of self, and more of Thee,
Less of self, and more or Thee,
Brought me lower while I whispered,
"Less of self, and more of Thee."

Higher than the highest heaven,
Deeper than the deepest sea,
Lord, Thy love at last has conquered:
"None of self, and all of Thee."

None of self, and all of Thee,
None of self, and all of Thee,
Lord, Thy love at last has conquered:
"None of self, and all of Thee."


Love is not bigheaded – it is bighearted!
Divine love allows us to see ourselves as we really are in the sight of God and to reach out humbly to others.

Sermon adapted from several sources by Dr. Harold L. White