Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen thine heart;
wait, I say, on the LORD.
- Psalm 27:14
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Love in Action

What is Love?

Dear friend,

"God loves me, God love me, in my Bible book it says that God loves me."

God loves me, God loves you! That is essence the Light of life, in that God through love has given us life so that we would come to live in the knowledge and experience of love! Our text today is from the book of 1 Corinthians 13 which contrasts knowledge and love. Today we want to answer the following questions:

Where is love's starting point?
KJV 1 John 4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:
3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.
5 They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them.
6 We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.
7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

How was this love demonstrated?
9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.
10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation (satisfaction) for our sins.

What response does God desire from us
11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.
12 No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.

God is love, He defines it through both emotion and action and desires that we would come to know and experience this love so that we care and act on behalf of others. We are familiar with the feelings of love through emotion, but often have a difficult time loving through action or through inactions. What is meant by action/inactions?

The terms grace and mercy are connected with God in that grace is defined as God giving us that which we have not earned or deserved, while mercy has a meaning of God not giving us that which we have earned or deserved.

Grace would mean that God sent His Son, mercy would mean that God forgives us instead of condemning us. Jesus demonstrated this by coming to save rather than condemn.

As we consider our text today which contrasts knowledge and love, we must turn back to the eighth chapter, which was our Scripture Reading, in order to get at the beginning of the explanation that Apostle Paul was giving to the Corinthians. The first three verses of this chapter set the stage for the rest of this entire book of 1 Corinthians:

KJV 1 Corinthians 8:1 Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.
2 And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.
3 But if any man love God, the same is known of him.

In the beginning of this letter that Paul wrote, we see that division among the congregation was the primary problem that is being addressed. It seems that many were embracing the gifts of people as more important than the Giver of the gifts. As Paul works through the various conflicts which always come as the result of people getting things backwards, we come to the 8th chapter in which the topic is the offerings given to idols. It is here that me makes begins this discussion by making an opening statement:

KJV 1 Corinthians 8:1 Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.
2 And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.
3 But if any man love God, the same is known of him.

We all have knowledge, but knowledge alone puffs up, whereas charity/love edifies/builds up. He goes onto say that if we think we know anything, we do not yet know that which we ought to know. Knowledge that is not used to build up, to encourage or uplift is of no value. Then he says: "We love God, we are known of Him." Essentially, it means that true knowledge of God is founded and grounded in love.

In this chapter, Paul tells them that even though they that have knowledge that idols are nothing and the sacrifices offered to idols have no meaning, there are yet those who do not understand that yet and as a result, they do not have the freedom of conscience to eat of those meats that have been sacrificed. Paul concludes this chapter with the following words

9 But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.
10 For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol's temple, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols?
11 And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died.
12 Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ.
13 Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.

Here we see the principle illustrated that our Christian liberty is governed and regulated by love for the welfare of our brother or sister. Will my behaviour build up the body of Christ, or will it tear it down?

The theme of love is that Paul is still on as he comes to the 13th chapter. Let us pick up in the last part of chapter 12.

27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.
28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues.
29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles?
30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?
31 But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.

ESV 1 Corinthians 13:1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
2 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.
3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

After pointing of the various gifts that are given by God and given to the body as a whole to be used for the benefit of the body, he again points them back the Giver of the gift and away from the gifts themselves. To help us understand this extremely important truth, let us substitute the word charity/love with Jesus Christ in our first reading, then we will read it as it is. God is love, Jesus is God, therefore Jesus Christ is Love. God acted in love towards the world, we must never never forget that truth.

4 Jesus Christ is patient and kind; Jesus Christ does not envy or boast; Jesus Christ is not arrogant
5 or rude. Jesus Christ does not insist on his own way; Jesus Christ is not irritable or resentful;
6 Jesus Christ does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but He rejoices with the truth.
7 Jesus Christ bears all things, Jesus Christ believes all things, Jesus Christ hopes all things, Jesus Christ endures all things.
8 Jesus Christ never ends.

As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.
9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part,
10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.

11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish wys.
12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

God sent perfect/ultimate love to us so that we would see through action what love looks like. When we read verses 4-7 with the name Jesus Christ inserted in the place that love is, we are exposed to the Greatest Love: Jesus Christ. The Gift!!

Let us read it another time, but this time with the text as it is written:

4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant
5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never ends.

Now what is my response, your response? For some reason, with the word love in the text, I am inclined to look more at my lack of love than at Jesus Christ's perfectlove for me. That is good, because that is how God wants it. He wants to be aware of our ability to love that we can love through His dwelling in us by the Holy Spirit which shows His presence through actions of love or inactions of love toward self and toward others. When we feel deficient in love, we are not condemn ourselves, but rather we are to be reminded that we are looking to self knowledge and not to God's knowledge. Our self knowledge will lift ourselves up in pride, while God's knowledge which displays itself though love both in emotion as well as in action will lift up our neighbor.

As God through His Spirit consoles us, comforts us and directs us by pointing us to Christ as our all in all, may we be on the lookout for those whom we may show the love of Christ to.

May we today stop and go before the Lord in prayer, asking him to show us those to whom we might show the love that He has for us in and through His Son Jesus Christ. There are those who are around us that need the love of Christ. May we see them today.

Faith and hope will one day not be needed, for they will pass away, but in the meantime together they constrain us to live in love towards ourselves as well as to others.

Who may we show mercy to today? To Whom may we be a neighbor?

In the love of Christ,

Pastor Orval Wirkkala

Posted on 29 Jan 2012 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
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