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The Bible emphasizes what might be called the work of love as contrasted with the feeling of love. Love is a practical asset & quality. It is not, in biblical terms, an abstract that has no real meaning, as it is used today. In today’s language you can love canned spinach, your new couch, your Cocker Spaniel, or your mom. But in practical terms you don’t mean the same thing by each of these statements. In the Bible love (Agape) is defined within the context of real events (such as the crucifixion).
It is most clearly and intricately described in I Cor. 13:1-8. Paul provides 15 specific characteristics of love in contrast and rebuke of the way in which the Corinthian church was acting and treating each other.Hodge in his commentary says… “Those traits of love are therefore adduced which stood opposed to the temper which they exhibited in the use of their gifts. They were impatient, discontented, envious, inflated, selfish, indecorous, unmindful of the feelings or interests of others, suspicious, resentful and censorious.”
Some have called this description of love as the spectrum of love. Paul shines love through a prism and we see 15 of its colors and hues, the spectrum of love. Each ray gives a different property of agape love.
The English translation includes several adjectives, but the Greek forms of all those properties are verbs. They do not focus on what love is so much as on what love does and does not do. Agape love is active, not abstract or passive. It does not simply feel patient, it practices patience. It does not simply have kind feelings, it does kind things. It does not simply recognize the truth, it rejoices in the truth.
I. Love suffers long– the word literally comes from 2 words meaning "long-tempered". Vine describes it as "the quality of self-restraint in the face of provocation which does not hastily retaliate or promptly punish." Its use implies the power to retaliate or react, but the unwillingness to do it – to be wronged and wronged again. The Greeks saw it as a virtue to not tolerate any insult – to be ready to strike back. "Stand up for your rights"
A. Some brethren behave this way. If they are wronged they are ready to punish. Even our rebuking is to be done with longsuffering… 2 Tim. 4:2 "Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching."
B. God is the standard for longsuffering. 2 Peter 3:9 – 9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. Robert Ingersoll, the well-known atheist of the last century, often would stop in the middle of his lectures against God and say, "I’ll give God five minutes to strike me dead for the things I’ve said." He then used the fact that he was not struck dead as proof that God did not exist. Theodore Parker said of Ingersoll’s claim, "And did the gentleman think he could exhaust the patience of the eternal God in five minutes?" S
II. Love is kind – kindness is a complement to longsuffering. It pays back the injury with good things. Literally in the Greek the phrase means to "show oneself useful". It is more than a sweet attitude – it is doing kind deeds.
A. Boaz was drawn to Ruth because of her kindness to her mother in law. (Ruth 2:11 NKJV) And Boaz answered and said to her, "It has been fully reported to me, all that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband, and how you have left yur father and your mother and the land of your birth, and have come to a people whom you did not know before.
B. Abraham’s servant used kindness as the test when choosing a mate for Isaac. Genesis 24:14 – Now let it be that the young woman to whom I say, ‘Please let down your pitcher that I may drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I will also give your camels a drink’; let her be the one You have appointed for Your servant Isaac. And by this I will know that You have shown kindness to my master."
C. Again the standard of kindness is God. Titus 3:4-5 4 But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, God’s kindness was shown in Jesus.
III. Love does not envy – closely related to jealousy – jealousy is wanting something someone else has – envy is wishing they didn’t have it either. zelos = "to boil"
A. It is a sin that is connected with other evil – the first sin, Cain’s killing Abel, Joseph & his brothers, Jesus’ own death.. Jas. 3:14-16 "But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there." Can it exist with us? How do you feel when you hear of another’s success?
IV. Love is not boastful, is not puffed up- root word for the first expression is "wind -bag" , while the root for the second is "bellows". Behind the boasting is an enlarged view of oneself.
A. pride is a real enemy of love. We are all tempted to think of ourselves too much, and too highly. (Rom. 12:3)
B. But the Bible emphasizes the humility of love. It is always aware of how blessed it is to be with this person- to be married to this person- never thinking “I could have done better; I deserve better”. This is the seed of the destruction of love, of a marriage.
V. Love does not behave rudely – Another translation is has good manners. The root word here carries the idea of being shapeless or unformed. That which displays no character of concern for another. Rudeness may seem to be an insignificant characteristic to attach to love, but rudeness is saying, "I don’t love you because I don’t care what affects you."
A. husbands who are crude and don’t care how it affects their wives
B. Christians who are rude in how they speak to those with whom they disagree, and then pretend that they love them as brothers.
C. 1 Pet 3:8 – Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; Thoughtfulness is the essence of love. Rudeness and ill manners indicate selfishness.
VI. Love does not seek its own – we need to think of ourselves as slaves – Rom. 6 – we are slaves to God & righteousness- We no longer live, Christ lives in us. Our welfare is not our primary concern. Love can motivate the greatest of sacrifices.
A. Often when a young person says I love you they mean I love me and I want you for me. I want you to make me happy. A marriage counselor has said if you want to be happy don’t get married. The only reason to get married is to make someone else happy
VII. Love is not provoked – the Greek verb (provoked) means "to sharpen, to stimulate or stir up." Some translations say "not easily provoked" – anger that arises too quickly. Love is not ready to fight. It does not feel insecure or threatened by the evil of others.
VIII. Love thinks no evil – the word thinks is an accountants term for keeping inventory. He records things he does not want to forget. Love does not keep a record of evil done against it. This is the same word used of the pardoning act of God – "Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin" ( Rom. 4:8)
A. Husband says that the problem when he and his wife fight is not so much that she gets hysterical, but that she gets historical!
IX. Love rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices with the truth– Love takes not pleasure in sin. It rejoices when the truth is found, even if it demands great change. Love does not gloat over the sin of others; it causes men to mourn over the lost.
A. Love cannot compromise on the issue of truth.. It does not seek unity apart from the platform of truth. "I don’t want to judge him, I just want to love him"
X. Love bear all things, believes all things hopes all things endures all things – the word translated "bear" comes from a word which primarily means to "protect or preserve through covering".
A. Love will do everything it can to protect, or cover the other person. It is not ready to denounce the offender, but will give them the benefit of the doubt, and believe good things first, hope better things for the future, and even when it does not turn out for the good, love will endure.
We might well say to each other in our marriage vows- don’t give up on me.
Ad isn’t that what family security is about? To know that there are people who will not give up on you. Who are always ever and still hoping and praying for the best for you.
XI. Love never fails. It is the essence of our own salvation, which because God loved us, will not fail.