Monday, November 6, 2017, 3:33 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Oh, To Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a (ESV/NASB).
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends (ESV).
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails (NASB).
I am quoting this passage from two different translations, as each one adds a different aspect, in some cases, to the completeness of thought.
What is Love?
The Greek word for love, in this context, is agapē, which is divine (God-like) love, which prefers what God prefers, i.e. what is moral, righteous, virtuous, holy, pure, honest and honorable. Agapē love is self-sacrificial, and puts the welfare of others above its own. It is also not based in human emotion, but in the will of God, and so it is an act of our will, based on God’s will, to love others with this kind of love. And, it is of God, who is love, so we can only love like this because of God’s love living within us and out through us.
So, in order for us to have this kind of love, one for another, we must first of all be in intimate relationship with the one who is love, through faith in Jesus Christ, God the Son (the Son of God). Thus, we must be crucified with Christ, by the Spirit of God, via death to sin, and be resurrected with Christ, by the Spirit, to new lives in Christ Jesus, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” This begins when we accept God’s invitation to his great salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, yet it is also a daily process of dying to sin and self and of following our Lord Jesus in obedience and in surrender to his will for our lives. To love others in this way, thus, we must be indwelt by and surrendered to the ONE who IS LOVE.
[Eph. 4:17-24; Gal. 2:20; Ro. 6:1-23; Lu. 9:23-25; 2 Co. 5:15; Ro. 8:1-14]
Agapē love is patient (long-suffering). It doesn’t quit. It doesn’t give up on people, even though they may be difficult or even hurtful towards us. We persevere in loving them, but sometimes that means exercising tough love.
Love is kind. It is thoughtful and demonstrates a desire to help others. Yet, telling people lies just to make them feel good is never kind. Speaking the truth in love is kind, because it cares more about what the other person really needs than it cares about itself, or its own reputation, even being willing to be mistreated or misunderstood, in return for showing love.
Love is not jealous (or envious). Yet, this word translated as “jealous” can be used in both a positive and a negative context. So, jealously is not always bad or unloving, in other words. We can be jealous for others with a godly jealousy, wishing to see them forsake their idolatry (adultery) and to return to their “first love” (See: 2 Co. 11:1-4). Envy, on the other hand, is bad, for it incorporates such terms as “greed, bitterness, resentment, spite, and hatred” etc. It wants what others have, and it will even become bitter or resentful if it does not get it, but often this is without being willing to go the honest (right) course in order to rightfully receive what it desires.
Not Boastful or Proud
Love does not brag (boast), it is not arrogant (proud, conceited, puffed-up). I think those speak for themselves. It is not full of itself, in other words.
Love does not act unbecomingly. In some translations this is translated to say that love is not rude (impolite). Yet, rudeness can be defined by the culture in which we live and/or by tradition, and it may or may not agree with what scripture teaches. In some cultures, it is polite to lie to people, but lying is sinful. In some cultures, it is impolite to speak the truth in love, yet that is what scripture teaches us we must do.
The gospel of our salvation is an offense to those who are perishing, and so the world (or worldly church) may consider us as being rude (impolite) because we preach the gospel, because it offends people. Yet, we must preach the gospel, and that is agapē love. So, we must never compromise the truth of God’s word or what he teaches us we must do, in love, so as not to offend people.
So, rudeness must always be defined by scripture and not by culture (not by the world). A better translation of “does not act unbecomingly” would read that love is not dishonorable (shameful; vile; wicked) or indecent (crude, impure, vulgar). That makes more sense.
Love does not seek its own. In other words, love is unselfish and it regards the legitimate needs (necessities) of others above itself. It willingly gives of itself to meet others’ needs, and is self-sacrificial, giving of time, money, resources, energy, etc. for others.
Love is not easily provoked (not easily angered). If we are hot-headed, we can’t be acting in love.
No Tit for Tat
Love does not take into account (keep records of) a wrong suffered; it is not resentful. This is much like “tit for tat,” i.e. it has to do with keeping books (like a score sheet or a ledger) for the purpose of retaliation, i.e. for evening out the score, i.e. for getting even with others for what they do to us.
No Pleasure in Sin
Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness (does not delight in evil). We should get no pleasure out of the evil things people do or out of seeing evil done to others, and this includes watching TV shows and movies where we are entertained by such evil and even rejoice when people are killed or get their “just due.” And, we should not take pleasure in evil (sinful) thoughts, words, or behaviors in our own lives, for Jesus set us free from all that.
We should grieve over such evil, not find pleasure in it. We should grieve in repentance before God if we should commit sin, and our hearts should break over all the evil we see committed every day in this world of ours. And, we should rejoice with the truth, even when the truth cuts straight to the heart.
Love… All Things
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Again, what this says here must be defined by scripture and not by culture. This is not talking about believing lies or being tolerant of sin or trusting in a false hope or enduring false teaching. This is agape love, so it must be defined by how God loves, by his character and nature, and by his holiness and righteousness. It prefers what God prefers, so it bears, believes, hopes and endures only as God does, and as he requires of us.
Thus, this does not refer to anything outside the scope of what would be approved by God and for God and for the ultimate good of others. Our beliefs and hopes must always be centered in God and in his Word. So, we must endure trials, hardships, troubles and unjust suffering and persecution for the sake of his name, and for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Love Never Fails
Human love will fail us. It will end. That is why there are so many divorces now days. Human love ended. That is why people murder, commit adultery, lie, cheat, and steal, etc. This is why children turn against their parents, and parents against their children. Yes, people sin because we are born into sin, with sin natures, but many people end up hurting others because they didn’t know or they didn’t draw upon (tap into) God’s love, and the human love they had didn’t hold up when temptation gave them an alternative to love. This is one reason why there are so many lonely and hurting people in our societies, because human love failed them at some time or another.
Not so with God’s love, because he is love. His love is everlasting. So, when we walk in his love, and we allow his love to flow out through us, it will not fail to act according to God’s will, preferring what God prefers, and doing what is in the best interest of others, not according to human standards, but according to God’s. So, in all things we must love God and love others as God loves us and gave himself up for us.
Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Thomas O. Chisholm / W. J. Kirkpatrick
Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.
Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.
O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.
O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.
Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.