1 Corinthians 13:4-7
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. ESV
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. NASB
The love that this is speaking of here is not human love, it is divine love. It is not based in feelings, but it is based in God’s divine character and will for our lives. For, it means to prefer what he prefers; to desire what he desires. And, it is about moral preference, too – preferring what is holy, righteous, godly, moral, upright, kind, loving, truthful, faithful, pure and trustworthy.
So, let’s think about that when we consider what it says in John 3:16:
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” NASB
The love God has for us prefers (chooses, desires) what is holy and righteous, which is why he sent Jesus Christ to die on a cross for our sins. He sent him, not just to forgive us our sins, but to deliver us out of our slavery to sin so that we can live godly and holy lives pleasing to him – all in his power and strength at work within us (Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Lu. 9:23-26; Acts 26:18; 1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15).
So, believing in Jesus Christ is not just some emotional experience or some words we mouth after someone else. It is not an intellectual assent to who Jesus is, either. It is death to sin and it is living to righteousness. It is saying “No!” to ungodliness and fleshly passions, and it is living self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Jesus’ return. And, it is continuous and ongoing, i.e. it has to do with our daily walks (Tit. 2:11-14).
The fruit, then, of this divine love, will result in the behaviors, thinking, attitudes, speech, and treatment of others that this passage describes. But, if we do not have the love of God living within us, because we refused to die with him to sin and live with him to his righteousness, then we are not going to be able to love others with this divine love. And, what will come out will often or frequently end up being the opposite of what these verses describe.
Need for Correct Interpretation
Yet, this is not saying that all those who have genuinely died with Christ to sin and who are living to him and to his righteousness will love with divine perfection. We won’t be fully perfect until Jesus comes back to take us home to be with him. But, lack of perfection should never be used as an excuse for continued willful and habitual sinning against God and against others.
And, also I want to remind us all that we must interpret these verses in the light of the fact of what this love means, not based on our human understanding of what we think love should look like.
For, we can be jealous for others with a godly jealousy, praying fervently for them to have their blinded eyes opened and to let the light of the truth come in. And, we can speak the truth in love to them, because we want them to walk in holiness and righteousness, and we don’t want them to continue in bondage to sin. And, we will be observant of their lifestyles (their habits), not to condemn them, and not to punish them, but in order to help them to freedom in Christ.
And, what this love believes and hopes, too, is based in the truth, not in lies. So, love does not turn a blind eye to sinful lifestyles or to deception. It rejoices in the truth, and it rejoices in lives which have been delivered from the pit of hell who are now walking in God’s holiness and righteousness.
The Perversion of Love
Nonetheless, Satan has perverted God’s love, and he has perverted God’s grace, too, and that has opened the door wide for those professing faith in Jesus Christ to continue living in sin and in immorality, often unchallenged, without guilt, and without remorse.
The door to their pasts and their sinful lifestyles is left wide open, and so it makes it easy for them to return to where they were before they made a profession of faith in Christ, or to continue in sin, because no death to sin or living to righteousness is required in this perverted love/grace.
Thus, it leaves the door (opportunity) wide open to continue living separate (apart) from God, too, and according to the flesh. And, it leaves the door open wide to the continued… or to the revival of former thinking, attitudes and behaviors, resulting from that separateness from God.
For, it shuts God out. It doesn’t listen to what he says, and it doesn’t follow him in obedience to his will and purposes. This perverted love/grace does what it wants when it wants no matter who gets hurt in the process. And, it redefines God’s love and grace to gratify its selfish desires. So, it abandons God’s love and his true grace, to follow after the gods of this world.
But, divine love, God’s true love, makes an appeal to those who are shutting him out and who are going their own way and who are living apart from God and who are not listening to him or doing what he says. And, it is calling out to them to not shut him out, to not go their own way, and to not think that salvation from sin is freedom to now habitually sin without punishment.
This is true love which confronts sin and which calls for repentance and obedience to Christ, and for commitment to their marriage to Christ, too.
But, so many, many people who profess faith in Jesus Christ are not listening to God’s appeals to not desert him, and to not live separately from him. And, they are creating their own gospel, and their own faith, which allows them to live however they want. And, yet they console themselves that heaven is still their eternal destiny. But, that is a lie straight from hell!
So, they are going after what is “easy,” because they don’t like the path of righteousness, because they say it is “too hard.” It is a lot like a man (or a woman) who deserts his (or her) spouse for another lover because it is easier to start over with someone new than it is to work on the present marriage which has already been damaged by continued adulteries, lies, cover-ups, fakery and abuse.
It is a lot like a man (or a woman) who deserts his (or her) spouse for another lover because that other lover (the cheap grace) makes no demands for holiness, righteousness, purity, faithfulness, morality, etc. For, this other lover allows them to continue living in sin, and yet they call that “love.”
But, within this cheap grace gospel, that feels like “love,” is a rat, a very evil rat, which is Satan, but it is his false teachers, too, who are telling you a lie which will end you up in hell if you follow after that lie. They are making you feel like God’s love just removes the punishment of sin and promises you heaven when you die, but it makes no demands for holiness. That is false.
Back to the Beginning
So, we go back to the beginning here where we defined love, where we defined God’s (agape) love that prefers (desires) holiness, purity, godliness and the like. And, so God sent Jesus to die for us to FREE us from our sins so that he can now empower us to live righteously. THIS IS LOVE! Romance is not love. Lust is not love. A lover who lets you live however you want and makes no demands for holiness and faithfulness DOES NOT LOVE YOU!
So, please get this!! It may feel like love, and it may warm you inside, and it may give you goose bumps, and you may feel giddy and tingly. But, if it doesn’t desire God’s best for you, that you walk in holiness and righteousness, free from the control and power of sin over your life, then that is not love. That is hate! And, that comes from Satan who wants you still in bondage to sin but thinking you are going to heaven. That is the ultimate in cruel!! But, they call it love.
The Ninety and Nine
Lyrics by Elizabeth C. Clephane, 1868
Music by Ira D. Sankey, 1874
There were ninety and nine that safely lay
In the shelter of the fold;
But one was out on the hills away,
Far off from the gates of gold.
Away on the mountains wild and bare;
Away from the tender Shepherd’s care.
“Lord, Thou hast here Thy ninety and nine;
Are they not enough for Thee?”
But the Shepherd made answer: “This of Mine
Has wandered away from Me.
And although the road be rough and steep,
I go to the desert to find My sheep.”
But none of the ransomed ever knew
How deep were the waters crossed;
Nor how dark was the night the Lord passed through
Ere He found His sheep that was lost.
Out in the desert He heard its cry;
’Twas sick and helpless and ready to die.
“Lord, whence are those blood-drops all the way,
That mark out the mountain’s track?”
“They were shed for one who had gone astray
Ere the Shepherd could bring him back.”
“Lord, whence are Thy hands so rent and torn?”
“They’re pierced tonight by many a thorn.”
And all through the mountains, thunder-riv’n,
And up from the rocky steep,
There arose a glad cry to the gate of heav’n,
“Rejoice! I have found My sheep!”
And the angels echoed around the throne,
“Rejoice, for the Lord brings back His own!”
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