Bible Study from Calvary Chapel Newberg

with Tom Fuller


True Love - Part 4 Love Goes the Distance

1Corinthians 13:7-13

Growing up in a world that doesn?t know God, doesn?t understand God, doesn?t act like God and doesn?t want anything to do with God, it is not surprising that the default value for humanity is ?every man for himself.? Get what you deserve and make sure no one else gets there first, and if you have to claw your way over everyone else?s dead body to get there you will do what it takes! Now that?s an exaggeration, sort of, but getting what we want is of primary importance to the detriment of everything and everyone else. That is not the way of true love.

Now I?m not saying that true love makes it so we never care for ourselves or have needs or fulfill them. In fact, the needs that we experience as humans are real and God given. It is not needs that are evil, it is when we fulfill those needs outside of the way God intended.

For example, God knows we need intimacy so He created marriage. When we attempt to fulfill that need outside of marriage it seems to work, but it is the wrong way to fill that need and we end up not achieving what we needed, really, and achieving what we don?t really want. We have a need for security. Instead of filling that need by trusting in the Father, we amass worldly goods for ourselves so we inoculate ourselves against our true need and we abandon God, never having the real need for security from Him fulfilled.

True love, the true fulfillment of God?s Law, God?s character, is to ?love others AS you love yourself.? But the world?s definition of love is to love others AFTER you have loved yourself (which means to get whatever you want and leave the left overs to those who respond to your feelings of affection for them).

We?ve seen that true love is ?actionable empathy??an attitude of caring for another?s welfare, and acting redemptively in their life no matter their response.

In the final four love words I would sum them up as ?love goes the distance.? True love sees past our needs for reciprocity and past our own pride, and into the heart of God which desires for all to be restored. The final love words bring that character to the forefront.

Bears all things (protects others) ? Humiliates others

The word used here in the Greek is stego and it means ?to cover.? The idea is not covering up sin, but protecting our brothers and sisters.

Galatians 6:2-3Bear one another\'s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. ESV

Do you find yourself embarrassing others? Even to the point of humiliation? Are you prone to passing on tidbits on someone else?s business, especially those embarrassing stories? That?s the opposite of ?bearing all things?.

Instead we should go out of our way to make sure that others are comfortable, trusted, loved, cared for, and protected.

Believes all things (thinks the best) ? Always thinks the worst

Believing all things does not mean we are gullible. It means we literally think the best of people and not the worst. Are you automatically suspicious of others? When someone says something do you automatically assume the worst? A person walking in love will have to have a bad intent exhibited, not assumed.

Hopes all things (always looking forward) ? Always looking back

Are you a person that is always living in the failures of the past or in the promise of the future?

Lamentations 3:22-24 22 Because of the Lord\'s faithful love we do not perish, for His mercies never end. 23 They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness! 24 I say: The Lord is my portion, therefore I will put my hope in Him.

Jeremiah 29:11-14 For I know the plans I have for you\"?this is the Lord\'s declaration?\"plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 12 You will call to Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.  

Don?t get me wrong, we need to learn from our past mistakes, but we always need to remember that ?God causes all things to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose.? (Romans 8:28)

And: Philippians 2:13-14 For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to will and to act for His good purpose.

How is this love? Love looks towards the future and God?s work because remember, love is thinking and acting redemptively in the lives of others.

Endures all things (always moving forward) ? Always in danger of falling away

Love never gives up. When someone falls, again, do you just jettison them? In marriage, when the going gets rough, do you go by the feelings or by the reality of your vows and stay together to let the Lord work things out, even if it is hard, soul wrenching work? When a person is determined to keep acting in a fleshly manner, do we give up, or continue loving and praying? Love not only looks forward but it moves forward, no matter what.

Never ends (or never fails) ? Reaches a limit

Love in the world has its limits. Thank the Lord that true agape love, true God-love, does not have limits; otherwise God would have cast us off long ago when we failed Him yet again.

A person walking in agape love will not give up on you, just like God won?t.

So the question is, are you other centered, or primarily self-centered? It?s a tough question that takes some real introspection and inspection by the Holy Spirit. But if we want to grow, we must grow here or we will not grow into full maturity as a believer.

8b ? 10 Love Is the Hallmark of a Maturing Apprentice

Spiritual gifts will pass away. Once we are with the Lord we will hear everything we need right from His mouth. But love, which is the character of God, will never end because God will never end.

11 ? 12

This is like Paul saying ?wake up to what a real maturing Christian is like.? It isn?t how much you can do or how much you can impress by your knowledge or gifting, it is how little there is for you alone and how much there is for others.

The things of the self are ?childish.? When the disciples walked with Jesus they caught only small glimpses of what He was really like and for the most part were wholly ignorant and walked around saying ?huh?? It is very much like looking into one of those old silver mirrors that has tarnished. You can tell there is a reflection there but you can?t make out many details.

As we look at Jesus we see outlines of His character. The hope is that as we mature and look into the spiritual mirror of our character, the more the reflection will look like Jesus and less like our flesh!

1 John 3:2-3 Dear friends, we are God\'s children now, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself just as He is pure.

13

We need faith now, which is trust and reliance on the Lord to save us and work in and through us. We have a hope (not a wish but the certainty of a given outcome). Our hope is that God will come back for us. Once we live in His presence we won?t need faith or hope, but love will continue into eternity.

Conclusions 

In the end we have a choice?are we going to focus on appearing spiritual or being loving?

Love is an action word, not an adjective. It is action aimed at another solely for their benefit. You mean we get nothing out of it? That?s not what I?m saying. But true love doesn?t expect anything in return.

The good news is that there are wonderful rewards for this kind of selfless love.

Matthew 6:1-4 \"Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of people, to be seen by them. Otherwise, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 So whenever you give to the poor, don\'t sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be applauded by people. I assure you: They\'ve got their reward! 3 But when you give to the poor, don\'t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.  

How does the Father reward us? By seeing the wonderful effects of His love through us in the lives of others. (see Philippians 4:17 for instance).

Philippians 4:17-20 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that is increasing to your account. 18 But I have received everything in full, and I have an abundance. I am fully supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you provided?a fragrant offering, a welcome sacrifice, pleasing to God. 19 And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

Of course the ultimate example of this kind of love is the Lord Himself.

1 John 4:10-12 Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another.  

It is the most like Jesus when we are other-focused:

Romans 15:1-3 Now we who are strong have an obligation to bear the weaknesses of those without strength, and not to please ourselves. 2 Each one of us must please his neighbor for his good, in order to build him up. 3 For even the Messiah did not please Himself. On the contrary, as it is written, The insults of those who insult You have fallen on Me. 

Love is what was on Paul?s mind when he wrote the book.

1 Corinthians 16:14 ?Your every action must be done with love.?

- Love is not easy (especially when others don?t return love)

- Love does not come naturally (our default position is not loving)

- Love isn?t about what you know, who you know, or what you can do

- Love is attitudes and actions towards others to help them know and experience God?s love

- Love isn?t about doing good things, it is about knowing the only good Person