************ Sermon on 1 Corinthians 13:4a ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on July 23, 2007
1 Corinthians 13
1 Corinthians 13:4a
"Love is Patient and Kind"
TASC # 3
Did you know there are four words for love in the Greek language?
The first is "eros." This forms the root of our English word "erotic." Eros is a "getting" love. Eros is usually associated with sexual love. The basic element is a desire, a will to possess seeking satisfaction. Eros exists because it sees something desirable in another.
The second word for love is "stergo." This is a "caring" love. This is the natural love which we have for others. As human beings we love others as part of humanity. This love recognizes that all men are closely bound together, dependent on each other, and obligated to each other because of their common humanity. This is the love that we show to a neighbor in need or that we have for the poor and hungry we try to assist.
"Philos" is a third word for love. This is a "sharing" love. This word expresses the affection we feel for those close to us. It is called out of the heart by the pleasure one takes in another. It is the love between friends or among family.
The final Greek word for love is "agape." This is a "giving" love. It is a love which impels one to sacrifice for the benefit of the other person. This love seeks to give rather than to get. Agape love keeps on loving even when the other person doesn't respond; agape love keeps on loving without asking for anything in return.
As I said Saturday night, agape love is what Paul is talking about in 1 Corinthians 13. It is agape love which is greater than faith and hope. It is agape love which is better than speaking in the tongues of men and angels. It is agape love which is better than understanding all mysteries. It is agape love which is better than a faith that can move mountains. It is agape love which lets us know whether our faith is real or not.
Today we are told that agape love is patient and kind.
I Love is Patient
A We all have people who annoy us and hurt us. Maybe there is someone on this TASC project whom you find to be extremely irritating. Now, you have two options. Your first option: you can choose to let these people get on your nerves and under your skin; you can choose to get mad and get even. If you react this way it is because you have chosen to react this way; it is a choice on your part. Your second option: you can choose to show love; you can choose to be patient and kind. Notice, you have a choice. You may not be able to control or change the behavior of the other person but you certainly control how you choose to respond.
I want to ask: How do you choose to respond to annoying or hurtful people?
B If you have agape love you are patient with those around you. If you have agape love you are patient with annoying people, with irritating people, with people who hurt you, with people who attack you, with people who drag your name through the mud, with people who spread gossip about you.
If you have agape love you are also patient in trying circumstances. If you have agape love you are patient when you wait in a long line at the movies or at Six Flags Magic Mountain. If you have agape love you are patient when you are stuck on the freeway (have you ever just sat there on the freeway; I had this on a Christmas Day; we missed the Christmas dinner, the opening of presents, the aunts and uncles, grandma; I got hungry; and then my bladder started to scream at me and my back teeth began to float). If you have agape love you are patient when you are waiting your turn to use the bathroom (how many have a brother or sister who take forever in the bathroom). If you have agape love you are patient when you are waiting for supper (when my sons lived at home they were invisible all day long; but when supper was being prepared they would suddenly appear; lids would be lifted; the oven would be opened; they would start to nibble and kept asking "how much longer?"). If you have agape love you are patient as you wait for your driver's license. If you have agape love you are patient as you wait to graduate. If you have agape love you are patient as you wait to hear from college. If you have agape love you are patient as you wait for marriage to have sex.
Notice all the negative things you are patient with if you have agape love: annoying people, irritating people, hurting people, attacking people, gossiping people, long lines, delays, hunger! You might not think of it this way but you are being patient with suffering. Or, to use another translation, you are being long-suffering. You are putting up with things and people and situations you would rather not tolerate.
Topic: ImpatienceDoes any of this sound even vaguely familiar?
A Texas minister was scheduled to speak at an all-day conference. He was running late because he forgot to set his alarm. In his haste to make up for lost time he cut himself while shaving. Then he got some of the blood on his white shirt and had to change shirts. To make matters worse, running to his car he noticed his tire was flat. He changed the tire. He got some dirt on his shirt and changed it again.
Disgusted and distraught the minister finally got underway with a burst of speed. He pushed the speed limit and came to a "rolling stop" at a stop sign. Of course, a policeman was following and stopped him.
Jumping out of the car, the agitated minister said sharply, "Well, go ahead and give me a ticket. Everything else has gone wrong today."
C Remember the four words for love in the Greek language: eros, stergo, philos, agape. It is only agape love that gives you the power to be long-suffering. It is only agape love that enables you to choose to be patient.
Eros drives you in the opposite direction. Eros is not patient. Eros is not long-suffering. Eros wants to possess and it wants to possess right now. Eros is not willing to wait. Eros demands satisfaction. Eros goes all the way with a guy or girl. Eros commits adultery. Eros is self-centered. Eros has no self-control.
Agape love is able to be patient because it comes from God. Or, to put it another way, agape love is able to be patient because it does not come from within us. The Apostle John says, "We love because he first loved us" (1 John 4:19). It is only because God loves us in Christ that we are able to love others. It is only because God is patient with us in Christ that we are able to be patient with others. It is only because God is long-suffering that we are able to be long-suffering.
If God were not long-suffering He would have given up on us ages ago. No matter what God does, no matter what angel or prophet He sends, we continue to be stubborn and rebellious. He has every reason to pull the plug on us. He has every reason to let us develop and set off the doomsday bomb. He has every reason to come in judgment. But He doesn't! Why not? Because God is love! Because God is patient. Because God is long-suffering.
Do you want this love? Do you want to be patient? Do you want to be long-suffering? You need to know and love Jesus. Jesus not only models agape love but Jesus is agape love. Think of Christ during His time of ministry on earth. How patient He was. How long-suffering He was. He endured hatred, unbelief, deprivation, mockery, testing, betrayal, denial because He loves us. Only in union with Jesus can you and I be like Him. Only in union with Jesus can we show the love of Christ during TASC. Only in union with Jesus can we be patient and long-suffering.
II Love is Kind
A In his perfect love song the Apostle Paul also tells us that "love is kind."
Have you ever noticed how unkind people can be to each other? Even in the church of Jesus Christ people can be unkind. Even in the best of Christian homes people can be unkind. But, then, this is nothing new. The Bible is full of stories of people being unkind to one another.
John's third letter tells us about Diotrephes. Diotrephes always wanted to be first (3 Jn 9). His selfishness led him to reject the words of John. But soon he went beyond this and began to "gossip ... maliciously about us" and refused to welcome brothers and sisters in the Lord (vs 10). This reminds us that no one can feed their own ego and look after the needs of others. Diotrephes was not a kind man. He was a bully, a liar, and a rebel against God's order in the church.
The book of Numbers tells us about the time Aaron and Miriam were unkind to their brother Moses. Out of jealousy and some sort of sibling rivalry they said to each other, "Has the Lord spoken only through Moses? Hasn't he also spoken through us?" (Num 12:2). Their jealousy led them to rebuke their brother at a time when he needed all the encouragement he could get as leader of an often difficult and rebellious people (Num 12:1-3).
The Apostle Paul was usually an example of godliness and holiness. But there was at least one instance where he too failed in terms of kindness. When Barnabas and Paul set out on their first missionary journey they took John Mark with them as their helper (Acts 12:25; 13:5). For whatever reason, Mark defected before the journey was half over (Acts 13:13). Perhaps he was homesick, afraid, or ill. When the time came to start the next missionary tour, strong disagreement arose between Paul and Barnabas over taking John Mark with them. Paul didn't want to take John Mark because he had deserted them once before; Barnabas wanted to give John Mark another chance because he wanted to encourage the young man. The disagreement became so sharp that Paul and Barnabas parted ways. Perhaps if Paul would have been more bending, perhaps if he would have been more gentle and kind, there never would have come this break between the two men. Certainly Paul was sorry, since later he asked John Mark to join him in Rome (2 Tim 4:11).
B The Bible also tells us stories of kindness. Probably no passage speaks more clearly to kindness than does the parable of the Good Samaritan.
A lawyer asked Jesus how he might inherit eternal life. Jesus asked him, "What does the Bible say?" The lawyer replied with the law of love – love God above all and your neighbor as yourself. The lawyer, wanting to justify his unequal treatment of people, then asked, "Who is my neighbor?" The Pharisees, don't forget, taught that only some and not all men were neighbors. Samaritans, Gentiles, tax-collectors, shepherds, tanners, and others were considered as enemies and therefore no love needed to be shown to them.
In His parable Jesus spoke of a man who had been robbed, beaten, left half-dead. Who would show him kindness? Not a priest, not a Levite. These were the leaders among the Jews; the lower classes were expected to follow their example. The priest and the Levite were neither kind nor merciful. But the Samaritan was! He was moved with compassion, treated the man's wounds with oil and wine and bound them up, and then brought him to an inn for recovery. He even paid the injured man's expenses.
The Good Samaritan made a choice to be kind. He could have rushed to his next appointment in Jericho. He could have said he had neither the time nor the money. Yet, he took the time and the trouble to help the wounded man. He was kind.
It is possible to so wrap oneself in a cause, a job, a hobby, a sport, that there is no time for kindness even for loved ones.
There is a tragic story about Lenin that illustrates this. Lenin wrapped himself in his revolutionary work until he lost almost all capacity for tenderness and kindness. Those about him said he was a most miserable man.
Although married, Lenin gave little love to his wife. One evening she rose exhausted from looking after her dying mother and asked Lenin, who was writing at a table, to awaken her if her mother needed her. Lenin agreed and his wife collapsed into bed. The next morning she awoke to find her mother dead and Lenin still at work. Distraught, she confronted Lenin, who replied, "You told me to wake you if your mother needed you. She died. She didn't need you."
Contrast Lenin with the Lord. Jesus was important. He was busy. Often He was tired and hungry. Yet, we see Him taking the time to be gentle and kind to the small children crowding around Him. He visits with the woman at the well and sparks a fire in her heart. He stoops in the sand to restore a fallen woman. It is heart-warming to think of how much time Jesus spent just being tender and kind with people.
C "Love is kind." Do you see what kindness is? Kindness means availability, usefulness, benevolence, and care to anyone with a need. Kindness means selflessness instead of selfishness. Kindness means we give ourselves to and for others.
You are on TASC to show love. You are on TASC to be kind. You are on TASC to feed the hungry, to help the homeless, to show care for the poor. And, don't forget, you also are to be kind to one another. Maybe there is someone here this week who needs a friend, who needs a little bit of kindness. Are you willing to give it to them? Are you willing to show love?
Love is patient. Love is kind. Love is the Lord Jesus. Is love also you?
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