************ Sermon on 1 Corinthians 13:4b-5 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on July 24, 2007
1 Corinthians 13
1 Corinthians 13:4b-5
"What Love is Not"
TASC # 4
Topic: SinHow true and how sad!
Subtopic: Total Depravity
Title: The Morning Prayer
So far today, dear Jesus, I have done all right. I haven't gossiped, haven't been greedy, grumpy, nasty, selfish or over-indulgent. I'm very thankful for that ... However, in just a few minutes I'm going to get out of bed. From then on I'm going to need a lot more help. Amen.
Love is supposed to be patient and kind – we looked at that yesterday. Love does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs (1 Cor 13:4-5). This is the kind of love we are supposed to have. But instead we are impatient, unkind, envious, boastful, proud, rude, self-seeking, easily angered, and unforgiving. This is true for you. It is true for me. It is true for everyone but Jesus. Of all the people who have ever lived or will ever live only Jesus has a perfect agape love.
You all know why. You all know why our love is not perfect. You all know why our love falls short. You all know why our love is nothing like the love of Jesus. It is because of sin. Sin make us impatient and unkind. Sin makes us envious, boastful, proud, rude, self-seeking, easily angered, and unforgiving. The sin we are born with, the corruption within us, the earthly nature we all have – this is what makes our love deficient.
We see proof of this every single day, don't we?! The news is filled with story after story that lays this out for all the world to see. A couple of days ago I mentioned stories from the Visalia Times Delta. Let me now mention stories in USA Today:
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A man testified Tuesday that moments before he was beaten in a videotaped arrest after Hurricane Katrina, he called police officers "ignorant, unprofessional and rude" for interrupting him when he tried to ask a question.The reason for all of these failures to love is sin!
PARIS (AP) — Tour de France rider Alexandre Vinokourov, a pre-race favorite to win the tour, tested positive for a banned blood transfusion after winning last weekend's time trial, prompting his Astana team to pull out of the race Tuesday and police to raid the team hotel.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Cardinal Roger Mahony approved a record clergy abuse payout, opened the files of the Roman Catholic priests involved and looked into the cameras and apologized for the victims' treatment.
But you know, we don't have to look at the newspaper to see a failure to love. All that we have to do is look at ourselves. Remember the prayer I started this message with?
So far today, dear Jesus, I have done all right. I haven't gossiped, haven't been greedy, grumpy, nasty, selfish or over-indulgent. I'm very thankful for that ... However, in just a few minutes I'm going to get out of bed.Even if we were to stay in bed all day we would not be perfect by any means. Our love would still continue to fail and fall short.
So far we have said love is better than faith and hope. We have said love lets people know we are Christians. We have said love is patient and kind. Today we want to look at what love is NOT.
I Love Does Not Envy
A We are told that agape love does not envy. Or, as another translation puts it, agape love is not jealous.
It is possible to be envious of almost anything. You can envy someone's ability to hit a baseball, score a basket, or throw a football. You can envy someone's intelligence, wisdom, knowledge. You can envy someone's ability to talk or pray in public. You can envy another's possessions and money. You can envy another's spouse or children or family or boyfriend or girlfriend. You can envy another's position, job, or career. Instead of being happy with what another has, you are jealous and envious.
B Scripture tells us that envy is our natural, sinful desire (Gal 5:19). Because of this, envy is found everywhere. It is found in the church. It is found in the world. None of us, I'm afraid, are immune to it. It can strike any of us at any time.
If we are honest, we have to admit that at times we also want to be envied, that we encourage envy. I remember the first day of grade school after the summer vacation. One by one we were asked to come to the front of the class to tell our classmates what we had done during the summer. One of my fellow students envied the great vacations and exciting trips all his classmates seemed to have so he invented all sort of tales about his summer in order to make the rest of us envious of him.
It isn't only the children who seek psychological fulfillment from being envied. Many adults want to be objects of envy too. We know that God was speaking to Joseph in the dreams mentioned in Genesis 37. Yet, I have often wondered what could possibly have possessed Joseph to tell his brothers about those dreams? And, knowing their insane jealousy about the richly ornamented robe given him by father Jacob, what could possibly have possessed him to wear it when he went in search of his brothers at Shechem and Dothan?
Advertisers today have discovered that one way to sell a product is to create envy among those who don't have it. That's why Rolls Royce can sell a Corniche for $380,000 and Lamborghini can sell a Diablo for $288,000. The buyers know that possession of these cars displays to others how rich the owners are. This same principle of creating envy extends to clothing, houses, and furniture. I have even seen this principle used in choosing a marriage partner. Some people choose their mates to be the envy of their peers; they don't marry someone out of love but because he or she will elicit the envy of others.
I remember, when I was a teenager, hearing sermons on the evils of keeping up with the Jones' – a mythical family living next door – on striving to have the same things as my neighbor. Today, it is no longer good enough to keep up with the Jones'. Today's creed is to keep ahead of the Jones'. Today's creed is to be the envy of friends, neighbors, and acquaintances. Today's creed is conspicuous consumption in order to generate the envy of those who can't afford what you have. But this too is nothing new. The preacher spoke of this almost 1000 years before the birth of Christ.
(Eccl 4:4) And I saw that all labor and all achievement spring from man's envy of his neighbor. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
Let me make it perfectly clear: to envy is the opposite of love; and, to purposely create or generate envy is as great a sin as the envy itself. Instead, as I already said, we should be happy with what we have and we should delight in what our neighbors have.
C There are all sorts of examples of envy and its dire consequences. I think of the story of Cain and Abel. Cain killed Abel because he envied the favor which Abel gained in the eyes of God (Gen 4:5). The plans of Saul to kill David resulted from Saul's envy of David's popularity (1 Sam 18:6-9). And, it is out of envy that the scribes and Pharisees had Jesus crucified (Mt 27:18).
Topic: EnvyThese and other stories show us the destructive power of unchecked envy.
Title: Malicious Wish
There is a Jewish folk story about a certain store owner who was visited by an angel. The angel offered the man a wish that would give him anything he desired. However, there was one condition--his rival, whom he envied intensely, would receive double of what-ever he received. After thinking the matter over, the envious man asked to be struck blind in one eye.
Title: Destructive Power of
Recently, a shocking story of the horrible results of envy appeared in the national press. The story covered the murder of an attractive teenager. The victim had tried out for and won a place on her high school's cheer-leading team. As the cheerleaders in her particular school were elected by the student body, her election was a statement that she was considered one of the cutest and most popular girls at school.
One of the girls who was not elected was filled with envy. This rejected teenager had lost out again to the victim. Time after time the victim had gained the favor and recognition that the rejected teenager craved. Her envy got the best of her. With the help of her mother she murdered her competitor, and was able to take her position on the cheer-leading team.
Agape love does NOT envy. But eros does (remember this word for love; it is a getting love, a demanding love). Eros is a very jealous lover. Eros demands total possession, exclusive rights. Philos is also a jealous lover (remember this word for love; it is the love between friends). If someone becomes a friend of my friend, I fear that the new person will steal my friend from me. Children have this all the time. We call it sibling rivalry.
I will never forget what one of my boys said six months after a younger brother was born. "I hate him." He hated his new-born brother because someone else was demanding's mom's time and attention.Stergo can also be a jealous lover (remember this word for love; it is a caring love). It is jealous that someone or something else is getting the care and attention that it wants.
II Love Forgets About Itself
Agape love does not envy; it is not jealous. But notice what else it does not do:
(1 Cor 13:4-5) ... it does not boast, it is not proud. (5) It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
There are all sorts of things I can say about each one of these – but I won't. Let me sum it up this way: If you have agape love you forget about yourself. If you have agape love you are not self-centered and self-focused and self-absorbed. You forget about yourself and you concentrate on God. You forget about yourself and consider the needs of others. If you want agape love you need to have JOY: Jesus first, Others next, Yourself last.
There are some people who go through life who never think about anyone but themselves. They walk into a room full of people and say, "Here I am." The person with agape love walks into a room full of people and says, "There you are." See the difference in focus? See who comes first with both people?
Self-centered people make lousy friends, terrible marriage partners, poor pastors, and horrible co-workers. I have seen that over and over again.
Again, we need to be like Jesus. He did NOT envy. He was NOT jealous. He was NOT self-absorbed. When we are like Jesus then we have agape love.
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