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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Robert Jeffress » Robert Jeffress - The Love Connection

Robert Jeffress - The Love Connection

Robert Jeffress - The Love Connection
TOPICS: Straight Answers to Tough Questions, Love

Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. Today, we'll open our Bibles to a heartwarming passage written by the apostle Paul to the Corinthians. It's widely known as the "Great love" chapter. Can you imagine what it was like for Paul's friends to receive this passionate letter dripping with emotion? Well, today, we're going to spend a half hour in their shoes. My message is titled, "The Love Connection" on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.

It was Jonathan Swift, the author of "Gulliver's Travel", who said, "We have just enough religion to make us hate one another, but not enough religion to make us love one another". That was certainly true of the church at Corinth. Now, they were an influential church. They were an orthodox church, they were a growing church, but they were filled with strife and division. What was the answer to the conflict in the Corinthian church that was threatening their witness for Jesus Christ? In a word, the answer was love. And that's why Paul wrote an entire chapter in the New Testament about this subject of love in the midst of the division in the Corinthian church, Paul pauses to talk about love. "Love is the lubricant," he says, "That makes any friendship, it makes any relationship, it makes any family, it makes any church run smoothly". And it's that quality of love that we're going to look at tonight.

If you have your Bibles, turn to 1 Corinthians chapter 13. Remember in this chapter of 1 Corinthians 13, when Paul talks about love, he's not talking about desire. That word would've been eros, that we get erotic from. That's not the kind of love he's talking about. He's talking about agape love, a self-sacrificing love, a love that's more interested in what it can give than what it can receive. And as we saw in these descriptive words about love, these are not adjectives in the original language. They are verbs. There's an activity behind it. Now, we saw there's a simple outline for this chapter. In verses one to three, Paul was talking about the excellence of love. He said, "That love is superior to eloquent speech, to spiritual gifts, to even to self-sacrifice".

But then, beginning in verse four, Paul is going to talk about the characteristics of love. Consider this a checklist for love, and I want you to use this checklist, those of you here tonight, those of you listening, I want you to use this checklist in two ways. First of all, use it on yourself. A, are these characteristics true of you? Are you doing these things in your relationship? And then, for those of you who are thinking about entering a Romantic relationship, now, I'm talking about single people, okay? Those of you who are thinking about a Romantic relationship with somebody, maybe you're thinking about getting engaged, dating, perhaps marrying, use this as a checklist. Does that other person possess these characteristics of love?

Last time we looked up at the first two characteristics of love, Paul says in verse four, "Love is patient". Remember that word, makrothumeo. It's a word that refers not to circumstances, but to people. Are you long-tempered? That's what the word literally means. In other words, you have a long fuse, rather than a short fuse when it comes to people. Secondly, love is kind. It does something for other people. Love is something that is always doing something useful for people, especially people who wrong us. And of course, God did something kind for us. Titus says, when he did, when he demonstrated kindness toward us in sending Christ to die for us, even though we were sinners deserving God's judgment, instead of God giving us what we deserved, he did what we needed. He acted with kindness toward us. That's what kind means. It means to do something useful for those who wrong you.

And now, we're going to look again beginning in verse four with some of the negative characteristics of love. "Love is patient. Love is kind". Then notice, first of all, "Love is not jealous". It is not jealous. Now, a lot of people have a wrong understanding of this word, jealous. When we think of the word jealousy, we think of possessiveness. Let's say, you see your mate talking to an attractive member of the opposite sex and you're uncomfortable with that. Or maybe, you're engaged and you find out your fiance has been going to lunch regularly with somebody of the opposite sex, and you voice your displeasure over that. And the person says, "Oh, you're being jealous". And the Bible says, "Don't be jealous". That's what he's not, what he's talking about here.

If you love somebody, you are going to be possessive in some realm. You realize that there are certain emotions, certain actions that ought to be reserved for you because of the relationship you have with that person. Jealousy is not always a bad term. God is a jealous God. There are emotions he wants us to reserve for him and him alone. You know, this word here, jealous means to envy. It means to desire what somebody else has. A good synonym would be covetous. It means that you wish you had something that somebody else did, and it actually goes a step further. It means you wish somebody else didn't have something that they have.

You know, jealousy was the root of the very first murder. Remember, Cain killed his brother Abel? Why is that? Because Abel had offered a sacrifice that was accepted by God. Abel had a closer relationship with God. Cain was jealous of that and it instigated the first murder. You can see how jealousy is really the opposite of true agape love. Real love rejoices over what other people have, instead of resents it. Secondly, "Love does not brag". This is the only time this word is used in the New Testament. Somebody has translated it. Love does not behave like a windbag. That's what bragging is, to behave like a windbag. We all know people like that, don't we? Please don't point. You know, people are always bragging about their accomplishments or who they know, name dropping all of the time. People who act like a windbag.

There was a great story about Muhammad Ali when he was the heavyweight champion of the world and at the height of his career, he was getting on a 747 airplane. He sat down in his first class seat and the flight attendant came up and told him to buckle his seatbelt. He growled, "Superman, don't need no seatbelt". The flight attendant said, "Superman don't need no airplane either". You know that's what it means to behave like a windbag. You know, to brag about things. Paul talked about the Corinthians. They were constantly bragging about their spiritual heritage or who their mentor was. We're of Peter, we're of Paul, we are of a Apollo's, and so forth. Closely related to that word is arrogant. "Love is not arrogant". The King James translates it. "Love is not puffed up".

Barclay, the New Testament writer says, "Love is not inflated with its own importance". I like that, not inflated with its own importance. The story is told about Winston Churchill who was having an argument with his servant and he said to his servant, "You were rude to me"! And the servant said, "Well, you were rude to me first"! Churchill said, "Yes, but I am a great man". And that's arrogance. That is bragging about something that may or may not be true. Contrast that to the true story that Barclay tells about William Carey. William Carey, as you know, was a missionary to India. He translated the English language into 34 different translations, different languages in the Indian country to translate the Bible. And when he arrived in India, he had come from being a a shoe cobbler. And so, he was invited to a nice dinner and one of the hosts of the dinner was a snob who wanted to humiliate William Carey in front of the dinner group. And he said, "So I hear Mr. Carey that you were a shoemaker". And Carey said, "Oh no, you've heard wrong. You've heard wrong. I was not a shoemaker. I never had that gift. I was only a shoe cobbler".

And he wasn't about to try to inflate his resume in order to impress other people. That's what love is. It is not arrogant. You know what the cure to arrogance is? Flip over to 1 Corinthians 4, verses 6 and 7. Anytime you feel puffed up, anytime you feel an inflated sense of importance, I encourage you to read 1 Corinthians 4:6-7. Paul says, "Now these things, brethren and I have figuratively applied to myself, and Apollos for your sake, so that in us you may learn not to exceed what is written. So that no one of you may become arrogant in behalf of one against the other. For who regards you as superior, what do you have that you did not receive? And if you did not, and if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it"? Anytime you start to feel important, anytime you start to feel prideful, ask yourself this question, "What do I have in my life that I didn't receive either from God or someone else"?

You realize everything you have in your life is either the result of what God or somebody else has done for you? I mean, you say, "Well, my career, nobody did that for me. I am a self-made person. I did that all on my own". Who gives you the strength? Who gives you the breath of life to get up every morning and do what you did? Isn't that what God did? Now, true humility is realizing that anything good we have in life is the result of either what God or other people have done for us. Fourthly, "Love does not act unbecomingly". Look at verse five. It does not act unbecomingly, the new international captures the meaning of this word. Love is not rude. The only other time this word is used in the New Testament is in 1 Corinthians 7:36 in which Paul cautions fathers not to act unbecomingly toward their daughters.

Now, that's not what you think. It doesn't have overtones of incest there. It means don't be too severe with your daughters. He was saying, "Fathers, if your daughter wants to marry, don't restrict them from marrying. Don't make them take a vow of chastity to be virgins and never marry. Don't be overly severe with them". That's what the word here means. It means don't be rude to other people. Don't be overly severe. That doesn't mean we don't have to stand for the truth at times. We do need to stand for truth and some people will be turned off by that. But you know, many people have been turned off to Christianity, not because of the offense of the gospel, but because of the offensiveness of other Christians. I mean, we can speak the truth. We need to speak the truth, but we need to speak it in love.

Next, "Love does not seek its own rights," verse 5 says. You know, what a contrast to these Corinthians. They always wanted to be up front. They wanted to have the upfront spiritual gifts. They wanted to be first in line at the agape feast on Sunday nights to make sure they got their food before it ran out. No, a person who loves, does not seek his own rights. Nothing causes more friction in a family, in a friendship, or in a church than we people put their own rights above the rights of other people. Isn't that what James said in James 4:1? "What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is it not your pleasures that wage war in your members"? Nothing causes conflict like putting your own rights ahead of those of other people.

Secondly, nextly, in verse 5, "Love is not provoked". One person has translated this to mean, "Love does not fly into a temper fit". Love is patient. It's long-tempered, it is not short-fuse. Now again, there is such a thing as a righteous anger. It doesn't mean you never get angry. I remember Paul in Galatians 1 got very angry when he heard about the false teachers that were invading the Galatian church. He said, "If any man preaches another gospel, let him be anathema. Let him be damned". Literally, let him go to hell. Now, that's angry. Paul was angry, he was possessive when it came to the purity of the gospel. Now, Jesus chased the money changers out of the temple. He had a jealous anger for the holiness of God and God's institutions. But you know, most of the time, we get angry. Let's admit it, it's not righteous anger. It's not because we're concerned about the things of God. It's because we're upset that our rights were violated.

You know, a mate doesn't show proper appreciation for something we've done for them. A friend forgets a birthday, a vote in the church doesn't go the way we think it ought to go. That's when we get angry. And the Bible says, "Genuine love is not easily provoked, it isn't short-fused". Next, "Love does not keep a record of wrong". That's how the NIV translates it and the NAS it says, "Love does not take into account a wrong suffered". That's a translation of one word in Greek, logizomai. Logizomai, "Not take into account". That word, logizomai is one of my favorite words in the New Testament. It's an accounting term that refers to the keeping of a financial ledger. It means to put a debit in a financial ledger.

My kids make fun of me all the time because I still use checks. There may be a few of you that still use checks. They said, "Dad, why don't you use a debit card? You know, it's so much easier. Why do you always write out a check"? Well, the reason I do it is I like to record the debits in the check register. So at any given moment, I know where I am financially. And if I forget to record the check, I can really get messed up real quickly. I don't understand the debit card business where you're always wondering where you are financially. But, no, that's not legalism, I'm not telling you not to use a debit card, okay? I'm just saying I don't understand it. I don't do it. I want to record those debits.

Well, that's what the word, logizomai means. It means to subtract from, to put a debit in a financial ledger. When he says, "Love keeps no record of wrong", he says, you don't keep a record of those minuses. You know, record-keeping is essential for personal business, but record-keeping is lethal in personal relationships. If you're always keeping that list of debits, of things people owe you for offenses they've committed against you, you're going to have a hard time keeping harmony in that relationship. The Bible says, "True love does not keep a record of wrongs committed". And instead, we treat other people the way that God treats us.

In Romans 4:8, remember what Paul wrote? He was actually quoting Psalm 32 that we read last week. Paul said, "Blessed, happy is the man whose sin the Lord will not logizomai, will not take into account. How blessed, how happy is the person whose sin the Lord does not take into account". Aren't you grateful that there is no ledger in heaven if you're a Christian that is keeping a list of all of the offenses you've committed against God? That ledger has been destroyed. It's been erased by the blood of Jesus Christ. Next, "Love does not rejoice an unrighteousness," verse 6. "It doesn't rejoice in unrighteousness".

Now, that doesn't mean love doesn't enjoy sin. That's not what it's talking about. What it's talking about specifically is how you feel about the misfortune of other people, especially your enemies. If somebody cheats you in a business deal and later, you learn they file for bankruptcy, how do you respond to that? What's your emotion? If your mate leaves you and marries another person and that relationship ends in divorce, let's face it, wouldn't it be hard not to feel a little satisfaction over that? And yet, the Bible speaks very clearly in Proverbs 17, verse 5, "He who rejoices in calamity will not go unpunished". We are never to take pleasure. We're never to rejoice in the misfortune of other people. "God will not let that sin go unpunished. True love does not rejoice in the misfortune of other people".

Now, here are the positive qualities of love beginning in verse six as well. "Love rejoices in truth". A lot of times, we're hesitant to tell people what they need to hear. We don't want to tell them, we don't want to risk hurting our reputation. We don't want to risk hurting the relationship. And yet, did you know the Bible says to flatter somebody not to tell them the truth is really a sign of hatred for another person? Proverbs 26:28 in the living Bible says, "Flattery is a form of hatred and wounds cruelly". How is flattery hatred? When you flatter somebody, you're more interested in yourself than you are in the well-being of that other person. You're trying to get something out of them. You're trying to keep a relationship going for your own benefit. You tell them what they want to hear, rather than what they need to hear. The truth is, truth is sometimes the most loving thing you can share with someone.

Proverbs 28:23 says, "In the end, people appreciate Frankness more than flattery". True love will share the truth even when that truth hurts. Secondly, he says, "Love bears all things". Verse 7, it bears all things. Now, this word, stego can mean to silently endure the mistreatment of other people. But I don't think that's what he's talking about here 'cause he uses another word later for that. This word, stego, bear means to cover over. It means to shield another person from the consequences of his actions, even if they're wrong actions. If you truly love somebody and they commit wrong against you or somebody else, even though they deserve to suffer, something in you, wants to protect them from suffering the consequences of their wrong. Thirdly, he says, "Love believes all things".

Now, that doesn't mean you trade in your good sense and believe anything and everything somebody tells you. It simply means that if at all possible, you give other people the benefit of the doubt. Your first inclination is to believe the best about a person, instead of the worst about a person. Fourth, "Love hopes all things," that is, it refuses to believe that a person's failure is final. No matter how badly the other person behaves, love holds out the possibility that that person will change.

Now listen to me, that doesn't mean we don't have to take action sometimes. The truth is, sometimes, a church needs to discipline. Sometimes, a business needs to dismiss. Sometimes, a government needs to execute. But in personal relationships, love always holds out the possibility for the other person to change. We give them an opportunity to change. We never pronounce a final judgment upon somebody. Only God can do that. "Love hopes all things". And next, "Love endures all things".

There's the word, hupomeno. Hodge, the New Testament scholar points out that this word is a military word. It's a word that refers to a front line of soldiers that refuses to retreat and instead, endures all the assaults of the enemy. If you're a person who truly loves another person, instead of returning evil for evil, you endure those hurts and offenses, and continue to love just like Jesus. Remember as he hung on the cross, he said, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do". And then, finally, Paul reaches a climax in talking about the permanence of love. You can hear the crescendo building until he finally comes to verse eight and he says, "Love never fails". That's a beautiful thought, isn't it? "Love never fails".

2000 years ago, the Lord Jesus Christ climbed at mount Calvary. He allowed himself to be placed on a Wooden cross and he took the punishment that you and I deserve for our sins. Isaiah the prophet said it this way, "For he was pierced through for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities. The chastening of our well-being fell upon him. By his scourging, we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray. We have turned every way and every one of us into our own way, but the Lord has laid upon him, Jesus, the iniquity of us all". Ladies and gentlemen, that is a love that will never fail.
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