Exalting God, Edifying Believers, Evangelizing the Lost

Love Endures All Things

In 1 Corinthians 13:7, we are told that

“love endures all things.”

The word “endures” in this verse comes from a Greek military term that refers to an army fighting desperately to hold a strategic position on the battlefield while being barraged from all sides.

For many people, “love enduring all things” means that because we love someone, we are able to put up with the petty annoyances and inconveniences that they may cause in our lives. But the Apostle Paul is reminding us that true love from God will continue even though there are people attacking us from all sides who are intent on destroying us.

I suspect he had our Lord Jesus in mind as he wrote these words, picturing Him hanging on the cross, looking down on those who had just nailed Him there. And the words that Jesus spoke: “Father, forgive them.”

The love of Jesus endured toward His enemies even as they murdered Him. Because that is what God’s love does.

Is that the kind of love that comes out in your life when enemies begin their attack?

Ask God to help you have His love, even for those who are the most unloving.

Burping and Other Unseemly Behavior

When I was a child, we were not allowed to burp at the table. My mother continually reminded us that it was rude and that it offended other people.

While my two brothers and I were self-controlled in my mother’s presence, we frequently engaged in burping contests when she was out of earshot.  Although it was funny to us, it was not enjoyable for others who had to endure our unseemly behavior.

What we failed to consider was how our rude behavior affected other people.

In 1 Corinthians 13:5, we are told that love

“does not behave itself unseemly.”

You can replace the word “unseemly” with “unbecomingly” or “rude.”  Basically, the verse is saying that when we love as we should, we will be careful not to let anything we do be offensive to others.  Our behavior affects those around us.

Therefore, before we do anything, we should always ask the question, “How is this going to affect others?”  If there is the slightest possibility that our behavior could be considered rude or inconsiderate, then out of love, we should step back and reconsider what we are doing.

Love always considers others first, and that is why rudeness of any sort has no place in a Christian’s life.

Judging Love by the Heart

There are a lot of people who consider themselves to be loving people based on how much they do for others.  But the real test of love is not just what we DO for others, but what we really THINK of others in our hearts.

God does not judge our love based on our actions–He looks at our hearts. It is the attitudes that we harbor in our hearts that demonstrate if we truly have the love of God in us.

In 1 Corinthians 13:4-6, the Apostle Paul lists several attributes of true love that are attitudes, not actions:

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.”

We may try our hardest to help people outwardly, but if we are not patient, if we envy others, if we are proud and boast to others about how “loving” we are, if we are nice outwardly but inwardly cannot stand certain people, then God says that we really don’t have the love of God in us.

1 John 4:7 commands us: Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.

Do your attitudes, as well as your actions to others, show that you truly love God and have His love in your heart? Let’s all strive to live in God’s love because that’s the only real love.

The Greatest Force in the World

What is the greatest force in the world? What is the one thing that when applied makes the greatest change?

The answer, of course, is love.  Not the warm, fuzzy emotional love that we see in Hallmark movies and Valentine’s cards.  The love that makes the greatest changes in our world is God’s love, “agape” love.

This is the kind of love that makes an all-out commitment to the good of someone else, no matter what it costs you. And this kind of love is more important than anything else in the church.

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13 that we can have spiritual gifts galore, we can speak in tongues or preach with eloquence, we can give everything we have to help others, including giving up our own lives. But unless love is the central motivating factor, it all comes to nothing.

It doesn’t matter how great our faith is or whether you think you are doing everything you should be doing as a Christian. Without love, we are nothing.

1 Corinthians 13:13 sums it up:

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Is love the greatest force being displayed in your life?

Using Our Spiritual Gifts

spiritual gifts working together

The Bible tells us those who are true believers and followers of Christ in salvation are given spiritual gifts by the Holy Spirit.

There are a whole host of different spiritual gifts that He gives including teaching, administration, giving, mercy, helps, and evangelism. Each believer has one or probably more than one gift that God is ready to use to fulfill His purpose for them within the Body of Christ, the Church.

No one gift or mix of gifts is more important than another, and all are necessary to the proper functioning of the Church.  What is important is whether you are using your gifts.

Paul tells us in Romans 12:6,

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them.”

So we are all responsible to use our spiritual gifts.

What is the purpose?  The answer is clear in 1 Corinthians 14:12 – forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.

Our spiritual gifts are not given to us for our own benefit or to make us a “better Christian.”  Our spiritual gifts are for the purpose of edifying other believers, and in turn, building up the body of Christ.

What are you doing with the gifts that God has given you?

The “Pinky Fingers” of the Church

Hand sign showing little finger waiting for another to hook little finger together that meaning of promise and meaning asking for reconciled to someone.

Have you ever thought about how important your little finger is? Your pinky finger actually does a lot more than you think.

According to medical professionals, losing your pinky could mean losing up to fifty percent of your hand strength.  While your thumb, index finger and middle finger do most of the intricate work, your pinky teams up with your ring finger to provide power to the hand.

Who would have thought that your little finger was so important?

In the body of Christ, we have “pinky finger” members as well.  They may see themselves as not important, since they are not able to sing, preach, teach, or administrate.

But every member is important in Christ’s body. In fact, many times it is these “pinky finger” members that provide strength to the church just by being there.

They are the ones that provide encouragement through a hug or comforting word. Or they might be the ones who do the “dirty work” of cleaning and taking care of the church property.

1Corinthians 12:22 says: 

Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:

The truth is that all believers have spiritual gifts that they can use to build up the body of Christ.  It doesn’t matter how small you may think your gifts are—God’s church needs all the “pinky finger” members to do their part.

Why Do You Go to Church?

Lots of people go to church regularly because, in their minds, it is the right thing to do. The real question, though, is not IF we go to church, but WHY we go to church. 

Just having the habit of going to church is not going to make a significant difference in your life if you go only because you should.  Neither will it make much difference if you go for what you get out of it.

The reason we should be in church is so that we are there to help and encourage others to grow in the Lord.  Hebrews 10:24-25 tells us:

And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” 

Our goal in going to church is not for what we get out of it, but what we can put into it. Specifically, we go for the opportunity to build others up in love and encourage them to do the same.

This is why God wants us to meet every week—because we need each other spiritually.

Who is it this week that needs exactly what you have to offer through encouragement and exhortation?

The Hypocrisy of Being Offended

How often do we get offended by what someone says to us or about us?

The offense usually comes because what the person said is either not true or not kind. Even if the person’s intent was to actually hurt us with their words, there is still no reason for us as believers to get upset or offended.

Ecclesiastes 7:21-22 tells us:

Also take no heed unto all words that are spoken; lest thou hear thy servant curse thee:  For oftentimes also thine own heart knoweth that thou thyself likewise hast cursed others.

Even if a person curses us, God has given us the grace to ignore the offense and be ready to forgive.

Part of the reason we can forgive is that every one of us is probably guilty of saying hurtful things to others.  If we get offended when someone else does to us exactly what we have done to others, we are hypocrites.

Christ taught us in the “Golden Rule” that we should treat others as we would want to be treated.  If you desire forgiveness from others when you are the offender, then set the standard by being ready to forgive even before someone offends you.

This is one way that we can fulfill Christ’s command to “love one another.”

Judge Yourself, Not Others

Concept of accusation guilty person girl. Side profile sad upset woman looking down many fingers pointing at her back isolated on grey office wall background. Human face expression emotion feeling

The Lord has told us very plainly that we should refrain from judging one another (Matthew 7:1).

What He meant by that is that we are not to judge the lives of other people by our own convictions and standards.  To hold everyone else to our own personal standards is called legalism, and it is exactly what Christ condemned the Pharisees for.

Romans 14:13 gives us the alternative to judging others:

Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.” 

Instead of judging others, we should be judging ourselves–not according to the “law” of our own standards and convictions, but according to the Law of Christ, which is to love one another. Paul says our goal should be to avoid causing an offense to others rather than making sure they don’t offend us.

After all, God is our true Judge, and He will judge each of us according to His Law, not our own.

Tyranny of the Weak vs. the Law of Christ

As believers, we are free in Christ. There is a common philosophy, though, called the “Tyranny of the Weak,” which states that since our freedom is in Christ, the lack of knowledge of “immature” believers should not affect how we live out our Christian liberty, even if what we do offends them.

Actually, Paul addresses this very thinking in I Corinthians 8:9:

“But take heed, lest this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.”

Paul goes on to say in verse 12, that when we cause a “weaker” brother to stumble, we sin both against them and against Christ.

The Bible defines the “Law of Christ” as living in love one toward another. That means that everyone else’s well being will be more important than our own.

So the liberty that we have in Christ is not the freedom to defend our own rights and convictions. It is the freedom to give up our rights in order to avoid offending others as we seek to build them up in the faith.

After all, that is the essence of Christian love.