Back in March we commenced this series entitled “The Power of Love” based on 1 Corinthians 13. The series will include Easter where the ultimate act of love was shown in Christ dying on the cross.
There is power in love. Unselfish, redemptive love changes lives. Just like the unselfish, sacrificial love of Jesus Christ that changed and still changes lives.
In our series, we have been reminded that Jesus saw such power in love that He commanded it to be the number one thing we do – love God and love one another: “love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength” and “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:30-31 NLT).
Jesus knew there is power in love because of its source – God. God is love. Apostle John wrote so much on love. For example, in 1 John 4:7-8 he writes, “…for love comes from God… God is love” (1 John 4:7-8 NIV). God is love. Out of His love God created the world. Out of His love God created humanity in His image. Out of His love God sent His only Son Jesus to redeem humanity. Out of His love God will one day send Jesus to rescue the Church.
Love is powerful because Jesus commanded and because of its source – God. God is love. It is also powerful because love can transform lives.
We also looked at two attributes of what love is – that it is patient and it is kind. Last week Andrew looked at what love isn’t. Love isn’t envious, boastful nor proud.
This week, we move onto verses 5 and 6, looking at what love does not. Paul wrote that love “does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth” (1 Corinthians 13:5-6 NIV).
I have heard of a church where every Sunday, at some part of the service, the whole of 1 Corinthians 13 was read out – every Sunday, 1 Corinthians 13 was read at each service. One Sunday after the service, a group of people went up to the pastor saying that they are getting a bit tired of hearing of 1 Corinthians 13 being read every Sunday and asked why is it being read each week? The pastor graciously said it will continue to be read until we all practice what it teaches, loving one another.
You see loving one another is one of the foundational teachings of the church. It ought to be the mark that distinguishes Christianity from all other religions, businesses, and groups – and yet, like the Corinthian Church, we still need to learn and practice love for one another.
After describing what love isn’t Paul continues in the same line of thinking, this time saying what love doesn’t do. We’ll look at these but particularly their antonyms.
Paul says in verse 5 that “love does not dishonor others”. Dishonor is bringing shame and disgrace upon someone. And when someone has really hurt us, its natural to think of ways to bring shame and disgrace on that person. In our minds we imagine them to be this evil monster and so we think the worse of them. Maybe they did do a monstrous act. We hear and read every day of people doing terrible monstrous acts against others. It’s wrong.
So Paul’s words are hard to follow when it’s such a natural act wanting to dishonor them in some way. This is why we need supernatural help from God to forgive.
Look at the antonym of dishonor. It’s honor. Agape love honours. The word honor means to “respect” and to “esteem at the highest level” or “to add weight to”. It comes from the biblical time when coins were weighed to determine their value. The heavier the coin, the greater it’s value. Honour works in the same way: The greater the value we place on God, people and things, the greater their weight/influence in our life. By honouring, we deeply value and respect the object of our honor and elevate it to a place of influence.
True honor has nothing to do with our feelings and emotions. It begins as a decision of the heart and is expressed outwardly with genuine respect, reverence and the highest esteem. It cannot be limited to mere lip service because sooner or later, the real condition of the heart will be tested and exposed (Isaiah 29:13). (Russell Evans, The Honor Key, July 22, 2014).
In what seems to be a little obscure place in the bible is this gem of a verse with a challenge and a promise. "Therefore the LORD, the God of Israel, declares: 'I promised that members of your family would minister before me forever.' But now the LORD declares: 'Far be it from me! Those who honor me I will honor, but those who despise me will be disdained” (1 Samuel 2:30 NIV).
To put this in context John MacArthur says that “Although Eli's genealogy was not recorded in the OT, he was a descendant of Aaron. The Lord had revealed Himself to Aaron in Egypt before the Exodus (see Exo_4:4-16). Aaron had been divinely chosen to serve the Lord as the first in a long line of priests (Exo_28:1-4)”. This was indeed a great honour. Not only were they given the privilege to serve God in this way, but they were even allowed to eat from the food that was given by others.
Sadly, the family of Eli took their eyes of God and onto their stomachs. Eli was rebuked by God because he honoured his sons higher than God because he didn’t discipline their behavior. It is a reminder to all who enjoy the privileges given by God: Blessings cannot go on forever in the face of disobedience.
Eli and his sons didn’t get this, and the Lord’s words came true with both Eli’s sons dying on the same day.
They didn’t believe that God says and promises, “those who honour me I will honour”.
This is a consistent theme throughout scripture. You could say that it started all the way back to the Ten Commandments.
The first four commandments were all about honouring God.
Commandment One is about honouring no other gods but God.
Commandment Two is about not honouring anything else above God.
Commandment Three is about honouring God by not misusing His holy name.
Commandment Four is to keep a day set a part for rest and honour God.
These are timeless truths that were reaffirmed by Jesus (Matthew 22:37-38).
There’s something about being honoured. If you have ever been in a position where you have been honoured it makes you feel special and loved. If you have ever had speeches given in your honour – perhaps at a special birthday or when you leave work – you feel special and loved.
And this, according to Paul, is how we show love to each other, honouring others. God’s Word says that we are to honour our parents (Ephesians 6:2). In another passage – Romans 12:10 - we are to honour one another: “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves” (Romans 12:10 NIV). I was always taught that you are to honour those who have gone before and to honour those who are older than me.
As a church, We Honour. It is one of our adopted values. We want to create a culture where God and people are honoured. We particularly want to elevate Jesus to His rightful place as the King of all kings and Lord of all lords, including the Lord of our lives and church. The greater the value we place on God and people, the greater their weight/influence are our life. By honouring, we deeply value and respect each other and God.
Linking into honouring others is the statement by Paul in verse 5 that love “is not self-seeking” (1 Corinthians 13:5 NIV). The MESSAGE Bible puts it this way, “Isn't always ‘me first,’" (1 Corinthians 13:5 THE MESSAGE). I think you would agree that we are becoming a “me culture”. After all, “it’s all about… me”.
Video: “Me Linebacker”.
I think we get the drift; love isn’t just about me first. Paul suggests in 1 Thessalonians 5:11 the antidote for self-seeking. He says this, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up…” (1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV). To authentically encourage and build someone up, you need to consciously think of another person than just yourself. That is what agape love is about. It isn’t just centre on yourself. It is not self-seeking. It isn’t always “me first”. Agape love is about others and building them up.
Bishop Michael Curry said at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle last year, that there is power in love. He said, “Love is not selfish and self-centered. Love can be sacrificial. And in so doing, becomes redemptive, and that way of unselfish, sacrificial, redemptive love, changes lives.
If you are married, build up and encourage your partner. At work, find ways to encourage your colleagues. If you play sport, make sure you encourage a teammate. At church, leaders, encourage members for what they do. Members - encourage your leaders for the hours of work and prayer they put into leading. If you don’t, watch out for that linebacker!!
Next Paul wrote, what many would find, some very challenging words. He says in verse that Love does not keep records of wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:5 NIV). We kinda do, don’t we? When someone hurts us, we remember, and sometimes, even years later we remind them of what they did. I think what Paul is saying is that the power of love can been seen when we give up our right to get even and move on. Move on from bitterness and hatred. Paul is saying, it’s time to move on. I’m glad this is what God did for me and each of us. Hebrews 8:12 says, “I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more” (Hebrews 8:12 NIV).
And then in verse 6, Paul closes this section saying, “It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out” (1 Corinthians 13:6 NLT). Love does not rejoice about injustice which is why I wasn’t celebrating when the government announced its budget last week. Australian Aid has been slashed for the sixth time in consecutive budgets. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced plans to cease $500 million of existing aid projects in South-East Asia (Bangladesh, Cambodia, Nepal, Indonesia and Pakistan). And church leaders were quick to speak out: Baptist Tim Costello has written: “Well, surplus is here, yet the poor have been forgotten”. Anglican pastor and Ridley College lecturer Dr John Dickson also has written, “How the fourth richest nation on earth can justify cutting aid, while splashing around tax cuts for middle incomers, I do not know! That’s how I feel.” Jody Lightfoot, director of Campaign for Australian Aid, pulled no punches in commenting on the budget cuts this year, saying “Cutting services that support kids in poverty does not reflect the willingness of Australians to help people in need”.
Love does not rejoice about injustices. As Christians, we stand against injustices and look at ways to provide justice. Micah says, “But let justice roll on like a river…” (Amos 5:24 NIV).