Tuesday, July 15, 2014

“Love does not seek its own”

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

One of the worst feelings in the world is to be involved in a one-sided relationship, to love someone who doesn't love you back.

For a (lengthy) introduction, I have prepared examples of a few worldly relationships that fit this description.


I remember when I was in high school and college, being involved in a lot of one-sided relationships.
I have witnessed many one-sided relationships in my time.  I have watched boyfriends not return the affections of their girlfriend.  I have seen girlfriends take advantage of boyfriend’s affections, expecting them to buy expensive gifts for them, and so on and so forth.

To the young people who are involved in dating, I ask you to ponder several different questions:  Are you involved in a one-sided relationship?  Are you doing more than your share of compromise?  Is your potential future spouse not returning affection?  Does your potential future spouse not respect you or your beliefs?  Does your potential future spouse have no intentions of getting married?  Does your potential future spouse not have interest in “keeping the marriage bed holy”?

If the answer to any of these questions is “Yes”, I encourage you to take another look at that relationship and decide if it is worth pursuing or not!

Marriage Relationship

I am not, by any means, an expert in marriage.  My wife and I will have only been married for 3 years in October.  However, in my time as a married man, I have learned a few things.

I have learned that compromise is important.  Husbands and wives must learn that their way is not always the best way.  Even though man has authority over his wife, the authority he has needs to be respectful (Christ compares the marriage relationship to His relationship with the Church, Christ would not do anything to harm the Church!)

Husbands and wives need to discuss everything, from financial decisions to spiritual issues.

Unfortunately, we have all witnessed the dissolution of marriages due to stubbornness and selfishness on the part of a husband or wife or in some cases both.

Other Family Relationships

How many of us have witnessed one-sided family relationships?  I have seen many children take advantage of their parents’ generosity and do nothing in return.  As a school teacher, unfortunately, I have also seen the flip-side.  I have seen children who love and respect their parents who are so caught up in their own lives that they neglect their parental responsibilities.

One-sided relationships generally do not work out.

True love requires cooperation.

True love requires sacrifice.

What about our relationship with God?

Seeing that we are gathered in this church service, surely we recognize that our relationship with God is something that is important, however, that is a colossal understatement.   While philosophers have asked for ages, “What is the meaning of life?”  I think that Solomon pretty much answers this question in Ecclesiastes 12:13 - Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:  Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all. 

Surely, our relationship with God is the most important relationship we could seek to pursue in our existence here on earth!

We read throughout the Scriptures that God has shown His love for us through His creation and countless material blessings! It saddens me when Americans complain about their lives when we have so much to be thankful for!

I can’t recall where I read the following, thought-provoking quote:  “What if you woke up tomorrow with only the things you thanked God for yesterday?”

God’s love for us is clearly evident!

God freely shows His love to those that don’t deserve it, including us!

Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

Romans 5:8  But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us

Matthew 5:44-46 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.  For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 

It is abundantly clear that God loves us!  But I wonder if we are showing affection to God?  Or do we have a one-sided relationship with God?

Taking advantage of God’s Love and Forgiveness

I have heard many people who are living sinfully say something along the lines of, “You can’t judge me.  It doesn't matter what you think, because I know that God loves me just the way that I am.”

It’s true that we cannot judge our neighbors.  Recall the account of the adulterous woman in John 8:2-9 Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them.  Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.  So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”  And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.  Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.

Clearly, those seeking to stone the adulterous woman were in no position to judge her in spite of her being caught in the very act of adultery.  When they were confronted with their own sin, no one dared cast a stone at her!

However, notice what Jesus said to the woman at the tail end of this account in John 8:10-12  When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?”  She said, “No one, Lord.”  And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

Even though the woman was not condemned by the mob or by Jesus, Jesus commanded her to sin no more.  Jesus showed His love for the sinner, but not the sin.  Even though God loves us enough to forgive us of our sins, he still expects us to turn away from sin and repent.

Acts 17:30  Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent

Additionally, we cannot try to take advantage of God’s love and use it as an excuse to sin.  God’s grace and love is not a license to sin.

Roman 6:1-2 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?  Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?

It’s true that God loves us; this is clearly evident throughout the Scriptures.  However, we need to ask ourselves what exactly we are doing in return? If we loved God back, wouldn’t we want to obey Him and seek to please Him?

John 14:23-25  Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.

Selfish Worship

So many so-called “worship services” look and sound more like rock concerts designed to entertain rather than edify.

We recently did a study on worship in our young adult class and we actually looked up the meaning of the word “worship” in the dictionary.  According to the dictionary, to worship is to (show) reverent honor and homage paid to God or a sacred personage, or to any object regarded as sacred.

How could anyone show reverent honor and pay homage to God when they ignore HIS instructions for worship?

Mark 7:6-8 He answered and said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men —the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do.”

I get so frustrated when I hear people in the denominational world talk about their worship services.  Often times I will hear people talk about how “This morning’s service was so great, I’m really glad that I went because I feel so much better now.  I feel lifted up.”  Notice how many times the word “I” is used in that statement.  Sometimes we forget that the focus of our worship is not us, but God!  He is the one that should be lifted up!  Worship is about glorifying God, not ourselves!

Luke 18:9-14 Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” 

Notice difference in attitude in the prayers of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector!  The Pharisee exalts himself to God, but the Tax collector humbles himself and gives the glory to God.

I’m not saying that we shouldn't feel good about worshiping!  We can derive joy from worship!

Psalm 122:1 I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go into the house of the LORD.”

However, I think that feeling good about worship should be a byproduct of our worship, not our primary focus!

True Love requires Sacrifice 

John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.

Jesus sacrificed everything for us!  He has proven His love!  In order for our relationship to not be one-sided, we must also make a sacrifice!  Just as Christ gave all, we should give all.

We are told to deny ourselves!  Matthew 10:38-39  And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.

God sacrificed His only begotten Son to show His love to us! – John 3:16

What will we sacrifice in return to show our love to Him?

Self-denial is almost synonymous with sacrifice.  Usually, when people deny themselves, they are sacrificing something and giving it to another.

Hebrews 11:24-25 - Moses chose to lead and suffer with his people rather than to live in luxury as a prince of Egypt.

Luke 21:1-4 - The poor widow gave all that she had to God.

Acts 2:44-45 - Early Christians sold all of their possessions to help support each other.

Mark 10:45 - Jesus could have stayed and enjoyed the pleasures of Heaven but came to Earth to suffer and die for us!