This morning, we continue our message series helping us to better understand and live out unconditional love.
This series is entitled, “Love Is” and it is based on that familiar passage found in 1 Corinthians chapter 13.
We were created by God with the need for love that can only be expressed through relationships.
As there are different types of relationships, there are different types of love. There is, however, a type of love that we are to express toward anyone and everyone. In fact, the Bible teaches that if we learn how to express this type of love toward God and others, that we will entirely fulfill all that God’s law requires of us.
This distinct type of love is the love that God has for us. In the Greek language, it is the word agape. It is this type of unconditional love that we’ll be covering through this message series.
To be able to possess and express this unconditional love, we’re going to break it down into parts as Paul chose to do in his letter to the Corinthians. He taught all about spiritual gifts and said that it is not using these gifts that truly matters, but how we choose to use them, our motive, that matters to God. We can do all sorts of good things for God, but if we do not do them as an expression of God’s love, then they are pointless, useless, and meaningless.
1 Corinthians 13:1-7
1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. 14 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Some other translations state that love believes all things or that love never loses faith. Some translations say that love never gives up or endures all things. I actually like the way that this is translated in The Message translation of the Bible best stating that love “Trusts God always, Always looks for the best, Never looks back, But keeps going to the end.”
Now the way in which these acts are phrased in some popular translations can easily lead us to misunderstand what the Bible is actually teaching. It isn’t teaching that in order to love someone, that we need to believe everything that they say nor to trust them always. When your translation reads that love “believes all things”, however, it is easy to think that this is what is being taught.
To do these things isn’t loving others at all. To do these things would be better defined as foolishness.
We know full well that not everything that everyone says can be believed and that people are not trustworthy always. If we were to believe all things, then why would the scriptures call us to watch our lives and doctrines closely as to not be lead astray or deceived? Why would God’s absolute truth even matter? Why would God so carefully protect and distribute His word if we were simply to believe all things?
No, rather God’s word is teaching that in all things, we have belief. We do not believe all things, we believe God in all things.
We are being taught to trust and hope and persevere through all circumstances. It means that even when the facts aren’t in agreement with what God said, that we continually believe His word. It means that we trust in Him and that our hope remains anchored in His promises alone persevering until they come to pass. The apostle Paul reminds us of such a real life example of this trusting act of love here:
18 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.
Love does not believe all things, love believes God in all things. Love is trusting. Love perseveres, hopes, and trusts.
We desperately need to live our lives together so that we can consistently remind one another of God’s promises through the trials and tribulations that we face in life. Sometimes, we need to lean on the faith of others as they stand with us believing in God in all things and spurring us on to trust in Him. Even one of the greatest individuals of faith, Moses, needed to have a seat and allow Aaron and Hur to lift him up to win the battle.
Love is trusting.
As much as I tried to, I just couldn’t separate these three actions of love into separate teachings. In reality, you really can’t have any one of them without the others. In order to persevere, we need hope. In order to hope, we need to trust. One naturally leads to the other when it comes to these expressions of love. Perseverance and hope ultimately rely on trust.
Love is trusting.
In today’s throw-away culture, this progression of things is often lacking. When our phone breaks, we throw it in our junk drawer and buy a new one. When our car lets us down a few times, we’re looking to trade it in. When things get rough with our relationship with someone, we unfortunately often do the same. We toss them aside and move on to another relationship.
This simply isn’t how we were designed to live. This way of living leaves us hurt, wounded, and scarred. As I’ve heard it said before, “The grass isn’t greener on the other side, the grass is greener where you care for it.”
When we reach our end in dealing with someone and are ready to toss them aside and give up on them, consider this. God’s love perseveres through some pretty rough times in our relationship with Him. He puts up with quite a bit from us.
However, He always hopes and always trusts us. He doesn’t give up on us. His love causes Him to always look for the best in us, never look back, and keep on going. Though we give Him little reason to, He never gives up on us. His love causes Him to be the beginner, the author, the perfecter, and the finisher of our faith.
Love is trusting.
Love does not trust all things, but it trusts God in all things.
5 This is what the Lord says:
“Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
who draws strength from mere flesh
and whose heart turns away from the Lord.
6 That person will be like a bush in the wastelands;
they will not see prosperity when it comes.
They will dwell in the parched places of the desert,
in a salt land where no one lives.
7 “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
8 They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.”
A live lived receiving and giving God’s love is a life of prosperity. No, I don’t mean that you’ll be a billionaire flying around in your private jet. I mean that your life itself will be prosperous not necessarily with the things of this world and what it values, but prosperous with the things that this world longs for and the Kingdom of God values. Things like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
From the inside out, your life will be one that never ceases to bear these good fruits even when you are surrounded by drought. We will live the Psalm 91 life that Sharon quoted last week observing with our eyes everything crumbling around us, but standing firm and untouched by it because of the Lord’s salvation.
Our lives will be sustained by the springs of living water that flow from within us through the Holy Spirit even when the springs of the world around us run dry. All of these things happen because the love of God that is poured out into and flowing out of our lives always trusts. All of these things happen because when we always trust God, there is always hope. All of these things happen because when we always have hope in God, we will persevere through every season and seeing and believing firmly the promise of God on the other side of it.
Every promise of God has what we could consider to be a dark reality along with it.
God is our healer.
This means that we will experience sickness and need His healing.
God is our deliverer.
This means that we will get ensnared and bound by our sin and by our enemy and need freed from it.
God is our strength.
This means that we will get weak.
God is our defender.
This means that there is an enemy out there who is our accuser.
God is our provider.
This means that we will experience lack.
The list goes on and on…
As Jan reminded me this past Wednesday, everyone loves miracles until they find themselves in need of one. No one ever wants to be in a position to need a miracle. However, we all love that God is our miracle worker. We love His many promises and we marvel at them. However, no one ever wants to be in a position where they need to remind themselves of them until they are received.
When we inevitably find ourselves in this difficult place, we must remember and remind each other of God’s great unfailing love. He will be everything that He promises that He is and He will do everything that He promises to do.
Love is trusting.
Because we trust God in all things, we have hope. Because we have hope, we will persevere. Because we persevere, we will prosper and receive every promise of God.
Love is trusting.