TEXT: I Corinthians 13:4
Today I want to talk to you about love. Out of a kids’ book, “Love is Like a Crayon, Because it Comes in All Colors.” They asked Camille, a 9 year old girl, how to get someone to fall in love with you, and here’s what this little 9-year-old said: “Shake your hips and hope for the best.”
I have discovered that love is something you make on occasions and fall into at other times. It’s been known to produce broken hearts and goose bumps, loss of appetite and starry eyes. It inspired some to die and others to kill. Love may make the world go ’round, but it certainly causes a lot of confusion in the process.
The first thing I want to talk about today is the:
MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT LOVE.
- Love is only a feeling.
A lot of people think that love is some kind of an emotion. It’s a knot in your stomach, a certain kind of physical feeling that you have. We’re always searching for that feeling. Because some of us think that’s all it is, we talk about falling into love and falling out of love, which basically means we either feel emotion or we don’t feel emotion.
- Love is uncontrollable.
When people talk about being in love, they say, “I feel giddy. My head’s spinning. I’m weak in my knees.” I think back at the songs that were popular in the 60’s. “Who Put the Ram in the Rama Lama Ding Dong? Who was that man, I’d like to shake his hand, for making my baby fall in love with me?” You know, back then, songs had content. You know what I mean? Well, I don’t know if the ram in the rama lama ding dong makes somebody fall in love with you or not, because it’s more than a feeling. And love is certainly not uncontrollable. If we believe that it’s uncontrollable, that it’s just something that happens to us, then, of course, the result is that we fall into it. It’s something we cannot change. And of course, that’s wrong.
Somebody said that we need a higher quality of love. I believe that. A higher level. And that’s what we’re talking about today. You see, puppy love does not last through the dog days of life. And I want love that’s going to last longer than a two-hour movie or a 250-page novel.
Today, we’re going to look at love that will really make a difference in our life, in our relationships, in our marriage, and in working relationships. So let’s get going.
Two things we can do to keep love alive:
1. UNDERSTAND WHAT LOVE IS.
- Love is a matter of choice.
“And over all virtues, put on love, which binds them all together.” Colossians 3:14
Love is not something we are a victim of; it’s something we choose. Underline that phrase: “over all virtues put on love, which binds them all together.” Now, Paul wouldn’t have asked us to put on something you can’t control, that you can only feel.
- Love is a matter of conduct.
“Let us not love with words or tongue, but with actions and truth.” I John 3:18
Love is more than what we say; it’s a behavior. In this passage, John was telling us to back up our love with our actions.
A guy was always telling his girlfriend, “Oh honey, I would die for you.” And she said, “Oh, you’re always telling me that, but you never do it.” Since the football play-offs are on right now, a wife comes to her husband and says, “You’re always watching the football game. You must love football more than me.” He says, “Yes, I do honey, but I love you more than basketball.”
Now, we not only need to define love, we need to act like love acts. Now we’re going to get into the great love chapter: I Corinthians 13.
2. ACT THE WAY LOVE ACTS.
- Love is alive when it has patience
Love is dying when it is hurried…dead when it cannot wait. “Love is patient” I Corinthians 13:4
“Be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowances for each other’s faults because of your love.” Ephesians 4:2 (LB) He says to make allowance for one another’s faults, why? BECAUSE WE LOVE THE PERSON. We know what it’s like in a relationship to turn the other cheek, to go the second mile, to be patient with our loved ones.
“Love is patient.” Sometimes you will be stressed out. Sometimes you will be frustrated. “Love is patient.” Sometimes you might want to give harsh criticism when your spouse does something foolish or hurtful. “Love is patient.”
Patience isn’t always easy for us, is it? It’s very difficult for me sometimes. You know what must we do when we are having a hard time being patient with somebody? Probably the best thing is for us to constantly remember God’s incredible patience with us. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. While we were unloving and unwilling, he was willing to wait on us. One of the old songs during Christmas time is, “He Was Waiting For Me.” When we think of the patience of God, it helps us to be patient with others.
- Love is alive when it cares
Love isdying when it forgets … dead when it ignores.
“…love is kind…” I Corinthians 13:4 “Be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32 (LB)
KINDNESS: The ability to care for each other in the practical details of life. I’ve defined kindness in here for you because I think kindness can be mystical if we’re not careful. I think kindness fleshes itself out in a relationship by just the practical, day in, day out living.
- You know, it’s interesting, isn’t it, but it’s often easier to be kind to a stranger than it is to be kind to the people closest to us, who love us the most.
- It’s sometimes easier to be kind to someone else’s children than to our own.
- It’s sometimes easier to be kind to a neighbor than to our own spouse.
Mother Teresa said, “The biggest disease today is not leprosy or tuberculosis, but rather, the feeling of being unwanted, uncared for, and lonely.”
I’ve noticed something else about kindness: it’s very difficult for some people to express. I think something interesting in the last 10 to 15 years has been a major increase in greeting card sales: Christmas cards, birthday cards, get-well cards, friendship cards. There’s an amazing amount of growth in the card industry. I think sometimes we buy cards for one another because it so succinctly says what we really feel but can’t express. And it’s just easier to give a card than to visually or verbally let a person know you love them. I like cards, especially humorous cards. I saw one the other day; I thought it kind of fit in this sermon section: “If I had an ice cream cone I’d give you half. If I had six candies you’d get three. If I had two apples, one would be yours. If I won the lottery, I’d send you a postcard from Tahiti.”
I want you to go to Ephesians 4:32 with me, to read some words that we need to latch onto before we go to the next part of love: when Paul said, “Be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another just as God has forgiven you.” The only way that I can have a relationship with anyone is to have forgiveness at the very core of that relationship. Forgiveness is a demonstration of a kind love.
And that relationship is going to grow and develop, not based on perfection; it’s going to blossom through the willingness of each person to be forgiving. Paul said, “Forgive others as you have been forgiven by God.” When I see how God forgave me, I then have the power to forgive someone else. Did you hear me? I believe those who have difficulty in forgiving others have never entered into a biblical understanding of what’s been done for them. Because the moment we understand what God has done for us, it changes our whole view of forgiving one another.
Love does not focus on the wrongs of others. It does not parade their faults for all the world to see. Love does not disregard falsehood and unrighteousness, but as much as possible it focuses on the true and the right. Love looks for the good, hopes for the good, and emphasizes the good.
- Love is alive when it is secure.
Love is dying when it starts doubting … dead when it stops trusting.
“…It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” I Corinthians 13:4
Envy + Boasting + Pride = Insecurity
SECURITY IS TRULY THE KEY TO RELATIONSHIPS. You show me a good relationship, whether it’s a marriage or a friendship, and I will show you that at the very heart of that relationship is security. The two people feel secure share their heart, to be vulnerable and honest. They can “lay it on the line,” knowing that other person has their interests at heart. They can get down to real issues, but not in a revengeful or bitter way. (PWEDE KANG SITAHIN AT TURUAN, PERO HINDI KA MAGAGALIT BECAUSE YOU KNOW WHO’S THE ONE TELLING IT TO YOU, THAT’S THE PERSON WHO LOVES YOU, WHO CARES FOR YOU…)
Show me people in a relationship who can’t talk about the real issues, and aren’t able to look at each other with honesty and integrity, and I’ll show you a relationship that lacks security. And can I say one more thing about security in a relationship? You don’t have one if security isn’t the foundation of it. You may get together and do things; you may go places together; you may have a conversation, but security is always the foundation of a love relationship.
Juan Carlos Ortiz was talking to a circus trapeze performer about the net below him and what it did for him. And the performer said, “Obviously, it keeps me safe. “But,” he said, “let me tell you what that net really does for me. It makes me a better performer.” And Ortiz said, “What do you mean, it makes you a better performer?” He said, “It’s very simple. Because the net is there, I feel secure. And because I feel secure, I’m willing to risk more. I’m willing to try an extra turn, an extra twist. I’m willing to try a trick that I wouldn’t try at all, but that security releases me to reach my potential.”
And I believe that’s exactly true in a marriage relationship. I believe that’s exactly true that where there’s security, the other person reaches their potential. That love relationship brings out the best in you…(HINDI YUNG, HONEY, BABE, WAG KA MASYADONG MAGPAPOGI, MABANGO, ETC. HA, BAKA MARAMING MAGKANDARAPA SAYO…ETC., Nagmumukha ka ng haggard, mabaho, di ka nakikipag-usap sa iba, kasi nasa isip mo, baka magselos, etc…sus! Nagiging Anti-Social ka…tama ka lagging hinala, etc.) Remember, love is alive when it is secure.
- Love is alive when it is giving.
Love is dying when it begins to exchange…dead when it is only taking.
C. S. Lewis said something about love. I think it’s one of the most perceptive quotes on love that I’ve ever read: C.S. Lewis said that to love at all is to be vulnerable. “Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to be sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness, but in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken, but it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The only place outside of heaven where you can be safe from all dangers of love is hell.”
IF LOVE IS ANYTHING, IT IS A GIVING RELATIONSHIP. God models it better than anyone else, because he gave first. And isn’t that tough? You see, to give first means I have to be vulnerable. What happens if I give and the other person doesn’t give back? What happens if I take the first step and they don’t meet me? And so many times, even if we want to give in a relationship, we settle for a much lower level; that is, basically, negotiating, exchanging, “I’ll do this if you’ll do that,” keeping score.
What a terrible way to go through life, basically saying, “I did something for them yesterday, so it’s their turn.” You lose the best things in life if you’re constantly waiting for someone else to even the score, or make up that which you began. Love’s not that way. Love is giving.
- Love is alive when it acts.
Love is dying when it feels but doesn’t act or acts but doesn’t feel … dead when it no longer feels or acts.
“It always protects, always trusts, always perseveres.” I Corinthians 13:7
I think we all know here that ACTIONS TREMENDOUSLY IMPACT FEELINGS.
There are two types of people.
- One who feels good before they do something;
- and the one who does something before they feel good.
As a pastor, we do counseling… sometimes a couple would come in and say their marriage was dead. And I would say something like this, “I want you to go home and give behavior of love to your spouse.” I remember the response. They’d look at me and say, “Pastor, how can I go home and act like I’m in love when I don’t feel anything?” And I would tell them, “Allow your love to mature, and allow your actions to determine your feelings.” You see, mature people understand that actions determine feelings, and immature people think feelings determine actions. I would say, “I want you to go back and act loving to your spouse. Say words of love to your spouse. Do acts of kindness. I want you to allow those actions to pave the way for love.”
You see, Jesus didn’t tell us just to love one another. Jesus said, “Love one another as I have loved you.” Major difference.
Let’s go to the cross for a moment. Jesus dying on the cross for the world is not a picture of God loving nice people. It’s not a picture of God loving his friends. It’s a picture of God loving people who were really unlovable.
Think about it. The Jews could hardly wait to get rid of him. They planned and plotted for months. And Pilate, he just wanted to get him off of his hands. Their hatred for Christ was so intense that they were willing to release a well-known, common criminal from prison, to get to Jesus.
I mean, when the Lord died for us, folks, he wasn’t dying in some nice church service where everybody was smiling and dancing, jumping up and down and singing “Counting of God.” They hated his guts. They spit on him and cursed him. They could hardly wait to see him die. With great joy they watched him die. “Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they’re doing.”
Christ said, “Love one another as I have loved you.” That’s major, isn’t it? That means we’re to love people who don’t love us. That means we’re not allowed to measure love on how they respond or act towards us that would affect our response. Hey, he really does mean walk the second mile, turn the other cheek.
3. LESSONS TO LEARN ABOUT LOVE.
- Love now.
People wait too long. It’s not that they don’t feel it, it’s just that they don’t express it. I know families that haven’t expressed love to each other for a long time. Listen, IF YOU LOVE SOMEBODY, TELL THEM TODAY. Get on the phone. I had a fellow give me a hug after the first service, he was so happy. He said, “Pastor, I heard you say that before. And during Christmas I decided to call every one of my cousins and tell them I loved them. Some of them I hadn’t seen for years. I want to tell you what, it was the highlight of my Christmas.” Love them now.
Remember when Idi Amin was the head of Uganda, it was such a terrible mess, revolution was constant and lives, especially of Christians, were greatly in danger? The bishop of Uganda, in one of his church services, knowing that death was imminent upon him and upon his people, looked at them and said, “If you have somebody you love, tell them quickly.”
For some of you, the best thing you can do on Sunday afternoon is get on the phone. Some of you need to get out a piece of paper and write some notes. Let people know you love them now.
- Love is vulnerable.
It sure is. If I choose to love you, I open myself up. I know that. I can either withhold affection and kind of stiff-arm people through life or else I can kind of open my arms and let them come in. And when you open your arms and let them come in, you’re not only open to incredible affirmation; you’re also open up to hurt, betrayal.
Dr. John Maxwell said, “…A long time ago I realized something about love: if you want to, you can go through life and stiff-arm people and never let them close to you, and you probably will never be greatly hurt because you never let them in close enough. But just as you’ll never be greatly hurt, you’ll never be greatly helped either.”
- Love is powerful.
It sure is. The law may tell you what to do but love will give you the power to do it. And Jesus knew that, which is why he said, “The greatest commandment is to love your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and your neighbor as yourself.” God knew what love could do. It’s a powerful, powerful, force. (Negative side…(nagagawang pumatay, mag-nakaw, gumawa nang hindi tama…) (Positive side…Dahil sa pag-ibig ang isang ina ay nagagawang magsakripisyo para sa kanyang anak, dahil sa pag-ibig ang tao ay nagagawang lumaban sa mga hamon ng buhay, para lamang sa mga taong kanilang iniibig…etc.)
- Love is unconditional.
If love is what it should be, it’s always unconditional. In fact, I have found that people normally need to be loved the most when they deserve it the least. Isn’t that true? It’s unconditional. It doesn’t keep score. It doesn’t have a qualifying list. It’s just unconditional.
I love the story about the guy who was getting ready to propose to his girlfriend. He had the ring in his hand, was holding her hand, and the moon was just right. He said, “Sweetheart, I want you to marry me.” He said, “I don’t have a car like Johnny Green and I don’t have a yacht like him and I don’t have a house his size and I don’t have the money of Johnny Green, but I want you to know that I love you with all of my heart.” And she looked in his eyes and said, “I want you to know that I love you too, sweetheart, but could you tell me a little bit more about Johnny Green?”
- The spirit of love makes all people and events special.
It’s the spirit of love in any event that makes it special. You remove the spirit of love and you’ve had an event, but you haven’t had something that lingers in a beautiful way.
Henry Drummond said, “You will find as you look back upon your life that the moments when you have really lived, are the moments when you’ve done things in the spirit of love.” Amen? You‘d better believe it. (HINDI NAMAN NAGIGING ESPESYAL ANG ISANG TAO, O DATE OR EVENT DAHIL SA GANDA NG LUGAR, SARAP NG FOOD, GANDA NG VIEW, ETC…NAGIGING SPECIAL ANG ARAW NA YUN ANG TAGPONG YUN DAHIL SA PAG-IBIG MO SA TAONG KASAMA MO…Kahit na napaka-simple lang ng pagkain nyo, kahit nga sa bahay lang ang date, kahit na ang niregalo ay hindi mahal na regalo, imbes na “Rolex” “Colex,” okay lang, no big deal, kasi bakit…ang mahalaga yung tao…yung pagmamahal mo sa kanya, at hindi dahil sa anumang bagay…) That made the event of Christmas special, that made the Crucifixion special, that made the Resurrection special…it was all done because of God’s great love for you and for me!
The best things in life always have love wrapped around them. I challenge you. Start expressing it. It will feel uncomfortable for awhile, but that’s okay. Force it. Because as you force it, it will start to be natural. And one day, you’ll be expressing love to someone and all of a sudden you’ll say, “This is good.”
- Dr. John Maxwell
- Steve Shephard
- David Davidson