Love is...(4)

1 Corinthians 13:1–7 (NASB95)
1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. 4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Let’s review the characteristics of love that we have already previously discussed.
Love suffers long Love suffers along with kindness Love is content Love is humble Love is tactful Love is selfless
Now we will look at the next few characteristics of love. These all flow from the idea that Love is not selfish but selfless.

7. Love is peaceable

“is not provoked”
The seventh descriptor of divine love with the believer is that love is not provoked or is not angry. Paul, here is reminding believers that if divine love is possessed by such a person that love is not angry or a quick tempered. Now we need to understand that there is a distinction in the Bible about a righteous and unrighteous anger. The root Greek word here ORGE is used throughout scripture for the wrath of God against sin. Therefore, we must understand that the anger of God against sin is a holy or righteous anger. In addition, then we can understand that as believers we too, can express anger toward righteous things, and not be guilty of sin.
Remember with me the gospel story where Jesus goes into the temple, and displays anger over the way, in which the temple was being abused by the people. They had turned the temple, which was designed for worship, into a place of commerce. In addition, the leaders of the temple were exploiting the people in this commerce to make a quick buck. This angered the Lord because it replaced the worship of God with the greed of human hearts.
When you are angry with sin, whether that be your own sin or the sin of others in this world, you are standing in righteous anger. This righteous anger is an example of how the Spirit has transformed your heart that you hate that which God hates and you are angered when God’s holiness is offended.
But there is also unrighteous anger for the believer that does not reflect the love of God.
Jonathan Edwards comments "a Christian spirit is opposite to all undo or unsuitable anger.” This anger that he goes on to explain in his book , Charity and Its Fruits, is an unsuitable anger that focuses on ill will, or a desire for revenge toward others. You could say that the Pharisees and religious leaders of Jesus's day had anger toward him, and wanted to do harm to him. This is an example that they lacked, true, godly love.
This unsuitable anger can also be trivial, anger, meaning a frustration or irritability toward trivial or meaningless circumstances or acts that should be overlooked by the believer. This is when we experience acts of foolishness or ignorance by others done to us or merely observed in the world. We should overlook such ignorance but instead we let it fester into anger towards others. This might be standing in line at a cash register, encountering a situation at work, or interacting with your spouse or children. Christian love casts out irritability and grumpiness and anger because it is rooted in God’s love.
Matthew 5:22 NASB95
22 “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.
Notice that in this gospel account, Jesus is dealing with the heart issue behind murder. Murder starts with an inward hatred for one another and so anger is the key issue at hand. The same GK root word ORGE is used here by Jesus and that anger towards one’s brother is deserving of discipline under Jewish law. This anger that Jesus points out leads to verbal abuse by using unnecessary insults like “empty headed and fool” and therfore the Lord condemns such anger in the life of a follower of God and his kingdom.
So, if we do well on the positive aspect of this characteristic, we could stay then that love his long-suffering with kindness. But we also could say that love is peaceable. An Anger- free love displays and seeks out peace with others. Jesus said in the beatitudes blessed are the peacemakers. Believers in Christ are peacemakers because they have experienced divine peace with the father through the son and the spirit. They have been reconciled to God through the death of the son, and therefore they were once enemies have now experienced peace through Christ.
So then they are peacemakers because they have tasted the peace of God. They seek out peace when offended, and they overlook offenses to keep the peace. Notice with me, this application with Jesus's words again in Matthew 5:23–24
Matthew 5:23–24 NASB95
23 “Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.
Jesus demonstrates that reconciliation between brothers is more important than the actual sacrifice that is made with a pure heart. The irreconcilable differences between two people should be the priority of the Christian if possible. Reconciliation is not always possible if both parties are not desiring to be reconciled yet Jesus makes clear that as Christians we should be peacemakers that are seeking or pursuing reconciliation.
This calls us to consider those relationships in our lives that are at odds. Whether they are believers or unbelievers, are we seeking out peace with them, or are we living in anger towards them in our hearts.
Jonathan Edwards clarifies that it is not righteous anger if we are more concerned with their offenses against us more than their offenses against the holiness of God. If we have turned inward when we are wrong, then our anger is unsuitable and we must repent. Instead we should seek peace with them as a way to display the character of love found in God.
But we should also be rightly anger at the atrocities and violations against God and his good word. We are justified in being angry at those who revile and blaspheme God’s character or his works in this world. We should be angry at false teaching and false religion but that anger should lead us to stand against such unholy acts, and yet show love to those who commit them. Righteous anger should never lead to unrighteous revenge. Instead, we trust in a sovereign God who will punish the wicked in his own timing and plans.

8. Love is forgiving

“does not take into account a wrong suffered”
Connected closely with point #7 in being peaceable, is the aspect of forgiveness. Paul uses accounting language to demonstrate the aspect of forgiveness as part of Christian love. He states that love does not keep a record of wrong or evil. This literally means to calculate wrongs which means that a loving Christian does not possess a conflict accountant who records or evil that has occurred to oneself. This does not mean that you force your self to forget these wrongs, because our memories will always possess such historical information. But to “not record the wrongs” means that the Christian out of love will not continue to think, dwell on, or replay the offenses internally or externally toward those offenders. This is choosing to be forgiving.
Forgiveness is different than reconciliation because forgiveness can be one-sided while reconciliation requires both parties to agree to peace. Forgiveness is spelled out on a divine level in 2 Corinthians 5:19
2 Corinthians 5:19 NASB95
19 namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
God brought about peace and reconciliation between God and man by sending Christ into the world to bring about forgiveness of sin. That forgiveness is what is being described in the words, “not counting their tresspasses against them.” That forgiveness leads us to be reconciled with God.
Does this mean that God overlooks our sin or that he erases the sins committed? Forgiveness is not God ignoring sin because if he ignored it then He would be violating his own holiness for overlooking sin that is deserving of judgment. From a judicial standpoint, God must place the debt of sin upon his Son Jesus, our perfect substitute, so that sin and its effect can be paid for. But because of Christ’s death and his righteousness given to his people, then the record of wrongs has been expunged because they debt was paid.
David Garland writes,
“God wiped clean the register of transgressions through Christ’s death. The files containing the records of our shortcomings and offenses have been deleted so that God remembers them no more.
Jeremiah 31:33–34 NASB95
33 “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34 “They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”
Therefore, to forgive out of the love of God is to remember the forgiveness that is applied to you in Christ and to forgive those who have offended you. You don’t only forgive because the offender has asked for forgiveness. If forgiveness is only applied to those who ask for it, that would mean that God allows unforgiveness in our lives with all those who we never reach reconciliation with. You may have personal conflicts with peopel who will never say they are sorry and never ask you to forgive them but you should forgive out of the realization of God’s overwhelming forgiveness towards you.
Also, you don’t forgive only because they ask you for it and you don’t forgive because they deserve forgiveness. Most likely, they don’t deserve forgiveness in certain circumstances. We all will encounter horrible situations where a person has not made up their shortcomings or reversed the effects. That is us requiring a emotional debt that such a person cannot pay. Again, to not keep a record of wrongs in Christian love is to choose to act in forgiveness based solely on the merit and work of Christ who provided forgiveness for us. Who are we to keep a record of wrongs when God does not.
Ken Sande writes,
Forgiveness is not a feeling. It is an act of the will. Forgiveness involves a series of decisions, the first of which is to call on God to change our hearts. As he gives us grace, we must then decide (with our will) not to think or talk about what someone has done to hurt us. God calls us to make these decisions regardless of our feelings.
Sande, Ken. The Peacemaker . Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Therefore, be peacemakers and forgive.
Forgive those who ask
Forgive those who hate you
Forgive those who took your most precious possessions away
Forgive those who continually hurt you
Also, let me say that forgiveness does not mean restored relationship. Forgiveness means not keeping a record of wrongs but it does not mean that the relationship is restored to its original state. Abusers can be forgiven and not restored to the original state of relationship. For safety, this is not acceptable. Death brings a separation in relationship and yet the opportunity to forgive extends even after the death of a loved one or an offender.
Think about the thief on the cross as an example. At the last moment of his life, the thief experienced forgiveness in Christ as he placed his trust in the Lord. The Lord Jesus confirmed this by saying, “today, you will be with me in paradise.”
But the thief never reconciled his offenses with those on the earth. He never apologized, he never paid back what was taken. Death became an obstacle to earthly reconciliation. But hypothetically, if those whom he took from loved God, they could have forgiven him already. As a matter of fact, Peter asked Jesus about the frequency of forgiveness and Jesus answered basically by saying, always forgive. His answer of “seventy times seven” signified an innumerable amount of forgiveness. He then tells the parable of a slave who owed large debt to his master, could not pay it and the master had mercy on him and forgave the debt. But the slave went out to one who owed him little and showed no mercy. The master heard of the offense and rebuke his slave for not showing a similar mercy. He said,
Matthew 18:33 NASB95
33 ‘Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’
Forgiveness from the Lord is continual and therefore forgiveness on earthly relationships is continual as well. We can only accomplish forgiveness by God’s grace and power but when we do, we reflect his love in us.

9. Love champions holiness

“6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;”
These two statements in verse 6 are two sides of the same coin. They reflect a heart that has been changed by God through the Holy Spirit. The first statement is that love “does not rejoice in unrighteousness.” This means that all followers of Jesus, who have been transformed by Christ, do not celebrate evil and sin. There is such a transformation within us by Christ, that a regenerated person begins to hate that which God hates and love, which he loves.
This begins with hating sin and evil because all of this is rebellion against our King. Paul spells out that changed life when he reminds the churches of who they used to be. For example in Ephesians 2:1-3
Ephesians 2:1–3 NASB95
1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.
Paul reminds of them of this former life to help them how God changed them in regeneration. Now they are different in Christ and they want different things. They are alive, in opposition to the evil of this world, at war against the devil and his schemes, fighting against the lusts of the flesh and mind with self-control, and are now children of peace, not wrath.
Paul is saying similiar things here in 1 Corinthians as he states that love demands that we seek holiness. We champion it because it reflects the heart that God has birthed in us- we now have hearts that love and seek the holiness of God.
So Christian, to love as God loves is to first and foremost, not celebrate or rejoice in sin. Not to celebrate what the world calls good because we can now see and know that what the world calls good is actually evil. Murdering babies is evil. Destroying families is evil. Celebrating sexual gratification is evil. Living in bitterness and unforgiveness is evil. These are just a few examples of seeing what God hates and joining him as a ambassador of goodness and truth.
Proverbs 14:9 NASB95
9 Fools mock at sin, But among the upright there is good will.
Psalm 119:136 NASB95
136 My eyes shed streams of water, Because they do not keep Your law.
Remember with me the Lord Jesus who approached the city of Jerusalem and he began weeping over it. He wept over their rejection of him and the great destruction that these people would face for not believing in his name.
Positively, the apostle states that to not rejoice in evil is also to rejoice in truth. Jesus is the way, truth and the life and to be changed by Jesus Christ in his death and resurrection, is to become champions of his holy truth.
The Spirit of God makes our hearts celebrate the truth in our santification.
Psalm 119:129–130 NASB95
129 Your testimonies are wonderful; Therefore my soul observes them. 130 The unfolding of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple.
How can we possibly in our wretchedness and opposition against God, come to confess like the Psalmist that God’s truth is wonderful. It all occurs because the word is unfolded to us, revealed to us and with new eyes, we can see and understand it as truth. That truth leads us to holiness because as we understand it as truth, we want to obey it as well. That obedience to the truth makes us champions of holiness because we love holy things as God loves holy things.
Friend, what aspects of your life reflect you celebrating evil instead of good? If you the Lord audits your life, marking that which is holy and unholy, would he find you celebrating and practicing unholiness?
Love suffers long with kindness, is content, humble , tactful, selfless, peaceable, forgiving and champions the holiness and glory of God.
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