Saturday 17 September 2016

1 Corinthians 13: Love

"13 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b] 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love."

What we have here in 1 Corinthians is love being one of the core apsects of Christianity that while in some circles actually ends up leading to an unbalance on the love of God and while the world has a perverted view on what love is, it is one of the vital things for Christians to maintain. It also speaks to the motivation behind doing good things.

Doing evil in the sight of God is obvious, that is something Christians can agree on (assuming he or she is biblically sound), Doing what is evil in the sight of God is reprehensible, but how many of us even think about our motives for doing what is right? In other words, if you are doing good for the wrong reason, you might as well be evil.

It is a hard endeavor for us to do good for the right reason, sometimes ulterior motives can destroy our good works and render them tainted.

Love is one of the things that endures, but Paul is not talking about some fairy/fantasy feeling nor is he talking about the world's love which claims to be progressive but is in actuality an excuse to say "Oh look, two men and two women are together, is that wonderful" and ignore the fact that it is sinful to even suggest that sexual sin is a viable way to live. If anything it is regression not progression.

What Paul talks about regarding love is namely caring for someone, i e agape.

Apage is a love that causes you to care for someone, not in the sense that an attractive quality causes you to talk to someone, but you are compelled to speak to them regardless. You care for someone despite what they look like. This doesn't mean you overlook and accept them in their sin, but it does mean you care for them enough to demonstrate the love of Christ to said individual. You want them to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus.

In the church, agape allows Christians to care for each other regardless of their backgrounds and compel them to seek Christ together (Not in ecumenism but unity of the Holy Spirit).

Love is also something that endures, unlike prophecy and tongues which are a things of this era and won't be present in heaven.

This is why Paul uses the illustration of growing up. Once we are adults, we no longer have an interest in the things of childhood. We no longer act immature or throw when we don't get our way, we focus less time on play and more on important things namely our work (Though there isn't anything inherently wrong with a hobby but that's another story.)

We also no longer perceive the world through the perspective of a child.

When we get older and you play a video game or watch a movie or animated series that you saw or played as a child and you remove nostalgia, you can see flaws present that you didn't see before as a child in said media or you can appreciate the artistry, creativity and the writing of a piece of work.

When it comes to films, animated series and video games, Adults generally tend to have more of an analytical view of a film. They can enjoy something for what it is but that doesn't mean they are willing to overlook everything that occurs on screen. A child (Though in some cases a child can have the same view as an adult somewhat) doesn't look at a video game or a movie in the same way and enjoys it for what it is without any objective bias for or against it.

A example of children's programming that can be appreciated for strong writing by adults and handling of mature themes is the Nicktoon Hey Arnold and that is attributed to the fact (and I am going by second hand information) that the creator of Hey Arnold, Craig Bartlett does not talk down to children and believes that children can handle more than we adults think they can. Keep in mind I am not saying every adult or child operates this way, I am just making a general statement.

Basically when we become adults, our thinking, behavior and practice change but nevertheless our capacity to love is still present.

Love is something that will not vanish, as God has given that ability to us. It's the fall of man that has destroyed or in the very least warped our perception of what love is, hence why as said before you have people proclaiming a tolerance of sin as somehow being progressive as human beings, even though it makes us no different from the people of ancient times, the very people that modern people seem ridicule as backwards or unenlightened.

Biblically understood agape encompasses all the things found in verses 4-7, especially the point that agape does NOT seek it's own. There is no self satisfaction or gratification, but only the assistance of others.

Any good work done for the sake of Jesus is meaningless if there is no love of Jesus in your hearts. Jesus had love and compassion in his heart for those who were lost and sought to bring people to the Father, for that was the Father's will, thus, Christians should emulate that example and follow Jesus.

The same thing applies with any spiritual gift or any talent that we have that God uses for his purpose and glory. If there is no love for the lost in your heart, then what are you doing work for Jesus for?

"Philippians 2:1 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,[a] 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,[b] 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,[c] being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

Jesus, the second person of the Trinity laid aside his divine prerogatives and humbled himself and laid down his life. If Jesus himself was able to do this, what excuse do we have to not lay aside our rights in service of others? Any good thing we do for others should never be out of selfish reasons, but a selfless concern for their well being as well as bringing them to salvation and assisting them in daily life.

There shouldn't be any complaining either:
"Philippians 2:12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. 17 Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. 18 Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me."

As adults, there are things we may not like doing, but they need doing, but we must have a right attitude to them and not grumble or whine or complain about doing the task in question. People in the Old Testament DIED as a result of their grumbling:

"1 Corinthians 10:1 For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers,[a] that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 and all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown[b] in the wilderness.

6 Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. 7 Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” 8 We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. 9 We must not put Christ[c] to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, 10 nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. 11 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. 12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it."

Grumbling and complaining is offensive to God and yet every human is prone to doing these things, including children. Even if we do not express complaints outwardly, it's just as bad to express complaints inwardly. The Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5 brings the point out that it isn't just what you do, it's also what you think (see Matthew 5:21-30).

Let us love biblically.

Answering Judaism.

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