Love (3)

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

 

4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

 

            There is one common theme I notice every time I come up to the pulpit to give a sermon.  Many of your eyes tell me the same thing.  There are four aspects to this one thing.  First is, “Pastor, please start quickly.”  I don’t exactly know what it is, but it looks like you can’t wait for another 2 or 3 seconds.  If a preacher on the pulpit delays for just a couple more seconds, it seems that your minds will start to wander off to somewhere else.

                I do not want to lose your concentration, so I want to start my sermon as soon as I walk to the pulpit.  But everyone who has heard the CD on the sermon notices something.  The first part of the sermon does not get recorded very well.  After the choir sings the hymn, it takes about 5 seconds before the new recording begins.  Therefore, I do not have a choice but to walk slowly and pause before I start my sermon.  Please forgive me for this delay.

                The second look is, “Please make it short. the shorter, the better.”   You don’t think I know this?  The problem is that I can’t shorten it any more.  The famous preacher Spurgeon  once said, “If a sermon is longer than 20 minutes, it becomes the sound of a demon.”  My average sermon lasts about 22 minutes.  I am trying to reduce that 2 extra minutes, but it hasn’t been that easy.  I am still trying hard.  Someday, it will be less than 20 minutes. 

                The third look is, “Pastor, make it fun and interesting.”  If the modern man does not find entertainment value in a sermon, they tend to not pay attention.  Then there is one more aspect that the congregation demands.  “Tell me everything about it without leaving out any details.” 

                So, I must start quickly, be shorter, be interesting and fun, and tell you everything about it.  Well, a pastor is not almighty.  That is not an easy demand.  Here lies the agony of a pastor. 

 

                A pastor and his wife were in a car going to church on Easter Sunday.  They had a small argument.  The pastor should have accepted the fact and moved on from it, but his pained heart  couldn’t move on.  He stood on the pulpit to give a sermon, but his energy was drained.  He couldn’t start the Easter morning sermon.  This was a truly serious problem.

                On a side note about this possible mishap, my wife and I tend to ride in separate cars to church on Sundays.  (ha ha)

Now, back to the story. The pastor needs to start his sermon, but nothing was coming out of his mouth, how awkward and embarrassing!  He was standing on the pulpit with his eyes closed, just standing …

What did I say the congregation is thinking before a sermon?  The congregation is saying silently, “Pastor, start the sermon, quickly please.”   At the very moment, the pastor looked as if he had an aha moment and started to shout in three short bursts, “Long live Jesus, Long live Jesus, Long live Jesus!”   “That’s the end of the sermon today.” Then he walked down the pulpit. That was all.

 

               How short that was!   Not only that, it was entertaining too.  Furthermore, when Jesus was resurrected after death, it was indeed an inspirational and joyous event.  It all added up to hailing three times.  What more or how better could you express the resurrection of Christ in such a short and sassy way?  That was the most inspirational sermon since the foundation of that church.  The whole congregation loved it. 

The next week being Easter Sunday, I hope you have high hopes for the sermon. 

 

On this note, I will start today’s sermon quickly, make it short, and entertaining.  Above all, I will do my best to make it full of content also.  Again, I meant that I will do my best.   That does not necessarily mean I will accomplish all these goals…

 

                Let’s review the Words of last week.  We talked about three characteristics of love.  First, love is….?  patient.  Second, love is…?    kind.  Third, love…?   does not envy.

Today, we are going to think about three additional characteristics of love.

 

                Fourth, love does not boast.

넷째로 사랑은 자랑하지 않습니다.

 

                Envy, which I talked about last week, focuses on others, but boasting focuses on the self.  In Greek, boasting is “περπερεομαι” (perpereuomai) which means, “Employing rhetorical embellishments in extolling one's self excessively, like a bag of air.” 

The New King James Version and the Moffett Family Bible translates the word as “parade”.  In truth, there is nothing more foolish than parading oneself around.  There is a western proverb describing such behavior, “The empty wagon makes the most noise” 

In Korea, there is a proverb with a similar saying, “The shallower brook babbles the most.”

 

                In all honesty, we do not have a whole lot to boast about.  So why do we do so?  It is because we are lacking love.  Someone who loves does not put himself on parade.  He does not boast before his love. 

                The Corinthian Church congregation of biblical times boasted and paraded themselves to extend their personal influence rather than being a humble body of Christ. Problems lie in such behavior.  What happened as a result?  The church deteriorated as strife and fraction worsened. 

                Apostle Paul pointed out that it was due to a lack of love in the church; the church was not performing as intended by God.  Examine carefully, you’ll see that Lucifer became an eternal creation of evil as he tried to become equal to the Lord God. 

                Yet the Holy Son, Jesus Christ, who is equal, chose to lower HIM self and obey to the Lord God in HIS life; thus HE became the Lord and Savior of the world. 

 

                Why are we boasting?  It is because we haven’t met the proprietor of the field.  Are there any artists who boast about their insignificant works of art?  Put them before the great works of Michelangelo, Raphael, or Da Vinci.  Is there any writer who brags about the brilliance of his literary works?  Compare them with the works of Homer, Milton, Dante, or Shakespeare. 

                Then what does a Christian should do when he wants to boast his good deeds?   He should stand before the Lord.  He needs to experience the grace of the Lord who died on the cross for him. 

                Has your life in faith become dull or has your life of service become more of a burden to you?  Set your sights to the cross of the Lord.  

Apostle Paul professes that everything he knew of values, pride, honor, status, etc. were just “dung” (Phillips 3:8 KJV) compared to the greatness of Jesus Christ. 

                Paul tells us that he has nothing to boast, but the cross of the Lord.  The Lord of the Cross, the savior and the Lord, we should love that Lord.  Love does not boast.

 

                Fifth, love is not proud (puffed up -KJV)

다섯째로 사랑은 교만하지 않습니다

 

                “Proud” in Greek is “φυσιω” (physioō), which means, “puffed up” with conceit.  When your pride becomes too much, it shows as conceit.  You may think that your knowledge and your assets are unique, and that only you can do it.  But that is a foolish thought.

                The Corinthian Church was filled with such proud people, who destroyed the peace and order of the church.  But what is the Bible telling us about the sin of being proud?  “To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.  하나님께서는 교만과 거만과 악한 행실과 패역한 입을 미워하시느니라.” (Proverb 78:13)  “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.  교만은 패망의 선봉이요 거만한 마음은 넘어짐의 앞잡이니라.” (Proverb 16:18)   

 

                As a story goes; during the time of the Russian Empire, Czar Nicolas went to town wearing plain clothing in order to check up on the condition of his people.  No one knew that he was the Czar.  As he walked along a path, he met with a soldier walked proudly with a sword on his side.  As he walked, there was a shiny badge on his shoulder showing the rank of a captain.

                The Captain should have passed by the disguised Czar without out incident, but the Captain initiated aggression.  “Hey you! Why don’t you salute?  Don’t you see my rank?  I am a captain of the Czar’s Army.”   The unadorned Czar apologized, “I am sorry for not saluting.”  The Captain further showed his arrogance by saying, “You, what do you do for a living?”  The Czar replied, “Why Captain, I too have rank. Do you want to try guessing it?” 

                Confidently, the Captain retorted, “Sure. Since you are of age… are you a Sergeant or a Master Sergeant?”  “No, I have a slightly higher rank.”  “A Second Lieutenant?”  “Slightly higher.”  His tone of voice started to change, “Are you a captain like me?”   “No, slightly higher…”  Then the Captain saluted and asked, “Are you a Major?” 

                “No, I am higher than that.”  Things changed quite a bit for the Captain. “Are you a Colonel?”  “I am higher…”  The Captain became pale faced asked, “Are you a General?”  “No, I am higher.”  At that moment, the Captain thought, “Oh boy.  Only the czar is higher than a general.”  The captain kneeled before the czar and said, “Forgive me, Czar Nicholas, I have committed a cardinal crime.”  The Captain should have just walked on his way, but his arrogance got him into trouble.  What would happen if such a person becomes the rank of a General?

               

Indeed, being proud  is one of the easiest sins for a man to commit.  Thus in 1 Corinthians 4:6, Paul tells us, “…you will not take pride in one man over against another.”  It is given that as you become more arrogant, you will take after Satan, at the same time, as you become more humble, you will take after the Lord.  The Lord is personally telling you, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart…” (Matthew 11:29)  Love the Lord, and love the Lord’s people.  Love is not proud. 

 

                Sixth, love is not rude.

여섯째로 사랑은 무례히 행치 않습니다.

 

                “Rude” describes a behavior that destroys a gathering’s order by the unseemly state of a person.  In other words, it describes a man without manners.  True love is not rude.

                As a fertile soil produces flowers, where love is, order is maintained.  Why does man destroy order?  It is because of one’s pursuit of self-interest over consideration of others.  It is due to a lack of love in him. 

               The Corinthian Church lacked such love and overwhelming selfishness was prevalent.  Thus the church lost its order, and it was full of conflict and chaos.  That overwhelming rudeness resulted in four noticeable conditions.

 

                The first of such conditions was noticed during the breaking of bread.  Early Churches shared bread during fellowship whenever they gathered.  But some of them were gluttonous; they came and ate before the fellowship started.  They had no consideration for others.

                Brethren, what is love?  Love is not a mere intellectual exercise.  It is neither a slogan nor a romantic concept.  Love is concrete and specific and can be shown in these gatherings when the heart considers its brothers before himself by not being rude.

                The other condition was during the Eucharist.  Just like the breaking of bread, some abused the occasion to fill their stomachs.  Some used the time to get drunk rather than contemplate on the blood of Jesus. Thus Paul told us in 1 Corinthians 11:29, “For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord, eats and drinks judgment on himself.

                The third condition regarded the women of the Church.  In the first century, women were treated unfairly.  They had very little or no right at all.  

                But when they accepted the gospel, they gained the freedom of a man.  The gospel is the greatest blessing for all women.  The problem rose out of the abuse of women’s newfound freedom.  At first the women covered their heads as a sign of obedience and modesty toward the Lord and the church.  But they discarded their head scarves and rebelled against the leaders of the church and their husbands.   In these contexts, 1 Corinthians 11 was written.

                The fourth condition occurred during worship.  Many abusers of newly found freedom spoke in tongues, and they spoke out of context in tongues, which could not be translated during their worship services.  The holy orderliness and virtue of worship was being destroyed.  The warning against speaking in tongues in 1 Corinthians 14 was based on such situations.

 

                Paul, filled by the Holy Spirit, heard of such chaotic situations and wrote a message to the church in Corinthians in response.  For a church to restore orderliness, the restoration of love is the priority.    Love is not rude. 

                 “Courteous” in English is a derivative of the word “Court”.  It describes the etiquette of princes and princesses of the court. Think about the etiquette of the court.  Whether a prince is young or old, you do not speak to him without respect.  You use the highest honorific terms you can find.  That is the etiquette of the court. 

                In a way, we Christians are the princes and princess.  We are the children of the King of all kings.  Thus we must show the courtesy that is becoming of a prince or princess at least in the church. 

                Occasionally  I see that some people call out, “Deacon Kim, or Deacon Lee” without the suffix “NIM” ().  I tend to have a second look at such a person.  It is because it is rude.  That is not befitting of the etiquette in the kingdom of God. Such rude behavior does not elevate one’s own stature.  The church granted positions in the church, so we must treat them with utmost respect.   

                Philippians 1:27 reads, “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ…”  Since you have become a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven, you should conduct yourselves in accordance.  A Christian must live a virtuous public life and be well mannered in the church.  Love is not rude.  

 

                We have contemplated three additional characteristics of love today.

Love does not boast. 사랑은 자랑하지 않습니다

Love is not proud. 사랑은 교만하지 않습니다

Love is not rude. 사랑은 무례히 행치 않습니다

                Live your life daily practicing this love.  Then you will live a life that is filled with the joy the Lord gives you.

 

 

 

 

The Charge

            What is the identity of a Christian?  It is love.   We must have signs of love in our lives.  …Live your lives remaining in love.

Love “does not boast, [is] not proud, and [is] not rude.” 

            Love is eternal.  As you remain in love, shine the light of Christ.  Live a life that shares the gospel and love. Thus you will live a life of fulfilling the will of the Lord.  Then the Lord’s laurel of life will be rewarded to you.