Love (5)

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.

 

 

            A new pastor was appointed to a certain American church.  At his first Sunday with the church, the pastor gave a sermon titled, "Love".  "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."  너희가 서로 사랑하면 이로써 모든 사람이 너희가 제자인 알리라 (John 13:35). All of the congregation thought the sermon was full of blessings and strength.

            Then it was the second Sunday.  But as the pastor gave the sermon, he was giving the same exact sermon.  It was on the same passage in the Bible with the same message.... "Hmm, that's quite strange... maybe the pastor was busy moving in, and so he forgot and accidentally gave the same sermon." thought some in the congregation.  They decided to be forgiving and did not bring up the issue.

            It was the third Sunday following his appointment.  The pastor was giving the sermon on the podium, and wow... he was giving the same sermon from the previous two weeks once again.  The congregation started to whisper during the service.  Think about it.  For instance, if I were to give the same exact sermon for three straight weeks, what would you all do?

            After the service was finished, some members of the church started to complain.  "How did this happen?  Something must be wrong."  Each person quips in with his comment.  So finally one of the church members decided to speak up to the pastor as if he found a big fault in the man.  "Pastor, the first sermon you have was on 'love'.  However, you gave the same sermon last week as well as this week.    When will you give us a new sermon?"

            To this the pastor answered, "Yes, I realize this very well.  I did indeed give the same exact message on 'Love' for the past three weeks.  And I actually plan to continue giving the same message in the coming weeks.  When will I give a new message?  I will give a new sermon when all of you live out a life of love."  Isn't this pastor quite an individual?  I'd like to meet this pastor.  Not many have the courage and conviction to do such a thing.

 

            This is the fifth week I have been preaching with the same title, Love.  Out of the 15 characteristics of love, we learned about 7 characteristics.  Let us recite those characteristics.  If you do not do it well, I may have to repeat the sermons.

1.      Love is patient.

2.      Love is kind.

3.      Love does not envy.

4.      Love does not boast.

5.      Love is not proud.

6.      Love is not rude.

7.      Love is not self-seeking.

 I see that many of you do not remember it well. I think that this is a good reason to repeat the same sermons again and again. [haha]

 

            Well, since this is a series of expository preaching, I will continue on with the topic.  I hope to make this hour short, interesting, and full of content.   We will begin today with the 8th characteristic of love.

 

            Love is not easily angered. 

사랑은 성내지 않습니다. 

 

            The phrase, “easily angered” in Greek is παροξνω (paroxynō), which means, “easily provoked to wrath in a relationship.”   

            It means that when others criticize you or when you are stirred, you get enraged and lose control.  As a side note, not all rage or fury is bad.  There is such a thing as righteous fury.  “The righteous fury…”

 

            All four authors of the gospel books described the profiteers at the temple.  Some believed that the temple was a place for selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and others even exchanged money for profit.  There were many who abused the church for personal and material gains.

What did Jesus do when he see all that?  “So HE made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; HE scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.” (John 2:15)

            Even though Jesus Christ was in fury as HE swung the whip to drive out profiteers from the temple, HE was not out of his mind with rage.  Case in point, Jesus drove sheep and cattle with a whip.  John 2:16 even described that HE did not break the cages of the doves.  But “To those who sold doves he said, ‘Get these out of here!’”  The owner of the sheep and cattle could herd their animals back, but the doves that flew away could not be gathered again. 

            Not only that, HIS whip never touched a single person.  Even in his fury, HE kept his calm and taught them, “The Lord’s house is a house of prayer.”

 

            No matter how noble one’s rage or how justified it is, the mere expression of this rage in itself is not good.  The rage of a man must be controlled under the Lord God’s will and should be expressed correctly. 

            James 1:20 tells us, “for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.” 사람의 성내는 것이 하나님의 의를 이루지 못하느니라   Proverb 16:32 also reads, “Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.” 노하기를 더디 하는 자는 용사보다 낫고 자기으 마음을 다시리는 자는 성을 빼앗는 보다 나으니라

 

            There is a story about Alexander the Great.  General Clitus of Alexander’s army was his childhood friend. On one occasion, General Clitus got drunk and ridiculed him in front of his men.  Blinded by rage, he accidentally killed Clitus with a spear although he only wanted to scare his childhood friend. 

            As the story goes, the emperor felt so guilty that he even tried to kill himself.  How terrible he must have felt.  Alexander the Great, the greatest conqueror of the West, who once cried when there was no more land to conquer, could not conquer his own rage. 

            How can we overcome the kind of rage that even the great conqueror could not conquer?  “Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city.”(Proverbs 16:32) Indeed these are words of wisdom.

            A man told me, “Pastor, I am a short tempered man.  So I show my anger easily, but I am not a man who stays angered for long.”  So I told him.  “An atomic bomb explodes for a short time, but what can restore the damage of the disaster?”  James 1:19 reads, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 사람마다 듣기는 속히 하고 성내기는 더디하라.”   

 

            Then how can we overcome such rage and anger?  What can we do to become the person the Bible teaches to be: slow to become angry?

 

            William Barclay, a Scottish theologian, says there are two common ways a man behaves when he initiates a relationship between another man or with his community.  One common way is that a man only thinks about his rights, whereas the other thinks only about his duties. 

            Those who think about their rights have a rage that never leaves them.  They are engulfed with the thought of, “I have a right to be treated better.”  So they think others do not give them the appropriate respect they deserve.  They tend to demand rights without accommodating duties (responsibilities).   Such a person is not any better than a child.  Indeed, such a person is fixated in a childish stage.

 

            I am sorry to tell you this, but there are many married Korean men who annually fall into difficult predicaments.  His wife might be mad at him and she does not talk to him for days.  The reason is that he forgot about their wedding anniversary and did not buy a gift.  Husbands, please do not forget this date.

            The irony is that as the anniversary approaches, she is bent on payback for previous years.  She says to herself, “I’ll wait and see if he remembers this time…”  If the husband forgets and the day is about to pass over as usual, she reaffirms her belief and says to herself, “Just as I expected….”  So she waits for her husband to come home, then pours her heart out with vengeance, as if she wanted him to forget. 

            Well, shouldn’t she remind him if she remembers?  Look at the situation.  She expects to receive, at least, a bunch of flowers for their anniversary.  She thinks, “I have the right to receive at least flowers.”  At that moment, she is only thinking of “her rights.” 

            The duty does not fall on a person.  Both spouses must think about their duties to each other.  A marriage has rights, but we must not forget that it comes with responsibilities, also.  In that, the most important responsibility of all in a marriage is love. 

 

            Take Jesus Christ for example.  What did the Lord do whenever HE was garbled and scorned by everyone, even though he was without sin or fault?  HE endured it to the end.  Why did HE endure it all?   It is because HE did not forget HIS given duty: to save all mankind. 

            The fact is, when you fulfill the duty of love, the true power of love is given to you.  Love is not a choice given to you.  Love is an unavoidable duty that comes with being a Christian.  Those who love do not get angered easily.  “Love is not easily angered.”  사랑은 성내지 않습니다.

 

            The ninth characteristic of love is,

“Love keeps no record of wrongs.”

사랑은 악한 것을 생각지 않습니다.” 

 

           In this context, the NIV uses a word with a closer meaning to the Greek word, which is λογζομαι (logizomai), which means, “to make an account of”. In other words, love does not keep a record of wrong-doings that other people have committed.

             It reminds me of a Korean proverb, “Man writes the graces of others in sand, whereas he engraves the wrongs of others in stone.”  What does it mean?  The graces of others, or events when others were gracious to us, tend to be recorded in sand, a substance where some wind or rain would erase everything.  We tend to readily forget others’ grace.

             In contrast, where does a man engrave the wrongs done to him?  He engraves them in stone, where nothing gets erased very easily.  He immortalizes the wrongs of others in his heart forever. 

 

            I am told that one of the Polynesian islands is very much like that.  They are combative.  A traditional custom is to record an incident when a person or a family is wronged on a red cloth and hang it on the eaves of a roof. 

            As the family goes in and out of the house, they will be reminded of the wrongs they had suffered, and they reaffirm the need of revenge.  Maybe that is the reason for why they fight everyday and become combative.

            Of course, we cannot always have good relationships as we live.  But a Christian should not fall into the trap of holding grudges or thoughts of revenge.  The trap of holding a grudge and seeking revenge only leads to the mutual destruction for the revenger as well as the revengee. 

            George Crane, a psychologist, once said, “Even the most despicable man has something worthy of praise.  Every man has some good quality that is worth praise.”  The issue at hand is, “Do I have any love in me for them?”  A Christian needs a heart of Agape. 

 

            Look at Jesus Christ.  Nathanael, who had prejudiced quips, said, “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?”  (John 1:46)  But Jesus did not lash out and did not say, “You foolish man, how can you say that in front of me?”  Rather, Jesus said, “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.” (John 1:47)     

            Christ is treating him with compassion and love.  The Lord Christ prays even for those who nailed HIM to the cross. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)  Such is the life of Jesus Christ. 

            Stephen, who learned about the life of Christ, also prayed for the souls of those who were stoning him.  “He fell on his knees and cried out, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’…” (Acts 7:60)  That is the prayer and blood of a martyr.

            Then, how can we live our lives like Christ and Stephen?  The way is to consider how the Lord has forgiven others.  We must be mindful of the Lord’s forgiveness every time we see the Cross.   If the Lord had not forgiven us, who among us could stand before HIM? 

            The Lord has forgiven us.  HE not only forgave us, but he removed our sins like moving an object from one end of the world to the other end of the world.  HE not only blotted out our sins, but HE decided to not remember them.  It is because HE loves us. 

 

            “The love keeps no record of wrongs.”  사랑은 악한것을 생각지 않습니다.  We must live a life of forgetting all the wrongs done by our brothers and neighbors.  If you have kept a record of wrong doings in your heart, erase them all today, at this moment.  Then listen to the voice of the Lord.  “…Forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”  서로 용서하기를 하나님이 그리스도 안에서 너희를 용서하심과 같이 하라 (Ephesians 4:32)

            If then, those who live a life of hearing the Lord’s voice, “live a life of forgiving” can recite the most profound part of the Lord’s Prayer without any hesitation.  “And forgive us our sins, just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us. (NLT) 우리가 우리에게 지은 자를 사하여 것같이 우리의 죄를 사하여 주옵소서. (Matthew 6:12)

             The Lord is commanding us, “…As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34) “…for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.”  (1 John 4) 내가 너희를 사랑한 것같이 너희도 서로 사랑하라 사랑은 하나님께 속한것이니 사랑하는 자마다 하나님께로 나서 하나님을 아느니라

            Look, Love is of the Lord God.  Only those who love may know the Lord God.  Just as the Lord loves us, we too must love our brothers and neighbors.

            Love is not easily angered.  사랑은 성내지 않습니다

            Love keeps no record of wrongs.  사랑은 악한것을 생각지 않습니다.

 

 

 

 

 

The Charge

            “Love comes from the Lord God.”  “Everyone who loves has been born of the Lord God and knows the Lord God.”  The sign of a Christian is love.  As you live another week in this world, live a life of love. 

            “Love is not easily angered.”  “Love keeps no record of wrongs.”  Live a life that is not tainted by easy anger, and keep no record of wrongs.  Then you will be the blessed children of the Lord God who is born of the Lord God and knows the Lord God.