Posts Tagged ‘Christian love’



   Posted by: pastordiehl    in Spiritual Gifts

The topic Paul is addressing in 1 Corinthians 12-14 is spiritual gifts, so we must keep his statements in that context. “Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be children, but in understanding be men” (1 Corinthians 14:20). When it comes to spiritual gifts it is possible to be immature and to use these gifts in an immature manner, and Paul tells us to avoid such behavior.

Paul uses three Greek words here to describe different periods of development. When he tells us to “be not children in understanding“, uses the Greek word paidon, which means elementary age children. When he says, “in malice be children“, he uses the word meaning ‘babies’. When he says, “in understanding be men“, he uses the term for adult male. So we are to grow in maturity spiritually, as well as physically.

And spiritually mature adults do not harm others, even if we don’t like them. But in our understanding of how we are to treat one another in the church, we should be mature. If we have the mind of Christ we should be thinking like Christ, not like competitive human beings.

He introduces this idea with the term, “Brethren”, signifying that he does not see them an unbelievers, but as immature in their faith. You and I should be careful, if we choose to be mature, to treat all our brothers and sisters with due respect, even if we disagree in a certain area. Let’s act like grown-ups and treat each other with the love of Christ.

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   Posted by: pastordiehl    in Spiritual Gifts

And now abides faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13). Paul here concludes the Love Chapter, but is only midway through the teaching on spiritual gifts. Spiritual gifts should not be taught without a full understanding of how Agape love works. If love is left out, spiritual gifts “puff up“, breed “envy“, and lead to “vaunting” oneself above others. (1 Cor. 13:4). I’ve seen some of the ugliest people in Pentecostal churches competing for who is the greatest in these supernatural gifts. The better question is: who succeeds in loving others into the Kingdom? Jesus said, Whoever is greatest among you should be servant of all (Mark 10:43-44).

Although spiritual gifts are only temporary, and although Jesus will one day return and answer all these mysteries and questions we have, there are three foundational principles that will always be steady: Faith, Hope, and Love. Faith is seeing God in the current picture and believing for something better. Hope is the earnest expectation that God is up to something good whether I see the big picture or not. And Love is allowing God to love sinners through us. Love is unconditional and sacrificial, and never gives up.

I heard a testimony the other day about a Christian woman living in a Muslim land. A man persecuted her by pouring hot sauce into her eyes in public. She cried out in agony, “I still pray for you, ———“. He replied that he would be back to teach her an even greater lesson. That night the Muslim man had a dream about Isah (Jesus). He couldn’t shake it from his mind, so he went to her and asked her to tell him about Isah. She did and the dream gave him the faith to accept Christ. Today he is a leader in the church in that closed Muslim nation. That’s how Love overcomes evil.

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   Posted by: pastordiehl    in Spiritual Gifts

Following up on his comment about spiritual gifts being partial revelation that will one day cease, the Apostle Paul illustrates: “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things” (1 Corinthians 13:11). Paul isn’t saying that spiritual gifts are childish, but that we can be childish (immature) with spiritual gifts. There comes a time when we need to stop chasing rabbits and go after the real target.

Although I am now in my mid-60s, I can still clearly remember my childhood attitudes. I can still remember thinking about hanging myself so others would then feel sorry for mistreating me. I remember carrying two big bricks up to my bedroom and vowing to build my biceps until I could whip the older bully next door. I can still remember planting nails against the neighbor man’s tires because he had made me mad. These were all immature attitudes that all children have to work through.

But now that I am an adult, I don’t think like that anymore. I have other, more mature (hopefully) ways  of dealing with conflict. So, I put away childish ways. So it is in the church. We don’t deal with irresponsible people like we did in the world (hurt them), but we love them into change. The world’s ways don’t work in the Kingdom of God; but Kingdom ways do work in the world.

So many churches act just like secular social clubs, electing popular friends to positions, jockeying for influence, giving toward my own ends, serving to be served. But God’s children should be above that. Paul is telling these Corinthian believers to grow up! Stop acting like immature children using spiritual gifts for your own benefit. Spiritual gifts are for the benefit of others in the Kingdom.

When was the last time you observed childish attitudes in the Lord’s church?

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   Posted by: pastordiehl    in Spiritual Gifts

Love never fails: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away” (1 Corinthians 13:8). The Apostle gives us the final description of Agape love: that it never fails to pay off. This is God’s way. When people treat us wrongly, they brace for retaliation. When we respond in love, its messes with their head! The world system has taught them how to fight and how to win. They don’t know how to fight against love. It melts people’s resistance. It never fails. It is how God works to draw sinners to Himself.

Having described clearly for us the “more excellent way” (1 Cor. 12:31), Paul ties the teaching on love back to spiritual gifts. He is saying that spiritual gifts are given to the church for a season, and will one day be no longer needed. Prophecies, messages in tongues, and words of knowledge will one day be no more. But expressions of God’s love through acts of kindness will always be a tool that works in the Kingdom of God. Acts of kindness work with or without the Holy Spirit. You don’t need spiritual gifts operating to influence others for Christ using the Agape method. Love never fails.

Some have used this verse to prove that speaking in tongues has past away, but observe that it also says Knowledge shall vanish at the same time. No, these spiritual gifts will past away, but they are in need more today than at any time since Bible days. The Holy Spirit still empowers His people through these spiritual gifts. But, love is more eternal than spiritual gifts.

We are told to desire the best gifts (1 Cor. 12:31), but love is an even better way. What would happen if we let spiritual gifts operate in our church, but modified the gifts with Agape love. Now, that would change the world.

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   Posted by: pastordiehl    in Spiritual Gifts

Love…bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7). Agape love is all inclusive. It isn’t a feeling and it shouldn’t pass with time. It should grow. These four descriptions of Christian love still apply to spiritual gifts and how we should treat one another in the Christian setting. They are each limitless:

1) “Love…bears all things“. Love puts up with a lot. You can’t reach out to hurting people just to have them snap back at you without love. You can’t invest God’s active love toward someone who stabs you in the back and betrays you without love. Love will be tested because we reach out to people who aren’t there yet. So, Agape love stays faithful even when we don’t feel like it.

2) “Love…believes all things“. Love is optimistic. We read in the Bible story after story of God stepping into people’s lives and bringing changes that were permanent. So love makes us believe the best. Again, we’re not blind, but we keep both eyes open. We set boundaries so dysfunctional people can’t take advantage of us, but they will try. Jesus kept trying and even one of His own disciples wasn’t trustworthy. We don’t trust people, but we can always trust God. No one steals from Him.

3) “Love…hopes all things“. Hope is the expectation that something better is coming out of this. Hope gives me a goal to work toward. Hope and faith are interconnected, because my hope is in what I believe in. No matter how badly things go, my hope is that God will turn hearts around and bring a breakthrough. Love never stops hoping.

4) “Love…endures all things“. Patience is a quality of Agape love. Enduring means we hang in there in our belief and hope. As I’ve been reading through the Year of the Harvest testimonies that people have submitted so far, I see that each of them had to endure a lot to get to the harvest experience. Love is patient and doesn’t get discouraged.

Love has no limits. It sees God at work through us in the lives of others. Love expects the impossible and works to see the impossible become reality. Who do you know that you can let God love through you? Go to work on them, being sure to bear with them, believe for them, hope for them, and endure all their objections, until we see the breakthrough. I’m praying for you.

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   Posted by: pastordiehl    in Spiritual Gifts

Love…rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth” (1 Corinthians 13:6). Here’s a real measurement of God’s love residing in our hearts. What is your reaction when someone else triumphs or fails?

A while back a pastor friend of mine was caught doing something he shouldn’t have been doing. I always sensed everything was not right with him, but had no evidence. When the news came out and his wife decided to leave him, forcing him to lose his job and reputation, something inside of me began rejoicing. My heart felt justified that I was right about him after all. But, immediately conviction gripped my heart because I knew that God’s heart was grieved for this loss. Selfishly, I rejoiced, but understood God grieved. That made me check my own human heart and repent before God. I need to have His heart, not my own.

How many people were hurt over that whole episode? I need to see things through God’s eyes. Then I rejoiced from God’s perspective.

Agape love never rejoices in another’s pain, but rejoices in the truth. When God brings the truth out and someone gets his/her eyes opened to spiritual truth, that’s worth rejoicing over. This all pertains to the operation of spiritual gifts in the body of Christ.

So, what makes you rejoice?

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   Posted by: pastordiehl    in Love One Another

The following letter to the Editor was published in the Focus on the Family Magazine for August 1994:

“Thank you for your recent radio program, “Hope for the Homosexual” which aired in April. I am a former lesbian. After many years in the gay community, I joined a Christian women’s Bible study, where I met happy, healthy, normal Christian women who treated me with respect. I’d never had my emotional needs met before. My mother had rejected me and the lesbian community was always looking for “lovers.” Being around real Christians was the most healing experience I’ve had. I haven’t listened to Focus on the Family broadcasts regularly, but after today, I intend to never miss it again!

What an example of Christians acting out their Christian love toward an unlovely person. But that mutual respect earned her attention. Let’s be careful not to let our personal prejudices contaminate the Lord’s love for the lost.

What is your take on the above story?

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