Friday, February 06, 2009

L.O.L. - The First Three

According to First Corinthians 13:4, the first characteristic of “agape” love is the fact that love is patient. The Greek word often refers to being patient with people as opposed to circumstances. This word describes someone who has been wronged, has the power to retaliate, and chooses not to do so. This was in direct contrast with the Roman view which saw vengeance as a virtue and non-retaliation as a weakness.

I think the best example of this quality in Scripture is Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus. Joseph and Mary are espoused. This was similar to our engagement only far more binding. However, during this timeframe there could be no intimate contact. In all likelihood, Mary and Joseph may have never even been alone together when Mary gets word to Joseph that she is pregnant. I guarantee you that the first thought going through Joseph’s mind was not “I bet this is some type of virgin conception miracle!” Joseph came to one conclusion, that Mary had wronged him in the deepest way. According to the Old Testament law, Joseph had the right and the power to have Mary stoned. He also could have put her through a very public and humiliating divorce. But instead, Matthew 1 teaches us that he chose to end the relationship quietly. This was an option that did not even include having to state the reason. Why did Joseph make such a decision? I believe the answer is because Joseph truly loved Mary. Being a righteous man, he was going to end the relationship. But out of love, he would do so without retaliation.

Along with being patient, verse four also describes love as being kind. The Greek word means to be useful, serving and gracious. This word describes actively sacrificing in order to do useful things to others. In my previous church we lived in an area where we averaged 80-90 inches of snow every winter. The house we lived in had a long double driveway, however, it was not unusual for a man in our church who had a plow on his truck to swing by and quickly plow out my driveway. I tried to thank him and even offer to pay him, but he just shrugged it off. One day I was talking to his wife and told her how much I appreciated what he did. She told me that this was her husband’s way of saying, “Pastor, I love you!” As I thought about what she said I realized how very Biblical that was. It was a perfect example of the Biblical truth that “love is kind.”

The third characteristic of “agape” love as seen in First Corinthians 13:4 is that love is not jealous. In the English language we have two different words with two different meanings…“jealousy” and “envy”. Jealousy desires to have the same thing another person has while envy tries to deprive another of what they have. For example, if you drove into church in a brand new SUV, fully loaded, right off the lot, an $80,000 vehicle, and I wished it were mine, this would be jealousy. But if I went outside why you were not looking and slashed all four tires so that you could not drive it either, this would be envy. In the New Testament, the same word is used to describe both because jealousy, if left unchecked, will always turn into envy. One verse…three characteristics of love. They are all three powerful. They are all three needed in the church. And there are still 13 more to look at in the weeks ahead.


Anonymous said...

While doing snow removal,I was taught an important lesson on "obeying the small voice" and LOL people you don't know.
I drive by many people shoveling,obviously it would be impossible to stop and help everyone,however this time I was already past and was "promped" to turn around. A post middle aged woman was stuggling with the plowed snow from the street that was in her driveway.After the snow was pushed aside ,She infomed me that her husband very recently had surgery and didn't know how she would get the car out.
She was visibly touched and emotional when I said " I knew there was a reason I turned around" !! My wake up call to always seize the oportunity to LOL.

Pastor Scott said...

That is the key to loving out loud, anonymous...following the leading of the promoting of the spirit of God! Thanks for the great practical story!