Tonight we return once again to our study of love. Note with me from 1 Corinthians 13 –
1 Corinthians 13:1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
We have noted that there are three types of love:
- Eros – which is a sensual, erotic kind of love
- Phileo – which is an emotional, friendship kind of love
- Agape – which is a selfless love that is a choice of our will. We choose to love others because we desire to help meet their needs.
I. The Necessity of Agape Love
We have learned that agape love comes from God. We read in 1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
Paul stresses the necessity of agape love in the life of a Christian. We can summarize Paul’s intent in 1 Cor 13:1-3 by saying – “Christianity without AGAPE love, isn’t really Christianity at all.”
II. The Nature of Agape Love
1 Corinthians 13:4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind …
A. Love Is Patient
Last week we saw that love is patient. Peter teaches us that long-suffering is a part of the nature of God, therefore it should be a part of the nature of His children as well. Love keeps no record of wrongs, but instead it is longsuffering, hoping for the day when there can be a full restoration of the relationships.
B. Love is Kind
Tonight we see that love is kind. As I was preparing this lesson, something that I read several years ago came to my mind. I’m not sure where I got this from but it helps to emphasize the importance of kindness –
“There may be times when you will be sorry about something you said;
sorry you stayed late or left early; sorry that you won or lost something;
but all your life you will never be sorry you were kind.”
What does it mean to be kind? If we do a study of this word we find that it can have several different, yet very important meanings.
1. To Be Gentle
To be kind is to be: mild, easy going, pleasant, gentle, or gracious. I read that this particular word was sometimes used to describe mellow or aged wine. (see Luke 5:39 for a use of this word)
God Himself is the perfect example of such kindness. Consider these passages of scripture:
Isaiah 40:11 He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.
Isaiah 42:3 A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.
2 Corinthians 10:1 Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, …
God is kind and gentle; therefore His children should be so as well.
1 Thessalonians 2:7 … but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children.
2 Timothy 2:24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men…
Titus 3:2 To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.
2. To Be Approachable
I will categorize the second aspect of kindness as someone who is approachable. The word actually means to be ‘manageable.’
Several years ago I was taught a lesson personally concerning the importance of biblical kindness. Someone had done something to a friend of mine, and I felt very strongly that they were wrong. Therefore, I became resentful of the person who had done the wrong. I was closed in my spirit towards them. But unknowingly, this closed spirit started to bleed over into other areas of my life as well. I was beginning to develop an angry attitude towards others. Then one day, as I was doing my devotions, I read this passage of scripture from the book of James.
James 3:13 Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation (conduct, behavior) his works with meekness of wisdom. (mildness of disposition, gentleness of spirit)
14 But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. 15 This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. 16 For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.
17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. 18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.
That phrase – ‘easy to be intreated’ caught my attention and so I decided to do a little study. The word ‘entreated’ means to have someone make a request of you. They entreat you to do something. Easy to be entreated means that it is easy for others to request things of you; or in other words, you’re approachable. Agape love is approachable.
3. To Be Useful
A third aspect of agape love means to be useful. Many words develop from other words. The root meaning of the word kind means to: receive a loan, to borrow, or to furnish what is needed. Luke used this word to describe ropes men tied around a vessel, trying to help it hold together during a raging storm. In regards kindness as an expression of agape love, Ray Prichard has described it as – “sweet usefulness”; or in other words, usefulness with the right attitude.
To be kind is to seek out the needs of others and to selflessly meet those needs, without any expectation of being repaid. Another word to describe this Christian virtue would be – to show grace.
4. To Be Compassionate
Lastly, to be kind means to be compassionate. Paul used this word when he wrote –
Ephesians 4:32 And be ye kind <5543> one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
Though there are many things that I could say about this, I think that this illustration says it best.
It is reported that Paul Harvey once told about a man named Carl Coleman who was driving to work when a woman motorist, passing too close, snagged his fender with hers. Both cars stopped. The young woman surveying the damage was in tears. It was her fault, she admitted. But it was a new car…less than two days from the showroom. How was she ever going to face her husband? Mr. Coleman was sympathetic but explained they must record each other’s license number and automobile registration. The woman reached into the glove compartment of her car to retrieve the documents in an envelope. And on the first page were these words written in her husband’s handwriting: “In case of accident, remember, Honey, it’s you I love, not the car.”
5. “What if I am not naturally a kind, caring person?”
a) Can’t excuse our sinful actions
Galatians 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are … 20 … hatred, contention, strife, wrangling…
We can’t excuse our sinful actions by saying – “That’s just the way I am.” Note what Paul says about the flesh –
Galatians 5:24 … they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
Those who belong to Christ recognize that their flesh is sinful and therefore they consciously endeavor to resist the flesh and to yield to the Spirit.
b) Yield our will to the Spirit
Galatians 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
The Spirit will speak to us and show us how to live and act. However, we must be careful that we are not grieving the Spirit or quenching Him. We must yield our will to His. Note the result of when we do –
Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness <5544> …