Wednesday Night Lesson: ‘Love is Gracious’

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We return once again tonight to our study of love. As we have noted, there are several types of love in this world. There is love that is sensual and romantic. There is also love that is associated with friendships. Both of these kinds of love are often motivated by self-interests. “What’s in it for me?” Or, “I will love you as long as …”

But then there is another kind of love that is more concerned with the needs of others than self. This kind of love is best demonstrated through the ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

The ones that God chose to love were not His friends. They were His enemies. (Rom 5:8) Yet because God loved us, He gave His Son, the Lord Jesus, to die on the cross for our sins. Concerning this act of love, John wrote –

1 John 4:10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (Propitiation – a sacrifice that satisfied the justice of God)

John then goes on to wrote –

1 John 4:11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.

Paul describes this kind of love to us in the 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians –

1 Corinthians 13:4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up; 5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

I. The Necessity of Love   (vs. 1-3)

Christianity without this kind of love really isn’t Christianity at all.

II. The Nature of Love

We have seen in our studies that such love is:

A. Love is Patient   

B. Love is Kind               

C. Love Is Not Envious of Others

D. Love Is Not Rude

Tonight we consider another aspect of love.

E. Love Is Gracious

1 Corinthians 13:5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

1. ‘Gracious’

Peter writes in 1 Peter 2:3 ‘…ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.’ The word ‘gracious’ means that the Lord is kind, benevolent, willing to help, useful for a need. God loves us with a gracious kind of love.

Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

God loves with a gracious kind of love, therefore those born of Him should show such kind of love to others as well. Therefore Paul writes –

1 Corinthians 13:5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

Love is not rude. It is not focused only on self. It does not quickly get angry. It does not hold a grudge.

2. ‘Seeketh not her own’

The natural thing to do in life is to look out for #1. That’s why scripture says for us to – ‘Love our neighbor as ourselves.’ God already knows that we naturally love ourselves. God doesn’t want us to hate ourselves. That would not be beneficial. What God wants is for us to love others as well.

1 Corinthians 13:5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own,

Love is not consumed with self. Love does not always search out for one’s own pleasure, profit or honor. Love does not insist on always having its own way. Love is considerate of the needs of others. Love is gracious towards others.

Last week we look at Philippians 2:4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. 

Love has a humble attitude about self. Rather than be selfish, it is selfless. It has the mind of Christ which is produced in us by the indwelling Holy Spirit.

 3. Not Quickly Angered

1 Corinthians 13:5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked…

Someone has rightly said – “The one who is intent on having his or her own way is generally the same one who is easily provoked or angered.”

Paul is not saying that nothing in life bothers us. The word ‘provoked’ refers to someone reaching the level of exasperation. One writer calls them – “temper bombs.” This is very similar to what Paul has already said –

1 Corinthians 13:4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind  

‘Suffereth long’ means to be longsuffering and patient with others. To be kind means to be benevolent. Actually it’s the same word that Peter used and translated as ‘gracious.’ Because agape love has these characteristics, it is not easily irritated or quickly angered when wronged. Instead, it is gracious.

Peter has a wonderful explanation of the graciousness of God in 1 Peter 2.

1 Peter 2:19 For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.    

The word ‘thankworthy’ is the word grace. One translation puts this verse as – “For it is a sign of grace…” (BBE) It is evidence of God’s grace working in your lives when you are able to remain spiritually faithful, even when suffering unjustly.

1 Peter 2:20 For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? But if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.   

The word ‘acceptable’ is the same word again. It’s the word often translated as grace. The word ‘grace’ comes from the word rejoice. What Peter is saying is that whenever we show grace during difficult times, we bring pleasure to God and cause Him to rejoice.

1 Peter 2:21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: 22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: 24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

Note – ‘to this kind of living we are called.’ God has called us to be gracious to others, even as He is gracious to us.

No doubt many of you will remember several years ago – WWJD (What would Jesus do?) That phrase came from a book written by Charles Shelton, entitled – “In His Steps.” The basis of his book the end of vs.21 – “… leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps…”  In his little novel, Shelton portrayed a Christian community that began to ask – ‘What would Jesus do?” whenever they faced a difficult situation. Although WWJD was overplayed and commercialized, the concept has merit. That’s what Peter is saying. Follow the example our Lord in being a gracious person.

 4. Does Not Carry a Grudge  

1 Corinthians 13:5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

One translation says – “… it does not brood over injury…” (NAB) Another translation says – “… (it does not) store up grievances…” (NJB) A simpler way to state it would be – “It does not keep score.”

One day two men were discussing their marriages. One man said to the other, “You know, every time my wife and I get into a conflict, she gets historical.” His friend said, “Historical? Don’t you mean hysterical?” “No, I mean historical. She rehearses everything I’ve ever done wrong in the whole history of our marriage.”

Paul says –

1 Corinthians 13:5 … thinketh no evil;

The word ‘thinketh’ is the Greek word ‘Logizomai’, from which we get the English word ‘logic.’ It means to: {to reckon, compute, calculate, to take into account, to deliberate, and to weigh something out}. It is a term often used during Paul’s day to refer to bookkeeping. To logizomai is to put something on the ledger.

Paul says that true love from God, doesn’t keep a score. It’s doesn’t hold grudges. It does not register the evil; store up no resentment; or hold malice. Someone has said that it does not just ‘forgive and forget, it continues to forgive even when it remembers.’

Why does it not do this? Two reasons:

1. It Has Been Forgiven

Eph 4:32 And be ye kind one to another , tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

2. It Is Being Fruitful

Galatians 5: 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance… (self control)

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