Two Journeys Ministry
In-Depth Biblical Content by Pastor Andy Davis

The Study of Spiritual Gifts (Sermon 7 of 14)

The Study of Spiritual Gifts (Sermon 7 of 14)

October 14, 2001 | Andy Davis
1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Spiritual Gifts

Andy Davis preaches a verse-by-verse expository sermon on 1 Corinthians 13. The focus of this sermon is on the topic of spiritual gifts.



Now, we're going to continue our study in spiritual gifts tonight, but first I have some things on my heart that I'd like to share just about the nature of the body of Christ from the Book of Hebrews. Recently, I've been reading through Hebrews and I'd like to share a couple of things from that with your permission and then we'll go on to 1 Corinthians 13 again and look some more at spiritual gifts. But look with me if you would at Hebrews 3. What I'd like to do is talk a little bit about our covenant fellowship together as Christians and just how it protects us and helps us in this world. We spoke this morning about God being a covenant making and covenant-keeping God, and we talked about the marriage covenant and how that's the covenant that we are most familiar with. It's a binding promise and commitment that a husband and a wife make to each other. But so also we believe as Baptists is our covenant fellowship as members of the body of Christ; that we make a commitment to one another and it really does fit in very well with our understanding of spiritual gifts. Basically, what we're saying is that we as individuals need the body of Christ and we need to receive spiritual gifts from one another, don't we? And that we are all dependent on each other. I personally, individually, as a Christian, need what the body of Christ brings to me. I cannot be mature. I cannot grow on my own.

Have you ever talked to somebody that says, "I don't need to go to church on Sunday. God is everywhere and I don't need to be there on Sunday morning." To some degree, that passage I cited this morning in John 4 about God being spirit and those who worship in spirit and truth could tend in that direction. You're not going to worship either on this mountain in Jerusalem. That's not a matter of the location. But the funny thing is that that just doesn't work, does it, in the Christian life? We really do need the church and we need to receive spiritual gifts from one another. We need the benefits of the teaching and the preaching and the exhortation, the admonishment. We need the gifts of encouragement. We need all the gifts functioning if we individually are going to be maximally mature and fruitful in the Christian life. Conversely, we also pledge as individual members to give our gifts to the body. So, there's a mutual covenant relationship there. And so, our church does in fact have a covenant and it's got many things in it. We read it every time we have a new member Sunday. But I want to share with you a few things about that from Hebrews 3 and Hebrews 10, the negative side and the positive side, and both of them very useful and powerful for us.

Let's begin at Hebrews 3:7, I'm going to be zeroing in on verse 13, but I want to understand it in context. So, let's look at 3:7. Hebrews 3:7 says, "So, as the Holy Spirit says: 'Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion during the time of testing in the desert, where your fathers tested and tried me and for 40 years saw what I did. That is why I was angry with that generation. I said, "Their hearts are always going astray and they have not known my ways." So I declared on oath in my anger, "They shall never enter my rest."' See to it brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God." But here it is. Look at verse 13, "But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called today so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ, if," that's a big word, isn't it? "We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly to the end, the confidence we had at first." Okay. There's what we would call a warning passage in the book of Hebrews. And the book of Hebrews is full of these kind of warnings. But I think that Hebrews 3:13 is all about the body of Christ. Now, the church isn't mentioned. Spiritual gifts aren't mentioned in 3:13, but it's there, isn't it? Look at it again. "But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called today so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness." Now, the context here is of a verse that the author to Hebrews is citing concerning the Jews in the Old Testament who refuse to enter the Promised Land; you remember the story. They would not enter the Promised Land, they were afraid; there were the 10 spies that brought that negative report. There were the two faithful spies, Joshua and Caleb, who said, "No, it's a good land that God is giving us and God is faithful and if he's pleased with us, he will bring us into the promised land." But the 10 spies who are faithless, who are unbelieving, who are cowardly, would not believe the promise of God. Though God had promised to Abraham that this would be his land, the land of his descendants, they did not believe that promise, but incited the whole group to rebel and to turn back and to want to go back to Egypt. So, they shrunk back. In effect, the author to Hebrews is picking that up and saying to this Jewish community that's had the gospel preach to them, some of them have come on into faith in Christ. Some of them are lingering there. There's persecution involved. They're afraid. They don't know if they want to come on into a full embracing of Jesus as their Messiah, they might get de-synagogued, there might be some persecution, there will be some persecution. And so, they're shrinking back. They're hesitating. He's picking up this scripture and he's saying, "Today, if you hear his voice." Look at that, by the way, in verse 7. You just can't get away from it. It says, "So, as the Holy Spirit says," and then what follows after that? Scripture. What does that tell you? The Holy Spirit speaks directly to you through Scripture. This is not the word of man, it's the word of God. The Holy Spirit says this. "So, as the Holy Spirit says," and then a quote from scripture, wow, could it be this Holy Spirit speaking through Hebrews as well? Absolutely. The Holy Spirit speaks through Scripture. "So, as the Holy Spirit says, 'Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.'" Isn't that so important?

The author to Hebrews talks about this phenomenon called today. Today and today and today, to paraphrase Shakespeare. Didn't he say, "Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow?" Well, we get today and we get today and we get today, a series of things called today, don't we? We can't do a thing about yesterday. We can't do a thing really about tomorrow. We can only ever do something about this thing called today. So, as long as we've got this thing called today, let's not harden our hearts. That's what he's saying. As long as we're in this era, this new covenant era called today, we must not harden our hearts as they did at the brink of the Promised Land and shrunk back. We must not do that.

"As long as we're in this era, this new covenant era called today, we must not harden our hearts as they did at the brink of the Promised Land and shrunk back. We must not do that."

So, it says in verse 12, "See to it brothers that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God." Be sure that your heart doesn't turn away. When the Spirit speaks to you, you must listen, you must follow, you must obey, you must walk. Don't turn away, but stay walking with God. Then verse 13, it says, "But encourage one another daily." Who is that speaking to? Huh? To us. What's another word for us? The church. It's speaking to the church, isn't it? Are your coworkers going to be encouraging you daily so that you would not be hardened by sin? I worked for 10 years as an engineer, nobody ever did that for me. They don't care. Who cares in your life whether you're hardened by sin or not? If it's not the church, I know of no other group. And it says, "We're to encourage one another," what? "daily." That talks about regular what? Attendance at church, involvement in church, all the time, consistently involved in covenant faithfulness, in covenant fellowship with a group of people who knows you well enough to say, "You know something, I sense that you're drifting in your Christian life and I'm afraid for you. I'm seeing some things that cause me concern and I'm afraid for you."

So, as long as we're in this period call today, let's encourage one another. Encourage one another daily, or else what? You might be hardened by sin's deceitfulness. Is sin deceitful? Is it tricky and treacherous and vicious? Oh, yes. Roman 7 is all about that. Yeah, we've got this thing called sin. Paul says, "It's no longer I who do it, but it's sin living in me." It's like this vile tumor that lives within me. It's strong and powerful. Do you feel its force, Christian man and woman? Do you feel the force of sin? It's there and it fights everything that God wants to do in your life. And what is, according to this verse, one of your prime protections from sin's deceitfulness? The body of Christ, right? And if you're not in good, faithful, consistent covenant fellowship with the body of Christ, you might be deceived by sin, you might be hardened by it, you might turn away from the living God. So, we've got here a negative impetus to regular faithful fellowship in a good Bible preaching church. What is that? So that you'll be protected from yourself, protected from your own sin. We all have it. We've all got that cancer, don't we? We've all got that tumor. You know it's true. And so, we need help. We need people to rebuke us from time to time or correct us, adjust us, challenge us, notice us, be aware of us. Well, that's the negative side.

“Encourage one another daily, as long as...” The early church, they did meet daily. Did you know that? Nowadays, we have this sense, just like in Malachi, "Oh, what a burden." They didn't see it as a burden. They enjoyed being together. So, also in times of revival, they met every day. There's this sense of yearning for the word of God, a hungering and a thirsting for it, got nothing to do with this timepiece thing. It had nothing to do with that. It's just I want anything and everything I can get out of the word of God and from the body of Christ, I want to be ministered to by the spiritual gifts. I want to grow and I want to give what I've got as well. But I sure do want to be protected from my sinfulness. It's there and I need help.

So, encourage one another daily. Encourage doesn't just... It's stronger than just encourage, isn't it? It's a matter of loving each other enough to tell the truth. "As long as it is called today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness, we have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly to the end, the confidence we had at first." That is a very interesting verse. We have come to share. What tense is that? Think about that. That's past tense, isn't it? Past completed action. If we do something in the future, hold on to the end. Isn't that interesting? The proof of something that happened in the past is present and future faithfulness and consistency. You see, constantly walking, obeying, living, breathing as a Christian. You're grafted in the vine and you're bearing good fruit. That is genuine Christianity. We need each other, don't we? We need a vital fellowship. That's what churches are for. That's what a good church is for. That's the negative side. Let's look at the positive side, Hebrews 10, a familiar verse. Hebrews 10:24-25, there's lots of let us in there. Let us this, let us that. What's that? 

[Audience speaks]

Christian's favorite vegetable. Yes, salads, lettuce. That's right. Let us this, let us draw near, let us hold unswervingly. Then, in verse 24, "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing. But let us encourage one another and all the more as you see the day approaching." Now, here we've got another day. We already talked about one thing called today, as long as it is called today. So, that's one thing, this day called today. We had it and it was Sunday and it's got a date. God willing, you'll have it tomorrow. But we can't be sure about that, will we? We should say, "If the Lord wills, we will live." We've only ever got today. But then there's another day coming and we've got that day too, don't we? What is that day? Judgment day, and it's coming for us all. It is appointed unto men to die once and then comes that day, judgment day, right? That day is coming. Do you see that day coming? Yeah, it's coming. Are we in the last days? Yes. Hebrews 1:2 says we are, "That in these last days he's spoken to us by his Son." Right? Yes, we are. And the people say, "Oh, pastor, do you think we're in the last days?" Yes, I do, have been for 2000 years. We're in the last days. But we see the day approaching, don't we? Maybe if you're aged, if you're elderly, you see your day approaching, maybe you already see it in your body as it breaks down and you see the aging and you see some friends that have died, who knows? But you see the day approaching. Even if you're young, the day is approaching. It's coming, isn't it? It's that day and it's coming and it's certain and there's no avoiding it. God has promised it. He's told us 100, 500 times that day is coming. There will be judgment day. It's coming. What should we do? Well, we should be the church together about it. Isn't that what it says? "Let us consider how we may spur one another on," that's all about spiritual gifts, I think.

Let's think about it. Let's lay on our beds or sit on the couch with nothing going on, no electronic things coming in. Let's just think about how we can build each other up in the body of Christ. Let's think about how we can encourage one another. In the Hebrews 3, it's negative, "So that we won't be deceived by sin." Here, it's positive, "So that we'll crank out tons of good works," lots and lots of them. Let's encourage one another, consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let's have lots to show on that day. Let's have lots of good fruit for we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God laid out in advance that we should walk in them. But we need our brothers and sisters to exhort us and spur us on to do them, because we get weary, don't we, in the ministries that God's given us.

So, if you want maximum fruitfulness, you need to be in a church that's going to consider you. Consider, we're not a very thoughtful people anymore. Stuff just washes over us. We just accepted and it just washes over us. We ought to stop and think. You ought to think about your sister in Christ, your good friend at the church, or your brother in Christ. How can I spur him or her on to love and good deeds? What do you think about the word spur? "I've got spurs that jingle, jangle jingle." What are spurs? Wow, just gets the horse moving. It's a timely word. It's an exhortation. It's something that's spoken and it causes you to move with new energy, like a horse that gets spurred and off you go, and you're re-energized in your service to God. Does this not speak about the church? Aren't we talking about regular, faithful covenant fellowship with a Bible-preaching church? And if you're not in that fellowship, you're not going to be doing love and good deeds. You're not going to be maximally fruitful. "Let us consider how we may spur, let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing." Isn't that sad? Isn't it dangerous? It's not just sad, it's dangerous, Hebrews 3, it's dangerous to give up meeting together. "We have come to share in Christ if we hold on to the end." You see, it’s dangerous, but here, we're speaking positively about fruit. We've got the negative side in Hebrews 3, regular fellowship in a good church so that we don't get deceived by sin. We've got the positive side in Hebrews 10, regular fellowship in a good Bible-teaching church so that we can be maximally fruitful for Jesus Christ. I'm speaking to you, because you're here tonight. You came. But I've learned in the ministry there's no guarantee that if you're here tonight, you'll be here a year from now. I've learned that, because sin works, doesn't it? And we start to drift away, we start to drift away. So, what I'm urging you to do is do not underestimate the importance of a good Bible-preaching church and regular, faithful attendance in that church. It's part of our covenant promise to one another.

All right. That's one thing, but I think it seems to fit in together. Let's turn, if you would, in 1 Corinthians 13 and find out about love and good deeds. We're supposed to spur one another on more to love and good deeds. What we're learning about through about spiritual gifts is that one of the maximum ways that love speaks through you is by your spiritual gift. It's your way of loving the body of Christ. It's your way of loving Christ, but it's your way of loving each other through the body of Christ. If your gift is encouragement, your way of loving the body is by encouraging as much as you can, like Barnabas being a son of encouragement, giving as much encouragement as you can. If your gift is serving, that you would serve as much as you can and that you would love the body that way. It's a conduit or a pipe of love. Love just flows through that spiritual gift to the body, to individual people in the body, but to the body corporately and collectively.

And so, what Paul is saying here in 1 Corinthians 13, he is really talking about love expressed through spiritual gifts and how, if we use our spiritual gifts in a way that's unloving, it doesn't make any sense, because the spiritual gifts are less significant than the love. And that's what he's saying here, that the spiritual gifts are going to go away, but love remains, love is eternal. So, we must use our spiritual gifts in a loving manner. Let's read this chapter. I know it's not a wedding tonight, but we're going to read 1 Corinthians 13 anyway. And if it causes you to think better about your wedding and your marriage, great. But I think the context here is the body of Christ, isn't it? It's the church and how we are to love one another. So, let's look at it, 1 Corinthians 13:1.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I'm only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy. It does not boast. It is not proud. It is not rude. It is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease. Where there are tongues, they will be stilled. Where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror, then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part, then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love. 

Now, in context, 1 Corinthians 12, 13 and 14, discussing spiritual gifts. We know that because of the beginning of chapter 12, he says; "Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant." So, he's instructing about spiritual gifts and that continues through chapter 14, when he talks about prophecy and how it's to work in the church, and the relationship between tongues and prophecy in a local church. So, we're in a context here of spiritual gifts. And right in the middle of it, we have a digression, and that's what this is. But digressions are not unimportant. Paul, under the inspiration of the Spirit, put it in here. It's okay for this digression to be taken out of context and used at weddings and other things, or written in Christian cards, and that's fine. The problem is though, if you do that too much, you may shrink its meaning and its application and not see how it connects to its context and see how it relates to spiritual gifts. The bottom line is that how you use your spiritual gift matters a lot. It makes a difference how you use the gift of prophecy, your gift of tongues or the gift of teaching or any of these things. All of these gifts must be used to serve love. Love builds up the body. What he's saying here is he's urging the Corinthians to think about their spiritual gifts properly.

"How you use your spiritual gift matters a lot. It makes a difference how you use the gift of prophecy, your gift of tongues or the gift of teaching, or any of these things. All of these gifts must be used to serve love. Love builds up the body."

Now, as we read between the lines in the Corinthian church, we see that there were some problems in that church. It was a very gifted church. He said, "You lack no spiritual gift. You've got it all. You're fully equipped. You've got everything you need." The problem is that they were not mature. They misunderstood what it meant to be truly spiritual and they misunderstood the purpose of the spiritual gifts. The purpose was to build up the body of Christ until it reached maturity, until it reached maturity in the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God and became mature. That's what the gifts are for.

So, the gifts are to build each other up into doctrinal and practical Christ-likeness, that we think like Christ thinks, and that we live like Christ lives. So, the body of Christ is for that purpose. Is the church finished? No, it's not finished yet. It's not finished yet. The church is still growing. It's like a temple rising to full size in the Lord, it's like a body that hasn't reached full maturity yet. But it's growing day by day, and it's only growing by the exercise of these things called spiritual gifts. As the missionaries and the evangelists use their gifts, people are being added to the number. They're coming to faith in Christ. As the teachers are using their gifts, the people are being discipled and brought up to maturity. As the encouragers and the givers and the prayers and the faith-filled people and the servers are all using their gifts, the whole body grows to full maturity. That's the purpose of the gifts. The problem is the Corinthians were impressed with a certain category of gift. The showy sign gifts. You know what I'm talking about? Speaking in tongues and miracles and other things that were really quite spectacular, realize they didn't have 287 channels on their television stations. So, they needed to see some things at the local church. When stuff was flashy and dramatic, it was exciting and that was going on. So, they tended to put up on a pedestal certain gifts like speaking tongues, for example.

Paul begins in 1 Corinthians 13 by zeroing in on the speaking in tongues. Also, he's talking about knowledge. They're impressed with knowledge. One might even say secular, kind of philosophic knowledge. They like that worldly rhetoric and the ability to marshal philosophical arguments. They were really blended in that way. But there was also a spiritual knowledge that they were getting through the gospel, through the indwelling Spirit. So, they were impressed with knowledge. Look for a minute at 1 Corinthians 8:1; he talks about this. We've got the showy sign gifts on the one hand and then we've got this idea of knowledge. This is just an aside, he speaks about food sacrifice to idols, “Now, about food sacrifice to idols, we know that we all possess knowledge.” Then, he says this, "Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up." Isn't that so strong? Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. Knowledge is a good thing if it serves love to build a church. But knowledge disconnected from the love of the body of Christ is a self-puffing, it's a prideful, arrogant kind of thing. That's what was going on in the Corinthian church. So, knowledge must be brought in service to love, to build the church up to full maturity. “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.”

In effect, spiritual gifts are love's tool, love's tool to build the body of Christ. Spiritual gifts used in an unloving manner makes no sense at all. It's completely irrational. How in the world can you use the very thing that was supposed to be for love and for the building of the church in a way that brought pride or arrogance or boastfulness to yourself, so that you're using your gift to divide from some other person. That's the very thing we're trying to avoid. He talks about this and that's the purpose of 1 Corinthians 13.

Now, we break it up into three sections. In verse 1-3, we talk about the necessity of love. Love must be there in the gifts. If love isn't there, then there's no use to the gifts at all. In verse 4-7, we see the nature of love. What is love like? What is the character of love? Then in verses 8-13, the permanence of love, that love is permanent.

Let's look first at the necessity of love. "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I'm only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal." When I was in Japan, I visited Shinto shrines and they had, in most of these shrines, these huge bells, these bronze bells, they were green and they had these logs connected to these huge chords and the Shinto priest would pull the log back at a distance and then let it go. That was a resounding gong and they gave you no warning. So, if you were a tourist and you were walking around, and your head was near that bell, you were going to resound for a while, your head would resound with the frequency of that bell. But the thing is that that was the same thing with pagan religions as well in Corinth, there were these gongs and these clanging cymbals, that had to do with getting the God's attention. Isn't that sad? You had to get the God's attention. They weren't paying attention sometimes. Remember how Elijah mocked the prophets of Baal and say, "Yell louder. He is not listening. Maybe he's busy, he's occupied." So, you have to have this loud gong. When the children would go up and pray in Japan at these Shinto shrines, they'd begin by clapping their hand like that. I asked the missionary, "What's that for?" "They're getting the God's attention." So, that's the way it was.

But basically what Paul's saying here is if you speak in the tongues of men and of angels, he's talking about, some people say this is just hyperbole or excessive speech, whatever. But it could be that the Corinthians actually believed that the gift of tongues was like a heavenly language and that you were speaking in the tongues of angels when you were praying in or speaking in tongues. He said, "Either way, even if I were to speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but if I did it in an unloving way, I'm just a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. I'm just a bunch of noise like a pagan priest that's calling for a God that doesn't exist." What does he mean when he says, "But have not love, if I don't have love?" It's very interesting, for Paul, love is action, isn't it? It's something that you do. It's something that you act on. Romans 5:8, how does God demonstrate his love for us? He sent Jesus Christ. "While we are still sinners, Christ died for us." So, love must be demonstrated. It must be acted on, or else we're a resounding gong or clanging cymbal.

Then he talks about prophecy in verse 2. "If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge," what is that talking about? Well, I think in the context there, mysteries and knowledge generally talks about future things. It talks about the end of the world. If I could tell you all the details about the Second Coming in the Left Behind book series, if I could tell you how accurate or inaccurate it might be, if I could fathom all those future things and tell it all to you so accurately, but if I had no love, I am nothing. I am nothing, even if I have a faith that can move mountains, even if I can trust God for the most incredible things. Isn't it amazing the list of things that Paul says you can do without love? Isn't that incredible? Have a faith that can move mountains and you have no love, is it possible? Paul listed here and he says, "I'm nothing." You could put any kind of service you do for the church, any role you play here in the church, if I do such and such, if I'm chairman of this committee or if I serve on the missions committee or if I do this, if I do that, but I have not love, it profits me nothing. I am nothing. I'm only a resounding gong or clanging cymbal. It is possible for me to do the things I do here without love. It's possible. That's the very thing he's exhorting that it would never happen.

Then finally he talks about great personal sacrifice, "If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body," difficult translation here, it says to the flames, some of the translation might be, "If I surrender my body that I may boast." Either way, it's got to do with some kind of great personal sacrifice. If I give of myself completely and it says, "If I give all I possess to the poor." Interesting phraseology here, literally it could be translated if I parcel out bit by bit my possessions so that the poor have enough. It's an ongoing kind of ministry. Something where you're just there, day after day, week after week, giving what you possess to the poor. Can you do that without love? Apparently so. If I do all of that and have not love, it profits me nothing or I gain nothing. I think he's thinking there about that great day, judgment day, where we talked about store up treasure in heaven. He says, "You're storing up nothing. You're just like those people that prayed on the street corner so that everybody could see them. You're like the people that gave alms and announced it with trumpets." You gain nothing. God is not impressed. Jesus said of them, "I tell you the truth, they have received their award in full." So, there he says, "The necessity of love."

Now, the nature of love, he gives us two positives and then eight negatives and then sums it up with four all things. First two positives, basically what love is and what love does. “Love is patient, love is kind.” Now, patience is long suffering translated sometimes, suffering a long time. One might say holding your fire. You don't say that thing that you want to say. It's in your mind, but you don't do it. You put up with negative treatment. You turn the other cheek. You do not repay evil for evil or insult for insult. It really is a matter of being actively passive. Kind of odd, isn't it? It takes an incredible amount of self-control to do this, doesn't it? Oh, you just want to say that thing that's in your mind, you want to give back and love doesn't. I get the image sometimes of having a magnet, a big, big huge magnet strapped around my waist and it's all I can do to stand where I am and not do that thing that I'm pulled to do. What is pulling me? It's my sin nature, it's my pride, it's the desire to get back. Do you know what I'm talking about? You ever feel it and you just want to say that thing and it takes everything you can to stay in your place and not say it? But love holds you there. Love is patient. It puts up with an awful lot. God is patient, isn't he? Romans 2:4, it says, "Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?" How does God treat his enemies? Is he not patient with them day after day, after day, after day? I heard a story about that. A man who, as you've heard this before, probably, an atheist in Scotland that was going around tempting God everywhere. He said, "If there is a God, I'll give him one minute to strike me dead." Very dramatic. He had this watch and he'd hang it down on a chain and he'd just wait and then he'd pick it up and look at it and let it dangle a little bit more. Pick it up and look and there's the minute, and then that's how he finished his debate with a flourish and he'd give it over to whatever poor minister had to get up and debate him and stand up and everybody was clapping and cheering for atheism, I guess, at that point. But one Scottish minister got up and said, "And did my learned colleague really think that he could exhaust the patience of the eternal God in one minute?" Isn't that something? O to be like God, long suffering, putting up with a lot. But it doesn't go on forever. There does come a day that it ends and that comes unannounced, just like that, it's over. And he doesn't owe us anything, the minute does end sometime. But God is patient.

It also speaks of kindness. That's active expressions of goodness. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the righteous and unrighteous. He actively blesses people who are cursing him. God does that. The rain today was an active blessing on a rebellious city, Durham. Or everywhere that it went. We're all rebellious. All the cities are. It's not that Durham's especially rebellious, it's just that it's filled with people who do not love him and do not walk with him day after day. “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” Then he urges us to do the same. “If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink.” Be that way. “Love is patient,” that means you hold back. “Love is kind,” it means you move out. Then a bunch of not’s, “it doesn't envy and it doesn't boast.” We already talked about that in terms of chapter 12. You don't look to somebody else's spiritual gift and wish you had it. You don't look to your spiritual gift and boast over it. You're not prideful over it. It is not proud. Boastfulness and pride is a form of self-worship. We're not going to do that at all.

"It is not rude, it doesn't behave itself unseemly," says the King James Version, I love that, unseemly. Don't be rude. You learned basic lessons in kindergarten about that, didn't you? “It's not rude and it's not self-seeking.” We could say a lot about that. I want to tell you one thing about that though, there is an element of love that is self-seeking. I believe that you cannot be disinterested and still love somebody. It's got to come from the heart. What that means is that I find personal pleasure and joy in your blessing. I find personal pleasure and joy in using my gifts to build you up. It makes me happy to do it. Suppose you had somebody say, "I want you to know I get no personal pleasure out of using my gift to build you up." I don't get anything out of it at all. No pleasure. It doesn't make me joyful at all. You'd say, "Well, that's not loving. I want you to enjoy using your gift to build me up. I want you to be happy that I'm growing into maturity." Don't take this self-seeking thing too far. But what it means is that you're not living for yourself day after day, thinking only about yourself. It says, "Love keeps no record of wrongs." Is that hard to do? You have this thing called a memory, holding on, thinking about things. “Love keeps no record of wrongs.” Then it says, "Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth." Oh, that's so important. Sometimes we think of truth as unloving and it is never unloving, to speak biblical doctrinal truth that builds the body of Christ up. It's never unloving. Now, there are ways to do it and we're instructed how to do it. We speak gently. It's like you're going to get something out of somebody's eye, if you see something in their eye, you go gently, but you go. There is joy and there's health and strength in biblical truth. We speak the truth in love.

Then it says, "Love believes all things, trusts all things, hopes all things, endures all things." I think the outside ones: believes all things and endures all things, talks about present circumstances, things that you're going through right now. Then the inside one, trusts all things and hopes all things, talks about God's future promises. Basically, what it is, I think we're seeing that God is working out his plan in the church and we're willing to put up with a lot. We're willing to stand and put up with a lot so that God's eternal purposes might be worked out. So, we love and we continue to love.

Now, I don't have time tonight to go into the permanence of love. We touched on it last time, God willing, perhaps we'll have more opportunity next week. I guess, I would close with this. God is urging you to use your spiritual gift in love to build the body of Christ up. He's urging you to be in good, faithful, consistent covenant fellowship with a Bible-preaching church, that you may use your gift to build the body of Christ up, that you may protect one another from the deceitfulness of sin. That's what God is calling us at First Baptist Church to be together. Let's close in prayer.

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