Saturday, March 15, 2008

Love’s Nature

He who impatiently demands perfection in others is expecting from them that which he is unable to produce himself. But it is always easier for carnal man to demand perfection in others than it is for him to produce it. If we view our self as being perfect we are blind and deceived and will never see our own imperfections. In human relations one can best understand the imperfections of others by having knowledge and understanding of his own. Here enters experiences. Experiences or “trials” is like God holding a mirror before us and saying, “this is who you are;” and then pointing to His Son and saying, “I am creating you to be like Him.”

First in our experience with God is that of the love of God. We love our Heavenly Father because He first loved us. But in revealing to us His love God first had to show us the ugliness of our sin. Our ugly sin nature and His love for us both were revealed to us at the crucifixion of His Son Jesus. It was man’s sin nature that crucified Jesus and it was for our deliverance from that sin nature that He died. After we have seen our sin nature and experienced God’s love through repentance, He then begins to work patience in us. Before teaching us patients He must first reveal to us our impatience. Just as experiencing God’s love we learned love, so it is with patients also. We experience God’s patients toward us; in this same manner we learn patients toward others.

“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant.”
(1st Corinthians 13:4 NASU)

Love’s essential character or nature is that of patients. One who possesses love seeks discernment and understanding that he may endure. Love’s nature is to patiently endure all the weakness, ignorance, errors, and other imperfections of those who are born of God; and all the malice and wickedness of the children of this world; and all this, not merely for a time, but without end; it is a state of mind or disposition, to the end of which trials and difficulties can never reach.

Love also waits for God’s time of accomplishing His gracious purposes, without discontentment or murmuring; and bears its own imperfections, as well as those of others, with humble submission to the will of God.

The carnal sin nature prompts to hatred, harshness, severity, and unkindness of expression, anger, and a desire of revenge. But love’s nature is the opposite of all these. Love is kind, good-natured, gentle, tender, affectionate and gracious. Love always prays for the well being of everyone. It is never harsh, gloomy and ill-natured toward anyone. Thus kindness seems to indicate that love is courteous, gentle and mild under all attempts at provocations and ill-treatment.

One who possesses a love that is not mingled with carnality is never jealous but rejoices as much at the happiness, honor, successes and comfort of others, as they do in their own. They are always willing that others should be preferred before them.

Love’s nature in a person produces a state of mind just the opposite of a disposition to boast. He receives whatever endowments he has with gratitude; regards them as the gift from God; and is pleased to employ them, not in vain boasting, but purposes to serve the body of Christ and in doing good favor to all others. To boast of one’s own talents is not to employ them to the advantage of others. One’s boasting is of no help in feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, comforting the sick and afflicted, or leading lost souls to Christ. Accordingly, the man who does the most good is the least likely to boast; the man who boasts may be regarded as doing nothing else.

One who is arrogant differs from the one who brags, inasmuch as that the word arrogant denotes the expression of the feelings of pride and vanity. A man may be unpleasantly or disdainfully self-important, haughty, very proud and vain, and not express it in the form of boasting. That state is indicated by the word “arrogant.” If he gives expression to this feeling, and boasts of his endowments, that is indicated by the word “brag.” Love prevents arrogance in a person, as it would boasting also. It would destroy the feeling, as well as the expression of it. It is not the nature of love to fill the mind with pride and vanity. Even knowledge may pollute the mind with the conviction of self-importance; but one who has love is humble, meek, modest and never imposing.

Love “does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered.”
(1st Corinthians 13:5 NASU)

“Unbecomingly” means to conduct improperly, or disgracefully, or in a manner to deserve reproach. Love keeps one’s conduct above reproach; it “does not act unbecomingly.” There may be included in the word also the idea that love prevents anything that would be a violation of decency or morality. Love seeks only that which is proper or becoming. There is much that is indecent and unbecomingly in the world today that would be corrected by an infusion of divine love.

Love “does not seek its own” meaning, that it is not selfish; it does not seek its own happiness exclusively or mainly; nor does it seek its own happiness to the injury of others. One who has love is never satisfied until he has seen to the welfare, comfort and salvation of other as he would his own. A person who seeks after nothing but his own welfare and happiness and does not care about the weak, poor, hungry, lame, blind and the lost sinner has need to fear for his own salvation.

A man who is under the influence of love is not inclined to violent anger or exasperation; it is not his character to be hasty, excited, or emotional. He is calm, serious, and patient. He looks soberly at things; and though he may be injured, he controls his emotions, restrains his temper and subdues his feelings.

Therefore he “does not take into account a wrong suffered.” His heart is so full of love for God and his fellowman that he cannot allow someone’s evil act against him to cause him to be bitter or to hate.

Love “does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;”
(1st Corinthians 13:6 NASU)

Love does not rejoice over the evil, wickedness or immorality of other people; does not take delight when they are found guilty of sin; love is saddened by such. It does not even find pleasure in hearing of others accused of sin. It does not find pleasure in the “report” that they have done wrong or in maliciously following up that report to prove it to be true. Although love may seek the validity of the report for the purpose of prayer or proper counsel it never seeks it out for the purpose of expressing joy over it or for the purpose of gossip.

Love “rejoices with truth.” The word “truth” here stands opposed to “iniquity,” and means moral excellence, righteousness, devotion, goodness and reverence. It does not rejoice in the “vices,” but in the “virtues” of others.

Love “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
(1st Corinthians 13:7 NASU)

The term “all things” must be limited to all that is morally, legally and spiritually right.

Love “bears all things” meaning: not given to gossip about others failings or shortcomings; while keeping the knowledge of them to himself, but bears or covers them through prayer and proper counsel whenever possible; i.e. “Love covers a multitude of sins.” Love always believes the best in every person; but when there is no place left for believing good of a person, then love comes in with its hope.

Love bears up under all persecutions and mistreatment from enemies and professed friends. Love bears trials and tribulations with an even mind, as it submits with perfect resignation to every dispensation of the divine care and guidance of God; knowing God’s grace is sufficient never says of any trial, affliction, or insult, “this cannot be endured.”

In summary, love is very active in the health, welfare and spiritual edification of all saints and sinners. God HATES SIN but loves the sinner!! Yet, while love hates sin, it loves the sinner and seeks to see him delivered from the bondage of sin regardless of race; whether he be rich or poor, clean or dirty, hansom or ugly, tall or short, male or female, a criminal or social worker, alcoholic or drug addict, or whatever; he that loves seeks out the lost that their soul might be saved; Christ died to take away (destroy) sin.

“If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.”
(1st John 4:20 NASU)

James C Sanford

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