Love Set In Order: 1 Corinthians 13, Pt. 1

Colossians 3:1-16… If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all. Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (KJV).   

I want to dwell on the topic of “love out of order.” Notice the words inordinate affection.” These two words are the same in the Greek, referring to passion and lust that is out of control; i.e., out-of-order love, including sexual desires and whatever else you put your desires upon. The apostle Paul after listing a few other things says, agape, God’s kind of love. The word “bond” is a word that describes a close fellowship between people, like a ligament that holds the joints together and unites and controls the movements of the body. The word “perfectness” means “mentally and morally complete; perfect.”

The New Testament church was full of immaturity problems. Paul and the other apostles had to deal with four kinds of problems: a) mental or attitude problems, or character flaws; b) doctrinal problems, such as what you believe about Christ, the gospel truths, and the Word of God in general; c) administrative problems, such as leadership, false ministries, the work-of-the-ministry problems, or structural problems; d) moral problems, such as love out of order, and the absence of agape love in all these four areas. Let’s look at a few examples…

a) Attitude problems… In the church at Philippi there were anxiety problems (Philippians 4:6-9), division problems (Philippians 4:2-3), and pride (Philippians 2:3-13). In the church at Ephesus there were apathy problems (Revelation 2:1-7), division (Ephesians 4:1-32), and lack of submission (Ephesians 5:21-6:9, 1 Timothy 6:1-2). In the Corinthian church there was division (1 Corinthians 1:10-3:23, 2 Corinthians 10-13) and lack of forgiveness (2 Corinthians 2:5-11). In all the churches there was discouragement (Hebrews 10:26-12:14), hate (James 5:1-6), lack of faith (Hebrews 3:7-19), and many more problems too numerous to list.

b) Doctrinal problems… In the Ephesian church, there was apostasy (2 Timothy 3:1-17), differences in eschatology (1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11), resurrection arguments (1 Corinthians 15), arguments about the Antichrist (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12), false teachers (2 Corinthians 10-13, Colossians 2) and much more.

c) Administration problems… Too heavy a workload (Acts 6:1-7), selection of personnel (Acts 15:36-41), shepherding (Acts 20:25-36), leadership qualifications (1 Timothy 3:1-13), lack of respect for elders or pastors (1 Timothy 5:17-25; 1 Peter 5:1-14), leadership domination (3 John 9-11), and much more.

d) Moral problems… Fornication (1 Thessalonians 4:1-8; Ephesians 5:3-7), incest and adultery (1 Corinthians 5:1-6:20), and much more, such as hatreds and bad-mouthing leaders.

SIGNS OF LOVE OUT OF ORDER… 1 Corinthians 13… The Corinthian church was full of leaders who boasted of superiority through prophecy, teaching, knowledge, miracles, and sacrifices but exhibited little agape love (v. 1). They made a lot of annoying noise (sounding brass and tinkling cymbals; v. 2) but their actions had no substance. Paul said that it amounted to nothing. He then lists the actions of a person with agape love in verses 4-8. Let’s briefly look at these phrases.

Love suffereth long… It is patient, long-spirited, slow to lose patience, not too soon angry, and never gives up. If you do not exhibit these, your love may be out of order.

Love is kind… It acts benevolently; it is helpful, and compassionate. Love bends over backwards to help someone who is in dire straits. Show favor, show mercy, be abundant in loving-kindness, be constructive. If these things are not part of your character your love is out of order.

Love does not envy… Love knows no jealousy. It does not covet and is not jealous of another’s possessions, gifts, or ministry positions. Envy also refers to looking with ill-will towards another. Envy carries a secret fear of losing. If these things are in your life, your love is out of order.

(To be continued…)

Pastor George Belobaba

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