1st Corinthians – Wayne Barber/Part 92
By: Dr. Wayne Barber
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©1998|
|You know, folks, there’s no mistake that chapter 13 follows chapter 12 and comes before chapter 14. There’s no mistake. What I’m talking about in this passage or this portion of Paul’s letter is injected there for a very, very good reason. What’s going on in Corinth had no love in it whatsoever.|
1 Corinthians 13:6-7
When Love Is Present
The apostle Paul has done a marvelous job under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God bringing this truth to light for us. You know, folks, there’s no mistake that chapter 13 follows chapter 12 and comes before chapter 14. There’s no mistake. What I’m talking about is this passage or this portion of Paul’s letter is injected there for a very, very good reason. What’s going on in Corinth had no love in it whatsoever.
In fact, when he finishes chapter 12 he says, “I have a better way. Let me show you a better way instead of getting on this endless pursuit of gifts. Oh, no, what are you doing? You pursue the Giver. You attach to Him, and He’ll produce a gift in you far beyond anything else you’ve ever talked about. It’s called the fruit of the Spirit. That fruit is, of course, His love in us.”
Then verse 1 of chapter 13 says, “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” Language without love, any language without love is nothing much but a noise, irritating noise. “And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.” “Nothing” meaning a zero, not one single thing. I may push myself up in front of others and talk about what I’ve done for God, but I’m nothing. “And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.” Oh, it would profit them. They’re fed, but it doesn’t profit me anything. When I stand before God one day there’s no reward for anything I’ve done because I didn’t act it by faith. I didn’t have that love ingredient which only comes from surrender in my life.
“Love is patient,” he says, “love is kind.” Those two words he could have added to that list very quickly but those two words describing God’s love is so appropriate to the context of Corinthians because there was not patience. People were intolerant of one another. There was no kindness. They were more interested in what benefited themselves than what benefited others.
The word “kind” has the idea of being useful to others. Then after he identifies this love, he identifies it with patience, makrothumeo, long-suffering with the intolerable ways of others and then the kindness, that which only God can produce and a usefulness to others in the body.
Last time I referred to seven negatives. There are eight negatives. I’ll bring the eighth one up now. Verse 6 picks up the eighth one. It’s married to a positive one. It starts off and says, “does not rejoice in unrighteousness.” You see, love, God’s love, never takes or gets satisfaction from sin. It does not do that. To rejoice in unrighteousness is when a person takes something that is wrong and makes it appear as if it’s right. He’s justifying sin. He’s making something wrong to appear to be right. If we love God, what causes Him to rejoice is going to cause us to rejoice. Love is His quality. It’s His character in us and the effect it’s having on us. It’s changing the things that bring us joy. It’s changing the way we see things. So we’re not going to rejoice in unrighteousness.
You know, in the church—and I’m sure it was probably going on in Corinth—one of the ways in which we do this and don’t even realize we do it when we rejoice in sin, is when we gossip about someone. How many times have you been in church over the years and heard somebody talk about gossip? I guess the reason they do is because it’s been around for a while. Gossip usually has an element of truth in it. There’s enough truth that gets somebody’s attention. Normally it’s not the whole story. But when we just really rejoice in taking a juicy morsel about somebody and taking it to somebody else and spreading it, that is when we have just stepped outside the barrier. Now we’re rejoicing in unrighteousness, which proves we’re not filled with the Spirit of God. Because, you see, a person filled with God’s love cannot do that. We’ll see what he does instead of that in a few moments. But it does not do that. All of us have been damaged by this on both ends. How many times have we been in the flesh and we just chose to walk after the flesh and somebody calls us and we listen to them? It’s just as much on the listening end as it is on the giving end. What it does, we are rejoicing in somebody else’s unrighteousness and the person telling it is rejoicing in telling it.
That’s what Paul is alluding to, not just that one sin, but just to help us understand how Christians can take something that’s wrong and make it appear as if it’s right. There’s nothing more painful than for somebody even at church to walk by and smile at you as if they love you and as soon as your back is turned stab you in the back. I used to talk about the folks who would go home and have me for dinner. But it’s happened to all of us. But here’s the interesting thing. I can pick up on this because there’s a great weakness inside of me caused by the wounds that have come over the years. What God would say right back to me is, “Hey , while you’re talking about how much you’ve been hurt and trying to get other people to think about how much they’ve been hurt, what’s the context?” The context is you can’t think that way towards those people because if God is producing His love in you, you are already patient with them; and not only that, you’re kind towards them.
So you can’t find you any solace here in the fact that somebody has gossiped about you. You can’t do it. You can’t find any solace in the fact that you’ve gossiped about somebody else. The only solace we can find is in our surrender to Christ because His love in us changes our whole way that we see others no matter if we’re on the hurtful end or on the end of causing that hurt. It doesn’t matter. Love changes us. It changes us. It’s Christ in us changing us from within. So there are two positives that he gives, two great examples of what love is. It’s patient and bears up under the intolerable ways that flesh can treat you.
But, not only that, it’s kind. It goes a step further. What can I do to help you? What can I do to see that you can change in your walk with God? And then the negatives of what it is not. Of course we see what it is by seeing what it’s not. Finally, he comes back with five more positives. We’re seeing what love is when it’s absent and when it’s present.
What it’s like when love is present? What’s it like when we’re being filled with the Spirit of God and God’s producing that marvelous quality of love, His love, not our love, His love through us? The first one is found there in verse 6 of chapter 13. He says, “(it) does not rejoice in unrighteousness [you can’t understand the first part unless you understand the second thought; it says] but rejoices with the truth.”
What kind of truth is Paul talking about here? Just checking this out I found all kinds of ideas what he’s talking about with truth. But I think he is referring to the truth of the Word of God. I’ll tell you why. The definite article is there. When a definite article is put before truth it’s the truth, not just truth. Without the definite article it qualifies; with the definite article it identifies. To me what he’s saying is this person cannot in any way rejoice with unrighteousness because he rejoices, not just in the Word, but it’s with the Word of the truth, with the truth of God’s Word. You see, righteousness comes from the Word of God and when you act by faith, when you live by faith, righteousness is going to come forth. So with that understanding, if you love the Word of God, you love truth and therefore, you love righteousness. You have to be able to not rejoice with unrighteousness. That’s the opposite of it. When you find people in love with God and His Word, they cannot in any way make something unrighteous appear to be righteous. They can’t stand it. They can’t rejoice because they only rejoice in the truth.
Hang on with me for a second. Why does Paul do this right here? What is present? Why does he do this? Because he’s exemplifying it. This is key. God’s love, now listen to me, cannot in any way rejoice in wrong doctrine. Hang to what I’m saying. Hang on. When you love somebody and it’s God’s love in you produced by your surrender to Him and it’s Him causing that love to be manifest in your life, you can in no way rejoice with anyone who has false doctrine. You can love that person, but you cannot in any way rejoice because your rejoicing is only with the truth. Truth does matter when it comes to this aspect of loving others. You take love, which is what we’re talking about, and truth and righteousness. They’re inseparable. They’re like three parts to something that’s a whole. If you alter any of them, you weaken them all.
I’ve heard this expression so many times, “Well, the important thing is that we just love each other because it doesn’t matter what your doctrine is. We just need to love one another.” Yes, but also no. Because John tells us if a person’s doctrine is wrong don’t even let him in the door and don’t even have dinner with him. So there is something to the fact that when you are manifesting, not your love, but God’s love, there is something in you because it’s God in you who loves what He’s spoken and you love truth.
So therefore, love and truth absolutely go together. When we weaken, as I said a moment again, any one of those three—love, truth, or righteousness—we’ve weakened all three of them. You cannot do it. Now, that’s a tough one. He doesn’t explain a whole lot more, although the ones that follow help us to deal with somebody, perhaps, who is caught up in untruth. But I’ll tell you what. You cannot rejoice when there’s false doctrine around in a believer’s life. You cannot do it.
What’s Paul doing? Paul is writing to the church of Corinth who is absolutely upside down. Their doctrine is wrong. When it comes to gifts, when it comes to manifestations, they’re wrong. What is he doing? He says back in the earlier chapters of the book, “I’m not writing these things to shame you. I’m writing these things as a father would write his son because a father loves his son. I’m saying the hard things to you because I want you to be in love with God’s truth. I want you to come back to where God can work in your life afresh. But you’ve got to learn to love truth. You can’t rejoice in error. You can’t do it and then claim to be filled with the love of God.”
Do you realize the whole Ecumenical Movement is built off the theory that if we love one another despite what we believe, everybody will be fine? That’s ecumenicalism. In other words, that’s just like saying, “Hey, everybody’s fine. I’m okay. You’re okay.” That’s not God’s love. God’s love is directly married to His truth. Therefore, this person who loves, when love is present, yes there’s a caring for one another. We’ve already seen all that. But there’s also a rejoicing with truth. You cannot rejoice in unrighteousness. There’s no way you can rejoice because unrighteousness comes from error. It comes as a result of flesh.
Well, what do you do with somebody you’ve seen all of these eight negative things in? Look at the next one. It says in verse 7, “[Love] bears all things.” The first thing you think of when you think of bearing all things is a person with a big heavy load, and he’s walking around carrying that load on his back. The first thought that comes to your mind is, “Well, it just puts up with everything. It just bears all things.” Isn’t it wonderful just to get in and find out what it really means? As a matter of fact, if you’ve got a good translation, it’s got a little mark beside verse 7 which tells you that there’s another meaning to it out in the outside margin.
The word is stego, and it means to cover. As a matter of fact, it comes from a word that means to put a covering, to put a roof on a house. Whoa! That changes the whole idea of what he’s saying here. It puts a cover over those thoughts and sins of people that are treating you without the love of God. As you seek to see them changed, it puts a cover over the whole thing to keep them from being exposed to everybody. It puts that covering over them. You see, love already has rejected all the fleshly deeds, not the people that do them, but the deeds that they do. It rejects jealousy, bragging, arrogance, things that are unbecoming, selfishness, provoked anger, resentment, unrighteousness, and false doctrine. And when it encounters these things, it loves the person who’s been caught up in these things and that love builds a covering over them. It begins to feel their pain because of their fleshly choices. It begins to help bear the burden of the consequences of those fleshly choices. But it doesn’t go out and parade everybody’s dirty laundry before everybody. It has a love about it. It covers over it. It does not seek to expose. It seeks to protect. It seeks to protect the ones while in the midst of that time there’s a challenge to change that individual, to see God in that individual change that individual.
We’ve practiced church discipline for quite a while. Many have said, “You must not be doing anything because we never see hardly anybody brought before the church.” Part of the reason is they repent before it ever gets that far. Isn’t that good? But you don’t even know who they are. Isn’t that good? I used to be in a church if anything went on it was the matter of a whole public business meeting, and everybody’s dirty laundry was drug out in front of everybody. I want to tell you something, folks. If that ever starts happening around here, people are going to disappear. Why would they want to come to some place that everybody wants to nail them for what they’ve done when the people that are nailing them usually have areas in their own life. What would happen if it was reversed?
Proverbs 10:12 says, “Hatred stirs up strife [that’s a fleshly characteristic] but love covers all transgressions.” Is that not a beautiful verse? Now, if you have somebody in your family and you see that the flesh has gotten hold of them, jealousy and all this kind of stuff, and your heart is burdened toward them and your heart burden is to love them so that they might be changed by the same love that’s changed you, you don’t pick up the phone and call everybody.
We started a prayer chain in another church I pastored. Do you know what that prayer chain became? It became the best way to find out what was going on in the community. It became nothing more than a gossip sheet. There were people who would put down, “Please pray for my husband. He’s lost.” That sounds great on a prayer sheet until you found out he’s a Sunday school teacher and a deacon and the wife happened to be a little upset with him the day that she put the request down. Son, did they ever spread through the church overnight. Love doesn’t do that. As a matter of fact, we had to get rid of that whole thing because all it was doing was causing people to sin.
Love covers. It protects. So when you run across somebody who has any of the eight negatives of that love, then what happens is your heart is grieved, but you still love the person. God has that kind of love for you and me. He loves us but He hates the sin. So when we come together to pray for them, we put a covering over them. We protect our own so that the enemy out there cannot blaspheme.
Love bears. Why does love bear all things? What’s going on here? Is there any connection between these five that we’re putting together? Yes, because it believes all things. Love bears all things because it believes all things. It refuses to yield to suspicion of doubt. Let me ask you a question. The next time you hear about somebody you know, how quick are you to buy it? Or how quick are you to reject it until somebody’s proven guilty? With this right here somebody is innocent until proven guilty, because it believes all things. Flesh is ready to believe all the evil about somebody; love does just the opposite. Love is confident until the very last, until absolutely proven to the very last and then will not give up.
Isn’t it interesting Paul takes you right down to everyday living. He takes you down to dealing with people and circumstances in your life and people who hurt you. You don’t need God’s love manifested in your life if everybody is treating you nice. It’s easy to treat them nice. It’s easy to love them back. God’s love is put there so that now you can treat them the way God would treat them even though they have treated you the wrong way.
I remember early on in my ministry I used to have a hit list when I prayed. “God, if You could get rid of these ten people, we could have revival in the church.” Then it was like God began to put on my heart, “I put some of these people out in your midst just to bring you to the point to understand what you don’t have that you thought you did. You have to admit to Me that you can’t love this person and then I want to show how I can love that person in you. I’ll give you a different perspective toward that person. I’ll give you a heart for that person that’s going to seek to protect him even though you know what he’s doing is wrong. You’ll still seek to protect him because you believe all things and you believe that God can change that person and you’re not going to give up on that person.”
Love always considers a person innocent until proven guilty. I just wish that were true in the body of Christ, that people were so surrendered to God that whatever you hear you don’t take it and run with it. You stop and say, “Hold it. I believe in God in that person and before I go any further I want to make sure that what I just heard would be correct.” That’s what love would do. Love would always give your brother the benefit of the doubt because it’s patient. Remember long-suffering? It still goes back to those first two things. It’s useful. It’s kind. It wants to help the situation, not hinder it. All of us, except by the grace of God, would be right in the middle of it.
The religious Pharisees always looked for the negative in anything that Jesus did, although they claimed to be the most religious people on the face of the earth. Remember in Luke 5 when they brought the paralytic. They had to lower him through the roof. He healed him and immediately they began to question Him because He made a statement to the man, “You’re forgiven of your sins.” They couldn’t handle that. But they completely overlooked the fact that the man was healed. They always seemed to find the negative in everything.
Oh, man, the negative. God’s love won’t let you do that because God’s love believes all things. It just won’t let you have that mindset. You can’t do it? Remember Job’s friends? Oh, Job’s friends. Oh dear God, help me never to have friends like Job had. Job had everything taken away from him. Here they come with their little opinions. One of them said, “If you’d just get right with God, God would restore every bit of it. Evidently there must be wickedness in your life.” You see, love doesn’t do that. Love believes all things. It’s believing that God, in the person, will triumphant ultimately. Even if you find out that what has been said is right, you trust in the God in the person.
Well, why does it do that? Because loves hopes all things in verse 7. You can’t take this out of the context. He’s not talking about the eternal hope that Jesus is coming soon. All that’s there. We’ve got to stay with the context of relationships, the context of people not relating to each other. He’s dealing with selfishness and flesh. So if you keep it in the context, love hopes with expectation towards others.
This hope knows no pessimism, but I want to make sure you understand. This is not a fleshly characteristic of flesh optimism. That’s not what I’m saying. The grace of God has so transformed the person who had this love that he hopes that grace will do the same to the person. He’s believing all things; he’s hoping all things; he’s just not going to give up. Human failure is just not final. It doesn’t give up.
God never gives up on us. If God would have given up on Israel, Israel wouldn’t have made it a month. But God never gave up on them. He never gives up on us as He manifests that never giving up through people who have His love. They don’t give up on us either because it’s not them. It’s God in them. They’re hoping all things, that that person can change, that that person will change. They’re believing that. They’re believing that the God in them will triumph before it’s over. Love hopes all things.
Well, you’ve got to then add the next one, the fifth one. They are all so beautifully woven together. It’s like a fabric. Love endures all things. The word endure is hupomeno. Hupo means under, meno means to remain, to remain up under. Whatever’s coming your way, remain up under. Whatever pain, whatever pressure, you remain up under. God’s love enables you to endure all things.
It would be interesting to know that in James 1 it says, “Count it all joy, brethren,” and it talks about enduring. He said, “Endurance worketh forth patience.” That endurance is the same word, hupomeno. It’s God’s love causing you to be able to endure. Why? Because you believe all things, you hope all things. All these things are tied together. You’re just trusting that God will triumph in the end of it. This endurance is feeding right off of the hope that we just looked at.
In the secular Greek the word is used of a military unit pinned down, holding to the very last, enduring the pain and the losses to the very end. I don’t know if you saw Saving Private Ryan. I never talk about movies, but I just want to talk about that first twenty-five minute segment that they took, actually, from a World War II scene. That was just real. They even had to have counselors for veterans to go see that thing because it was so vivid of what actually went on in that war. One guy’s arm was blown off and, in shock, he picks it up with his other hand. Most of this was actual footage that they just somehow took and wove it into this thing of a group of men who were under orders to hold their position even though all the pain and all the losses they had to take. They bore up under. They stayed there.
That’s what love does. Love bears up under until the very end, no matter how much pain, no matter how you count your losses, no matter what. Love bears up under. This love is awesome, isn’t it, folks? It’s awesome. You say, “Where in the world is it?” It’s only in people surrendered to Christ because it only comes from Him. You couldn’t manufacture this in a million years. We could have a course on “How to Love Your Brother.” It doesn’t work. What we’ve got to learn to do is so surrender to God, Who is love. He’s not filled with love, and He’s not like love, He is love, and manifests that love through us. The same kind of love that He dealt with us, because He’s a God of long-suffering, is the same kind of love He gives to others. It’s a love that endures. It’s a love that bears up under. No matter how bad it gets, the love is still there. It’s the greatest quality in the world.
Paul, knowing that, now wraps it up and says in verse 8, “Love never fails.” It never fails. “Oh, you’re too simplistic. You and the apostle Paul think everything’s solved with a sentence.” I’m not that stupid. I know the sentence is right and very profound, but I do know it takes a whole lot more to get us to that place. I know that. But it never fails. We’ve seen what it’s like in its absence—it’s terrible. We’ve seen what it’s like with its presence. That’s what you want. That’s what you want a church to exemplify, that kind of love.
Now in comparison to every other quality known to man, love never fails. Love will never have an end to it. The word for “fails” there is the word that comes from the little word pipto, which means to fall. Actually it has more of the idea of stumbling and then falling. It’s the word used in James 1 when he says, “Count it all joy when you encounter.” It’s the same word. You stumble into and you fall as a result of it. You’re in the midst of it before you even realize you’re there.
But the word pipto, used in secular Greek, was used of a leaf falling off a tree, decaying and vanishing away. In other words, love will never go away. Love will never fall. Love will never decay, because it’s who God is. Love will never in any way go away because it’s God and who His character is. God’s love never fails. It’s us who fail, but His love never fails. It’s who He is in us.
Let’s put some practical hands on this thing. We’ve gone far enough. Let me just ease back a little bit and let’s bring it down to where we all live. We know what it is now; we know what it’s not. We know in the context of Corinth that it’s something they hadn’t even seen before because it’s only what God can produce in lives that are not chasing gifts, but are surrendered to Christ, the Giver. When it’s there, how do I get it?
I could go to several places in Scripture to show us how to get it. Let me start with the principle. The principle is this, before you can ever get it, you’ve got to realize you can’t do what this love does. It’s foreign. It’s not natural to our flesh. That’s what you’ve got to first realize. I shared the illustration of a lady that walked up to me in Germany and said, “Let me see if I’ve got this right.” She said, “I cannot do good. Is that correct?” I said, “That’s exactly right. There’s no good that dwelleth in me apart from the empowerment of Jesus Christ.” She said, “Let me see the second thing, then, if that’s right. I can’t do good, but I can surrender to His goodness. Is that right?” I thought, “Not only is it right, that’s profound.”
What the church of Corinth needed to understand is how much Paul loved them. He was trying to bring them back to truth and help them understand all you’ve got to learn is, if you’ll just surrender to the One who is love, then He will manifest that love in and through you. You can’t love like this apart from His Spirit producing it in your life. How do I do that?
Go with me to Ephesians 3, and I just want to practically show you. We could go other places, but this is one very familiar to me and I want it to be familiar to you. Why is it the church of Corinth could not grasp what Paul is saying? Why is it they weren’t living in this every day? It tells you right here; because Corinth was just as much a Gentile city as the city of Ephesus. Paul, writing to the Ephesians, said something a little different, but it brings about the same point. It says in Ephesians 3:16, as he’s praying for them, “I pray that He would grant you [as a gift that you don’t deserve, but as a show of His good will toward you], according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power.” What is that power? It’s the word dunamis, dynamite, ability. We get the words dynamite, dynamo, from it. It’s the ability you don’t have unless you’re strengthened in the inner man.
He goes on to say, “to be strengthened with power through His Spirit [where?] in the inner man.” I’m so grateful he put that there instead of “the outer man.” Paul’s already said the outer man is decaying. It’s the inner man that we’re growing stronger. So it doesn’t matter how old you are; it doesn’t matter how diseased you are; it doesn’t matter how weak you are. The strengthening takes place in the inner man, you see. As long as you live it can happen, this ability that God wants to give you. He said, “with power through His Spirit in the inner man.”
Now, verse 17 to me answers verse 16. How do you do it? That little word “so that” throws you. It makes it look like “so that Christ may dwell in your heart.” In other words, I’ve got to be strengthened in the inner man by the Spirit of God before Christ can dwell in my heart by faith. That little word doesn’t mean “so that” or “in order that.” It’s really Christ dwelling in your heart through faith. Here’s the key to verse 16: I’ve got to let Him dwell in my heart by faith. To the church at Corinth and to the church at Ephesus what does that mean?
Well, the word “dwell” does not mean indwell. He indwelt me at salvation. So it’s not Him coming to live in me. He’s already there. But it’s the word that has the idea to be down home. Be at home where He is. In other words, if I want this love to be manifested in my life, I have got to learn to accommodate Christ in every area of my heart.
The word “heart” is used about 139 times in the New Testament. But three of them have to do with the room of our thoughts. Over in Luke it says, “Jesus, knowing what they were thinking in their hearts.” You say, “That should be minds.” No, no. Wait a minute. Hebrews says that the Word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword, able to cut asunder spirit and soul, able to cut asunder bones and marrow, able to cut asunder the thoughts and [what?] “the intentions of the heart.” The heart has everything to do with the thoughts. So the room of my thoughts. Am I accommodating Christ in the room of my thoughts?
Well, not only that. We go over to Matthew and he says, “You must forgive one another as I have forgiven you, from your heart.” I thought forgiveness was just what you said to somebody. No, no. It must go a lot deeper than that. So we see not only the room of our thoughts, but we see the room of our attitudes towards others that have got to accommodate the living presence of Christ in us.
Then in find in John 14 he says, “Let not your hearts be troubled. You believe in God [the Father], believe also in me.” Don’t let your hearts be troubled in the area of your emotions. You can just walk through the different areas of your heart. What I’ve got to learn to do and what you’re got to learn to do is come to the place in these areas as they surface in my life. I don’t have to go find them. Don’t worry. They’ll find me. When they come up, accommodate the very presence of Christ in that area. How do you do that? He tells you. He says, “that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.” Here we go. You can’t separate faith and love. Faith is that willingness to bow down and be submissive to whatever He says, in whatever area you’re dealing with. If it’s in the area of your thoughts and you’re still struggling with them and being defeated, evidently you haven’t given Him supremacy in that area. You haven’t been willing to submit to what His love has to say. If it’s the area of your emotions or the area of your attitudes, we’ve got to learn to accommodate the holy presence of God in our life.
It’s the same thing he says in Ephesians 5:18, “be ye filled with the Spirit of God.” Be controlled by the Spirit of God. Wait a minute. I want to stop there. When we get to the point of surrender—remember we’re talking about the fruit of a surrendered life—look at the next part of the prayer in verse 17 as he comes to that little semicolon. Then he says, “And that you being rooted and grounded in [what does your Bible say?] love.” What kind of love? The very love he’s talking about in 1 Corinthians 13. Wait a minute! Let’s forget everybody else and how we’re supposed to love them. Let’s come back to this thing.
Rooted and grounded in love. That word “rooted” means rooted. When the roots of a plant get down into the soil, what do those roots do? It sucks up the nourishment back into the plant. The plant grows from the nourishment that the roots have buried themselves into. Do you mean the thing that nourishes my life is the very love of God? Hey, I thought you were talking about loving being something I did to somebody else. Wait a minute. No, it starts with what someone has done for you, that you’re rooted in that love. That ought to be nourishing you every day, that God loves you. You don’t have to do anything to cause Him to love you. You do what you do because He already loves you. That’s a different twist, isn’t it? Not only that, it’s grounded in love. The word has the idea of established.
I planted a tree for my wife years ago. She said to dig a deep hole. Did I dig a deep hole? I’m a literalist. You tell me and I’m going to do it. It was deep. It took more time to fill it back in than to put the tree in it. I drug that heavy tree with those big roots on it out there and I dropped it in there. I covered that up. We watched that tree grow.
Something I learned about watching that tree. Those roots got down in there and nourished that tree but the root system and the soil around it also became that which grounded it, established it. No matter what wind blew, it stood. Are you with me? Do you understand what I’m saying? Now do you understand how love does not give up, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things? The wind tries to blow it down. I’m rooted and grounded in His love and as long as I’m allowing Him to dwell in my heart by faith, then that love is not only going to nourish me but hold me up.
Now watch. Let’s go to Ephesians 3:18: “[That you] may be able to comprehend [the word “comprehend” is really apprehend; it means to receive it for yourself] with all the saints what is the breadth [how wide is it?] the length [how far back does it go?] the height [how far up does it go?] and the depth [of what? It tells you in verse 19] and to know [to know by experience] the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge.”
Folks, let me show you something. In that passage, a Christian never knows that he’s rooted or grounded in God’s love this way. That’s why he never treats others the same way. Because he doesn’t comprehend it; he doesn’t apprehend it. He doesn’t know it by experience until he surrenders. But when he surrenders, he steps into a dimension of understanding the love of God that he’s never known before. He’s so overwhelmed by God’s love for him that he’s willing to release it to others around him. It doesn’t start with me loving my brother. It starts with God’s loving me and my returning that love and then God in me loves others through me.
You say, “Are there any wounds in your life from people not having loved you?” Oh, I’d love to get off in that again and write a book. Sure, just like there are wounds in your life. If I ever come up with another book I’m going to call it Victim or Victor? All of us have been victimized by the fleshly so-called love of this world and it’s killed us. But if we’re victors, God won’t let us live as victims. You see, it doesn’t start with how I’m being treated. No, sir, that is not the premise at all. That doesn’t even matter. No sir, it’s how am I treating others. No matter my gift, no matter my ability, no matter anything else, it just doesn’t matter. If the love is not there, there is no surrender in that person’s life, I mean, it’s over. There’s nothing else to be said. Nothing, nothing.
If I was in the Corinthian church right now, I’d be on my face as far down as I could possibly get repenting and asking God to cleanse me and get back in touch in my life so I can actually really be a part of what He’s doing, not what I come up with and ask Him to bless. There’s a big difference.