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The Power of Love - Part 1

In Touch / Charles Stanley
The Truth Network Radio
November 25, 2023 12:00 am

The Power of Love - Part 1

In Touch / Charles Stanley

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November 25, 2023 12:00 am

Our obedience to God is to be based on our love for who God is, not fear.

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Welcome to this weekend's In Touch Podcast with Charles Stanley. Today's lesson points us to a love that goes deeper than pleasant words and kind gestures. Let's explore 1 Corinthians chapter 13 to enhance your understanding of the power of love.

In a person's life, it is an awesomely powerful force. There is a strength about love that's unmatched by anything else. In fact, when you think about your relationship to your friends, what motivates you the most? Is it your love for that person or your fear of losing that person? When you think about your relationship to God, is it that you fear Him? Is that what motivates your relationship to Him?

Or do you just love Him? And therefore, your obedience is the result of love, not fear. Well, that's what I want to talk about in this message entitled, The Power of Love. And I want you to turn, if you will, to 1 Corinthians chapter 13, which is best known as the chapter of love. And if you recall in these first three verses that the apostle Paul is talking about the preeminence of love. So beginning in verse 4, what Paul does is he describes the way love acts. Now, I want us to remember something here, and that is that if you and I read verses 4 through 8, and we say, well, if this is what love is supposed to do, I'm not sure I can do that. And you're absolutely correct, because there's not a single one of us who can fulfill, carry out, or express all of these actions of love that Paul describes here in our own strength, in our own flesh. There's no way to do it.

It's impossible. That's why in the very beginning of this series, we've said that love has as its source Almighty God Himself. The Bible says that God is love. And when you not trust that Jesus Christ is our personal Savior, God began to indwell us, and therefore we have the love of God on the inside of us. And what the Holy Spirit is doing, as you and I surrender ourselves to Him, He allows the love of God, not human love, the love of God to flow through us. That means that you and I have a capacity to love that the unbeliever does not have.

So, notice what Paul begins, how he begins in this fourth verse. He says, first of all, love will enable you and me to wait. That's what this means when he says love is patient. That is, love will empower us. Love will enable you and me to wait on God's timing, to wait for God's purposes. Love enables us to wait, to hold back, to back off until we know that we have God's timing. And so, when he says love is very patient, here's what he means. That love can wait when there is frustration, when there seemingly are those situations and circumstances you cannot change, you can't do anything about it. Love has the power, the capacity, and the courage to wait and to keep on waiting until God sees fit to either change or move something in your situation or circumstance.

And when I think about people who get married very early in life and they say, well, we just couldn't wait. Well, when a person says concerning their love for someone else, I couldn't wait, they're expressing immediately they do not understand the love that God is speaking of here. Now, let's go back for just a moment and talk about the three kinds of love that we've discussed many times here in this series. One is agape love, which is unselfish, sacrificial, serving love. That is, if I love somebody agape love, that quality of love, then it is unselfish, it is willing to serve, and it is willing to sacrifice. It is the type of love that looks out for a person's best interest, that is, it's committed to another person's happiness, to their security and to their well-being, and desires to build the other person up in their godly qualities and to help the other person to achieve the goals that God has set for their life. Does that mean we're going to love everybody that way?

No, indeed. The other word is phileo love, that is brotherly love, tender affection for someone, which most of us have probably for many people. Then the other word is not in the Scriptures, it's called eros. Now, we've taken that word today and we've called things erotic, and to do so speaks in terms of being sensual or sexual or immoral or evil.

The word eros does not necessarily mean that it's bad. For example, all love is not agape love, for example. You remember when you were a kid growing up and you had a sweetheart, or you got beyond the sweetheart stage and you got real serious. Well, you did not even know how to love agape love in those years, and so you saw this pretty girl or this handsome young fellow and you sort of went after them.

Well, something inside of you wanted that person. Now, for us to say that all love is this sacrificial kind of love that wants nothing in return, you can forget it because there's not a single man in here who says, I want absolutely nothing from my wife. There's not a woman in here who would say, No, I just want to love my husband, pour out my life, give him everything. I want nothing in return.

That's absolutely unreasonable. We're not talking about that kind of love. Because the truth is, all of us, we have the capacity to love at times and want nothing in return. But to say that all love falls in that category is not true. But agape love does enable us to go beyond ourselves. Agape love enables us to go beyond what I want, what I desire, what I wish, my goals, my dreams, and it enables me to treat another person for their good.

That is, I am concerned about their security, their well-being, their happiness, the godly qualities in their life. Yes, that is the quality of love that God wants for all of us. But I'm saying that to desire someone is not evil if that desire isn't in the proper fashion and under God's requirements and under his conditions. And so we're talking about learning to love and all of us learn to love. You don't come into this world knowing how to love. And the tragedy is that most people will live their entire life and never learn how to genuinely love someone else.

So what Paul is saying here is that love enables me. That is, if I'm really looking out for your well-being and I want the best for you, love will enable me to wait. And that's why I think I would say to young people, when you say, well, we want to get married early and we want this and we want that and we can't wait, what you're saying is I don't love that person with agape love. I love that person with a love that wants to be fulfilled myself at the other person's expense and oftentimes that is exactly what happens.

That does become eros, though eros is not bad. It is not the kind of love that says I want what is best for the other person. I want to put them first.

I'm looking out for their security, their well-being and their future. And so he says, love enables me to back off and to wait, to wait for what is best for the other person's life, wait for them to go through whatever they have to go through, wait for them to grow up in their love, wait for them to mature in that love. Then if you notice, he says, love enables us to be kind, to express kindness. That means that you and I have the capacity to be kind toward others, whether they're kind to us or not. And oftentimes we'll be criticized, abused, falsely accused, whatever it might be. What is our response to be?

Well, humanly speaking, we want to respond the way the world speaks and the way the world responds. But love, that is because I have God loving on the inside of me, it doesn't make any difference what someone says to us about us or does to us. We have the response and we can respond in kindness. Now kindness carries with it the idea, I believe, at least some idea, of healing.

And that is when we see a person who is hurting, a person's undergone some misfortune, a person who's discouraged and despondent and disillusioned and despairing and maybe in a little depression, kindness means that I'm willing to go out of my way, reach out to that person and somehow to lift them up. I'm willing to forget myself. If you'll notice in every single one of these actions that Paul describes, I must forget myself. And most people never be able to learn to love because they can't get over themselves.

They can't get out of and beyond themselves. Only when I'm willing to lay down self and push it aside. And you see, if you understand the love of God, it isn't a difficult thing you have to do. What we have to do is to get out of the way and let the love of God begin to flow through us. Then kindness and gentleness and a desire to heal emotionally or however necessary, that is a natural, normal flow of our life.

How do I know that? Because that's exactly what Jesus did. And what you and I have is we have the love that Jesus had on the inside of us ready to flow through us when you and I are willing to submit to the Spirit of God who controls the flow.

He controls the tap. And so He says love, love will enable us, empower us to be kind. Then He says love is not jealous, that is love will enable me to share. Now when you talk about sharing, you say, well now, but jealousy, that's a protection.

Well, to something that we can see how it would be, but think about it for a moment. Jealousy in essence is a fear. It is a fear that I'm going to lose someone I love or I'm going to lose some loyalty or faithfulness from someone I love. And so I want to be protective of that. And sometimes a person can be jealous of their friends. That is, if they're your friend, they can't be anybody else's friend but your friend. Or if you're their friend, they don't want you having any other friends. That's jealousy. Well, sometimes a person can express that jealousy by having you, having see you be recognized or rewarded or whatever it might be and because they have not been, then they're jealous.

That is, they want some recognition. You see, all of that speaks of self. When agape love, the genuine love that God wants us to have for Him as well as for others is the kind of love that's outside of itself. It isn't what I'm going to receive, what's going to be good for me.

But God, what is Your will and Your purpose and Your plan? You see, if I know how to have a friend, I can share those friends with other people. There's a limitation to what we share. Men don't share their wives and women don't share their husbands. And so we're talking about the kind of jealousy that is not good. And for example, God said, for example, that He's jealous or all jealousy can't be evil. In giving the Ten Commandments in Exodus chapter 20 verse 5, God said that He's a jealous God. What was He jealous of? He said, it pains my heart when I see my people bowing down to images and to idols and He says, I'm a jealous God. So there is a form of jealousy that is a protection and it is a godly kind and it has the other person's best interest at heart.

But when I'm jealous only because I don't want to lose you or I don't want to share you with someone else, then that is a kind of jealousy. He says that you and I who are His children who are filled with His love have the capacity and the power to share without fear. And of course, that is sharing wisely in the wisdom of God and in the confines of what He allows. Then you'll notice He says, we have the power, love enables us to have poise.

And what does He say? He says, we are not braggadocio and we're not arrogant. Love has a sense of humility about it. Love can be quiet and listen. Love doesn't have to brag.

You know why? Because love has such a relationship with God. When we're loving Him and loving others, we have a relationship with Him. He satisfies us. It doesn't make any difference what anybody else thinks, what they say, what they do. We're full of the love of God.

We're experiencing something. We don't need anything on the outside to make us feel complete. And a person is always seeking attention, seeking approval, and doing whatever is necessary to get it at any cost instead of asking what is the will of the Father. They're missing something.

They don't understand the joy of being filled with the love of Almighty God which He desires that you and I pour out upon others. So He says love is poise. It has the power and the potential to stand quietly on the inside no matter what's going on on the outside. It isn't arrogant. It doesn't have to boast.

It doesn't have to be number one. It doesn't have to be the center of attention. It does not have to do all the talking. Then if you'll notice He says it does not act unbecomingly or love is polite. Love enables us to be godly in our daily manners and our character and our relationships with other people. And so therefore when I hear people, whether it's men or women, talking crudely and using ugly four-letter words, women just as bad as men, then I think where is love? And you see the things that we don't think have anything to do with love have everything to do with love.

Love has the power. Love enables us to be well-mannered and to be polite and to be careful no matter what's going on around us and no matter who it is. It's not that we're just to be well-mannered in public.

We're to be well-mannered and polite in private because we're the sons and daughters of God and He says by this all men shall know that you are my disciples that you have loved one toward another. How does love act? Love acts politely. Love acts in a manner that is well-mannered. Then He says love, listen to this, love does not seek its own.

What is He saying? Love surrenders its rights. Love surrenders its rights. Think about the world in which you and I are living and everybody's looking for their rights. I want my rights and everybody's suing everybody and everywhere you turn somebody wants their rights and they've been mistreated and they want all they can get. Jealousy, envy, strife, greed is so often found not only in the life of the unbeliever but the person who says they're Christian.

What rights? You see, if you and I belong to God, we lay them down. Does that mean that we just let people trample all over us and stomp us to death?

Not necessarily. But it means that our rights are not what we're concerned about. What we're concerned about is loving that person, allowing the love of God to flow through us. No matter how they treat us, the proper response is what? It is loving them. You say, but you don't know how I've been mistreated.

It doesn't make any difference. What am I supposed to do? I'm supposed to do what Jesus said and that is I am to allow the love of God to flow through me. That is the power. That is the enablement.

That is the capacity you and I have no matter what. We have the capacity to love. And when He says that we do not defend our rights, what He's saying is this, that we're willing to lay down our rights and to express love. He says if someone hits you on one cheek, whap. What are you supposed to do, defend yourself? He says you turn the other cheek.

If they ask you for a coat, He says give them your cloak also. You know why? Because love never loses. You can't ever lose loving.

But you can certainly lose demanding your rights and wanting your rights and claiming your rights and defending your rights. But what does love do? Love says have it. Take it.

It's yours. Because you see, love is born of a whole new, a whole new level. That is it is God's love flowing through us, flowing through us to people no matter how they treat us.

What is their response to me? It's to be loving and not defending our rights and defending ourselves. Then He says if you'll notice, He says that it is not provoked. That is love enables me to have a quiet spirit no matter what. Love enables us, empowers us to have a quiet spirit. Now, it's one thing to have a quiet spirit among your friends who love you dearly. But there are people who will provoke you.

That if they can. For example, let's say you work in a place where people are not Christians. And they just, they love provoking you to get you to say something or do something that is un-Christ-like so they can say, see there, see there, you're just a hypocrite.

You just like all those other people who claim to be Christians. And so to provoke someone is to attempt in some fashion to get them to act in a way that becomes hostile or angry or have, for example, they may try to provoke you. And so when a person is easily provoked, it says that they're living, listen, it says that they are living with their fuse already lit. You've seen people and met people who are very touchy, say the wrong thing, do the wrong thing around, they just explode. Well, a person says, well, you know, God, I was just born that way.

No, you weren't. You weren't born that way. We get that way by getting internal, looking at ourselves and cannot live beyond ourselves. Here's what love does. Love enables me to step out of what is natural and normal and enables me to live on a level beyond that. So when he says love is not easily provoked, love has an inner quietness, listen, that cannot be ruffled by any kind of criticism, any kind of accusation, no matter what's going on. Now, when you and I learn to love, people can say all kind of things and we can just stand and listen to them and smile and say thank you very much. Sorry you don't understand or I understand how you feel or what you're saying.

Or if they accuse us, yeah, here you are Christian, you this and you that. Just let it go by. You say, well, sometimes I can't let it go by.

Right, you can't. But the love of God that flows in our life, listen, how did Jesus respond when they criticized Him? He just loved them. You say, but I'm just natural. We all are natural and human, but, but remember that you and I have the supernatural love of God flowing through us. And because it's flowing, we don't have to try not to. Now, we have to learn to love.

We certainly do have to learn to love. But we can respond in the proper fashion. We don't have to be, as He says, easily provoked. And if we're easily provoked and touchy, it's because we are wrapped up in ourselves. What pleases me, what suits me, what makes me feel good, what makes me happy, what makes me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me. That's the problem with a person who's easily provoked.

He says, but those of us who understand the love of God, they experience that. Let them say what they want to say. Do what they want to do.

We don't have to defend ourselves. We can just love them in return no matter what. Thank you for listening to today's podcast titled The Power of Love. If you'd like to know more about Charles Stanley or In Touch Ministries, stop by intouch.org. This podcast is a presentation of In Touch Ministries, Atlanta, Georgia.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-25 03:21:12 / 2023-11-25 03:29:48 / 9

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