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The Practice of Love

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
February 4, 2020 12:01 am

The Practice of Love

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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February 4, 2020 12:01 am

An envious Christian is a contradiction in terms. Today, R.C. Sproul provides practical guidelines for defeating bitterness and resentment with a genuine love for others.

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Coming up today on Renewing Your Mind, we see a world of people running around with that spirit of discontent thing if I could only get that job or if I can only buy this car. Then I will be happy and there is this elusive sense of contentment.

That's always beyond our grasp discontent at some point in our lives should be applied to school we see others doing well and begin to think that we deserve success to jealousy grows and then the pity party begins, but it doesn't need to be that way today on Renewing Your Mind, Dr. RC Sproul continues his series on developing Christian character and will discover that contentment grows out of a love for our neighbor looking now at the fruit of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Christian and in our last session we began to consider that foundational power and principle gift and fruit by which all of the Christian life is empowered and that is the indwelling presence of agape which accompanies the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit and in that last section I mention some of the indicators that that fruit of the spirit is alive and well and working within the soul.

I'll just mention those very quickly without exposition before we go on to the new ones us in the first instance agape disposes reclines the soul to the honoring and worshiping of God. Secondly, that the presence of love inclines the soul to give credit and trust to the word of God not bringing a suspicious or arrogant spirit to the word of God.

And thirdly, that the presence and the power of agape inclines the person to acknowledge God's sovereign right to govern our lives and that's as far as we were able to cover in our last time together. So let's move on from there to the fourth indicator of the presence of agape and that is love as a gift, and as a fruit inclines the heart to desire justice toward our neighbors say what love is doing here is that is empowering us and changing us to make us want to embrace the very heart of our destiny to glorify God by keeping the great commandment to love God with all of our heart see how love is interjected there is a great command all of our mind all of our soul and all of our strength that is in intensity and passion of law and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. And so if love is present what love does within us is to move us in the direction not to condemn our neighbors, or to defraud our name or to cheat our neighbors but to have a sensitive concern that justice be done and not only justice but injustice that is tempered with mercy. It minimizes and quenches the heart's natural fallen and corrupt tendency towards fraud and jealousy and slander and gossip things are all again abstractions.

But when was the last time you heard a sermon on gossip or on slander credible that when God set forth the 10 Commandments, the Decalogue, the very foundation of the law for a society of his people that he made as part of the raw decks of that culture in the top 10 of prohibition against slander. Think for a moment how much your lives have been hurt by the words of other people by the assault of the tongue against your character, sometimes jostling, but many times unjustly love bites the tongue is the Holy Spirit is not a slander Satan is given the title. That means slander slander is of the flesh, cheating, defrauding, gossiping, running down another person's name tearing them apart is in contrast in opposition to the operation of love.

Love edifies love builds up, it is not destructive towards one's neighbor.

The fifth indicator. This is an interesting one coming from Jonathan Edwards that love disposes us toward contentment in whatever situation we find ourselves not in some kind of passive acquiescence so we can perturb ability, not an apathy.

There's a difference between apathy and contentment, but as the apostle Paul in his own maturity in his own growth in the spirit said, I have learned, in whatsoever state I am there with to be content how difficult that is to achieve in this world because as Blaise Pascal said the great paradox of man. The thing that makes man the creature of the highest grandeur and at the same time, the lowest misery is that we can always contemplate a better life than we presently are able to enjoy and we see a world of people running around with that spirit of restlessness, of which Augustine wrote that spirit of dissatisfaction of discontent thing if I can only make this move or why can only get that job or why can only buy this car if I can only win this championship then I will be happy and there is this elusive sense of contentment. That's always beyond our grasp, but the spirit of God when he indwells you in the power of love disposes your soul toward a state of contentment, but the next point that I want to mention in passing is that the presence of love restrains the power the disease. The infection that perhaps is one of the most of all destructive powers to human personality and speaking of bitterness as this point that rather than summarize Edward's insights.

I would like to take you to the text of Edwards himself charity and its fruits. Best thing I ever seen anywhere on love is 100 610 watch and guard. Should Christians keep against envy and malice, and every kind of bitterness of spirit toward their neighbors for these are the very reverse of the real essence of Christianity. If both those Christians as they would not by their practice directly contradict their profession to take heed to themselves in this manner they should suppress the first beginnings of ill will and bitterness and envy walks strictly against all occasions of such a spirit, strive and fight to the utmost. Against such a temper of the tendons in that direction and avoid as much as possible. All temptations that may lead to it. This is nothing more than a synopsis of the homily of the author of the book of Hebrews Christian should at all times keep a strong guard against everything that tends to overthrow or corrupt or undermine the spirit of love because that which hinders love to men hinders the exercise of love to God if love is the sum of Christianity.

Surely those things which overthrow love are exceedingly unbecoming. For Christians, here's the last two sentences I want to hear these particular and envious Christian, a malicious Christian, a cold and hardhearted Christian is the greatest absurdity and contradiction is if one would speak of dark brightness or false truths. It just cannot be. That doesn't mean the Christians never have to struggle with resentment. If that were the case, the New Testament would not waste its breasts were so many admonitions and expectations against that root of bitterness that we allow to spring up in our lives.

And then we begin to feed it and nurture it and allow it to infect the whole spirit and bring us to ruin.

We are vulnerable to malice.

The resentment to bitterness, particularly in terms of our interpersonal relationships. But what Edwards is saying here is again with the New Testament says again and again fight that with all your might see that's the thing that we need to be conscious of it were really going to grow in grace to be aware of those things that quench the spirit and destroy the power of love within us like to talk a little bit now about some practical principles of how we can augment this kind of the manifestation of love, particularly to other people. The love toward the neighbor and the cultivation of the spirit of charity or the amiable spirit of which the Bible speaks we have a phrase in theology called the judgment of charity every time I'm involved with another human being, that involvement is a very complicated thing does a dynamic interaction that takes place on several levels. I was walking through a man's office the other day and we were having conversation and I was responding to seeing his office for the first time in his work and his secretary and all of that and there was a conversation going on verbally and I was hearing what he was saying and that I was thinking in my mind.

And then I was speaking back.

That's the normal process is, but I was not always saying what I was thinking I will reveal with my lips.

Everything is going on in my mind I was aware of myself, of making evaluations of the whole operation of the whole setup that I stop and I thought the middle method is probably doing the same thing. Wonder what he's thinking is the ever expressly wonder what people are really really thinking will point want to make is this in every human interaction.

There is constantly a process of evaluation going on. Do I like what your say do I like you do.

I like what you're doing.

Do I like how you look, I am making those evaluations if not necessarily with the checklist. Not necessarily with conscious intensity at every moment, but it's always going on there is we are judging each other. That's part of the reason why we play so many games of hide and seek with each other and are so very very careful about letting ourselves be known intimately. I talked to the leader of one of the largest Christian organizations in America not too long ago and he said this to me he said. Or say. I hope that when I die, there will be five people who will be able to sit through my funeral without looking at their watches and almost made me cry because there is a sense in which we are fortunate if there are five people that care that much about us.

Most of our caring of other people's very casual. It's very fleeting. It's very temporary can be real intense for a moment of them wait learn how to switch it off and go about our own business now with the man was saying is I want at least five people to love me.

Is anybody in this room but does not want to be left many of us would be satisfied with what one person whom we knew for sure loved us. But you see, everybody feels like, and at the very bottom line about our obligation is stored on neighbor is the golden rule and it's not the exclusive province of liberal Christianity. It should be at the heart of evangelical Christianity. Do onto others as you would have others do unto you.

I want other people often I want them to be loving toward me. I want them to exercise charity towards me. No one other way.

In practical terms that I like to define what the judgment of charity. The practice of loving human relationships is is the difference between what we call best case analysis and worst-case analysis when an event takes place when a deed is done.

A word he spoke.

We know that God is concerned not only with the external action that is taken place, but God also reach the heart and God is very much concerned about motive about the intention of the heart, and we understand even at a earthly level in our judicial processes in the law course that we got distinctions between first-degree murder and second-degree murder and so on. And part of that distinction lies in whether or not it can be established that there was what malice of forethought that becomes an examination not simply of the deed itself that was committed, but whether or not that deed was committed in the premeditated fashion because we understand humanly that a premeditated malicious motive intensifies the evil of the action now what worst-case analysis is is when we play the game of reading other people's hearts when they injure us and when they hurt us when they bring pain to us. Worst-case analysis is when we attribute to them. The worst of all possible motives reset again. Worst-case analysis is attributing to other people. The worst of all possible motives for their actions which we find painful to ourselves. And when we do it we better learn how to recognize because that is not of God that is destructive.

Now I grant that there are people in this world who lie in bed at night thinking up all the more devious ways by which they can torment you or me but even in a society of reprobate, unregenerate pagans, people with that kind of malicious forethought and devious intent, thanks be to the common grace and restraining power of God are in a minority in a very small minority is very unlikely when somebody hurts you that they meant to hurt you as badly as they did the opposite of worst-case analysis is best case analysis. Best case analysis is necessary just the opposite. Were we attribute the best of all possible causes or motives to the actions that hurt another.

Some people who practice that to a fault. I know one woman who just simply cannot believe that anybody ever sends capable of attributing an evil motive to somebody she's constantly excusing everybody for everything in such a way as an evasive begin the feel of that person just simply can't stand conflict that this isn't necessarily a manifestation of the fruit of the spirit as it is a weakness of our own personality that can happen, but that's rare to attributing the best of all possible motives to sinful actions.

Unfortunately is a practice we normally reserve for whom for ourselves. One of the best examples of that I know of, and I don't want to isolate this person unfairly, but the sample is so viable because everybody's aware of it, is the president of the United States the only president in the United States in our history, was forced to resign his office forced resignation of Richard Nixon happen because the public became convinced that the president had lied in a cover-up scheme in the White House and when Pres. Nixon finally resigned, he came before the people of America and confessed his sin before he resigned. I think the four words, more than any other words that were ever spoken by Richard Nixon. The cost him the presidency were the four words he spoke when he addressed the nation. He said I made a mistake that fueled and intensified the anger I talked to a United States Sen. of the opposing party who said to me if Richard Nixon would've gone up there and said I lied. I'm sorry. Please forgive me. That particular senator believed that the nation would have forgiven him and accept. But when he said I made a mistake you say he softened it because basically we don't think of mistakes as moral matters. They are in an ultimately logical sense but we don't put somebody in jail because they made a mistake of adding five and to not come up with eight but that's a best case evaluation and the point is that makes me feel sorry for Richard Nixon is that what infuriated the nation when he did that was that Nixon was doing what we all do. Everybody does that.

We all tend to look at our own sins, and our own mistakes and our own harmful actions against other people in the best of all possible lights. In fact, the most frequent statement we microcephaly confronts us and said, you heard me you offended make you violated me you brought pain to me. The first thing you say is G what I didn't mean to. The truth of what actually happens may sometimes be in between. But as I said a moment ago. Love tends to in the direction of traffic we need to begin to practice best case analysis or at least a better case analysis, and above all, avoid worst-case analysis in dealing with those who have hurt us. We begin the practice that the love is strengthened and the rest of the fruit of the spirit begins to be nourished a generous spirit toward others is a tangible way to show love for them. Dr. RC's role as mentor teacher today on Renewing Your Mind.

I'm Lee Webb, and I'm glad you joined us focus all week is Dr. Spruill series developing Christian character in 12 messages. RC pointers to the biblical traits that should be increasing in our lives, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. That's a long list and these are traits that are difficult to demonstrate at times, but they are the goal of every believer. So we need to be familiar with them. We like to send the series to you.

It's 12 messages contained on two DVDs.

Contact us today with your donation of any amount you can call us at 800-435-4343.

You can also make a request when you go to Renewing Your in Romans chapter 7 Paul describes our struggle for spiritual growth is a war. Martin Luther described are three main enemies as the world the flesh and the devil in order to grow spiritually, we must know our enemies but we also need to put on the whole armor of God and walk in the spirit.

Dr. Spruill reminds us of these things and urges us to press toward that goal.

You can request doctors Pro series developing Christian character.

When you call us at 800-435-4343 or when you go online to Renewing Your Let me remind you that that you can take advantage of the technology provided by our free legionnaire app. Once you've made your request the entire series will be available for you to view in your learning library to be able to watch the series while you wait for the DVDs to arrive.

Just search for it legionnaire in your app store tomorrow. Dr. Spruill examines two more traits of the fruit of the spirit joy and peace. Jesus himself is called the Prince of peace. And yet this same Jesus says what I come not to bring peace but a sword to set brother against brother and father against son. How do we reconcile those ideas. Join us tomorrow for Renewing Your Mind

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