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The Motivation Of Love Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
October 26, 2020 1:00 am

The Motivation Of Love Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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October 26, 2020 1:00 am

Our lives are the books people read every day. Those outside the church are drawn to experience the love that we as believers share. Here is why we do what we do, and what our underlying motive must be if we’re to reach the lost.

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Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.

Our lives are the books people read every day. Those outside the church are drawn to experience the love that we as believers share. Today, a look at why we do what we do and what our underlying motive must be if we're to reach the lost. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, this is your last message on finding where you fit, and you'll be taking us into one of the best-loved chapters in all the Bible.

Well, Dave, you're absolutely right. 1 Corinthians 13 is one of the most beloved chapters in all the Bible. I encourage my grandchildren to memorize it, that great chapter on love and the remarkable statement that no matter what we do, if we don't have love, we are nothing. I want to take a moment and thank the many of you who support the ministry of Running to Win. It's because of people like you that we can continue, and as you've perhaps heard me say before, Running to Win is now heard in more than 20 different countries of the world. Thank you so much.

Would you consider becoming an endurance partner? That's someone who stands with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts. If you want more information, here's what you do. Go to Let me give that to you again,

Click on the endurance partner button, or if you prefer, call us at 1-888-218-9337. Now let us open our Bibles to one of the greatest chapters in all the chapters. So let me begin with a question. What is it that really does distinguish us as a church from the world? Is it because we have more money than the world? Well, you can laugh at that because obviously the answer is no. Let me ask you, is it because we are more committed to our cause than the world is to its causes?

Unfortunately, the answer to that again may be no. There are some people who are more committed to save the whales than we are committed to save souls. Is it because of what we believe? Is that what makes us different? Well, that's a trick question now, so be very careful before you answer it because in one sense the answer is yes, of course it's what we believe that makes us different. But what we believe in and of itself does not give us a visible difference from the world.

If you're going to speak about visible difference, you have to go back to the words of Jesus Christ, by this shall all men know that you are my disciples if you have love one toward another. Now I need to tell you that throughout the years I've always felt a little uneasy about that verse. I haven't minded quoting it, of course, because it comes from the lips of Christ himself, but I feel uneasy because I have seen in church history so many churches that have emphasized love that they have compromised truth. And there's always that temptation, isn't there? The temptation is that love can just swallow truth whole and we've seen that time and time again when there are those who will begin to renege on the doctrines because they say, well, you know, God is love and from there all kinds of heresies have flowed.

The tension between love and truth is always there. It's been there since the church began, really. The year is just 200, just the third century, Northern Africa, extreme persecution breaks out, violent persecution against the Christians. And you know what happens is, understandably, there are some Christians who denied Christ under pressure. Then the persecution ended and the question was, should we welcome these folks back into the church or shouldn't we? The church was divided. Cyprian wrote a letter and he was a bishop in the church and he argued that of course we should invite them back. If they repent, they should be welcomed because after all, the founder of the church, the supposed founder, Peter himself denied Christ under pressure. So why can't we welcome these people back? There was another man in the church by the name of Novation and he argued differently. Novation said that if we begin to welcome these people back, number one, we will depreciate the value of martyrdom and number two, what an example for future generations. Young people are going to say, well, you can deny Christ under pressure because all that you need to do is repent and you're reinstated into the church.

It's no big deal. So Novation became a hardliner. In fact, he said that we should not even serve communion to someone who has been married twice. So you have a split in the church.

You have the love church on the one side and then on the other side you have the truth church and historians tell us that when that split occurred, the church began to then have so many internal divisions among itself that soon it forgot its mission to the world because it had to clean up its own act and resolve the problem of a split. But in the Bible, truth and love go hand in hand and today the topic is love. And the chapter is 1 Corinthians chapter 13. 1 Corinthians chapter 13 and we would misinterpret this passage were it not for the need to put it into context.

In chapter 12, and you remember I preached two messages on 1 Corinthians chapter 12 and then we went to Romans chapter 12 and then now we're back to 1 Corinthians chapter 12, the last part of the chapter and then chapter 13. Paul has been discussing the issue of gifts with people who have been absorbed with the various gifts, particularly those sensational gifts. And Paul commends them and says, I commend you because you come behind in those spiritual gifts. There were people who were seeking gifts like the gift of tongues and miracles and they were taking these to an extreme.

And so Paul ends the 12th chapter and says, he lists them in verse 28, God is appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, and then he puts tongues last. And he says, not all our apostles are they, not all our prophets, not all speak in tongues, etc. He says, all do not have the gifts of healing. Verse 31, earnestly desire the greater gifts.

Now he is not telling us that we should go through the list of gifts and choose the ones that we want. He's already emphasized that it is God who puts these gifts within the body and distributes them as he wills. But Paul is saying that as a church, when you are thinking about gifts, don't just concentrate on the supernatural gifts, but rather, he says, concentrate on the more important gifts, the greater gifts of communication, of teaching, and of evangelism.

And then he says, but I have a more excellent way to teach you because no matter how gifted you are, if you don't know this, you have missed it and you have missed it by at least a mile. And that's the context now of 1 Corinthians chapter 13. Now since this is a famous chapter and it's a chapter on love, I'd like to take you by the hand and very lovingly, let's walk through this passage of scripture together.

And then what we're going to do is to look at it and see its implications for us, for our lives, and for the church. First of all, in verses 1 to 3, Paul says, love is necessary. Love is necessary. He says, if I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, if I am that gifted and do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. Wouldn't you like to have the gift of tongues?

Some people would. Some of us don't think that it is necessary today, but there are those within the church who still pursue it. And Paul says, even if you get it and you can talk supernaturally like the angels, and nobody knows how the angels talk, he says, and if you don't have love, it's nothing.

You are empty. And then there are those who say, well, you know, I'm not interested in tongues. I'm interested in the gift of prophecy. If there's anything that I want to do is I want to train for the ministry. I want to really have the gift of communication and preach the word of God. Paul says, if I have the gift of prophecy and know all mysteries and all knowledge. It's because I was looking at this, I thought, you know, wouldn't it be wonderful if we here at the Moody Church hired somebody on the staff like that? Imagine somebody having the gift of prophecy and knowing all mysteries and having all knowledge. Can you imagine his counseling schedule? Just imagine it.

Because here's somebody who has all this insight and people from around the world are trying to sign up and to get 20 minutes of his time and finally find the answer of the deep mysteries that plague us. And Paul says, if you had a gift like that and didn't have love, it's not just that you would be empty, but he says, you would be a nothing. You would be a toothpick with all of the wood carefully shaved from it. Nothing.

A zero. Well, what about if you have all faith so as to remove mountains? Now there's something that I'd like to have. You know all these mountains that are in the way. Wouldn't it be wonderful to be able to speak the word and the mountains disappear? Paul says, if you have faith to remove all mountains and if you have love, you are nothing. Now verse three, really, I struggle with it.

I think you will too. And if I give all of my possessions to feed the poor and if I deliver my body to be burned but do not have love, it profits me nothing. I look at this and I say, how can somebody who gives all of his possessions to feed the poor not be loving? I mean, there have been those in church history who have done this and we hold them up as the quintessential example of what love is all about. And then there are those who give their bodies to be burned.

In France, there were martyrs who were marched to their death who sang so loudly that the world hired a band to drown out the sound of the people who were going to lay down their lives. And Paul says, I could give my body to be burned and I could die at the stake and still not have love. And I say, Paul, I thought that that's exactly what love does.

And Paul would say, now wait a moment, before you shout, he would say, you have to understand that it's even possible to do that with such a wrong motive that it's not loving, though it looks that way. And if I give my body to be burned and if I give my possessions to feed the poor, Paul says, if I do not have love, I am nothing. Love is essential.

It is necessary. Now in the next verses, Paul picks it up and says, love is special. Love is special. And certainly, by the way, he would say to us, you know, if we, no matter how much we know, no matter how gifted we are, no matter how much we delight in the gifts of others, no matter how wonderful our worship service, no matter what a wonderful worship service we've had here this morning, but no matter how wonderful it is, if you do not have love, you are nothing, Paul would say.

And now beginning at verse four and going through to the end of verse seven, Paul says that love is very special. It is extraordinary. You don't find this in the average office down in the loop. You don't find this in the average home. This is something so unusual that as we shall see, it is a gift of God.

It has to be. And Paul doesn't define love. I wish I had said, Paul, you know, there are all kinds of arguments going to happen in church history over what love really is.

Why don't you give us a definition, settle the arguments. But he doesn't do it. He just said, I want to describe it. And he gives us some behavioral responses of love. And here he lists quite a few. He begins with two positive ones. He lists eight negative ones. And then on the other side, he comes up with five positive responses again.

So let's just simply take them. First of all, love is patient. That means it's able to endure injuries without retaliation. Remember in 1 Corinthians 6, he's discussing the question of lawsuits. And he says, you know, you Christians shouldn't be going into court with one another in front of a pagan judge.

I mean, can't you resolve your own differences? And can't you even rather take wrong than to do something like that? Love is patient.

It does not have to take another Christian to court to settle the score and to get that last dime. That's not love. Love is kind. It pays back with kindness, that which was delivered in hurt.

And then he begins that negative list. Love is not jealous. It delights rather in the success of others. Have you ever thought of the roots of jealousy in our hearts and who of us has not been jealous? Who of us has not been willing to see someone who is above us in our company or in our ministry or whatever?

Who of us has not secretly seen him fall and perhaps delighted in it? That's not love. That comes from somewhere else. But that's not love. Love is not jealous. Love does not brag.

Oh, we've all met those people who draw attention to themselves, who say things that even may be true, but you listen to them and you say, spare me, spare me. Love does not brag. Love is not arrogant. We recognize that right away.

And the reason we do so with such facility is because we look into the mirror several times a day. Love is not arrogant. Does not act unbecomingly.

Now, what would that be? Well, Paul uses that word in chapter seven of this epistle to refer to a man who might lead a woman along and then in the end not marry her. Give her the indications that he's going to and then turn around and having misused her. That's not love. Love doesn't use a woman towards its own ends. There's another word to describe that that begins with the letter L. That's a four-letter word, but it's not love.

It's something else. That's not love. Love does not seek its own. It's not into it for its own interests.

It's not just interested in its own selfish, narrow-minded individualistic agenda. That's not love. Love is not provoked and how easily we get provoked. At our day of prayer yesterday, somebody was praying and saying that, Lord, help us when we are in traffic not to get angry. There are people on the expressways who can provoke us if we aren't careful.

But be very careful, especially if you have a Jesus bumper sticker. But love is not provoked. Love does not keep a record of wrongs, Paul says.

It doesn't have this whole file folder that it can resort to, because if you do this and that, I can draw up this particular file and I can show you what you did back in November of 1992. That's not love. Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness. It doesn't delight in evil. It doesn't like to spread stories and gossip, even if the gossip is true, because did you know what so-and-so did? And I just can't believe it, but you know, come to think of it, it is just like him.

That's him. That's not love. That's something else.

Love doesn't do that. Paul says it rejoices with the truth. It bears all things.

That means that when the going gets difficult, it keeps bearing it. It believes all things. Is it naive?

It's not naive, but it does give people the benefit of the doubt. It'll always try to put stories in the best possible light. That's the way love is. And then he says it hopes all things. It hopes for the very best.

It endures all things. That is love. Now, I don't think that we should interpret this to mean that if you are being abused, you should simply take it.

I want you to know today that if you are being abused in your home by a father, or if a husband is abusing his wife or abusing his children, you should go for help. But the Bible does indicate that this is a quality of love that you do not find on Main Street. This is special. Love is necessary. Love is special. And love is eternal. We keep going here.

I told you we were going for a walk and we're not yet to the end of the garden. Notice it says in verse eight, love never fails. But if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away. This past week, I was in Nashville speaking at the religious booksellers convention. And, you know, there are rows and rows and rows of books and booths of the publishing company.

I won't even describe what goes on. And you look at all of those books, you know, enough wisdom to float the world, really. But prophecy, the gift of prophecy, and these gifts of communication, they aren't going to last forever. You aren't going to have to listen to sermons in heaven, Paul is saying in a footnote. He says, if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away. Oh, you say, but I can speak in tongues. In fact, there are people now in certain churches who not only are speaking in tongues, but are making animal noises.

And they are doing that thinking that they are doing God a favor and themselves a favor. And Paul says, if there are tongues, they will cease. If there's knowledge, what that he means is that gift of knowledge he talked about earlier that some people have.

He says, it's going to be done away. So all of the books and all of the tapes and all of the things that we put so much stock in today, they will no longer be relevant at a certain point of time. And they will all burn. They will all burn. For we know in part and we prophesy in part.

See, this is the best we can do. We need these gifts in this side of eternity. But when the perfect comes, that is when Jesus returns to earth and the church becomes perfect, this partial, this struggling with our own gifts and knowing where we fit, he says it is going to be done away. When I was a child, I used to speak as a child. I thought as a child and reason as a child. When I became a man, I put away childish things. Paul says, you know, all you're arguing about gifts and this one is greater and you really need that if you're going to get really plugged into God. He said, it's childish. He's not depreciating the gifts, mind you. They are very important. But what he's saying is if that's your emphasis and you don't see this overwhelming tide of love that should engulf all that you do, he says you have really missed it and you are childish.

Yeah, that's what he says. Well, I don't know about you, my friend, but I feel rebuked after reading this chapter and contemplating what the Bible has to say about love, how desperately we need it. But we also need faith, especially during this time of COVID when it's constantly on the news. Let me introduce you to a pastor in Germany whose name was Martin Rinchert. Now, Rinchert lived in the 1600s and a plague came to his town. And believe this or not, in one year he buried 4000 people. Now, there were days when he had 50 funerals.

Of course, they were all grouped together in one big service. But he's the man who wrote these words, now thank we all our God with hearts and hands and voices. Let's not think that the Church of Jesus Christ has not been here before. I've written a book entitled Pandemics, Plagues, and Natural Disasters, What is God Saying to Us? Very critical. It has answers to many questions that people are asking. For a gift of any amount, it can be yours. Let's hear from you today.

You can go to, that's, or I hope you have a pen or a pencil where you can write down this phone number, 1-888-218-9337. Be encouraged from the past, but most assuredly from God's holy Word. It's time once again for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question about the Bible or the Christian life. Sujo Akoni is one of our many Running to Win listeners, and she has a question about Pastor Lutzer's view of how creation took place. She writes, I have a question about the seven-day creation in Genesis. How do you reconcile this with the appearance of prehistoric creatures such as dinosaurs and then humans?

Sujo, thank you so much for your question. It's a very good one, and as you might know, it is debated among even evangelicals. Not everyone is agreed on these matters. But there are some scientists who believe that it's possible to explain the prehistoric animals and human beings and dinosaurs and what have you. It's possible to explain them as having existed prior to the flood.

As a matter of fact, there are changes in continents and changes throughout the world that can be explained by a worldwide flood that would have taken and displaced many of these fossils in places where you might not expect to find them. I'm not an expert on these matters. I simply want to encourage you to continue to study and also to realize that there are different points of view. And I think we need to be open, we need to be charitable with those who disagree with us, to understand that there are many fine Christians who hold an entirely different interpretation of Genesis chapter one.

Meanwhile, let us continue to read, let us continue to listen and to study, and someday, Sujo will understand it all. Thank you, Dr. Lutzer. If you'd like to hear your questions answered, you can. Just go to our website at and click on Ask Pastor Lutzer. Or call us at 1-888-218-9337.

You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60614. The apostle Paul wrote the ultimate essay on love. After you master 1 Corinthians chapter 13, you'll know what real love is and isn't. We'll get God's view of love, the kind He shows us and the kind we're to show to others. On our next Running to Win, our series concludes with more exposition from the famous love chapter in 1 Corinthians. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-01 19:23:19 / 2024-02-01 19:32:41 / 9

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