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Love > Gifts, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
March 30, 2023 9:00 am

Love > Gifts, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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March 30, 2023 9:00 am

Pastor J.D. explains why the love that is described in 1 Corinthians 13 must be received before it is shown—and how that love is found only in Jesus.


Today on Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. First John 4 19, we love because, because why? Because it's the right thing to do, because we memorized the list, because we had accountability partners who made us love, because he'll put us in hell if we don't love.

No, we love because he first loved us. It is knowing the love of God for you that produces the love of God in you. Welcome back to Summit Life with pastor, author, and theologian J.D.

Greer. As always, I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch. You know, the dilemma of the great commandment, Martin Luther said, is that it commands you to do something that, by definition, cannot be commanded. After all, if you love something, you don't need to be commanded to do it, right?

You'll do it automatically. Today, pastor J.D. explains why the love that is described in 1 Corinthians 13 must be first received before it can be shown and how that love is the fuel for caring for a world in great need. If you've missed any of the previous messages in this teaching series, you can find them online at The title of today's message is love is greater than gifts.

So let's jump back into God's word together. Verse five, love does not insist on its own way. Love does not insist on its own way. When you live with self-focus, you see other people as coming into your life primarily to fulfill your needs.

So you want to make sure they play their part. And if not, you get angry. By the way, one of the big instruments that God uses to break this mentality is marriage. Because theoretically, you now have somebody that you're supposed to focus on more than yourself.

But every married person knows, here's the irony. Most of us commandeer marriage to get somebody else focused on our needs. You're like, well, up until now, I've only had one person who got up every day thinking about my needs.

No, I got two. That's what both of us do. We get up and think about what does JD need?

That's all we think about all day long. So God in his magnificent mercy sends along his second instrument, his masterclass in breaking the back of our selfishness, children. Because those kids are not going to be thinking about any of your needs for a long, long time. Amen. Parents, my kids, my kids are good kids, they're nice kids, but especially when they were young, they never, never one time did they ever look at me and say, dad, you look like you've had a hard day.

What can I do to be a blessing to you this evening, dad? With kids, quite often what I want out of a day or a vacation doesn't happen. In fact, I stopped calling our vacations vacations because there was no vacating happening, at least by me. They were not vacations, they were escalations, if anything for me. I'd come back angry and disappointed that my vacation was so exhausting.

So I've told you, I changed the name from vacations to family trips and that helped. It's mainly I'm happier because I just changed my expectations. I know that if I don't come back from a vacation more tired than when I left, I probably wasn't a very good dad. Love takes this attitude toward others in your life also. How many times have you been upset at a friend for not understanding what you needed in the moment and giving that to you? They were needy when you needed them, you needed them to be strong.

They were down when you wanted them to be up. They were blind to some things you really thought that they should have seen. See, selfishness says, well, you know, I better reevaluate this relationship. I'm just not getting that much out of it. Love says, I'm not here to get stuff out of it. I'm not insisting on getting my way.

Ultimately, I'm here to serve, not to be served. Verse five, love is not irritable. Irritable means easily triggered. Because self-centeredness sees the world primarily through the lens of what it needs and what it wants, it's quick to get angry when you don't fulfill its desires. But see, love doesn't think through that filter. So love is more patient when you frustrate or disappoint them. Love is not resentful, Paul says. Resentful literally means it keeps no record of wrongs.

In fact, if you have the NIV translation, that's literally what it says. Love keeps no record of wrongs when somebody hurts or disappoints you. Are you the kind of person who drags up all the previous ways that they've let you down and connected in one gigantic thing that gets tried in this one moment? Some people, when they get angered, they get hysterical.

Others get historical. Well, you did this, and that connects to that previous time where you did this. And then there was that time in 2009 that you said that. And your mom told me that when you were in high school, you did this. I know spouses who actually keep journals of the ways their spouses have disappointed them.

Oh yeah, that's setting out for a great marriage. Now, some of you don't do that because you keep it all up here. But the point is, do you see how out of step you are with 1 Corinthians 13? Love keeps no record of wrongs.

Past wrongs are like spent ammunition, bullets that cannot be fired again. Verse six, love does not rejoice at wrongdoing. Love rejoices in the truth.

Love never delights when somebody else struggles, and it cares enough to speak up when a friend is doing something that's gonna hurt them. Now, some personalities have more problem with verse five. Other personalities have more problem with verse six.

That's me and my wife. I feel like I need to confront everything. I feel like I can't let anything go by, and I got trouble just kind of letting things go along.

Veronica has more difficulty confronting somebody, even when she knows what they're doing is harmful to themselves. So the question verse six presents to somebody like that is, hey, do you love somebody enough to speak into their life, even though you know it's gonna be wicked uncomfortable for you? And you know they're probably gonna be upset at you because you did it, and maybe even cut you off for a while. Do you care enough about that person to be uncomfortable? Because fake friendship doesn't ever care enough to confront because fake friendship loves its own comfort more than it loves the wellbeing of the other person. Verse seven, love bears all things.

When you love somebody, you patiently endure the wounds of their selfishness and immaturity. You kind of expect it. You know that real change takes time. I mean, I'll go ahead and tell you, none of the big changes in my life came because somebody had one conversation with me, or I heard one sermon, or read one book, or I saw one post on somebody's Facebook.

No, the big changes were the result of somebody faithfully sowing seeds of truth in the soil of unconditional love. And the people that I listen to most now in my life are those whom I know have locked the back door, so to speak, in our relationship. Meaning they have just made clear to me that they're not leaving, that our relationship is not conditioned on me getting everything right. They know that I'm gonna disappoint them and frustrate them, but they're mine for life. And that means they're gonna have to bear with a lot of my dumbness and my immaturity because it may take a while for me to change.

Love bears all things. Love is used to feeling underappreciated. C.S. Lewis was asked in his book, Before Loves, or at least he answers this question in the book, Before Loves. He said, how do you know if your friendship is selfish?

C.S. Lewis answered, if you get upset when the gratitude does not come and you give up. Lewis went on to say, if you do good things for your friends in the hopes that they will see what you are doing and appreciate you, you're gonna be mighty disappointed.

Love bears all things. Verse seven, love believes all things. Love hopes all things.

Let me put these two together. Love never gives up hope for this person. Love never stops believing in who this person could be or who God created them to be. Paul, of course, is not talking here, hear me, about some silly naive optimism where you just refuse to see somebody else's faults. No, no, no, you see their faults, you just won't give up on what God could do in them because you see behind all that mess, you see what God created them to be.

You perceive that and you think about what he could recreate them to be. Think about a good dad with his child. A good dad may clearly see the child's faults, maybe better than everybody else, but they never stop believing in this amazing person and what they could be. Many of us dads, we make the mistake of spending so much time focused on telling our kids what's wrong with them and not nearly enough time believing in the person that God made them to be and communicating that to them.

A mentor of mine, when I first had kids warned me, he said, this is probably gonna be your biggest mistake as a parent. He said, you're gonna try to pastor your kids instead of being their dad. He said, here's the thing, you'll probably be spot on in your correction, but a dad is somebody primarily who's just excited about who they are. The dad is the one that's putting that crown over their head and praising them.

The pastor is the one leading devotions around the table at night. The dad is the one cheering his heart out at the ball game. He said, make sure what they remember, what they remember from their childhood is a dad who was excited about who they are and amazed at how God made them. Now, obviously, obviously as a dad, you're gonna give them instruction, but love says, what I most want you to remember about me, what I most want you to say about me is nobody ever believed in me like he did.

And when everybody else was discouraged, he wouldn't give up because love believes all things and hopes all things. When everybody else in your life feels like this about you, well, my dad was like this about me. So when he says that, he doesn't mean a naive optimist, and he'll tell you something else he doesn't mean. He also doesn't mean that you are overly credulous in whatever this person says is true about them. Like, you know, they say, well, I'm not struggling with this.

I'm not doing this. And you think, oh, okay, I just take your word for it because I love believes all things. No, no, sometimes love cares enough to ask the hard questions. It cares enough to ask the hard questions so that it can really press down and get into the truth.

It's just that in doing that, in doing that, asking the hard questions, you are trying to expose what they're hiding, but you never stopped believing. What do we do, for example, when a woman says to us that her husband is abusing her, but he denies it. Do we say, well, love believes all things.

So we're just gonna automatically give this guy the benefit of the doubt. Well, I mean, what about her? What about her?

I mean, why would we not give her the benefit of the doubt and say, maybe it was really hard for her to bring this forward? Love does not naively close its eyes when difficult questions are in order. Love believes all things and hopes all things. What that means is that love never stops recognizing the incredible creation that God made this person to be or given up hope of what God can do in their lives. Because love realizes that we serve a savior who prayed for forgiveness of the ones that were nailing him to a cross, which means that he hasn't given up hope on this person either.

And we serve a savior who raised from the dead. And that means that there's nothing he can't fix, redeem or heal. And that means no matter who I'm talking to, there is hope for this person, because if there's an empty tomb, there's hope for you.

And love believes those things for them. Last quality of love, verse seven, love endures all things. Again, it just means it never gives up. It can't give up. It can't give up.

It's bound its heart to yours and it cannot be happy until you've been completed in joy. Thanks for listening to Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Before we dive back into today's teaching, I wanted to share with you an incredible resource that can help you grow in your relationship with God. Pastor J.D. offers a free daily devotional email that follows along with our current teaching here on Summit Life. These devotionals are designed to jumpstart your day in God's word and to keep you connected with what we're doing here on the program, no matter how busy your schedule might be.

You can sign up for this free resource at slash resources. And while you're there, be sure to check out our transcripts and our entire teaching library, which are all made available free of charge by the support of our faithful listeners like you. We pray that these resources are a blessing to you each day.

So be sure to share them with others and invite them to join you on your journey with Jesus. Now, let's get back to today's teaching on Summit Life. Once again, here's Pastor J.D. So there it is. There it is. There's your 15-part description of love.

And that leads us to the million-dollar question, right? How in the world can I produce that love in my heart? So what do I do?

I just memorize this list, work on one quality per week for the next 15 weeks. Maybe I'll try to work up this emotional love in my heart. Oh, love, love, love. I feel like I hate you, but love, is that what we do? I can tell you from experience that will not help.

I have tried it. It is exhausting. You will find yourself at a place of bewilderment saying, God, I can't produce this love in my heart no matter how hard I try. Martin Luther, the great reformer, talked about what he called the dilemma of the great commandment. Again, the great commandment, love God with all your heart, soul, mind, love your neighbors, yourself.

Luther said the dilemma of the great commandment, listen, is that Jesus is commanding us to do something that by definition cannot be commanded. Because if you love something, you don't need to be commanded to do it, right? You never, ever have to command me to eat a steak, take a nap, or kiss my wife. I do all those things from desire. No command of yours is necessary. On the other hand, if you don't love something, then no command of yours can change that.

You might compel obedience, but you cannot compel desire. I hate, hate, hate with a deep, dark, revolting passion, mayonnaise and tomato sandwiches. Pretty much anything with mayonnaise. It's just a layer of fat that people put on their food. I don't understand it, but here's the point.

I hate it. If you're big enough, you might be able to force me to eat mayonnaise, but there's no command of yours that can make me love it. And Luther said that's the dilemma of the great commandment is that Jesus is commanding us to do something that by definition cannot be produced by command. Love of this kind, he said, has to be received before it is shown. And that's where we discover the beauty and the truth of this chapter, the secret of this chapter.

Let me ask you a question. When we first went through that list, the 15-part description of love, didn't it seem to you like Paul was describing somebody? Like he was thinking about somebody that he knew and he was describing them? Substitute the name of Jesus everywhere you see that word love. Jesus is patient and Jesus is kind. Jesus considered our needs higher than his own and then bore in his body our sins on the cross.

Jesus does not envy or boast. He did not consider equality with God something to be clung to, but emptied himself of glory and made himself a servant so that he could serve and save us. Jesus was not arrogant or rude. He didn't insist on his own way. In fact, he prayed, not my will, but yours be done. Jesus was not irritable or resentful. He was the friend of sinners, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.

But that did not dissuade him from making himself one with us. Jesus did not rejoice at wrongdoing. He rejoiced only with the truth of all those that the father gave to me.

Jesus said, I haven't lost a single one. Jesus bore all things. He believed all things. He hoped all things.

He endured all things. His love would not let go until he could declare boldly from the cross that is finished. Love like what is described in 1 Corinthians 13 has to be received before it is shown. What Paul is thinking of, I believe is the person of Jesus. It's why John the apostle would say in his own way, 1 John 4 19, we love because, because why?

Because it's the right thing to do. Because we memorized the list, because we had accountability partners who made us love, because he'll put us in hell if we don't love. No, we love because he first loved us. It is knowing the love of God for you that produces the love of God in you. See, look, only Jesus' love can give you the freedom to love others like this, right?

I mean, think about it. For example, it's only by confidence in the loving plan of Jesus in my life, that is, that he's the one responsible to meet my needs at the end of the day, and that he's the one that's going to cause all things, even the bad things to work together for good in my life. Only if I believe that will I be free of feeling so dependent on you to do it for me. When you're dependent on others to meet your needs, you're going to feel driven to control them so they don't let you down. I mean, they're your hope for happiness. They're your hope for fulfillment. They're your hope for security. So of course, you got to control them. Because if not, you're not going to have those things.

Of course, your friend needs to appreciate you more. Of course, your wife or husband has to be this or say that. But when you're confident in Jesus' love, you're not captive to them anymore. And you can release them and actually start to love them instead of use them. Only Jesus' love can keep us from boasting and enviousness.

I mean, think about it. Why do we boast? Why do I boast?

We boast because we're insecure. I need you to think I'm great because inside I'm not sure I'm great. And I need you to tell me I'm great. So I brag on me and tell you I'm great. So you'll tell me I'm great.

And then I'll actually believe you. I envy because I think I need what you have to be happy. Envy reveals that deep down you are unhappy.

You realize that? Problem is not you're envying. The problem is the fact you're a deeply unhappy person. And that's why you envy. You're dissatisfied. I'm going to tell you right now, what satisfies you is not that person's stuff. It's only Jesus' love that actually cures that.

Only Jesus' love fills the emptiness in your heart so that you have the capacity to start to love others instead of envy them all the time. Tim Keller uses this remarkable, great little analogy in his little teeny tiny book, The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness. Literally, you could read that book in 45 minutes. It's amazing. But Keller says this. He says, the only time, think about this, the only time we usually think about a part of our body is when it's hurting. Right now, I'm not thinking about my right knee. I haven't thought about it one time since this message started.

You want to know why? It's not hurting. It's just there. But when it's hurting, I think about it all the time. I think about it when I walk. I think about it when I stand up. I think about it when I get out of bed. Tim Keller says, when you're always thinking about yourself all the time, do you know what that tells you about you?

You got a problem. Your soul is hurting because if your soul were working well, if your soul wasn't hurting, you wouldn't be thinking about you all day long. You'd be healthy enough and happy enough to think about others. See, friend, only Jesus can heal that hurt part of you. The love of Jesus gives you the acceptance you crave. The love of Jesus gives you the significance you crave. His promises give you the security that you crave. And then, then it teaches you how to love. How could you hold somebody else accountable for their $2 offense against you if you've been forgiven a billion dollar debt against God?

How could you keep a record of wrongs if he doesn't? So again, I say it is only by soaking yourself in the love of God for you, will love for God and for others grow in you. We love, we love because he first loved us. It's a response to, friend, press into God's unconditional love for you in Christ this morning. And then just ask God's spirit to produce this 1 Corinthians 13 kind of love in you.

Just say, God, I don't have it. But God, thank God, thank you that your love for me is not depending on me having it. You realize that's the irony of the Christian life, you realize that's the irony of the Christian life, right?

The only ones who actually get better are the ones who know that their acceptance is not dependent on their getting better. And when you receive that love freely given, you become a person who freely gives. Let me close this by reading those last few verses in chapter 13, because they're going to set us up for next week. And they're beautiful. Love never ends. It's never going away. Not for all eternity.

You want to know why? God himself is love. He's never going away. And you're going to be with him forever.

So get used to it. As for prophecies, you see, they'll pass away. As for tongues, they'll cease. As for knowledge, theology, preaching, it's going to pass away. For see, right now we know in part and we prophesy only in part, and that's just because we're not in the presence of Jesus. But when, when the perfect comes, that is Jesus, when we see him face to face, the parcel's going to pass away. I mean, when I was a child, I thought like a child, I spoke like a child, I reasoned like a child, and I needed childish things like prophecy and preaching and miracles and tongues. And when I became a man though, when I saw Jesus face to face, I gave up childish ways. Because now, now when it comes to Jesus and heaven and eternity and glory, I see through a mirror dimly.

It's all obscured. And that's why we need preachers. But then I'm going to see him face to face.

Now see, I know him part right now, but then I shall know fully even as he fully knows me. And Paul says all these other spiritual gifts that are there for the children, which is us, they're going to fade away. And we're not going to use them in heaven because we're not going to need them.

You know, there's a lot of jobs in heaven, but you know, there are three jobs that are not going to be there. There will be no police because there's no crime. There will be no doctors because there's no sickness. And there will be no preachers and we'll have to find a new job. And there will be no preachers because we have no need of prophecy. We'll all know God's mind perfectly.

I'm not going to need to teach you or exhort you to do anything because the knowledge of the Lord will cover each of us like the waters cover the sea. We're not going to need miracles because ain't nobody going to be sick. Amen. But guess what's going to remain? So now faith, hope, and love remain.

Those three. But the greatest of those is love. Faith, hope, and love are going to last forever.

The greatest of those is love. It's the currency of heaven. So if you're going to focus on growing in anything in the Christian life, focus on growing in that because it's eternal. And once that gets produced in you, y'all, everything else in the Christian life is going to come as naturally to you as roses on a rosebush. For in the good news of the gospel, you cannot produce this in you. Soak yourself in the love of God for you, the love of God that is not dependent on you being anything. It's just dependent on you receiving it and the love of God for you. The forgiveness of God towards you will produce love and forgiveness in your heart to others. So have you received God's love for you? If you aren't sure where you're at with Jesus, you don't have to wait another minute. Talk to God, ask him to take control and offer him your entire life.

Then talk to someone at your local church so they can help you grow. And be sure to check out all the helpful resources we have at Our current resource is titled Cutting Through the Noise. And JD, I know you have a specific aim in mind. So what do you hope that listeners will take away from this study when it's all completed?

Yeah, thanks, Molly. You know, we really wanted to find a way to help everybody study the Bible, no matter what kind of time they have. You see, in 1 Corinthians, Paul follows a pattern. He defines a problem for the people of Corinth, and then he leads us to see that problem through the lens of the gospel. We're going to follow that same pattern in this resource. So we'll answer questions like, how should I think about a difficult marriage or singleness?

And we're one of my favorites. In 1 Corinthians 10, Paul helps you see whether or not you're worshiping an idol. Each of these little five-minute devotions will give you a question that we'll answer, some scripture, a point to ponder, and then a way to pray and apply what you've learned.

We've designed them so they really will only take about five minutes each, for real, because we know that for some of you, that's how long it needs to be for you to really make this work. I'd love for you to take a look at I do think you'll find it helpful.

Call 866-335-5220 or visit us at And from all of us here at Summit Life, we want to say a sincere thank you, thank you, thank you for your support. I'm Molly Vidovitch, and tomorrow we are heading towards some rowdy teaching from 1 Corinthians. So be sure to join us Friday right here on Summit Life. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-03 10:04:48 / 2023-04-03 10:15:56 / 11

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