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Seven Minus One Equals Zero

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
February 10, 2021 12:00 am

Seven Minus One Equals Zero

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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February 10, 2021 12:00 am

What do you get when you subtract 1 from 7? 6 right? Well, not always. This simple equation may work in arithmetic but not in Christianity. God says that if you take good attributes such as faith, hope, prophecy, spiritual discernment, worship, mercy, and service, and subtract love from them, you end up with nothing. This is the divine equation and it always comes out the same: anything minus love equals zero.

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It is whatever you are doing. Plus love that matters is whatever you are saying. Plus love makes a difference for whatever you are doing or saying or giving or being or sacrificing or whatever without love. Nothing with love no matter what you can give no matter how you serve no matter what your sacrifice, no matter where you serve no matter, it is worth God grant math problem, the answer would be six right well today you're going to learn. That's not always the case. The simple equation may work in arithmetic, but not in Christianity today on wisdom for the heart. Stephen Devi has a lesson for you called 7-1 = 0. If you take seven good attributes such as faith, hope, discernment, worship, mercy, and service and subtract love from them, you end up with nothing. God's divine equation always comes out the same. Anything minus love equals zero. Here Stephen Devi with today's Bible lesson of all the cities of ancient Greece that would've had a twisted view of love. It would affect of all the churches probably in the New Testament error that would be in need of teaching on the subject of true love. It would be these former adulterers and thieves and homosexuals and fornicators and swindlers would come to faith and joined the church in Corinth. They had lived for their own loss send their own pleasures. They had extorted they had stolen from their neighbors and employers, and perhaps each other. If you can imagine that now there in the assembly where they're learning that giving is better than receiving and serving is better than ruling. This would be a life changing perspective.

They already knew how to use people to their advantage. They had to learn how to serve people. They arty do not have sexual relations with other people. They had a learned purity outside of marriage and fidelity inside of marriage. They naturally followed the motivations of greed and self-advancement they could use people they could manipulate relationships to get what they wanted but they knew nothing of this. This unique motivation of agape love.

This is and of course just a problem in Corinth as it is necessary for every church in every culture in every generation to learn how to love were all infected with too much of ourselves were all infected with a terminal case of self-love, self-promoting self advancing self appreciating self enamored self increasing self enhancing love.

Just watch a toddler in the nursery who taught him to pitch a fit when his toys taken away. He's gotten old enough at that point to evidence the characteristic trait of human nature, which is the opposite of agape self-centeredness. We have to learn how to give. We have to learn how to be self less in in serving fact we all want to be loved with agape love. But we must learn how to be lovers with agape love someone sent me several things children said regarding true love and I thought there were great. Rebecca, age 8, said when my grandmother got arthritis. She couldn't bend down the pain her toenails anymore so my grandfather doesn't for her. That's love. I'll say Danny, age 7, said when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy. She takes a sip before giving it to him to make sure the taste is okay. That's love Chris 87, said love is when mommy sees daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he's handsome Elaine, age 5, says love is when mommy gives daddy the best piece of chicken. I like the direction these are going. Don't use these are Carl didn't get it.

This little kid said love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on cologne and they go out and smell each other. One more.

Jessica Ajay delivered this profound statement. You really shouldn't say I love you, unless you mean it, but if you mean it. You should say a lot because people forget the world is frankly been trying to get a right for thousands of years to the Greeks when were introduced to this chapter in Paul's day, they focused on Stargate as we learned in our last session family love. Natural love that comes from being a part of the family. They emphasize the word fully of the love of mutual attraction. The downside of fully as is. I will love you with everything I love you love another word that was heavily used was Eros was erotic, stimulating thunder and lightning kind of feeling is that temporarily intoxicate the senses, it ought ahead toward a commitment of soul and body and mind, but the world never moves past that they can't since agape is at its core divinely inspired. It is not in our flesh. It is not of us.

It is impossible to love with agape love. Apart from a commitment to Christ, you need to know that by the time Paul sent this letter to these Corinthian believers.

They were actually imitating their self-centered culture was even more dangerous is that there are in the process of moving Corinth into the church.

They're moving it right inside the bringing into the assembly. Their old ways of life where they were first and everybody else came last where they mattered, and no one else came close.

So Paul is actually putting on the brakes on his discussion on spiritual gifts and closes chapter 12 by giving us a heads up what's coming is is I am going to show you a more excellent way to live and it's this thing called agape love that makes up its mind to live and serve others in a loving way and you can't help but notice that as first Corinthians 13 opens. Paul begins by using himself as the example did you notice if I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have agape, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. What Paul will do in this paragraph is say listen if one of Christ's apostles don't have agape, I accomplish nothing. Verse two if I have the gift of prophecy. If I know all mysteries, and I have all knowledge.

If I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am, I am nothing. Paul is going to teach us something radical.

We could call it divine mathematics. He will present the hypothetical possibility of adding seven eminent qualities of spiritual life and dynamic ministry, but without love. Those qualities add up to nothing. Seven wonderful attributes all added up without love equals a big zero. Here's the divine mathematical formula 7-1 = 0. Look at the list first dynamic element is eloquence again verse one if I speak with the tongues of men and of angels that pose no doubt referencing the gift of tongues.

The Corinthian's enthusiasm over this spotlight gift was was sort of leading them into prideful disorder. One author referred to this culture right here as charismatic chaos.

Paul immediately capture their attention by saying listen. Imagine if I were the world's most gifted tongues speaker. Imagine if I were the greatest tongues speaker I could speak in all of the languages are tongues of the world.

In fact, the word here from glow saw translated tongue gives us our glossary. It could be better understood what Paul is saying here.

We translated it languages Paul is saying, what if I was fluent in every language of mankind, but without love. I would only be impressing myself. Paul has imagine even further look there next if I could speak with the languages of the Angels of the Bible doesn't teach any kind of unique or special angelic language or dialect.

People often misunderstand that the groanings of the Holy Spirit to be some sort of a language is utterances know he can speak perfectly within the triune God. Paul is basically saying here. If I were given the supernatural ability of the Angels to address mankind in whatever their language. I mean, it doesn't matter where I would be the hero missionary you know why I could sharpen any country to any people group with the added time getting divorce any any language in and I could I could fluidly communicate the truth to them.

But notice without love says, I would be nothing more than a noisy gong and a clanging cymbal.

Paul is referring to the percussion section of ancient music.

These two instruments gave off noise more than music. They had their place and when well used could have dynamic effect, but there there's no such thing as a symbol solo block you. Note never did that Beethoven but they can be effective if they are timed and in timely Paul is saying look if I could speak in any language. If I can communicate the truth and in some effective way. And yet I laughed loud for the people I was speaking to just a noisy symbol. I'm a clanging just a lot of noise limit principle is it this way without love. Communication becomes noisy confusion and contradiction noisy symbol will never attract anybody to Christ, noisy St. serves without love is speaks without love will never edify anyone in the church that Paul anticipates. I think his audience and your rightful anything that we come up with saying needs to be said with a right spirit for to be meaningful and fruitful and to have an impact.

But what if God gives you some kind of revelation really won't matter if you love people are not right because this is just the message of God and you're just delivering the message as his messenger so love won't matter. Paul says I anticipated you thinking that so verse two if I have the gift of prophecy and I know all mysteries and all knowledge. Prophecy is the ability to publicly proclaim God's truth. Paul is saying here.

Listen, if I have the ability to both tell the future, or receive some new truth from God or if I have the ability to preach and teach what God is already revealed yet.

I don't love my students. He says I am zero, which is an interesting thought you been teaching for 15 years maybe that class of fifth graders if you love your ministry amounts to nothing in the eyes of God is on at the prophecy all mysteries. This is the understanding of God's ways, yet unexplained, the mystery was some redemptive truth, once hidden, it's now revealed through Scripture. Paul adds to all mysteries and all knowledge. In other words your own walking Bible encyclopedia, you have all of the theological answers to any spiritual question any spiritual mystery.

You know it all yet. If you lack love, Paul says you will be nothing Robert grammatically said it this way, a full head with an empty heart adds up to nothing. It's possible then to know a lot about the facts of the Bible and very little about the heart of God. Your Paul is saying, in principle form sharing insight with others without showing interest in others is ineffective why the Lord Jesus made it very clear that the disciples were not to be known by their knowledge. Jesus never said they will know you are my disciples, by your IQ, they will know you are my disciples, by your amazing insight they will know you are my disciples, because you know the future thought about that. We know the future. The world is dying to know what happens after you die. And we know we know the future we can describe heaven for people right down to the pavement. We know it, but have you ever had anybody say wow you know what my future state is going to be after I die that in that case, what must I do to be saved. I want to come to your church. You know the future. What makes them wonder what makes them thirsty is when they see you acting in a loving way toward your boss at work just trampled all over you are an employee. Perhaps the next cubicle who stabbed you in the back to get a promotion that you still care about what kind of job you're doing and you still care about them. What gets their attention is that you care about that student in the classroom that nobody else cares about and you speak to them. That's distinctive. That's why the mark of the disciples what they will know you are my disciples, by your your agape, your love, John 1335. So Paul I think at this point seems to anticipate people searching for perhaps another loophole because he knows how we are right so okay.

We won't say anything at all to try to demonstrate the public speaking gets regular walk around like some Bible encyclopedia. All were going to do is act with great faith in God, who has the power to make great things happen. Paul says, in effect, imagine then, if I had all the faith, so as to move mountains. I am nothing is the third point is making without love a reputation of faith becomes the force is suggesting that all faith is not as important as some love. Would you notice Paul does not say without love. My great faith in the acts of faith become nothing. No, he says, even of have all faiths was to remove mountains, but do not have love and nothing so here's how to be nothing demonstrate the gifts without demonstrating grace divine mathematics adds it all up and says well that equals nothing. Okay, I got one more chance or two. I'll just backup my loveless heart with acts of love. I love people, but I'll just act as if I do, God will take note of that will be no Paul seems to anticipate that notice verse three. If I give all my possessions to feed the poor. Paul Stauffer moment uses language. It's very descriptive liver so mezzo means to literally feed by placing more souls in the mouth. You are literally ladling out the suit he leaves no question you are personally intimately involved, you are spooning it out into you have no more soup and no more money to buy any more soup and you give it all away.

Paul says without love. All that was worthless to me, it will not be rewarded will not be honored by the father zero.

It's true isn't it. Because God is not so impressed with what we do as much as he is with who we are. We focus on the works of our hands and he focuses on the condition of our heart to give without love profits you nothing will. I had the question on my mind. Why would anybody give without love. I one commentator who wrote the 200 years ago, who just gave me a list that embarrassed me for asking the question here several of you give to make your conscience quiet you give to put the unpleasant need out of sight you give to look like you care you give out of a sense of obligation you give what you really don't want to have you give to look like others around you that gain respect and attention giving.

It's possible to give without love, the rabbis of Paul's day required that a faithful Jew gave 20% of what they had.

Paul is literally upping the ante in fact is talking about unheard of generosity. He says even if you gave everything you owned away 100% without love. It is worthless to your own account.

This divine mathematics 7-1 = 0. We looked at six of them that all add up to zero without love. Paul is covering all of the possibilities of life without love is addressed. What you say and how will you say he's talked about what you believe and how would you know he's talked about what you given how much you give it, and now he moved to the ultimate demonstration. This is how you die.

This will get his attention. This will reap many rewards at the bema. He goes on, and if I give my body to be burned and do not have a lot of it profits me what nothing else possible that Paul is referring to the ancient custom of branding slaves.

Perhaps Paul is referring to someone going in the slavery so that someone else could be freed and are willing to give their flesh back their thighs or their arm to literally be burned with that brand would be a wonderful sacrifice to give your life in the slavery so that one who is enslaved can go free, would I personally believe that given the ascending significance of these elements of sacrifice that Paul is actually thinking of someone dying a martyrs death even as Christians, but this time in Paul's life are not being burned at the stake as they will one day be criminals and enemies of the state were burned. But Paul is a Roman citizen and a Roman citizen.

One of the guaranteed rights of citizenship is that you will never be executed by burning no Roman citizen, no matter how vile, corrupt or criminal ever had to worry no Roman would ever be executed by burning. So Paul, in effect, is saying what if I a Roman citizen was willing for someone else to lay aside my rights as a Roman citizen and die. This horrific death of burning even that would profit me nothing without agape seven characteristics minus love equals nothing 7-1 = 0. So how do you avoid becoming the sum of these divine mathematics will six ways. One, whatever you say. Asked is a sound loving to whatever you do ask is it done with love. Three. Whatever you think ask is a balance with love for whenever you respond ask is it covered in love.

Five. Whenever you serve ask is it motivated by love. Six. Whatever you give ask is it generated by them. Everything stop slowdown on a member point to know I did that on purpose you need to write anything down on what you think is this it is whatever you are doing.

Plus love that matters is whatever you are saying.

Plus love that makes a difference for whenever you are doing or saying or giving or being or sacrificing or whatever without love. It's nothing. With love, no matter what you can give no matter how you serve no matter what your sacrifice, no matter where you serve no matter, it is worth to God. Everything author and speaker Jerry Bridges gave a great illustration of this divine mathematics.

He said write down either in your imagination or on a sheet of paper, a row of zeros and then another line of zeros and then another line and another line and another hunting filled up the front of the page turning over and just keep writing zeros to get to the very last one now add them for someone like me that just never did well in math.

I got that one down. It would be zero.

Well, let's add a thousand more zeros as contagions and pages and pages you just write 00000 come to the end added up, what would it be that he said what you do go back to the beginning of your list. Very first page very first column in front of that zero add one little positive number 245 and immediately all zeros have men's publishing list all your town. List everything you can do everything. Everything everyone listed add up to the front.

There is one God can be so many things about our lives that were doing right were serving were worshiping and all these other great qualities and actions, but without love.

It's nothing you're listening to wisdom for the heart. This is the Bible teaching ministry of pastor and author Stephen Davey. You can learn more about us or interact with Once you get to the website you can access the complete archive of Stephen's 35 years of Bible teaching ministry. You can also find all of our other resources, including books, commentaries, Bible study guides and much more. By the way if you've never been there before. I want you to know that you can listen to all of Stephen's Bible teaching and you can read the manuscript that he prepared in writing his lessons absolutely free.

You can download those resources any I want to share with you some notes we received recently.

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