One day he called in his clinical staff and proceeded to unfold a plan for developing, in his clinic, an atmosphere of what he called "creative love." All patients were to be given large quantities of love; no unloving attitudes were to be displayed in the presence of the patients, and all nurses and doctors were to go about their work in and out of the various rooms with a loving attitude.

The Result:

At the end of six months, the time spent by patients in the institution was cut in half.

This love can be found with our spouse and with our families and sometimes with friends. But a place on this earth where this love should always be found is in a called out assembly or the local New Testament Church!!!! It is a place where the love of Christ should be actively demonstrated and clearly seen among the brethren. And that’s the way it has to be.

Jesus said in 1John 3:14,

"We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death."

Now I didn’t say that this was easy to do, but a believer that desires to be conformed to the image of Christ will be striving to love in this selfless Christ like way!!

 

Let me make this statement: "The Local New Testament Church Should Be Characterized By Love."

Often one of the first criticisms leveled at churches is that they are not loving. Most times that is not true, but it is awfully hard to counter that charge. Most times the people making that claim are those who have already left and use this accusation to justify their leaving. They lay the fault in the laps of others.

Jesus said in John 13:35,

"By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have (agape) love one to another."

Since the most comprehensive description of love is found in 1 Corinthians chapter thirteen, I want to take a closer look at what this passage of scripture says what love does and does not do.

#1) Biblical Love is patient...it is longsuffering vs. 4, "Charity suffereth long."

The word literally means "long tempered." This word is common in the New Testament, and it is used almost exclusively in being patient with people (rather than circumstances or events). Love patience is the ability to be inconvenienced or taken advantage of by a person over and over again and still loving them.

Story:

A woman once wrote that when someone says, "I don't love you anymore,"  it shakes you to your very core.  It caused me to ponder the true meaning of love as never before.  After many years, I arrived at the only definition that makes any sense.  Since God is love and we must compare our love to him, we come up short if we define it any other way.  For you see, in the final analysis, "Love is a commitment with a beginning and no end."  Christ chose to love us and he has never stopped.  He never will.  We should be very careful with a word like love.  Are we willing to make that kind of commitment?

The New Testament churches first martyr Stephen’s last words were those of patient forgiveness: "Lord, lay not this sin to their charge." As he lay dying, his concern was for the murderers rather than for himself. This is the love that Jesus speaks of that "turns the other cheek." Its primary concern is for the welfare of others, not itself.

Philippians 2:3 says,

"Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves."

If that instruction from the Lord Jesus was followed, do you think there would be conflicts within our churches? If each of us esteems the other as better than ourselves....what could possibility be the source of conflict? How different this is from the secular thinking of our day, where everyone wants "their rights."

#1 Love is long suffering.

#2) Love is kind... (vs. 4, "Charity suffereth long, and is kind;"

Just as longsuffering allows us to take abuse from others, kindness allows us to give anything to others. To be kind means to be useful, serving and gracious. It is active goodwill. It not only feels generous; it is generous.

Ephesians 4:32 tells us that we are to be kind to others because God was longsuffering with us. "And be ye kind one to another (It’s a command), tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."

#3) Love does not envy... vs.4, "charity envieth not."

This is the first of eight negative descriptions of what love is not. Envy means to be jealous of another. There are two kinds of jealousy:

#1. We want what someone else has. If they have a better car, house, job, or even wife or husband, we secretly wish that we had the same.

Or #2. We wish that someone else didn't have what they had. This is more than just selfishness; it is desiring evil for someone else. The fact is that there will always be someone out there doing better than you. So you can either live with it and "be content with such things that you have," or you can be eaten up with jealousy.

James 3:14-16 warns,

"But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work."

True Agape love does not get jealous over a brother or sister and certainly doesn’t think or wish evil of them!!! The Bible says that envy is straight out of Hell, it’s devilish!!! Is anyone envious here today? You need to come to the altar this morning instead of continuing in your envy as if nothing is wrong yet all the while causing strife and confusion and every evil work. Confess it as sin and get right with God today!!!!

#4) Love does not vaunt itself nor is it puffed up. vs. 4, "charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up."

In other words, love does not brag or "parade" its accomplishments. Bragging is the other side of jealousy. Jealousy is wanting what someone else has; bragging is trying to make others jealous of what we have. Love does not remind a person of the great "sacrifice" you have made for them.

One of the surest ways to destroy the love relationship in a church is for some to be prideful or boastful. Paul said in II Corinthians 10:17,

"But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord."

#5) Love does not behave itself unseemly v. 5, "Doth not behave itself unseemly."

Unseemly means disgracefully or rudely without regard for others feelings. True love has its manners. That is something that is largely lost today. Love cares about others and is mannerly. Whatever happened to saying "Yes sir and No Ma’am? Or opening a door for a lady or a man letting a lady have his seat? How about letting the senior saints and visitors get in line first at the fellowship dinner? Agape love does not behave itself unseemly!!!!

#6) Love does not seek its own v. 5, "Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own."

This speaks of that aspect of fallen nature where we always want "to have our way." The world should revolve around us, we think. Often those who accuse others of not being loving are themselves very selfish. They see themselves as right and will not concede they have any fault of their own. They seek their own interests and are not really interested in others. It is childish as kids always want to have their own way.

Story:

It’s like the mother who was preparing pancakes for her two sons, Kevin, 5, and Ryan, 3. The boys began to argue over who would get the first pancake. Their mother saw the opportunity for a moral lesson. "If Jesus were sitting here, He would say, ‘Let my brother have the first pancake; I can wait." The older son Kevin turned quickly to his younger brother Ryan and said, "Ryan, you be Jesus!"

#7) Love is not easily provoked v. 5, "is not easily provoked."

To provoke means "to arouse anger, a convulsion or sudden outburst." Love guards against being irritated, upset, or angered by things said or done against it. Ephesians 4:26 reminds us, "let not the sun go down upon your wrath:"

Story: A lady once came to Billy Sunday and tried to rationalize her angry outbursts. "There’s nothing wrong with losing my temper," She said. "I blow up, and then it’s all over." "So does a shotgun," Sunday replied, "and look at the damage it leaves behind!"

#8) Love thinks no evil v. 5, "thinketh no evil."

It means here that love never finds fault with the motives of others. Even if someone deliberately does something wrong against us that we are not to think that of them but are to rather pass it off as them just having a bad day. I remember a friend back when I was in High School. His name was Tom Garvin. One day I went up to Tom to talk badly about another friend. Tom said to me, "I have made up my mind not to say anything bad about another person even if it is true." Could you imagine if Christians practiced that philosophy? I found out years later that Tom was a believer.

#9) Love Rejoices not in iniquity v.6, "Rejoiceth not in iniquity."

True Agape love doesn’t rejoice over either,

-the sin of brother who has fallen.

-the sin that abounds in the world.

-doesn’t laugh at sin.

-takes sin and its consequences seriously.

#10) Love Rejoices in the Truth.. v. 6, "Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;"

What makes you rejoice and what brings real joy to your heart? Does sin? If it does, then you are not acting with Agape love in your heart! Real joy and rejoicing comes from the love of truth! John 8:32 says,

"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."

#11) Lastly in verse 7, "Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things."

Love believes the best about every person. Love will believe someone is innocent until proven guilty and real agape love refuses to surrender, refuses to stop hoping and never stops loving no matter what.

The greatest example of agape love was of course the Lord Jesus Himself. In the gospel of John in chapter fifteen and verses 12 & 13 Jesus is teaching His disciples about this true love and He says,

"This is my commandment (not an option), That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."

The greatest demonstration of love that the world has ever seen took place over two thousand years ago when the Son of God died for the sin debt of the whole world. He became sin for us who knew no sin.

John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life."

Charles Wesley wrote,

"Amazing love how can it be, that thou my God shoulds’t die for me?"

Isaac Watts wrote,

"Were the whole realm of nature mine, that were a present far too small; love so amazing so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all."

Let’s pray.

If you’re here this morning and you’ve never trusted Christ as your personal Savior, then you have never tasted of the love of God. You need to come this morning and we will have someone take the Word of God and show you how you can know for sure that Heaven is your home.

Maybe you’re a Christian this morning and you would say that you haven’t been exhibiting the agape love of Christ in your life. Then you come as well this morning and take care of business with the Lord before you partake of the Lord’s Table this morning.

Whatever your need, you come. As we sing.