Pastors Sunday Message
“Love Builds Relationships”
Deuteronomy 6:1-9,1 Corinthians 13:4-8
What a joy it is for us to be reaching deep into the heart of the Apostle Paul as we focus our attention on “Building Relationships.” Love is the cornerstone for this relationship building. Without love, relationships don’t develop and won’t last. We all know at the end of our lives that relationships are truly important to us. (Mother) We each have a vertical intimate relationship with our heavenly Father (up & down) and many horizontal relationships (sideways) with our families and friends. Because of our love relationship with God through Jesus, we are empowered to build relationships with one-another and fulfill God’s purpose.
We heard earlier how Paul describes love in 1 Corinthians 13. “Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud it is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
No matter how people were treating him, Paul kept them in his heart. He is a living illustration of genuine, spiritual, agape love. If he were the proud self-centered hypocrite that the false teachers were saying he was in the earlier chapters of Corinthians…then he would have every reason to be angry and bitter, self-justifying, and hostile toward his false accusers. But he wasn't. Paul teaches us to love in spite of adversity His heart was wide open and he even in the face of difficulties, he loved them, no matter what they did to him. Although his heart was wounded, he loved no less. What an example.
So how does agape love really work. If we look at the most noble, and highest virtue to which we are called, it would be agape love. This is the cornerstone for building our relationships.
Let's look the characteristics of this true love.
The 1st characteristic of love is honesty. The first thing about true love is that it is honest. The fact that it doesn't hold anything back is important and beneficial. As Paul said to the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:20, "I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you." And when a heart is filled with love, love will dictate what the heart must speak. As Jesus said in Matthew 12:34…"For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him.”
When we have a heart of love, we speak honestly. If I really love, and if I'm honest about what God wants, then I am honest about you, and I'm honest about me. That's the stuff of real love. If you truly love people, then you tell them the truth about God, about God's Word, about God's standards, and about what God's requirements are.
If we don't love them enough to bring them into the knowledge of the truth from God, then how can we say we love them. If one of my loved ones has an addition to drugs or alcohol, we don't keep supplying them with the substance, no we remove it and sometimes have to practice a tough love. Love doesn't hide the sanctifying truth. It speaks because it cares deeply about the object of its affection. It speaks with a frankness to the individual. This is true in relationships, families, friendships, and church. Love always speaks openly about a person's condition. When we speak with honesty we give evidence to love and goodness.
The 2nd characteristic of love is affection.
Real love never loses its affection; it doesn't matter what you do to it. You can hurt it and wound it, but you can't kill it. If it's spiritual love, it can be wounded so profoundly and so deeply it will weep great tears, but it still loves deeply. He may have been intolerant of sin and error and committed to discipline and correction, but those things never stood in the way of his affection. Because of God’s love and affection for us, we read in Hebrews 12:6, "The Lord disciplines those he loves." So, God is the Father and we are his children, and he will discipline us. Because of this discipline God loves us and has affection for us.
The 3rd characteristic of love is evidenced by a desire for fellowship.
Love longs for a response. Nothing in the life of a human being is more painful than unrequited love. All of us, to one degree or another have experienced…A love that was not returned at some time in our lives, before we married, or sometime in our youth. We have loved somebody, and that love wasn't returned.
Then there may have been those of you who married, and your love was in its full-bloom in marriage and perhaps your partner was unfaithful. You gave your love and got back nothing, but pain and tears, heartbreak and sorrow, not just an unrequited love, but a spurned love, a love that wasn't reciprocated. The same may be said in regards with our children’s relationships. We may have loved beyond description, and what did they give back, perhaps hate, distrust and an abandoning of the relationship and so you know the feeling, the pain. To have loved someone deeply and not have them love you in return is just heartbreaking, it's crushing. You don't just walk away and say, "Forget you," not if the love is real. Real love doesn't do that.
A 4th characteristic of love is purity.
Love doesn't corrupt, and it doesn't wrong either directly or indirectly. Paul never polluted anyone's minds, or led them astray. Paul had never corrupted or encouraged any kind of immoral conduct; Paul only acted out of love. Love always seeks to elevate its object; always seeks to promote its object; and always seeks purity, goodness, and the goodness of its object. Love is manifest in honesty, affection, and a desire for something better for its object of affection.
The 5th characteristic of love is humility.
Obviously, love is humble because the only person who can love is a humble person. You can't love others if you're in love with yourself. Our human nature tends to seek a selfish use of people, often going to great lengths for a personal agenda. Paul says, "I've given my life for you. I faced death every day for you. I'm been beaten, and shipwrecked for you. With rods, with whips, stoned three times, left for dead, for you." True love is humble, unassuming, and sacrificial.
The 6th virtue of love is forgiveness.
How often have we said to our children when we set out to discipline them…"(I'm not angry, I'm hurt.)(I'm not mad, I'm sad.) (I'm not hating, I'm loving.) ( I want you to repent; I want you to seek the truth.)( I want you to restore your love, and I'm eager to forgive.)"
Peter said to Jesus in Matthew 18:21, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus said, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times." That's the heart of our Lord. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 13:5 that love “keeps no record of wrongs.” So, love is eager to forgive, and it longs for a person to repent, and it is happiest when he does and is restored through forgiveness.
#7: True love is also loyal.
Paul tells us, “I want you to know something, folks, you're in my heart to the death.” This is a permanent deal, there is no fickleness. A love so strong that nothing can sever it? Love is loyal to the dying end. Please don't tell me you love me if you're not loyal.
#8: characteristic of love to have trust.
Love is optimistic. Love believes all things, according to 1 Corinthians 13, love hopes all things, it always looks at the best. Love hopes, love believes the best. If I love someone and you come to me and then tell me the worst about that person, I find that very hard to accept. Paul said to people, almost against reality, "Great is my confidence in you." When you have somebody in your heart, you're reluctant to believe anything but the best and thus you always want to say positive things about them.
I love you so deeply that my love demands that I believe the best. Despite your unfaithfulness, your disloyalty, your sin, your error, I'm still confident. Love doesn't give up. It doesn't let go without a battle. It believes the best. Paul has great confidence because that's how love is. It may not make it happen, but it believes and hopes it will happen.
#9: love is marked by joy.
Whenever I think about my life partner, my wife, my children, my friends, you, I have the same response of comfort and joy…No matter what the struggles, the problems, or the issues are. That's how love is. It can't think about it without joy. And so, Paul says, “In the middle of my suffering I find tranquility based on joy that springs from my love for you.”
And if you are not experiencing joy, then how can you convince others about the joy you have found in Christ. If you have true joy then tell your face and wear it for all the world to see.
So, these are the characteristics of love: honesty, affection, fellowship, purity, humility, forgiveness, loyalty, trust, and joy. How wonderful it is that our God demonstrates all these characteristics of love plus even more to us. Of course, God’s love for us is honest and rooted in deep affection. He loves us so much that he wants ongoing communion and fellowship with us. And we are to love in the same way. It is in Christ, we can exhibit these characteristics of love.
We are far from perfect, but, with God’s strength, we can love. We live with confidence knowing that Jesus has lived and loved perfectly for us—in our place. As a forgiven and redeemed people, we live each day with God’s love in our hearts which then over flows through us to other people. This is what Paul had in mind when he wrote these words down.
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