We have become so accustomed to hearing half-truths, falsehoods, and the spinning of the account to serve ones self…it’s hard to identify truth from lies now a days. Selfish love deliberately mixes truth with falsehoods to best serve the present situation. They conveniently leave out details that might incriminate or point the finger to them…having no regard for others. Selfish love is only interested in its own welfare…not caring how it may impact another person. The love of Christ is glad to tell the truth…the correct and accurate rendition…not the sugar-coated half-truth that might get us out of trouble. Also, unselfish love doesn’t have to remember what story was told to who…if it’s the truth from the beginning.
If you want to see what a person is truly made of…put them in a long line, in the hot sun, waiting for something that may or may not arrive on time. That’s when frustration and impatience boils over into selfish love. This verse is interesting in that all it speaks of are examples of selfish love…of self-centered, looking out for #1 love that only thinks of itself. We all have the opportunity daily to choose what type of love we’ll portray to the world…the love of Christ or the selfish love of the world. And as Believers, we are to be an example of Christ’s love to others…unfortunately, whether we’re a good example or a bad one.
For the next few days I’m going to writing on the familiar verses in the 13th Chapter of I Corinthians, also known as the Love Chapter. These verses tell us what Christian love should look like. But even more importantly, they tell us what selfish self-centered love looks like. The love Jesus taught of was an unconditional agape love…love that is compassionate, and understanding…refusing to retaliate or repay evil with evil. But the love the world teaches of is egotistical, self-absorbed, and arrogant….refusing to put others first. These verses will look at both types of love…selfish and unselfish, and their impact on the world.
Even the early Church had problems with Church division, and here Paul was pleading with them to unite rather than split into factions. For if you think about it, if the local Church can’t come together and become one voice…how do we expect the world to follow suit? When Jesus called those first disciples, He told them to “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Mark 1:17) And if you look at the other meaning for the Greek word for “perfectly united”… it means to mend or repair broken nets. Now anyone knows you can’t catch fish with torn nets…so how can the Church expect to follow Jesus and be fishers of men when their nets are shredded with division and strife? We as a body of Believers need to become perfectly united together, and mend our nets.
What’s it mean to excel in the grace of giving? Here the Apostle Paul was encouraging the Church in Corinth to be generous in their giving to others. Generosity can be a learned behavior…we see our parents or family acting unselfishly with their money or time…and we do the same. But on the other hand, dire circumstances we’ve lived through can also determine how generous we are, or not. Fearless generosity is an investment into God’s Kingdom work and excelling in this grace of giving is the start of that bold approach.
That life-changing encounter with Jesus was the start of your journey as a Believer. You marveled at the grace, mercy, and loving kindness that was extended to you… a sinner that only deserved death. You became a recipient of the greatest gift ever…the free gift of eternal life. But for many of us we stop there, never sharing this Good News with others. We instead hold tightly to this gift refusing to share…desiring to just keep it to ourselves. But Paul tells us in this verse that first we are a receiver, but then we become a messenger… an ambassador for Christ, telling others about Him. Paul goes on in I Corinthians 11:2, ” I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the teachings, just as I passed them on to you.” How can we keep such wonderful, life-changing news to ourselves? The Lord wants us to pass it on to others. So today, tell someone how Jesus is working in your life.
With over 30 years under my belt as a Christian…it’s only with sincere thankfulness and gratitude I can proclaim that it’s only by the grace of God I am what I am today. For it’s only by God’s unearned and unmerited favor that I have been changed…justified freely by His grace through the redemption that comes through Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:24) And I strive daily to show Him that the grace He lavished on me was not futile or a waste of time…for this grace God showed me – I need to be passing on freely to others.