In the great Corinthian section on the gifts of the Spirit lies perhaps the most specific, detailed teaching on the love of God that is found in the Word.
And yet I show you a more excellent way. 1 Cor 12:31NKJV
The supreme, outstanding characteristic of the relationship, not religion, we call Christianity is the love of God. There is nothing equal to it in all the world. It is the great draw, the sweeping allure of the gospel, because every soul, deeply and vehemently, seeks to be loved by a father, our Father God. Jesus Christ has been the Lover of men’s souls from the beginning, and He alone brings the complete satisfaction to a soul that is starved for love. As the embodiment of the love of God, He is, and always will be, the reason we are here.
Love suffers long…1 Cor 13:4 NKJV
How would you describe love?
The first great, positive statement about the love of God is that ‘love suffers long.’ My first inclination would be to say that love is giving, or generosity. But when God says that ‘love suffers long,’ there is a much deeper reality here that goes right to the heart of the individual who is loving. ‘Suffers long’ is the Greek word MACROTHUMIA. There is another New Testament Greek word translated ‘patience,’ which is HUPOMENO. Zodhiates says, and I think he is right, that HUPOMENO refers to patience with things or circumstances, while MACROTHUMIA refers to patience with people. Hallelujah! That is the test!
Generosity can be impulsive, spontaneous, emotional, but that’s not the love of God. When I am patient with people, when I ‘suffer long,’ I have to ‘dig down deep,’ past my emotions, into the core of who I am, to find the strength to love people patiently. That is the test of the love of God in my life. Do you see it?
One aspect of MACROTHUMIA that relates to the gifts of the Spirit is TIMING. We are all volunteers in the army of God. We do not serve under the force of law, like conscripts. Alec Baldwin, playing the role of the true historical character Colonel Jimmy Doolittle in the movie PEARL HARBOR, makes the observation that ‘there is nothing stronger than the heart of a volunteer.’ That’s the positive side, but in working with other volunteers, you can never quite know to what degree they have volunteered, and what lines cannot be crossed. So, you must tread lightly, be kind, and timing becomes a huge issue.
When you mix the revelation gifts with the love of God, loving people patiently, then you can know WHAT to do, and WHEN to do it.
and is kind…1 Cor 13:4 NKJV
The word ‘kind’ is the word CHRESTEUOMAI, to show oneself useful, with emphasis on the action instead of the emotion. Your whole thinking in operating in the gifts is the glory of God and the benefit of another. With that mindset you will avoid pitfalls and errors. I love this definition because it takes love out of the realm of intentions and into the realm of actions. I will demonstrate my love, rather than just tell you about it.
love does not envy; 1 Cor 13:4 NKJV
Love is a decision, not an emotion. If I waited around until I felt like loving someone, we might be waiting a long time! But I decide, I choose, to love.
Jealousy had been a terrible stronghold in my life. Only when I chose to begin to rejoice in the success of others did I begin to become free of that thing. Today I am as happy for you as I am for me!
The next step in rejoicing in the success of others is that you begin to seek to impart to others that which they will need to be successful. As a teacher and minister I love to help people draw close to God. Healing, in all of its shapes and forms happens when people connect with God. In our seminars I see people connecting with God. In Parakou, Benin recently I watched as over two hundred people were connecting with God individually so that they could prophesy to one another. Then the miracles came…
The love of God is the key to the gifts, the key to success, the great ‘force multiplier’ in a body of believers that causes one to be able to rout a thousand. The love of God crushes fear, and sets the captives free.
love does not parade itself… 1 Cor 13:4 NKJV
I had preached something for years before I got an unusual confirmation that we were on the right track. In TRANSPORTED BY THE LION OF JUDAH by Anne Elmer, the author saw visions of, among many other things, ministers whose faces were obscured so that they couldn’t be recognized. The Lord explained to her that these were ministers who did not seek recognition, but only sought to glorify their Lord. For years, I have preached that we seek to be ‘nameless and faceless’ servants who seek only to glorify their Lord. I have learned that there is great protection in this mindset because so many of the ‘shooting star’ ministries have flamed out and fallen to earth. By His mercy, we are still here…
I sit amazed at the reality that the Lord surrounds me with people who are better than I am, starting with my wife!
He will glorify Me… John 16:14 NKJV
The Holy Spirit comes to glorify Jesus. It’s subtle, until it’s full blown, but the messenger can become the focus, and not the message. This is where fasting becomes such a critical Kingdom practice, because we humble ourselves through fasting. In all the love of God the emphasis is on acts, not intentions. Acts demonstrate the love of God. Fasting is an act that enforces humility and the subjection of the soul IF you embrace its work. Otherwise you are just starving yourself.
I hope you are enjoying this study. I think we are going to do a little more work here because there is so much to develop in this great key to the gifts of the Spirit. Love you!
Remember dear ones, we must be about our Father’s business…