The Excellence Of Love

Series: Other Speakers

Riaan and Beaulah Sinden

Rom. 5:2;  Rom. 8:16, 31–39; Gal. 5:6;  1 Cor. 14:1;  Rom. 1:12;   Gal. 6:9–10 Message; 

1 Cor. 12:31 to 1 Cor. 13:1; 1 John 4:8; Rom. 12:3–6; 1 Cor. 12:19–24 Message; John 13:34;

1 Cor. 13:4–7 

Beaulah: I’m going to touch on 3 words today, identity, relationship and community.  Starting with identity, do we know who we are in Christ?  Not who we are in ourselves, but in Christ because we do not boast in/of ourselves.  We have no right to do that, but Christ is in us.   Through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God (Rom 5:2). The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him (Rom 8:16-17).  That’s our identity.  So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? …I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us (Rom 8:31 – 39 – The Message). 

The second word is relationship. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love (Gal 5:6).  What makes you want to be in a relationship with someone?  Love!  Sometimes it is difficult to just look at somebody and decide, “I love you.”  You need to get to know the person.  So, we become selective and elective about whom we choose to love, but we do not really have a choice.  God loved us so much that He gave His only begotten Son.  Now we must go out and love because that is the only way we are going to change this world.  Love moves us.  About the gifts he says “Pursue love …” (1 Cor. 14:1).  Let that be our motivating word or verb, and our action.  You do not think of your own comfort first, you think of the next person. People matter more than things.  Do we care enough?  We should not let our evaluation of other members of the body determine how we relate to each other.  Unselfish kindness sets us free to worship as a body, not as cut off members bound by our own things.

My last topic is community.  When we are secure in whom we are in Christ and we walk in true relationship, we become a community.  I do not mean exclusivity or that Bizweni is the only house, but this is our house.  If it works here we can take it out to the world, but if it does not work here how will we present it to the world?  If I do not share when my brother needs food, do I love?  If I do not phone when my brother is in hospital, do I love?  So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith (Gal . 6:9–10 – The Message).

Riaan: The word of God says, “God is love.”  Now if we are born from God then we are love, not should be love, not will be love, not were love – we are love.  All we do is because we love; if not, we are doing it for the wrong reasons. Maybe then we do it to be applauded, to be seen or even to hide.  This is the substance that is driving us to do what we do in the many membered body of Christ.  All of us have our functions, our ministries.  We need to be active in our callings, but if we do it without love we will just be wasting time.  The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. (1 John 4:8 – The Message).  It is as easy as that.  If we do not act, if we do not live out of love and we do things without reason, we do not know God.  Love is the substance that drives us.  It is the thing that makes us get up, take responsibility and be accountable.  But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way (1 Cor. 12:31 – NKJV).  If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love (1 Cor. 13:1-3 (The Message). 

We are happy for those who are pulling all the weight, but because we are like a body where all the members are not functioning, we are a crippled body.  The legs do not work so the arms have taken over the function of mobility as well and we praise these muscular arms, but that body is out of sync.  We are talking about Christ’s body where we find our meaning and function as a whole, but a chopped off finger or a cut off toe does not amount to much.  Since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvellously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let us go ahead and be what we were made to be without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other or trying to be something we are not.  Each of us is unique in our functions.  We are part of the same body and the world is looking at us. Corporately we need to be an accurate representation of who Christ is. We need to live out the grace and love of God.  “God so loved the world that He gave …” He did not love us and just observed us, He did something, and He gave His son.

Am I a hand or a foot?  To find out where you would function best ask the One who made you.  God knows for what function you were created.  It is the Maker who decides the purpose.  Go to God, sit at His feet and ask Him where you fit in.  A good measure for our purpose is to see a need and be moved to fill that need.  A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. (NKJV)   Upon seeing that we ask what happened to the old commandment.  The old commandment is found in Leviticus 19-18, “love your neighbour as you love yourself.”  But if you do not love yourself, that shows you are not going to love your neighbour.    Jesus loves us unconditionally.  Our area of responsibility should be the place where we lay down our lives because the next person is more important than me.

Here are a few characteristics of this love.  Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut, Doesn’t have a swelled head, Doesn’t force itself on others, Isn’t always “me first,” Doesn’t fly off the handle, Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, Doesn’t revel when others grovel, Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, Puts up with anything, Trusts God always, Always looks for the best, Never looks back, But keeps going to the end (1 Cor. 13:4–7 The Message).   This is the more excellent way of being the many membered body of Christ.  Because of this love we do not expect a pat on the back for everything we do, but we also will not be hiding when we need to function in any given area.  There are a lot of people who love to be seen and there are also people who love to hide, but neither action is right.  The challenge for us remains to find our place in the body of Christ, to find out what we were called to be.  We need to start functioning and it is not always where we expected it to be.