Session XI of Love and Relationships!
(this session may also take more than one session, the more time you spend in it the more value you will get a hold of from it)
This passage shows us the path and way for our Christian life and walk. As Christians, we are to imitate Christ, and work within His parameter, which is, love. This passage is a character description of who Christ is, and it must be our character description of our actions, of our behaving responsibly in all that we do.
The proper building of relationships, as a Christian, is always within the parameters of love with no strings attached, just as God Himself works through all of His characteristics in love. By understanding love, we can also understand God, and who we are in Him, as God is the source of love, and the example of what it is in Christ (). This is the love that binds us together in Christ, both with each other, and with the One to whom we commit our lives.
Read these two passages again in different translations (1 Corinthians 13:1-8; 1 John 4: 7-12) such as the KJV, New Living Translation, also try to find at least one of these Bible paraphrases, "Phillips," "Message," "Amplified," or "Moffit" from your pastor or church library. Then go though these proses's below and ask these questions to each stanza:
1. Discuss your thoughts on this aspect of love.
2. Give a positive example.
3. Give a negative example.
4. How is this type of love working in you?
5. Why is this love not working in you?
6. What blocks this love from being exhibited in you?
7. What would it take to get this love working in you?
8. What are you willing to do about it?
Make sure that you pray as a group and individually about how you can be a changed person, so you can apply these precepts to all of your relationships!
What Love is, What Love Means, How Love is an Action!
When God tells us that love is patient, He means love endures a long time. Love helps us endure extreme hardships, keeping our eyes upon our Lord. It is longsuffering, with the focus on accommodating others and not ourselves. So, we can give others room to grow, and time to accomplish the work that God is doing in them. When someone is abrupt with us, or when someone treats us wrongly, we are called to be patient, because we cannot have everything our way all the time, every time. We cannot allow ourselves to become angry when others fail to live up to the expectations that we set for them. When our spouse angers us, or disappoints us, we are not to give up on him/her. Because God is patient with us, and God loves us, then, we are to show patience with others. We need not become angry, but be content, for this is love (James 3:17).
Authentic Love endures, never giving up on others!
Q: Why does real love not give up?
When God tells us that love is kind, He means it looks for a way to be constructive and useful, to invest honor, and declare others valuable. We are to look for the best in other people. We are to spend our energy and time encouraging, and building up one another, not tearing others down. We are to bring the best out of our friends and spouse by always treating them with kindness. We are to tell them the truth in love, and with care. You see, God takes the circumstances of our lives, and uses them in a constructive way for personal growth, and for better support for one another. God is not treating us as an object to be manipulated or controlled, because, He has given us free will. We should do the same with one another. Therefore, we need to always be seeking the healing of relationships, and be cautious in our judgments toward others (Romans 12:10; Ephesians 4:11-15, 32; Philippians 1:6; 2:13; 1 Peter 4:10; Hebrews 10:24).
Authentic Love cares more about others than it does about self!
Q: Why does real love care more about others than me? But what if everyone did that would you feel negated?
When God tells us that love does not envy, He means we need to be happy for whom we are, and what we are. We are not to be comparing ourselves with others, nor are we to be jealous, spiteful, or possessive of others, because, God is in control, and He has a unique plan for you and me. When we hear that a friend receives a promotion before we do, or gets something we wanted, we are to be happy for him/her. If we have a sibling who excels, we should be happy with him/her. If our neighbor has a brand-new car, we should be happy for him/her, and be thankful for the old wreck that we may drive. When our spouse is doing better than we are, we are to be happy for him/her. In other words, we are to be happy for someone else who has something we do not have, even if we do not like it. We must not become possessive, or control freaks, especially where it concerns others and our relationship with them. Being possessive, and attempting to control others, will cause the destruction of a church very quickly. We will soon lose our contentment, and run ourselves off into that maze of despair, dejection, and desolation. At the very least, this will compromise its effectiveness. Love is letting go of our desires and wills for a greater love we cannot receive on our own-grace (Proverbs 14:30; 1 Corinthians 12:15-16; Philippians 4:12-13; James 3:16).
Authentic Love does not desire that which it does not have!
Q: Why does real love not covet?
When God tells us that love does not boast, He means we are not to go around bragging about our accomplishments and abilities. When this love is working, we will have no desire to impress others. Thinking that we are important is foolish, and distracting to our call and purpose in life. We are not to go around showing off our possessions. In so doing, we are patronizing to those who do not have such things. We are not to be so full of our accomplishments that we fail to see what others have accomplished. Because God loves us so much, we should have no need to impress one another. We are not to condescend to our spouse, or anyone, for that matter, with pride, criticism, or contempt, nor are we to withdraw from them when we think they do not meet our approval. We must allow God to impress us with His greatness, because He is God and we are not. We can so relax and enjoy who we are in Christ, and that we are approved by Him, we do not have to be in control or be the life of the party to feel secure. Nor, do we need the say-so of others since we have the approval of God, the Creator of the universe. Love is the security we have in Christ that needs nothing else for fulfillment (Proverbs 13:10; 16:18; Matthew 7:5; 1 Corinthians 12:25-25; Ephesians 3:18-19; 1 John 1:6-7).
Authentic Love does not strut around!
Q: Why does real love not have a need to empress?
When God tells us that love is not proud, He means we are not to have inflated ideas about our significance, or ourselves. Being vainglorious is having a conceited mindset-the quintessential thing that God hates the most-so we must not be that way-period! Christ means, we must be willing to be in relationships with all kinds of people, especially those outside our perceived likeness, such as background, and/or race. We must not let our fears hold us back from one of life's most precious gifts, friendship. Not being proud means that when we make a mistake, we can own up to it, and we can admit that we are wrong. We can go to our spouse with open hands and seek forgiveness. Pride will create contempt, arguments, misunderstandings, resentment, loss of community, and indifference. Because God loves us, He is on our side, and wants us to grow and mature in His love. We do not have to have an inflated ego about the perceived importance of ourselves. We need to seek others first and their well-being, not our arrogance and egocentric mentality (Job 41:34; 2 Chronicles 26:16; 32:26; Psalm 10:4-5; 18:27; 31:18; 56:2; 59:12; 62:10; 73:6-12;
101:5; 131:1; 6:17; Proverbs 8:13; 11:2; 13:10; 16:18; 21:4; 24; 29:23; 30:13;
Isaiah 2:11-21; 13:19; 16: 6; 23:9; Ezek. 28:2; Obadiah 1:3; 1 Corinthians 1:6; 2 Corinthians 5:12; 7:4; Galatians 6:4; --and these are just a few!). Love lifts up God, not us.
Authentic Love does not puff up the giver, or parade itself!
Q: Why does real love and pride unable to occupy the same room?
When God tells us that love is not rude, He means that we must treat others with the respect and dignity that we would like in return. We are not to lack concentration to courtesy for people and property. We are to strive to have good manners, and model distinction and admiration for others. We are to treat our friends, and especially our spouse, with the utmost dignity and respect. Because God loves us, He sent His Son to cover us, and protect us from His wrath. Therefore, when we make everyday mistakes-or even the big mistakes-lightening bolts do not zap us. Because we are loved by Christ, we are not consumed by God's wrath, as we deserve. So, in return, we should not go around with pride or commencing judging, zapping others with evil looks, spitefulness, or condescending comments, thinking that we are "high and mighty," and better than everyone else. Never think of yourself as the capstone or the most important piece of the puzzle, because you are not. We should be grateful that God chooses to use us. Our goal is to worship Christ with passion and distinction. In so doing, we are to work together and not be little dictators, especially in our relationships. Love cannot be in the same room with pride or apathy (1 Corinthians 11:18-22; Philippians 2:1-5).
Authentic Love does not force itself!
Q: Why does real love not force itself?
When God tells us that love is not self-seeking, He means that we are to never take advantage of others. We are to place others first, and ourselves after that. We are to be considerate, appreciative, and never critical. We are never to plot evil, or allow insults to get to us. We are to give allowances for the shortcomings of others. Our call is to lift one another up, and be dignified, having good conduct, yet never dictating to one another our standards, or demand or manipulate others to get our way. Rather, we are to model Christ-like character so it is contagious and inviting. Because God loves us so much, He never had a self-seeking attitude. If He had, He would never have sent His Son on our behalf. Every Christian must respect the rights and dignity of other people, and never force our will and thoughtless behaviors onto others. We cannot force expectations or demands to our friends, or our spouse. We need to be happy when others around us experience success and growth, and never be jealous. Love is the seeking of His truth, and finding a way to bring it to others (Proverbs 10:12).
Authentic Love does not have a "me first" attitude!
Q: Why does real love not take advantage of others?
When God tells us that love is not easily angered, He means just that. We are not to be touchy, easily provoked, fretful, resentful, suspicious or oversensitive with our feelings. We are to be very slow to get angry, and we are not to let little things cause us to "fly off the handle." Because God loves us so much, He did not allow His anger to wipe us out of existence when we so much deserved it. Instead, He allowed His drama of redemption to unfold throughout history, climaxing with the Person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ. We need to try to understand other people, and place ourselves in the shoes of another, respectfully. We need to listen, and not allow our hostile feelings to get the best of us. We are not to let the sun set before we extinguish our anger with our spouse. Since God is patiently working in us, we should reciprocate with the understanding of the debt we owe to God and the unfathomable love and concern He has for us. Love put us in another's shoes (Proverbs 12:16; Ecclesiastes 7:9; Matthew 5:22; Romans 12:19; Ephesians 4:26-18; James 1:19-21).
Authentic Love is not touchy or resentful, and does not "fly off the handle!"
Q: Why does real love not anger easily?
When God tells us that love keeps no record of wrongs, He means we do not go around with a list, writing down the faults of one another. Rather, we are to look for the positive things that happen in our relationships, and to affirm others. We are to seek reconciliation and forgiveness, never strife or dissention. We should not go around with a negative attitude, but, rather, with one that is positive, enthusiastic, and equipping to God's people. We are not to keep track of the mistreatments we may receive from friends or our spouse. Because God loves us so much, He does not keep a scorecard of our sins as long as we honestly repent of them. We do not need to reflect or gossip about the flaws of other people in order to elevate ourselves. God refuses to do that to us. Love lets things such as resentment and anger go, so they do not build up and destroy us and our relationships (Matthew 18:21-35; Mark 11:25; Hebrews 13:21-21).
Authentic Love does not keep a scorecard!
Q: Why does real love not keep score?
When God tells us that love does not delight in evil, He means we should not enjoy it when bad things happen to others. When others plead or grovel, we should feel their plight and act upon it. We not only do not need to enjoy doing bad things to each other, but we must refuse to allow evil to happen. We should feel badly when we see others being hurt. Compassion is one of God's great characteristics, and we should strive to our fullest to model it to one another. We must be filled with compassion in all of our relationships, especially those with our family and spouse. We are to refuse to think evil, or let any harm come to them, by word, or deed. Because God loves us so much, He is deeply grieved when we do not follow His example and His will. We are not to put others down in order to make us feel good about ourselves. Love is hurt even when an enemy is down (Isaiah 40:11; Matthew 9:36; 18:12-13; 23:37; Mark 1:41; Hebrews 4:15; 5:2).
Authentic Love does not delight in evil!
Q: Why does real love not delight in evil?
When God tells us that love rejoices in truth, He means when we see injustice corrected, and people treating others with respect, kindness, and honesty, we should feel wonderful. Because God loves us so much, we should live our lives so that we reflect a God of truth and justice. Thus, we should find delight when we see justice being played out in others. As Christians, we should get excited when justice prevails, and we should be mad enough to do something when injustice occurs, and we see the rights of others being violated. We should realize how much God rejoices when we personally stand up to the pressures of life, and prevail with integrity and truth. We should stand up, and affirm and support our friends and spouse, never lie to them, or manipulate situations. God's Word is His love and truth. When we get into it and live it, we are showing Christ the Love He deserves (Romans 12:10; 1 Peter 2:17; James 2:1-9).
Authentic Love takes pleasure in truth!
Q: Why does real love rejoice in truth?
When God tells us that love always protects, He means we should allow love and trust to endure. We are to accept and stand with others, believing in the best in others. We can swallow the bitterness that some relationships can bring us by coating them with the sugar of love. With this kind of love, we can feel protected, and, in return, protect those around us. This does not mean we become security guards; rather, it means our actions and attitudes should be such that they project protection, and not destruction. Because God loves us so much, He does not forsake us, even though others may do so. People will always disappoint us, and we will always be disappointing to those around us, but God will never disappoint us. Love perseveres, and is an easier route than running off and abandoning relationships to which we have made a commitment. We need to be able to protect our friends and spouse, and realize that even though they will disappoint us, we should deal with it using the right, encouraging attitude. We should realize how much God is grieved when we fail to walk in His path for our lives, and when we do not trust His protection. Love is always on the lookout for the best interests and protection of others, where gossip and strife cannot function (Isaiah 42:2-3; Matthew 11:28-30; John 14-15; 2 Corinthians 1:3-7; 7:6-7).
Authentic Love has staying power!
Q: Why does real love protect others?
When God tells us that love always hopes, then we should be assured He will give us a future. We should be confident that when things are going bad, they will always get better, and that there is hope because our circumstances will always change. We should never lose hope. Because God loves us so much, He always has hope for us. God is patiently working in us, and when we understand what God has truly done for us, then, we should have as much hope as we could ever need. We need to see the potential, and how we can bring our relationship with our spouse to a deeper level of love and commitment. Love will see the potential in other people, what they can accomplish and become, and not hold them back out of our jealously (Psalm 31:24; 33:22; 71:14; Jeremiah; Romans 12:12; Hebrews 6:11-12; 18-20; 17:7).
Authentic Love always is enduring and points to the future!
Q: Why does real love have hope?
When God tells us that love always perseveres, He means that real love has staying power; it will last, and not fade nor weaken. Thus, we can have confidence in God, and others, to hang in there and keep going strong, especially when things get tough. Because God loves us so much, He will stand with us, and even carry us through our difficulties and upsets. Even when we feel we have reached rock bottom and have no hope, when we are filled with despair, God is carrying us because He loves us. Real love will never fade or become obsolete. It will remain standing when all else has gone to ruin. This love will destroy rumors, and gossip, and cause us to believe the best about one another until proven otherwise-by facts. We will be able to maintain our relationships with friends, and with our spouse, and not give up in times of dire stress and confusion. Love carries us to the ultimate hope, and points us to the cross, and the eternity to come. This love will show us that what we do and learn here on earth will echo for eternity (Psalm 86:12; Matthew 5:16; John 13:34-38 Romans 5:5; 15:7; 1 John 4:7-12).
Authentic Love refuses to quit!
Q: Why does real love never quit?
God's love must be our model for life
Richard Joseph Krejcir © 1994, 2002 Into Thy Word Ministries www.intothyword.org