Messages By Ovid Need

02/12/91 AM

Love 3 - 1 Corinthians 13:4

    We are taking our time going through these 15 points which Paul uses to define the proper attitudes which are to be in the actions required by the law of God one toward another.

    As we mentioned the first time, I feel that points 3, 4 and 5, need to be taken together.


V. 4

I. The first point was LONG SUFFERING, able to hold our tongue and temper.

II. The second point is kindness and mild one toward another. This is especially required toward the household of faith.


    Now for the next three.

    I am reminded of the preacher who preached on John 3:16 for many services in a row. Finally someone questioned him on it, "Why do you keep preaching on that one text?" The answer: "When folks start doing that, we will move on."

    Because of the extreme danger which I am going to mention in these three points, more than is present in the rest of the things mentioned here, let me mention again today of something that we need to be reminded of every time we hear the preaching of the word of God.

    There will be some in here today that will say to themselves and maybe even express this on the outside, "Boy, he is hitting the nail right on the head. I sure hope that so and so gets the idea. This is for them."

    Again, let me be as blunt as I can be. If that is your thought as we go through these three points, then you are the one that they directed to. If after the service our spouse or someone else says to us, "Boy, so and so needed that. I hope they listened." We need to reply, "It was for you."

    Pride feels that the preaching of the word of God is for someone else at the exclusion of ourselves. The person who will not first apply the taught word to their self before even considering it for someone else, is the person that Paul is referring to in this passage with these three things.

    No doubt this is why Paul named names when he wrote strong passages. There could be no doubt as to who the guilty party was. It would spare us much confusion today.

    Some might say, "Why are you recovering something that you have already covered?" To which I reply, "Because we need it!"


    Now, for these three points. (And the third one in this study of love.)


III. envieth not.

    As we mentioned, this is the feeling of displeasure produced by seeing or hearing of the success or prosperity of others. It speaks of a zeal or desire against any person. In other word, LOVE does not feel bad about the happiness or success of another. Rather it delights in their welfare and success; the increase of their abilities, rank or reputation. LOVE delights in their welfare, their health, wealth, comforts. LOVE rejoices when others prosper.

    This envy referred to by the Apostle here includes jealously also. He is hitting two birds at once. Let me give a reference again without looking at it.

    James 4:5 tells us that the Spirit which God caused to dwell in us manifests itself with humility. We are not to even consider the spirit which rises up in envy as having anything to do with the Lord.

    In other words, it is not the Holy Spirit that comes to us and says, "Boy, they sure needed that," without first speaking to our heart.

    Envy feels displeasure at the success and prosperity of others and seeks to deprive them.

    Envy feels displeasure at the activities of others which is disapproved of by the one harboring this envy.

    Envy secretly hopes that they fail or lose all they have.

    Envy secretly hopes and looks forward to the day that they get what we feel is coming to the one that we are envious of.


    Also, as we mentioned, this envy is usually directed toward someone in our status of life. In other words, I am not envious over Paul's O's success in his insurance business, because that is not my thing. But I sure can be envious toward another pastor or teacher or christian writer.

    Thus, we see that we are usually envious toward someone who has obtained to something that we want or we feel is a threat to what we now have or desire to have.

    Let me give these illustrations again because the next two points build on these:

    It seems like most folks I know have a desire to lose weight, which includes my 14 year old daughter. If my goal is to be slender, then I would be very inclined to be envious of one who is already slender. That desire to be slender would press me to look with envy at models who are slender or others who do not have a weight problem.


    If the goal of a woman is to be glamorous, she will envy women who she considers glamorous.

    The young single people! (( hope this is restricted to these young single kids, but it may not be. We all know of married people with this same goal.) If their goal is to have the attention of the opposite sex, they will be envious of others who do have that attention. This can lead to compromise of their testimony in the way they dress, talk or act in order to get that attention.

    We mentioned this WN, these people will use their bodies to obtain that which they are envious of. this used to be restricted pretty much to women, but today men can be easily included in this.

    If my goal is to have a nice house some day, I will be easy prey to envy of someone who does have a nice house - car- or whatever.

    Envy works to take over that area that we have set up as our goal. Anytime we get our eyes off of the goal which has been set before us, Christ, Jesus, we are extremely susceptible to envy.

    As a pastor, if I allow a goal of building a big church to dominate my thoughts, I will end up envying others who have big churches. If I allow the desire to speak to groups of other pastors, I will end up envying others who do have that honor.

    As someone who likes to write, if I allow a goal of getting something published dominate my thought, I will end up envying others who do get material published.

    Happiness and contentment which will allow us to love and serve others without envy and jealousy is a product of a proper relationship with the Lord, contentment in Him and keeping our eyes on what He has for us to do. Total contentment will only come when we are totality like Him, not when we obtain to some point here in this life.

    Contentment will come only from loving His law, Psalms 119:165 Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.

    Are we offended, envious over something or someone? Then God says that we do not love His law.

    Only when we are at peace with Him can we love one another as we are told to do here in I Cor. 13.

    Which brings us to the next point and #4 in this passage:




    This speaks of bragging and boasting. This is the only palace that this word is used in the NT and it follows envieth not, and is followed by is not puffed up. With this Paul is dealing with the problem presented in Chapter 1 and the boasting over worldly wisdom, abilities and attainments.

    I think that we should note that this 'bragging' or 'showing off' is not pretending to have something which we do not have. It is a realization of what we do have in gifts and abilities, then showing them off, or bragging about them. What do we say to ourselves and maybe even to others? "Not bragging, just the facts," and with this we excuse our wickedness in this area.

    Vaunting is being sure that everyone knows abut what we have obtained to, how hard we are working or what we are doing for the Lord.

    Because of the danger in these three points which is ever present in the human heart, again let me mention this. The person who says in their heart, "That sure sounds like So-and-So. I hope they get this," without considering it for themselves, are the very ones who Paul is directing this to. They have vaunted themselves above So-and-So who they hope gets the message. In fact, they have fallen victim to all three of these evil passions.

    It does no good to feed and cloth the needy if we are going to tell the world about what we are doing. And many want to be sure that as many as possible know about all their good activities.

    We all know folks who may work long hard hours at a particular job with a particular talent, then they want to be sure everyone knows about it. That is vaunting, or boasting and makes any profession of love- nothing, vs. 3.

    I am sure that most of you have found over the years that the person who is doing the most boasting is usually doing the least amount of work. This is not always true, but it is more often than not. I have found this to be the general rule among pastors.

    Our Lord addressed this very thing in Matt. 6:1-6. (L.U.)


    The quieter we are about what we are doing, the better off we are. Notice what our Lord called those who wanted everyone to know what they were doing - hypocrites. Now, I realize that the context is giving to the poor, but as we consider Paul's word if I Cor. 13, we see that we are not to boast about our talents and abilities nor about how hard we might work in using them.

    LOVE just quietly goes about using our God-given abilities for the benefit of those to whom we have the opportunity. I would love to share with you what the Lord is doing through us here, but I cannot bring myself to do it because of this principle. I do share some on an individual basis or on WN.


    Look at what boasting does:

A. It depresses others who might not be able to do what we are boasting about and have abilities in.

B. It exalts self.

LOVE quietly goes about using its God-given gifts for the benefit of others and for the advancement of the kingdom of God.


    Now for our third point and the fifth in this passage:


V. is not puffed up.

    When I came across this definition, I was surprised because I was not looking for this at all. It means to blow, to pant; then to inflate with pride, vanity. Albert Barnes, whose works were first published in 1832, adds to this - self-esteem.

    This word is almost identical to the preceding word - vaunteth, with a major difference. The previous word primarily means to tell others about how good we are doing, or how much we are doing. But this word is just what it say, puffed up. This speaks of an inner feeling of superiority, self-esteem, not really expressed outwardly.


    Now, I realize what we are about to say is strong, but I need it, and so do you.

    And again, the ones who might say in their heart, "So and So sure needs this. I hope they get it." Without first searching and applying this to their own heart, are the very ones who are puffed up. Paul is letting the air out of them as he points out that their words of love are nothing if these attitudes are hidden in the heart.

    This feeling of superiority, this self-esteem permits the outside to appear holy, while on the inside we are controlled by sin. Again, it does no good to feed and cloth the needy if we are going to get puffed up over it and think to ourselves, "Look at how much better I am than other because I have done these good deeds."

    But, no matter how hard the person may try, this inner attitude will come out in subtle hints and words. All we need to do is listen to people talk, and it isn't long until we hear them compare themselves with another in a way that throws a bad light on that other person.

    I think that a good practical illustration of this that we can easily identify with, might be in the area of housekeeping, but this goes into everything.

    There are some women who have an ability with a broom that is out of this world. They make a trip through the house and the house is spotless. There will not be a speck of anything anywhere, dust dirt or anything out of place. Their home always looks like n one lives there, although they have four children at home.

    On the other end, there are others who can go through their house three times a day, and it is still a mess. Not only does it look like someone lives there, it looks like an army camped there, and only the two live there.

    Now what crops up in the heart of the immaculate house keeper? They are easy pray for this very thing that Paul is warning about, puffed up. In other words, the first lady tells the second that she loves her, but when she sees her ability with her house, the first has a feeling of being exalted over the one who is not as organized.

    She has a feeling of self-esteem because she is better able to keep her house than the other. She esteems herself better than the other because of her God-given ability which she did nothing to receive.

    Now, this is just a simple illustration, but it goes into every are of life.


    I just confess that I have a problem with this.

    When I was working in construction I go to the place that I could cut a finished grade for a street or sidewalk to within a tenth of a foot, and never get out of the dozer seat. In fact, the boss had me come in one Saturday to finish-grade for a subcontractor who was putting in the sidewalks. I used the dozer which was assigned to me and all they had to do after I finished was rake it out to put in their forms for the concrete.

    When I saw other operators on the job who could not do that, I felt the same way about them as you might feel about someone who cannot do as good as you can in an area in which you excel.

    And that problem did not die when the Lord moved me out of construction or when I got saved. I see pastors who are unable to develop the word of God, and I am extremely tempted to esteem myself as better than they, even though whatever I might have I received from God. The Lord is the one who makes us differ one from another.

    Paul says that this feeling makes all of our words of love - NOTHING.

    He deals with this problem many times and in many different ways in these two letters to the Corinthians. One of the better known passages is I Corinthians 4:6, 7 (L.U.). Note that v. 6 is talking about this very thing. The person is puffed up because they excel in an area that another may not do very well in at all.


    Then in his letter to the Philippians he gives the answer to the problem, Ph. 2:1-4 (L.U.).

    Back to our housekeeping illustration. That person who keeps a spotless house is to esteem the one who does not do as good, Better than themselves. I am to esteem that pastor who does not have my ability with the word of god, better than myself.

    This seems silly to the natural man, but this is the word of god.

    So what do we do to keep from having to face up to this wickedness? We tell ourselves, "I haven't told them that I love them. In fact, I do not speak to them, because, in my judgment, they don't deserve to be spoken to. (We might as well go ahead and say, "They are not as good as I am," as we place them on a lower level than ourselves. But we won't say that. That would make it too obvious.)

    "Therefore, my words are not empty." Well, there is a problem here in that we are commanded to love one another. Therefore, this emotion of esteeming ourselves better than others which might even prevent our speaking to that person we look down on, violates this command. We are hypocrites in the sight of God.

    "But," I hear people say, "I am just facing up to the truth. Therefore it is not self-esteem, pride or vaunting over that other person. It is just a realization of the truth. After all, aren't we told to speak the truth?"

    I will not take the time today to develop this, but I must say that the word of God clearly teaches that, "The person who says this is excusing their own sin of self-esteem. They are so proud and lifted up that they will not admit the problem they have." They are caught in the trap and will not admit it. But are easy to spot as they exalt themselves, considering themselves better as they sit in judgment over the actions and attitudes of others. If that person doesn't measure up to their standard, watch out! And if someone does compliment us in that area that God has allowed us to excel in, we must immediately give Him the glory.


    In closing this morning, let me go back to our illustrations from under envy.

    If my goal is to be slender, then I would be very inclined to be envious of one who is slender.

    Vaunting is to make sure everyone knows about how slim I am, by words or deeds. Maybe not in outright words, but he hints would be there.

    Puffed up would be a feeling of exaltation because I am slimmer than that person, without letting anyone know. I esteem myself better than them because I am able to do something they cannot.

    If the goal of a woman is to be glamorous, she will envy women who are glamorous.

    Vaunting would be to be sure that everyone knows about that glamour by words or deeds.

    Puffed up would be a feeling of exaltation because they consider themselves more glamorous without letting anyone know.


    The young people (And again, I hope this is restricted to singles, but it may not be.) If their goal is to have the attention of the opposite sex, they will be envious of others who do have that attention.

    Vaunting would be to be sure that everyone knows about that glamour by words or deeds.

    Puffed up would be a feeling of exaltation because they consider themselves more glamorous without letting anyone know.


    The young people (And again, I hope this is restricted to singles, but it may not be.) If their goal is to have the attention of the opposite sex, they will be envious of others who do have that attention.

    Vaunting to be sure that everyone knows about the attention.

    Puffed up would be a feeling of exaltation because they do have the attention without letting anyone know.


    If my goal is to have a nice house some day, I will be envious of someone who does have a nice house -car- or whatever.

    Vaunting is to be sure that everyone knows that I have a better car, whether through words or actions. In the 60s this involved hitting the drive-in restraints every night, and all night on Friday and Saturday with the engine idling just right, ruff. Back in the days you could order a race car from the dealer or build one up easily, running ruff was a sign that you had something.

    Puffed up is the feeling of exaltation because we do have something better, without letting it show. This would keep the engine quiet, but down deep we knew the truth.

    Puffed up is the feeling of exaltation because we do have something better, without letting it show. This would keep the engine quiet, but down deep we know the truth.


    Puffed up will take over anytime we lose sight of our goal to be like Christ and forget that we are only His servants. As we saw, Paul mentioned this problem of being puffed up in I Corinthians 4:6-7 where he points out the foolishness of this inner feeling of superiority because of what we have done or are doing.


    Maybe we have an unusual gift or ability that the Lord has permitted us to excel in. Love keeps quiet and goes on about its business. If He should allow us to excel in that area that He has given to us, we still realize that we are nothing but unprofitable servants of the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Puffed up is the feeling of self-importance as it swells in the mind and even in the emotions.


    What is the cure?

Luke 17:10 So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do. Puffed up says that we are going beyond what we should be doing anyway, or that we have something that we got ourselves. And I do not think any of us can honestly say that.

    We are commanded by our Lord to have love one for another. We are covenant-breaking, lawless sinners when we get puffed up against a fellow believer. The love that we are commanded to have is not puffed up in any way.

    We have spent quite a bit of time on these three points. No doubt these are the most dangerous of all. We will close for now with 10 left to go.

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