Hello and welcome to this teaching from Calvary Albuquerque. We're excited to hear from our special guest speaker Pastor Nate Heitzig who serves as Executive Creative Administrator at Calvary Albuquerque. Our prayer is that this message strengthens your relationship with the Lord. If it does, we'd love to hear about it. Email us at email@example.com. And if you'd like to support this ministry financially, you can give online securely at calvaryabq.org/giving. We invite you to open your Bibles to First Corinthians, chapter 13, as Nate begins the message "Uprising of Love."
Nate Heitzig: Hey, turn in your Bibles to First Corinthians, chapter 13, we're going to be in verses 4 through 7 this morning for a message I've titled "Uprising of Love." But right now let's open up in a word of prayer. Lord God, we come before you right now, Lord, with excitement, with joy, Lord, joy for the opportunity that we have to hear from your Word. And, Lord, we believe and we know that your Word is living, sharper than any two-edged sword, and that it reaches deep into our hearts and it changes us from the inside out. And so, God, this morning we ask to be changed. We want to leave here with a greater and deeper love for people than when we came. And, God, I pray that you would help us to have the kind of love that you have, in Jesus' name we pray, amen.
Hey, before we dive into our message, I want to ask you a question that pertains to what we're talking about today. And the question is this: How do I genuinely love people that I don't genuinely love? That's a serious question. How do we genuinely love people that we don't genuinely love? Because, let's be honest, there's people in our lives that we have a hard time loving, aren't there? There's people that we have a difficult time loving, that we have a difficult time showing love to, and yet we are called to genuinely love people. Amen? That was pathetic. Come on. [laughter] We're called to love people. Amen? We're called to love people. We're called to show love to people, and yet there are people that it is hard to love. I think even more so there's people who are hard to like, aren't there?
There's people who it's difficult to show love to, difficult to show grace to. There's people that aggravate you. There's people who frustrate you. There's people who get on your nerves. There's people who take advantage of you. There's people that live lives that you don't agree with. It's really hard to love and even like people, and yet we're called to love them. So the question we're going to ask today and the question we're going to answer today is: How do we genuinely love people that we don't genuinely love? You know, it seems like in our culture today every group has some kind of a revolution or an uprising. There's always a new cause. There's always something new to support, something new to promote. And you see this on Twitter, on Instagram all the time.
There's the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. There's the "post this to ten of your friends" and you're going to have a good day. There's a million different causes, a million different revolutions that are happening in our culture. And in generally each group has a day of awareness, a day to bring awareness to their cause. The 99 percent occupied Wall Street. The LGBT community has their "Gay Pride Days" and even some theme parks around the country have "Gay Days." In 2013 thousands of people marched with their hands in the air for Trayvon Martin. Even the Oscars were about causes this year? Who watched the Academy Awards this year? Oh, my gosh, right? Bleeding hearts of humanity unite. It was like one cause after the next.
I was watching it and I was, like, am I watching a presidential State of the Union address or am I watching an awards show? I mean, seriously, what does some of these causes have to do with a Birdman, honestly? I was watching this and I was baffled. And I actually read one news article, NBC wrote this, they said, "Academy Awards Winners: Speeches Were All About Causes." And it said, "Everybody with a statue had a cause. Over and over the winners of the Academy Awards used their acceptance speeches to call attention to social injustice, mental health, and political debates." And as I was watching it, I got to a point where was I was like, "Dude, just take the statue and say thank you. You're not running for presidency, you're accepting an award."
But we live in a world that loves to make a difference. We love causes. And now that we live in the social media world, we have this new phenomenon known as slacktivism. Who's ever heard of that, slacktivism? Slacktivism basically enables people to feel like they're making a difference without ever doing anything to make a difference. They can sit at home and post about making a difference without having to actually do anything about it. And every celebrity is a part of some charity, right? Every celebrity wants to start a charity. That's the new thing in Hollywood. It's, like, gotta have a Rolex, a Bentley, and you have to start a charity, so it makes you popular. And so I did a little research and I found some popular charities that celebrities are a part of or started.
And here's a few of them: Alec Baldwin, Pamela Anderson, Pink, and Woody Harrelson are People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Jennifer Lopez, Kelly Clarkson and Nicole Kidman started and stand for March of the Dimes. Mariah Carey is behind the Fresh Air Fund. Muhammad Ali founded Celebrity Fight Night Foundation, as if they really need encouragement to do that. Bono and Nicolas Cage are big advocates of Amnesty International. Chuck Norris founded Kickstart for Kids, and there is a Chuck Norris joke somewhere in there, but I'm not going to touch it 'cause it involves kicking children. [laughter] And, finally, Lance Armstrong, of course, founded Livestrong, which really should have been called "live stronger with steroids." [laughter]
The world's obsessed with causes, obsessed with uprisings, with revolutions. And sometimes as Christians I think that we have a tendency to do the same. Let me ask you this: Should we as the church focus on bringing about social change? Should our focus be on marches, on boycotts, and on protests, or should it be on something more? We live in a day and age where people say, "Hey, if you change society, people will change as well. If you change the political structure, people will change. If you change the economic structure, if we can get rid of poverty, if we can get rid of hunger, people will change. If you can change society, you can change people." But Jesus, in essence, says something different. He says, "If you can change people, society will get better."
Jesus says, as we saw last week, that it starts in the heart. Don't get the cart before the horse. Stop trying to change society and start changing people. It starts with us. It starts with us. It starts with our love. If we change, if our hearts change, and if we in turn love people, and see their lives change, then society will get better. Stop trying to address the symptom and address the real issue. Now, at times we speak up and we make a difference and that's good. I'm not saying that we shouldn't do everything we can to protect the innocent, to stand for righteousness. That is good, and we should always be willing to stand for righteousness, to voice what is right, to fight against what is wrong.
But my question for you is this: Has your attention to what is momentarily important diminished your passion for what is monumentally important? Has your attention to what is momentarily important---what's in the news, what cause, what thing it is that people want you to be concerned about. Has your attention to what is momentarily important diminished your passion for what is monumentally important, to see lives changed, to see lives transformed? It's easy, very easy for us as Christians to let the temporal get in the way of the eternal, and we should never let that happen within our Christian lives. Are we more inclined to protest than we are to pray? Are we more interested in who is in the White House than who is here in God's house?
Are we more interested in boycotts than we are in the salvation of family and friends? Have we lost our first love? God's people are called out of this world system. Jesus said, "They are not of this world, just as I am not of this world." Now, does that mean that we are to isolate ourselves from this world that we are to shun the world that we are to not love the world? No. I believe the opposite is true. I believe that we are called out from doing things the way the world does. We're not called out from loving the world, but we're called out from doing things the way that they do it. Jesus loved those the world hated. Jesus touched those the world shunned. Jesus went to those the world avoided, including those the religious system rejected. He loved those. He went to those. He touched those.
We are called out from operating as the world does, including the way the world gets things done. The way to get things done isn't necessarily through a new cause, isn't through a new structure, a new world order. The way to do it isn't by starting a new uprising or a new revolution. Instead of focusing on an uprising of politics, an uprising of Christian rights, let's focus on starting an uprising of love. And let's join this uprising, and let's not be slacktivists, let's be activists. Let's get involved. Let's do something, instead of just say something. Anyone can say something, but it takes guts to do something. It takes guts to go above and beyond just hearing something. It takes guts to live something. And I believe God has called us to do that. It's one thing to say, "I love you," it's another thing to show someone that you love them. Amen?
Those of you who are married know this very, very well. It's one thing to tell your spouse, "I love you," it's another thing to show them "I love you." Love goes a lot deeper than words. Love needs to mean something within our lives. And attending church is not a spectator sport. If there is one thing that should clearly characterize the church, it is this---love. Jesus said, "By this all will know you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." And that describes love that is seen. He says, "The world will know you are my disciples by your love for one another." The world can't know unless they see. The world can't know unless they're shown. And so if the world is to know that we are disciples, if the world is to know that we are Christians, then we've got to start showing love.
It can't just be something we hear about in church. It can't just be something we wear Christian T-shirts about, that we sing songs about, that we wear a "what would Jesus do?" bracelet about. It can't just be something that we idealize and wish and dream of. It's got to be something we show. It's got to be something we live. The question is, are you? Is it a part of your life? Let's read First Corinthians, chapter 13, starting in verse 4. It says, "Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, it is not puffed up; love does not behave rudely, it does not seek its own, it is not provoked, it thinks no evil; love does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things."
We're going to see two things this morning on this uprising of love: number one, we're going to see what it is; and, number two, we're going to see what it isn't. First let's look at this: What it is. Here in this passage in First Corinthians 13 we have the most comprehensive description of love in the entire Scripture. And what's important about it is it doesn't focus on what love is so much as on what love does, on what love does and on what love doesn't do. See, love's more than an idea. Love's more than a topic that's sung about in Beatle's songs. Love is more than a warm and cuddly feeling you get when you see somebody that you have affection for. Love's more than an idea and love is something that does. Love is active, not abstract. Love doesn't just talk, it walks.
Love is fully love only when it acts, only when it acts. Love doesn't just make you feel something, love makes you do something, 'cause love is a verb. It's a verb. If all your love does is make you feel sorry for people, if all your love does is make you feel bad about people, if all your love does is make you feel things but it never makes you do anything, then it's not really worth much. It doesn't really affect much. Again, let's relay this into a relationship. If you're in a relationship with somebody, you're married or you're dating, it's one thing the wake up every day and say, "Hey, I love you." But if you live your life not showing any form of love, not ever having any practical outworkings of love, it doesn't mean much if all you do is say it, does it?
Now take the reverse---if you show love, if you wake up every day and you seek to find ways to show your love for the other person, and you seek to serve them, you seek to put them above yourself, you look for the practical outworkings of love, then when you say "I love you," it means a lot more, doesn't it? This is the part when all the husbands and wives are nudging each other. [laughter] Love means a lot more when it's shown than when it's said. We need to demonstrate our love. First John 3:18 says, "My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but indeed and in truth." Let's not just talk about it; let's show it. Our loves should show this kind of love---I'm sorry, our lives should show this kind of love. When we look in the mirror of truth, we should see love.
As we read this passage in First Corinthians 13, we should see ourselves in this passage. We should relate to this passage. Do we? As you read this passage, do you see yourself? Do you see your character traits within this passage? I want you to do something really quick. I want you to read this passage again with me and I want you to replace the word "love" with your name, and let's see how we measure up. And I'm going to do it with you, because I'm in the same boat. Nate suffers long and is kind---to most people, unless he's had a rough day. [laughter] Nate does not envy---unless he sees something really cool. Nate does not parade himself and is not puffed up---unless he really did a good job. Nate does not behave rudely, does not seek his own, is not provoked, and he thinks no evil---except about really bad people. [laughter]
Nate does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in truth. Nate bears all things, he believes all things, he hopes all things, he endures all things---unless he's had a really rough day. I don't know about you, but I read that list, I look at myself in light of that, and I realize I've got a lot of work to do. I realize there's a lot of room for growth in my life. There's a lot of opportunity for me to focus on how to be a better Christian, for me to focus on how to display love better. And I also realize something else---there is only one name that can take love's place; and that is, the name of Jesus Christ. There is only one name that can be substituted for "love"; and that is, the name at which every knee will bow and every tongue will confess, Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. That is the only name that can be substituted for love. There is no other.
And, in essence, First Corinthians 13 is a portrait of Jesus Christ. But, Christian, here's the good news. It's not a cop-out for you. It doesn't mean, "Okay, I could never show that kind of love, so I'll just leave that to Jesus. He's the one who's supposed to do that." No. That's not the case. His love can be your love if you let it. His love can be your love if you let it. Even on our greatest day our love alone cannot atone, but his love is enough on its own. Even on our greatest day when we think we're really good, when we think we're really righteous, when we think we've got it all together, our love alone cannot atone. As the prophet said, "Our righteousness is like filthy rags." It doesn't amount to much. Our love on its own cannot atone, but his love is enough to cover a multitude of sins.
His love is enough to infiltrate the hearts of every single one of us and let his love be shown through us. At the same time the goal of the Christian is to be conformed into the image of his likeness. Again, his love can be your love if you let it. Our goal should be to demonstrate this kind of love. Our goal should be to wake up every day and say, "How can I show this kind of love a little more," not cop out and say, "There's no way I can do it." But each day wake up and say, "How can I demonstrate this love to the people within my life? Not just the people I like, not just the people I get along with, but the people who drive me nuts, the people who don't like me, the people who are mean to people, the people who hurt me, the people who take advantage of me. How can I show this love to them?"
Let's look at this in verse 4 and see how we can have this love. Verse 4 says, "Love is longsuffering," or another translation says, "love is patient" or "long-tempered." This word is very common in the New Testament and it's almost always used exclusively towards being patient with people rather than being patient with circumstances or events. Okay, this isn't the kind of patience that perseveres through a long line at Disneyland. This is the kind of patience that perseveres through the people that are in the line at Disneyland with you; the screaming kids, the nagging spouse, the angry people who cut you off in the front of the line, the people who are hitting you in your legs with strollers. This is the patience with people, not the patience with circumstances.
And here's the idea: love's patience is the ability to be inconvenienced or taken advantage of by a person over and over again. Love's patience is the ability to be inconvenienced or taken advantage of. Do you have someone in your life that takes advantage of you all the time, they're always taking advantage of your grace, taking advantage of your love, taking advantage of your hospitality, taking advantage of your generosity? Do you have someone in your life you have a hard time being patient with? Look, it's easy to love those who love you. It's easy to be patient with those who don't require much patience. It's easy to be longsuffering with those who don't really make you suffer. But what about those in your life who hurt you?
What about those in your life who make you suffer, those in your life who it seems like all they're ever doing is saying something that jabs you, something that pains you, something that hurts you? Maybe it's your son or your daughter and you feel like the only time they call is when they need something and they need money, they need to be bailed out of a situation. You feel like they're always falling back into sin, and you have such a hard time loving them. You have such a hard time being patient with them. It's easy for you to write them off, but God has called you to be longsuffering and love them. Maybe it's your husband or your wife, and you feel like they never show you the practical outworkings of love. They're never showing you that they genuinely care about you, that they genuinely love you.
Instead all they're ever doing is pointing out the flaws in you. They're not encouraging you. They are not exhorting you. They're only picking you apart. Maybe you feel like it's your boss: that your boss is always out to get you; that he doesn't want to see the best in your life, but he wants to see the worst; that he's giving you unfair tasks. Maybe it's your friend that you've had since you were a kid, and it seems like anytime he's in trouble, they always end up in your front doorstep, and you just wish that they'd get it together. Who is it in your life that you have a hard time being patient with? Who is it in your life that constantly takes advantage of you over and over and over? Your call is to love them again and again and again, not to stop, not to quit, not to throw in the towel, but to keep on loving.
Stephen's last words were those of patient forgiveness. In Acts, chapter 7, he said, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." Is that your response when someone sins against you? It's not my response. My response probably more frequently is, "Lord, enact vengeance upon them." Right? If someone hurts you, you're like, "Lord, I just wish that you'd take care of them, just---I trust you, so just take 'em out, [laughter] just really knock 'em upside the head, really make them feel bad." I was driving, I saw a bumper sticker, it said, "Don't get mad, get even." I think that's our response sometimes; we want to get even. If they hurt us, we want to hurt them. If they took something from us, we want to take something from them.
How many times have you heard a Christian say, "Hey, don't worry, they'll get what they deserve. They'll answer for their sin." Do you realize what a terrible, horrible thought that is for a Christian to have? In essence, we're saying in a smug way, "Hey, don't worry, they're going to hell." Seriously, that's what that kind of a response and attitude is. "Hey, don't worry, they'll be judged for their sins. Hey, don't worry, they'll get what they deserve." Hey, can you imagine for a second if every one of us got what we deserved? I'd go to hell. That's for sure. The reality is if each one of us were judged for what we deserved, we would all go to hell, because Romans says, "For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. There is none righteous, no, not one. There is none who understands. There is none who does good."
We are all sinners, we have all fallen, and we are all deserving of God's judgment. And yet he doesn't judge us according to our works; he judges us according to the works of Christ on the cross. Amen? There is beauty in that truth, Christian. [applause] And here's the thing, it's really easy for us to view ourselves in light of that truth and say, "Oh, yeah, I'm forgiven. I'm going to sing songs. 'By your stripes [we] are healed'---not this guy next to me, but me." [laughter] Why don't we view other people in light of that wonderful truth that we view ourselves in all the time? View other people with that kind of longsuffering love. Thank God we don't get what we deserve. As he lay dying, Jesus' concern was for the murderers that were nailing him to the cross, not for himself.
This is the love that Jesus spoke of that turns the other cheek. Its primary concern is for others, not itself. Look, it's easy to think about yourself. You were born doing it. You don't have to try. It's the way of the world. It's hard to think about others, especially when others are hurting you, when others are wronging you. Because Jesus doesn't just say to care for others generally, but care for others who are hurting you, care for others who are wronging you. Look, your call as a Christian isn't just to not wish judgment upon the people that hurt you, your job as a Christian isn't just to not wish condemnation on the people that are hurting you, but your job as a Christian is to wish blessing upon the people that are hurting you, to wish fortune on the people that are hurting you, to reply to a curse with a blessing.
Matthew 5:38-39 says, "You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I tell you do not resist an evil person." But he takes it a step further. "Whoever slaps you in your right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone sues you to take away your tunic, give him your cloak as well." Look at that. If someone sues you to take away your tunic, if someone hurts you, wrongs you, Jesus says don't just let them have your tunic, "give them your cloak as well." Reply to their cursing with blessing, reply to their antagonism with love, and watch how their lives and your life are changed because of it. Here's the takeaway for you: love doesn't react to the wrongs of others, it allows others to wrong itself.
It's easy for us to react to the wrongs of others and say, "Man, get it together. You're sinning. You're messing up." But it's easy for us to react to those wrongs, to overreact to those wrongs sometimes. But love doesn't react to the wrongs of others; love allows others to wrong itself. It says, "Look, you can hurt me, you can wrong me, you can speak evil about me, you can defame me, but I will not stop loving you. I will love you, I will forgive you over and over again until the day that I die." This is the polar opposite of the secular thinking of this day where everyone wants their rights. The slogan of the day is, "What about my needs?" Burger King tells you, "Have it your way." Capital One asks you, "What's in your wallet?" Allstate wants to let you know that "You're in good hands." Me, me, me. I, I, I.
I want to make sure I am okay, that I'm taken care of. We don't forgive anymore; we get vengeance. We sue. If our significant other hurts us, we want to hurt them back. We want them to feel what we're feeling. If our friends wrong us, we don't talk to them for a month. If we hear something about someone that we don't like, we'll talk about them behind their backs. But love is patient. Love is longsuffering. It allows itself to be wronged over and over again, and even after love is left with nothing, it still loves, still loves. It keeps going, keeps pushing forward. This is the uprising of love. Not operating as the world does, not getting things done the way the world does, but loving those the world hates, touching those the world shuns, going to those the world avoids. That is what love is. That is what God wants us to demonstrate. Amen? Amen.
Verse 4 continues and says love "is kind." And here's the idea: if patience will take anything from anyone, kindness will give anything to anyone. If patience will take it, patience will receive it, kindness will give it. Or from in light of what Jesus said in Matthew 5, if patience has its tunic taken away, kindness will give its cloak away. If patience has its tunic taken away, kindness will say, "Hey, let me demonstrate now my love for you and give you my cloak." Kindness is the practical demonstration of patience. It is active goodwill. It not only feels generous, it is generous. It not only desires change, it works for it. It works for it. Look, we've got to work for change. It's one thing to desire change, it's one thing to say, "Man, I want to see change. I want to see new, good things happen," but it's another thing to work for it.
Remember I mentioned slacktivism. What this basically is, is this is when people take to Twitter, they take to Instagram, they take to Facebook, and they will post repeatedly for any cause or campaign. They will fill up a bucket full of ice water, they will dump it on their head, and they will be all into it. They'll challenge people to do the same, but they won't give any money towards the cause. They don't mind posting about it, they don't mind getting excited about it, but they never go out and get their hands dirty. They don't give any money. They don't volunteer. All they do is say, "Hey, this is really important, so important you should do it," so they can feel better about themselves. We need to work for change. We need to work for love. This is one of the goals of Connect Groups, to take what we're learning and to live it.
Do you know throughout the series we are challenging all of our Connect Groups---we have around a hundred across our campus. We're challenging each Connect Group to pick a different group of people that we're teaching on and find practical ways to show them love. Because it's one thing to say, "Hey, love homosexuals," it's another thing to show homosexuals love. And so we have groups all around Albuquerque that are demonstrating love towards homeless people, towards broken people, towards murderers, towards criminals, towards addicts, towards homosexuals. I'm part of a Connect Group, and let me just tell you, it's changed my life. I absolutely love being a part of my Connect Group. And the group that we chose, we said, "Who will no one else choose and let's choose them."
So we chose prostitutes, and we are finding practical ways to go out and minister to prostitutes. And so we're planning events to go out and show these women who are so often shown love for one night and then never again that Jesus Christ loves them endlessly and relentlessly, and he wants a relationship with them, and that there are people who love Jesus that want to show them care and want to show them love. Love needs to be demonstrated to the world. What are you doing to demonstrate that love? What are you doing to meet and help the needs of others---not yours, but others. If love is only learned, but not lived, love is a lie. If love is only learned, if love is only talked about at church, but is never taken outside of these doors and lived, then it's a lie. It's not truly part of us.
And God is our supreme model in this. It says in Romans 2:4, "Do you think lightly of the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness and goodness of God leads you to repentance?" "God demonstrated his love for us in that while we were still sinners, he died for us." What do you do to help others' needs? You know, one thing that has blown me away about our new series is how revolutionary, how inspiring, and how surprising this simple message that Jesus Loves People is to people. How they're so surprised, how they're so taken aback, how they're so inspired when we say such a simple message that Jesus loves people.
It seems like the second we started say saying Jesus loves homosexuals, and Jesus loves prostitutes, people in our church were saying things like, "That's right, he does," and, "I never thought of it like that." It's the most basic truth of the Bible, and yet it's a truth that is so often forgotten. And it made me realize something: the first thing we forget is the most simple thing. We're so quick to forget the most simple thing. And the longer we immerse ourselves in religion, the more prone we become to forgetting what made it work in the first place. What makes it work isn't knowing a bunch of theology. What makes it work isn't going church. What makes it work isn't wearing Christian paraphernalia. What makes it work isn't serving in a ministry. What makes it work is that Jesus loves people so much that he came to die for those people.
That's what makes it work. And that should never be a truth we forget, church. [applause] But we can become so caught up in events, in services, in theology, and in ministry, that we forget about ministry. And the minute we become so comfortable in our pews that we forget about people, we perish. We can get so comfortable coming to church, sitting in our seat, singing the songs we like---"I won't sing that one, but I'll sing that one"---and yet never taking what we're learning and letting it change the way we live. And one of the reasons this series has resonated with people is because we aren't trying to be clever, we're not trying to promote an event, we are simply stating the most basic, yet powerful truth that we know how; and that is that Jesus loves people.
And people are realizing you don't need to sacrifice your convictions for compassion. You don't have to sacrifice your convictions---what you belief, what you know to be true, what the Bible says---for compassion. You can still follow what the Bible says and love people from all walks of life. As a matter of fact, if you don't love people from all walks of life, you aren't doing what the Bible says. You're not fulfilling your call as a Christian. And for me this feels like a return to what made me excited about ministry in the beginning: seeing people excited and passionate about the simple gospel, not fighting and bickering about specific doctrines; seeing Christians more focused on how to make others feel comfortable, instead of how to make themselves more comfortable.
I found myself personally more focused on my own character, my own motives, and my own application of God's Word than others. My dad said the very first week of this series, "If God's love has flowed into our lives, it ought to flow out of our lives." And I believe the opposite is just as true: If loves is not flowing out of our lives, it's questionable whether or not love has truly flowed into our lives. If love is not flowing out of your life, you need to take a real, good, deep look at your heart and see if love has truly flowed into your life, if love has truly changed your life. Because the best way you can tell if a tree is alive, is by what kind of fruit is coming out of it. And if the fruit coming out of your life is filled with hate, filled with judgment, filled with malice, filled with condemnation, there's a disconnect.
The fruit that comes from our life should be filled with love, should be sweet to the taste, should make people want to be around us, not flee from us. So first we saw what it is; now we're going to see what it isn't. Look at verse 4, says, "Loves does not envy" It is not jealous. And here's the first of eight negative descriptions of love, what love is not. Now there are two kinds of jealousy; one is to want what someone else has. If they have a better car, a better house, even a wife or a husband, we secretly, or maybe not so secretly, wish we had the same. We see what they have and we say, "Man, I just really want that. I want to have what they have." And the problem is that when we see this person on a day-to-day basis, we become more focused on what they have than on how we are to love them.
We boil inside. It fills us with anger, not love. But there's an even worse kind of jealousy; and that is, wishing that they didn't have what they have. And this more than just selfishness, this is desiring evil on someone else, desiring pain on somebody else. Think about the story where we hear of Solomon being brought a baby by two women, each woman claiming that the baby is her own. And Solomon, being filled with wisdom says, "Okay, hey, the way to solve this is to cut the baby in half. You can have the legs; she can have the torso." That's what he said, more or less. And, of course, the real mother begins to sob. She freaks out. She says, "No, no, no. Whatever you do, don't hurt the baby, just don't hurt the child. She can have the baby, just don't the child," willing to sacrifice what she loves most.
And yet the woman who had envy, the woman who had jealousy in her heart, who wanted what she didn't have, she was willing to let that baby be murdered just so that the other lady couldn't have it. She said, "If I can't have it, I don't want anyone else to." It's extreme, but that's the attitude that we can sometimes have. Do you feel that way about someone right now? Maybe someone who has exactly what you want. Maybe they even have what you've been praying for, and every time you see them, it fills you with anger. It fills you with selfishness, with jealousy, and you just wish they didn't have it. You just wish think experienced the same pain that you do. You know, most likely that person probably wants something they don't have as well.
And there will always be someone out there doing better than you, somebody with more money, somebody with a better relationship, somebody with the things that you want in life. You can either live with it and "be content with such things as you have," or you can be eaten up and destroyed by jealousy. James 3:14 says, "If you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but it is earthly, natural, and demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing." Verse 4 continues and says, "love does not parade itself," that is to say, love does not brag. It doesn't parade its accomplishments.
Bragging is the other side of jealousy. Jealousy is wanting what someone else has; bragging is trying to make someone else jealous of what you have. "Hey, look at my stuff." Maybe you've got a friend who's been wanting a new car for a long time and God blesses you. You get a big tax refund check and so you go out and you buy a new car. And first person you call is your buddy who wanted a new car. "Hey, guess what I got---a new car. Come on, you want to ride in it? Smell it---that smells so good, like new car. What? Your car smells like old Doritos; this car smells like leather." [laughter] We want to push it in their face. "I bet you wish you could have this car, don't you?" Bragging about our accomplishments, parading ourselves.
There's also another end of this: love doesn't remind a person of the great sacrifices you've made for them. You know, some people want to talk about all the sacrifices they've made for you. Husbands do this to their wives sometimes. "You don't know what I've sacrificed. You don't know the work that I put in, the hours that it put in so that you can be happy." Moms will do this too. "I carried you in my belly for nine months. You don't know what I sacrificed for you! [laughter] You should love me more." Look, love will never make someone feel bad for what they've had to sacrifice. Love always seeks to lift people up. If you're ever going to talk about the things you've done for somebody, don't use it in a way where you talk about what they've sacrificed, use it in a way where you talk in joy about what you're able to give them. And never use it as ammunition to make them feel bad about what they're currently doing.
Don't focus on what you've sacrificed; focus on the One who has sacrificed it all for us. When we focus on his sacrifice, it makes it so much easier to just love people. Verse 5 continues and says love "does not behave rudely." True love has manners. And I'm not talking about the kind of manners where a guy will open the door for a girl at a movie theater, although that is very lost in our culture today as well. But having manners, having a mannerly love is lost in our culture. Today people say, "If that offends them, that's their problem." No, no, no. If it offends them, it's your problem. The gospel is offensive enough. We don't have to add offense to the gospel. Instead we need to bring the gospel in love and grace, caring about others, being mannerly.
Sometimes just because we know what we can say doesn't mean that we should say it. And it drives me nuts how rude Christians can be. How we can go to a girl who's just had an abortion, who's obviously going through an incredibly emotion situation, who doesn't know how she's going to handle what she's just done, and we can go to her and look at her in her face and say, "Murderer." Is it true? Yes. But is it what she needs to hear? No. Couldn't be further from what she needs to hear. Or how we can be in the mall and see two homosexuals walking around holding hands. And we can look at them and say---just loud enough---"That's so disgusting." Is it true? Yes. But guess what? All sin is disgusting, including our judgment and including our unforgiveness.
How we can see a homeless person asking for money and we can pridefully say in our hearts, "Get a job." We don't know where they've come from. We don't know what they're going through. We don't know if they've tried to get a job or if they can't. Here's the truth: we might not understand why people do what they do, but they're still people, people created with care and precision in the image of God. And people---all people---deserve respect. They deserve respect. [applause] They deserve to be honored. They deserve to be treated more than just what they do. They deserve to be treated based on who they are, who God created them to be, on the beautiful creation that God has made each one of us to be.
If you treat people with respect, regardless of what they believe, how they are dressed, or what they look like, you'll be amazed at the doors it will open for you to speak truth and love into their life, the conversations it will start from simply showing respect and to honor people. Verse 5 continues and says love "is not provoked" to anger; that is, to arouse to anger or a sudden outburst of anger. Let me ask you, are you an angry person? Are you prone to "putting people in their place," as you might like to say, going on tirades, going on rants on social media, yelling at people when they do something wrong to you, getting mad at people when you feel like the service they've exhibited to you isn't equal to what you deserve? Are you a person who's prone to outbursts, who's prone to anger?
Loves guards against being irritated, upset, or angered by things said or done against it. Ephesians 4:26 says, "Don't let the sun go down on your wrath," or your anger. This continues on in verse 5, it says love "thinks no evil," or literally, "love takes no account of evil." It's a bookkeeping term that's referenced here, and it means to calculate, to enter into a ledger or a permanent record that can be consulted when needed. I know I'm guilty of this. Maybe you are as well. It's easy to walk around with a ledger, whenever somebody wrongs you to just tally that up in this little book. And you'll let that book stack up and stack up and stack up until you need to use it. And then you pull it out and you say, "Hey, you've done this, and you've done this, and you've done this."
And you're keeping a ledger of wrongs, you're keeping on account of evil. Love keeps no record of wrongs. Love thinks no evil. You know, it's crazy how cynical Christians can be. When we hear about a celebrity coming to Christ, we can so easily write them off, say, "There's no way it's going to stick. Have you heard their song lyrics? Have you seen the movies they've been in? There's no way it's real." No wonder so many celebrities turn away. They probably don't feel loved or accepted by Christians. When we see the same person coming forward each week, it's so easy to think, "Can they just get it together already? When's it finally going to work?" When we stop talking to our friends and family, because we think they've just gone too far. It leads us to verse 7. It says love "believes all things."
Love believes the best of every person. It is not suspicious. It is not cynical. If someone is accused of something wrong, love will consider them innocent until proven guilty. You'll stick up for them, not say things like, "I saw that coming. I knew they were trouble." Verse 7 says love "endures all things." Love refuses to give up. Love refuses to surrender. Love refuses to stop believing or stop hoping. Love will simply not stop loving, ever. If there's one thing that should characterize the church, it is love. And yet if you were to ask most sinners if the church loved them, you'd be lucky to get a simple no. You'd probably get laughed at. You'd probably get cursed at. If you were to go to a prostitute, a homosexual, and someone who committed an abortion on the street and say, "Hey, do you think the church loves you?"
I bet you'd be really saddened by their response. I bet you'd be heartbroken by their response, by the bitterness they have because of all the Christians that is have shown them the opposite of love, because of all the Christians that have shown them hate, that have shown them fear. It shouldn't be surprising, though it is, when Christians love people. We're known more for our rejection of certain people than our respect for all people. We're known more for our cruelty than our compassion. We show more harshness than we do humanity. And this brings up the question asked in the beginning: How do I genuinely love people I don't genuinely love? Well, I want to leave you with two things this morning. I believe these two things will help you (if you put them into practice) love anybody within your life, even the worst.
Number one, consider; and, number two, compare. Number one, consider, consider them through the eyes of Jesus. Remember, as I said earlier, as he lay dying Jesus' concern was for the murderers that were nailing him to the cross, not himself, as he cried out, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. But forgive them." When someone sins against you, consider them like Jesus did. Say, "Lord, forgive them, for they know not what they do." You can't expect somebody's who's lost to know the way home. You can't expect somebody who's in darkness to see the light. And you wouldn't get mad at a blind person for bumping into you on the street, would you? You wouldn't turn around and say, "Hey, watch where you're going." No.
Hopefully you would in care and love help them. You'd show concern for them. You'd say, "Hey, can I help you find the way home?" Consider them through the eyes of Jesus. Consider that they are lost. Consider that they're in darkness. And as you consider them, it will help you to love them. Consider them as Jesus would with patience, kindness, and grace. Allow yourself to be taken advantage of over and over again just as Jesus did. And, secondly, compare them. We're told in our culture comparison's a bad thing, don't compare yourself to anyone else, and usually I would agree, except in this situation. I think it's good for us to compare our sins to others, to compare our spiritual bank account to others.
Take a minute and think about all the sins you've ever committed from the time you were a little kid to now: the things both outward and the things inward; the thoughts that you have; the things that you think; the things you don't want anyone else to know about; the things you don't want to person front of you, the person behind you, the person next to you to know about; the things you're ashamed of. As you look at that, you'll realize very quickly that your list outweighs anyone else's. If I were to offer you one dollar for every sin that you could point out in anyone---both outward and inward---who would you choose? If you wanted to be rich, you'd choose yourself, because you can see it all, inside and outside.
And as you compare your spiritual bank account to the world's, you realize that you're more spiritually bankrupt than anyone else. You realize, like Paul, that you're the chief of sinners. And as you realize that you're worse than everyone, it becomes much easier to love anyone. As you realize you're worse than everyone, it becomes much easier to love anyone. And the reality is that we are the "anyones." And Christ loved us and we as Christians are called to love one another, and we as Christians are called to love the world. My prayer is that God would help us to be the loving Christian that he's called us to be, and he would help this to be a loving church. And my prayer for you is that if you have not been forgiven of your sins, if you're carrying around bitterness, or anger, or perhaps you are the judgmental Christian.
You are the one who's constantly pointing out the flaws in others, who isn't letting love flow out of their lives. And as you think about this, my question for you is: Has loved flowed in your life? My prayer is that you would receive that love, you would be forgiven, you would walk with Christ. Let's pray. Lord, we thank you for your Word. We thank you for the truth that it reveals, God. And, God, we want to show love. We want to show love to everyone. We want to show love to the world. We want to give it all for you, give everyone everything we have for you, and see the world changed and transformed by an uprising of love. And, Lord, I pray right now for anyone here right now.
Lord, who as we just talked about this, all the sins they've committed from when they are a kid to now, Lord, as they look at their lives they realize they're broken, they realize that they're sinful, and that there's no excuse in the world that can justify their sin. Lord, I pray that you'd show them that you love them, that we love them, and that you want a relationship with them. And I pray for those in here, Lord, who are self-righteous, those who have lived their lives judging others, but never really judging themselves. I pray that you would, God, bring them to repentance.
And as we're praying right now, as we have our eyes closed and our heads bowed, if that describes you, if you're here today and you need to be forgiven of your sin, you realize right now in this moment that you're a sinful person, but you realize that Jesus Christ loves you, that he came to this earth, that he died for you. If that's you, and you want to accept Jesus Christ, I want you to raise up your hand right now. And you're saying, "Nate, pray for me. I need Jesus in my life. I need to be forgiven." Amen. In the front to my left; a couple of you on the side. Put your hand up and keep it up, so I can see it. Over here in the middle to the left; in the back to the left; over to my right, in the middle; couple here to the right section.
Wherever you are, raise your hand up. If you're in the balcony, the family room, you raise your hand up. In the back, towards my left---anyone else? Maybe you're here and you've been a judgmental person. You realize that as much as you proclaim to love Christ, your actions speak louder than your words, and you want to rededicate your life to him, you want to be forgiven. and you want to start forgiving others. If that's you and you want rededicate yourself to him, you raise up your hand. Amen. Amen. Hands across the room. Lord, I thank you for these hands that have acknowledged their need for forgiveness, and, God, I pray that you would help their words, God, to affect the way they live. They wouldn't just want change, but they would live for change, in Jesus' name I pray, amen.
Hey, will you stand with me. We're going to close and we're going to sing a chorus of this song. And as we do, I'm going to ask that if you raised your hand up acknowledging you need Jesus, either for the first time or for a second time; that you get up from wherever you are, you come down here to the front, and you say a prayer to accept Jesus Christ. And you might say, "Nate, I was all about raising my hand up when no one could see it, but you want me to actually take a step of faith, you want me the walk forward and have people see me?" I do and here's why: If you can't stand up for Jesus Christ in a room full of people that love him, how are you going to do it in a world that hates him? Jesus Christ died on a cross for you publicly, and now's your opportunity to publicly profess his name. You come now. We'll wait for you. You come. [worship music playing]
I believe there might still be more in here who need to make this profession of faith in Jesus Christ. It might be your first time. It might be your second time. This might be a repeated occurrence for you, but either way the heart condition is the same. You need Jesus Christ. He wants to forgive you of your sins. And I don't know what you're scared of. I don't know what's holding you back. Maybe it's the person next to you. Maybe they're just as scared as you are. Maybe they need to make this decision as well, and all they need is someone next to them to take that bold step, and maybe they'll follow you. But either way, it doesn't matter what the people next to you, in front of you, or behind you think about you, all that matters is what Jesus thinks about you.
Because your friend didn't die on the cross for your sins, Jesus Christ took that place. And there was nothing on heaven or earth that could hold him from going to that cross for you. Don't let anything hold you back from coming here and making the profession of faith in Jesus Christ. And you might say, "Nate, I've got time. I don't want to do it now. I'll do it later." You're not promised later, you are only promised now. We don't know when our time will come. We don't know when we'll die. We don't know when we'll meet Jesus. But when we do, are you ready to answer to him? Are you ready to give an account to him for the way that you lived your life? This is your opportunity. If you don't know that when you die you're going to go to heaven, you leave here knowing. We're going to sing this through one more time, and if God is calling you, you come now. You come. [worship music playing]
Amen. Hey, let's give these guys a round of applause one more time. We're so excited for you. I want you to know there's no judgment in this place, there's only love. And we're not going to sing this song through any more times, but I always like to throw out the net one last time for those who are procrastinators, for those who always hold out to the last minute, they always wait till there's no more time left. Look, there's still time for you to accept Jesus Christ. There's still time for you to be forgiven of your sins. And I want you to know it doesn't matter what you've done. There's no judgment in this place. We love you. We care for you. And we're going to clap for you.
We're going to cheer for you. We've got more coming right now. Give them a round of applause. If God is still calling right now, you come. You don't need music to do it. All you need is a willing heart to be forgiven. Anyone else before we pray? Amen. Amen. You come. Praise the Lord. Keep coming. Let's-let's get it loud in here for these guys. [cheers and applause] Praise the Lord. God is working in your hearts and we're so excited to witness it and be a part of it. Right now I'm going to say a prayer, and I'm going to ask those of you who have come forward to say it after me. It's a simple prayer. It's a prayer you're going to say from your heart. You're going to say it to Jesus. And as you say it, there's nothing magical about it, there's nothing special about it, except that it's from your heart and it's to Jesus Christ.
Amen. Keep coming. Praise the Lord. [applause] Amen. Thank you for joining us. So as we say this prayer, I'm going to say it with you, and I want you to say it out loud after me, and I want you to mean it from your heart. Let's say this together: Lord, I know that I'm a sinner. I know that I've done many things that have hurt you. But, Lord, I believe that you died for those things, and I believe that you rose from the dead. So, Lord, I ask you to come into my life. Forgive me of my sins. I turn from my old life and I turn to you. Fill me with your Holy Spirit and help me to live for you, in Jesus' name I pray, amen. Let's turn it up. Praise the Lord.
Closing: We hope you've enjoyed this special service from Calvary Albuquerque featuring our guest speaker Pastor Nate Heitzig. How will you put the principles you learned into action? Let us know. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And just a reminder, you can give financially to this work at calvaryabq.org/giving. Thank you for listening to this special message from Calvary Albuquerque.