CHAPTER 21- Love - The Excellent Way
Wedding blooper- “waffley wife”
- My own parents wedding “girly woods” instead of worldly goods
- Favorite part of a wedding- the covenant vows
- Wedding ceremony and marriage is the clearest earthly picture that we have of our covenant with God
- Popular scripture read at weddings- 1 Corinthians 13
*Sandwiched in between 1 Corinthians 12 & 14- 1 Corinthians 13 not written for marriage but for the body of Believers on “this is how we do life”- the highest order, the most important thing to shoot for- LOVE
- Learned how as Christians what we think, then we learned how to act, and now we are learning how to be. How to be is the blending of what we think with how we act- how to be, who we are- is what should automatically come out of us… our goal is be like Jesus. Jesus is the perfect example of the love of God.
1 John 4:10-12
In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.
- Simply stated- as Christians we are committed to loving God and loving others
And here are New Life Chapel that is what we are all about. Our theme verse-
And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.
- Here is how this is the greatest commandment- because in fulfilling these- you are fulfilling all. Loving God with everything- heart, soul, strength, and mind – covers the internal and external life of the Christian. If you are loving with your mind then it is impossible to have secret or hidden sins. And if you are loving your neighbor as yourself- then you are keeping all the other commandments- because love does not steal, love does not kill, love does not commit adultery or covet, etc.
Why it is so important for us to love one another the 1 Corinthians 13 way- the excellent way- is because Jesus said-
By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another
He didn’t say
- If you dress a certain way
- If you have amazing programs and activities at your church
- If you drive the best car
- If you have a specific title, career, or income level
He said the world will know who really belong and who you really follow by the way you love one another…
How are we doing at loving one another? Can we pause for a moment and be really honest? Do we sincerely, deeply, intentionally love one another? Or do we just do enough to shallowly play the part of a “good Christian”?
1000’s of examples and points we could look at as to what it means to love one another. But today, I am going to pull out 3 points from Scriptures that are given within the context of one of the most unlikely but beautiful friendships even know to mankind.
Friendship unlikely because this friendship is between the son of the king (positioned to be next in line for the throne) and the son of a backwoods rancher (anointed by God to be next in line for the throne). And yet in the midst of circumstance that make no sense for a friendship to flourish these two come together- not just in a convenient, social friendship way- but in a deep, life-giving covenant friendship.
Friendship of David and Jonathan
Setting the scene
- David has already been anointed king but Saul is still in power
- David has defeated Goliath
1 Samuel 18:1-4
Now when he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. Saul took him that day, and would not let him go home to his father’s house anymore. Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan took off the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, even to his sword and his bow and his belt
Sidebar on covenant (verse 4)
Your life is my top priority. Your battle is my battle, your pain my pain, your debt my debt, your joy my joy, mi casa es su casa- even to the point: if you die I will personally be responsible to care for your family, your property… covenant is not just “your word is your bond but your word is your life” and if that word is broken… actually that just wasn’t a part of the equation… covenant is not meant to have the option of being broken (sin pretty much messes with that)
Now to complicate this unlikely friendship even more
1 Samuel 18:29
and Saul was still more afraid of David. So Saul became David’s enemy continually.
Jonathan and David are friends- covenant friends- in the face of a kings wrath and enemy spirit and here is where we see love expressed at a level and in ways that we – as New Testament Christians, people who follow Christ, who live on this side of the cross and the empty tomb- should also be expressing.
1 Samuel 19:4
Thus Jonathan spoke well of David to Saul his father, and said to him, “Let not the king sin against his servant, against David, because he has not sinned against you, and because his works have been very good toward you.
Saul wants to kill David and yet his son Jonathan stands up to his father and speaks well of his friend. Jonathan has everything to lose by doing this…and yet because he is in covenant with his friend David- he chooses the excellent way.
There may be times when we need to physically defend one another- how grateful I am that we even have a security team here at New Life who are available to come alongside and protect us but the number one way we need to protect each other- and love each other is with our words.
This little muscle tucked inside our mouth has atomic power- it can either generate life or be a weapon of mass destruction. And it is time- for Christians, for us New Life Chapel to love one another by protecting each other- specifically with how we speak.
But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.
These things ought to not be so. What things? Cursing. Swearing. Gossip. Lieing. Having a critical spirit. Boasting. Exagerating. Complaining. Condemning. We are called to be different than the world and not just in name or outward appearance but in who we are… what we do and what we say. Instead, Scripture tells us that we- Christians, people of New Life Chapel are to speak the truth in love, build up, bless, encourage, provoke to good works, call out God’s destiny in each other, have wholesome words.
Death and life are in the power of the tongue…
Our words are like graffiti except instead of being drawn on a building they mark a soul. Let our words mark people with love.
Have you noticed how the Bible is like the ultimate reality television show. There are these times when Scripture zooms in right into the middle of intensely personal space or a situation that would typically be private and shows the whole world people’s true colors. And this entire saga of Jonathan’s and David’s friendship we have these reality tv show moments. Take for instance what happens at a family party. Now Saul has noticed that David has not shown up at the party and is questioning Jonathan about it. And Saul does not buy Jonathan’s answer.
1 Samuel 20:30-33
Then Saul’s anger was aroused against Jonathan, and he said to him, “You son of a perverse, rebellious woman! Do I not know that you have chosen the son of Jesse to your own shame and to the shame of your mother’s nakedness? For as long as the son of Jesse lives on the earth, you shall not be established, nor your kingdom. Now therefore, send and bring him to me, for he shall surely die.” And Jonathan answered Saul his father, and said to him, “Why should he be killed? What has he done?” Then Saul cast a spear at him to kill him, by which Jonathan knew that it was determined by his father to kill David.
Jonathan’s covenant with David caused him to risk everything- even his own life- for his friend. Here we see the second characteristic of love.
Love that risks steps outside of comfort zones. Love that risks does not nickel and dime people in time. Love that risks does not take personal preference into consideration. Love that risks is expensive, extraordinary, and extravagant.
A lot of Christians are willing to go to a certain extent to love. We draw these nice neat little boxes and boundary lines for us to stay inside of when it comes to love. As long as it doesn’t cost too much, doesn’t get too awkward or uncomfortable, doesn’t become too much of a burden, doesn’t require too hard of work- we are willing. And yet, God doesn’t see love that way. His box, His boundary line was the cross.
So here’s the deal. For those of us who have come to faith in Jesus Christ and asked Him to be your Lord and Savior and gave your life to Him. Guess what? He believed you. God believed you when you asked Him to be in charge of your life. He said yes to you. You’re not in charge anymore, He is. Scripture says your life is in Him now.
For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
This means that loving difficult people during hard times when you don’t have anything to give or when it is costing you everything is not dependent on who you are but is dependent on Who HE is. You are in Christ. The capacity and extent of your love for people is now measured by Who Jesus is- the One who hung on a cross between two thieves and asked the Father to forgive those who had crucified Him because they did not know what they were doing.
Our expectation of risking in love should not be to ask what is the minimum required but rather how can I give more than before and push the limit on love?
Love protects. Love risks. and
A love that is in it for the long haul.
1 Samuel 20:14-16
And you shall not only show me the kindness of the Lord while I still live, that I may not die; but you shall not cut off your kindness from my house forever, no, not when the Lord has cut off every one of the enemies of David from the face of the earth.” So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, “Let the Lord require it at the hand of David’s enemies.”
For Jonathan and David- the love they had for each other- the covenant they had made extended to the generations that were to come. In fact, there is a beautiful second half of this story found in 2 Samuel 9 and how David fulfills his vow to Jonathan by taking care of his last living son.
I shared earlier a brief description of covenant and the depth of commitment it takes when making a covenant. In Hebrew – the meaning of the covenant means “to cut”. In Genesis 15- God makes a covenant with Abraham and a part of the covenant ceremony was for the sacrificial animal to be cut into two pieces and we see a representation of God moving between the two pieces. Now this part of the ceremony was continued down through the ages. So even when Jonathan and David made covenant with one another, they also would have cut the sacrificial animal in two pieces and each walked through the pieces like this: around one piece cross through the middle and around the other piece- the infinity loop.
God’s plan all along has been for love to last forever. His love for us and our love for each other.