Sunday, December 6, 2009

Cultivate the Fruitage of Love - pt1

*Based on today's text discussion, I wanted to post some additional info (taken from pgs 276-278 of the Insight on the Scriptures Vol. 2) which breaks down the description of 'love' found at 1 Corinthians 13, and elaborates on each aspect mentioned in verses 4-7. But since there's so much indepth info on the topic of 'love', I'm gonna split this subject into 2 posts. I also added the district convention symposium part "Cultivate the Fruitage of Love" to my audio downloads page...sorry they are out of order =)

Love is Expansive

The true love that is a fruit of God’s spirit is expansive. (2Corinthians 6:11-13) It is not stingy, confined, or circumscribed. It must be shared to be complete. A person must first love God (Deuteronomy 6:5), his Son (Ephesians 6:24), and then the whole association of his Christian brothers throughout the world (1Peter 2:17; 1John 2:10; 4:20, 21). He must love his wife; and she, her husband. (Proverbs 5:18, 19; Ecclesiastes 9:9; Ephesians 5:25, 28, 33) Love is to be extended to one’s children. (Titus 2:4) All mankind, even a person’s own enemies, are to be loved, and Christian works are to be exercised toward them. (Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:32-36) The Bible, commenting on the fruits of the spirit, of which love is first, says: “Against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22, 23) This love has no law that can limit it. It may be practiced at any time or place, to any extent, toward those to whom it is due. In fact, the only debt Christians should be owing one another is love. (Romans 13:8) This love for one another is an identifying mark of true Christians.—John 13:35.

How Godly Love Acts
Love, such as God is, is so wonderful that it is hard to define. It is easier to tell how it acts. In the following discussion of this fine quality, its application to Christians will be considered. The apostle Paul, in writing on the subject, first emphasizes how essential it is for a Christian believer and then details how it acts unselfishly:
“Love is long-suffering and kind. Love is not jealous, it does not brag, does not get puffed up, does not behave indecently, does not look for its own interests, does not become provoked. It does not keep account of the injury. It does not rejoice over unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”—1Corinthians 13:4-7.

“Love is long-suffering and kind.”
It puts up with unfavorable conditions and wrong actions of others, doing so with a purpose, namely, to work out the eventual salvation of those doing wrong or of others involved in the circumstances, as well as to bring honor and vindication, finally, to God’s name. (2Peter 3:15) Love is kind, no matter what the provocation may be. Roughness or harshness on the part of a Christian toward others would not accomplish any good. Nonetheless, love can be firm and act in justice in behalf of righteousness. Those having authority may discipline wrongdoers, but even then, they are to employ kindness. Unkindness would bring benefit neither to the unkind counselor nor to the one doing unrighteousness, but it could separate that one even farther from repentance and right works.—Romans 2:4; Ephesians 4:32; Titus 3:4, 5.

“Love is not jealous.”
It is not envious of good things coming to others. It rejoices in seeing a fellowman receive a position of greater responsibility. It does not begrudge even one’s enemies receiving good things. It is generous. God makes his rain fall on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Matthew 5:45) God’s servants who have love are content with their lot (1Timothy 6:6-8) and their place, not getting out of place or selfishly seeking the position occupied by another. Satan the Devil selfishly and enviously did get out of place, even desiring worship to be given to him by Jesus Christ.—Luke 4:5-8.

Love “does not brag, does not get puffed up.”
It does not seek the applause and admiration of creatures. (Psalm 75:4-7; Jude 16) The person having love will not push another person down to make himself appear greater. Rather, he will exalt God and will sincerely encourage and build up other persons. (Romans 1:8; Colossians 1:3-5; 1Thessalonians 1:2, 3) He will be happy to see another Christian make advancement. And he will not boast of what he is going to do. (Proverbs 27:1; Luke 12:19, 20; James 4:13-16) He will realize that all he does is due to the strength coming from Jehovah. (Psalm 34:2; 44:8) Jehovah told Israel: “Let the one bragging about himself brag about himself because of this very thing, the having of insight and the having of knowledge of me, that I am Jehovah, the One exercising loving-kindness, justice and righteousness in the earth; for in these things I do take delight.”—Jeremiah 9:24; 1Corinthians 1:31.

Love “does not behave indecently.”
It is not ill-mannered. It does not engage in indecent behavior, such as sexual abuses or shocking conduct. It is not rude, vulgar, discourteous, insolent, coarse, or disrespectful to anyone. A person who has love will avoid doing things that, in appearance or actions, disturb his Christian brothers. Paul instructed the congregation at Corinth: “Let all things take place decently and by arrangement.” (1Corinthians 14:40) Love will also prompt one to walk honorably in the view of others who are not Christian believers.—Romans 13:13; 1Thessalonians 4:12; 1Timothy 3:7.

Love “does not look for its own interests.”
It follows the principle: “Let each one keep seeking, not his own advantage, but that of the other person.” (1Corinthians 10:24) Here is where concern for the everlasting welfare of others shows itself. This sincere concern for others is one of the strongest motivating forces in love as well as one of the most effective and beneficial in its results. The possessor of love does not demand that everything be done his way. Paul said: “To the weak I became weak, that I might gain the weak. I have become all things to people of all sorts, that I might by all means save some. But I do all things for the sake of the good news, that I may become a sharer of it with others.” (1Corinthians 9:22, 23) Neither does love demand its “rights”; it is more concerned with the spiritual welfare of the other person.—Romans 14:13, 15.

Love “does not become provoked.”
It does not look for an occasion or an excuse for provocation. It is not moved to outbursts of anger, which is a work of the flesh. (Galatians 5:19, 20) One having love is not easily offended by what others say or do. He is not afraid that his personal “dignity” may be injured.

Love “does not keep account of the injury.”
(Literally, it is not “reckoning the bad thing”; Int.) It does not consider itself to be injured and so lay up that injury as something ‘on the books of account,’ to be settled, or paid off, in due time, in the meantime permitting no relations between the injured and the injurer. That would be a vengeful spirit, condemned in the Bible. (Leviticus 19:18; Romans 12:19) Love will not impute evil motives to another but will be inclined to make allowances and give others the benefit of the doubt.—Romans 14:1, 5.

Love “does not rejoice over unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth.”
Love rejoices with the truth even though it upsets previous beliefs held or statements made. It sticks with God’s Word of truth. It always sides with the right, finding no pleasure in wrong, in lies, or in any form of injustice, no matter who the victim is, even if he is an enemy. However, if a thing is wrong or misleading, love does not fear to speak out in the interests of truth and of others. (Galatians 2:11-14) Also, it prefers to suffer wrong rather than commit another wrong in an attempt to straighten out the matter. (Romans 12:17, 20) But if another person is properly corrected by one having authority, the loving person will not sentimentally side with the chastised one and find fault with the correction or the authorized one who did the correcting. Such an action would not be an expression of love for the individual. It might gain the favor of the corrected one, but it would harm rather than help him.

Love “bears all things.”
It is willing to endure, to suffer for righteousness’ sake. A literal rendering is, “all things it is covering.” (Int) A person having love will be slow to expose to others the one who wrongs him. If the offense is not too serious, he will overlook it. Otherwise, when the course recommended by Jesus at Matthew 18:15-17 is applicable, he will follow it. In such cases, if the other person asks forgiveness after the wrong is privately pointed out to him, and repairs the damage, the one having love will show that his forgiveness is real, that it has completely covered the matter, as God has.—Proverbs 10:12; 17:9; 1Peter 4:7, 8.

Love “believes all things.”
Love has faith in the things God has said in his Word of truth, even if outward appearances are against it and the unbelieving world scoffs. This love, especially toward God, is a recognition of his truthfulness, based on his record of faithfulness and reliability, just as we know and love a true, faithful friend and do not doubt when he tells us something for which we may not have proof. (Joshua 23:14) Love believes all God says, though it may not be able to grasp it thoroughly, and it is willing to wait patiently until the matter is more fully explained or until getting a clear understanding. (1Corinthians 13:9-12; 1Peter 1:10-13) Love also trusts in God’s direction of the Christian congregation and his appointed servants and backs up their decisions based on God’s Word. (1Timothy 5:17; Hebrews 13:17) However, love is not gullible, for it follows the counsel of God’s Word to “test the inspired expressions to see whether they originate with God,” and it tests everything by the measuring rule of the Bible. (1John 4:1; Acts 17:11, 12) Love produces confidence in one’s faithful Christian brothers; a Christian would not suspect them or disbelieve them unless there was absolute proof that they were wrong.—2Corinthians 2:3; Galatians 5:10; Philemon 21.

Love “hopes all things.”
It has hope in all the things Jehovah has promised. (Romans 12:12; Hebrews 3:6) It continues to work, waiting patiently for Jehovah to bring fruitage, to make things grow. (1Corinthians 3:7) A person having love will hope the best for his Christian brothers through any circumstances in which they might be, even though some may be weak in faith. He will realize that if Jehovah is patient with such weak ones, he should certainly adopt the same attitude. (2Peter 3:15) And he continues to assist those he is helping to learn the truth, hoping and waiting for them to be moved by God’s spirit to serve him.

Love “endures all things.”
Love is required for the Christian to keep his integrity toward Jehovah God. Despite whatever the Devil may do to test the soundness of the Christian’s devotion and faithfulness to God, love will endure in a way that holds the Christian true to God.—Romans 5:3-5; Matthew 10:22.

“Love never fails.”
It will never come to an end or cease to exist. New knowledge and understanding may correct things we once believed; hope changes as the hoped-for things are realized and new things are hoped for, but love always remains in its fullness and continues to be built up stronger and stronger.—1Corinthians 13:8-13.

*I just wanted to add this one last scripture demonstrating the strength of love:

"Place me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; because love is as strong as death is, insistence on exclusive devotion is as unyielding as She′ol is. Its blazings are the blazings of a fire, the flame of Jah. Many waters themselves are not able to extinguish love, nor can rivers themselves wash it away..." (Song of Solomon 8:6, 7)