Saturday, November 3, 2007

DEVOTION I gave from the last ladies' event...

I wanted to spend a few minutes sharing a verse that I have been studying and have learned a lot from.
It’s from 1 Peter 4:7-11
It seems like a simple command, but as with all scripture, there is always a fresh lesson to us.

1Pe 4:8 Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.

The kind of love this is referred to here is from the Greek word, agape.
This is the kind of love Jesus has for humankind, it means an unselfish love.
A selfless love that’s about the other person.

So, Simon Peter’s words are for us to love one another with the same kind of love as revealed in Jesus, seen as spiritual and selfless and a model for humanity.

The same word (in the Greek) for love is used in
Colossians 3:14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
John Macarthur said “Supernatural love poured into the hearts of believers is the adhesive of the church. “
And the same word for love was used in I COR 13 4-13, which I will share more on in a minute, but for now verse 13
1Cor 13:13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Not only are we told to love in this AGAPE way, but the word fervent is used.
This one word fervent is such a strong word and it gives this command a very strong initiative.
FERVENT means having or showing great warmth or intensity of spirit or feeling, enthusiasm which is SINCERE, strong and lasting.

Matthew Henry commented in this way
“There is a special relation between all sincere Christians, and a particular amiableness and good in them, which require special affection. (2.) It is not enough for Christians not to bear malice, nor to have common respect for one another, they must intensely and fervently love each other.

Think about fervent in this way…from the John Macarthur study Bible ”to be stretched or strained to maximum capacity. It can be used to describe a runner who is moving at maximum output with tense muscles, straining and stretching to the limit. This kind of love requires a Christian to put another’s spiritual good ahead of his own desires in spite of being treated unkindly, ungraciously or even with hostility.”
We are supposed to love each other with deeper affection. This requires the kind of love you must work for. And, as we’re told in the passage, it’s to happen above all things, it’s our responsibility and there’s not an excuse to do otherwise.

So, what is love? Is it that I feel an overemotional love for you and that means I’m being obedient to what God is telling me to do here?
Well, let’s peek at what God says love looks like

1Co 13:4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
1Co 13:5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
1Co 13:6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
1Co 13:7 It always protects (or bears all things), always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

We are to be patient—fervently
We are to be kind—fervently
We are to fervently do whatever we can not to envy someone else. Envy is the opposite of selfless service to others. If that creeps up, recognize it and repent. Make an effort to change that. If you still feel it, repent again and just don’t let it affect the other person. That’s loving them. Love isn’t proud---fervently thank God that whatever good you have in you is from God. Never rude, love never wants its own way--consider others…consider others first and foremost. Don’t keep a record of wrong. If you’ve forgiven someone—don’t bring it up again, give them a clean slate. Be passionate about that and sincere. Never rejoice in evil, but always rejoice with truth. Love never has pleasure in someone else’s sin, even the sin of an enemy.
Love is devoted to truth in everything.

What’s the purpose?
Well, if we were to move on in vs 11, we’re told that it glorifies God. Another way to describe glorifying God that I read says it this way: so that God’s presence may be evident in everything. I love that. So that God’s presence may be evident in everything.
Another meaning of that word glorify is to magnify. To magnify God.
In all we do, we should ask, does it glorify Him or how does it glorify Him?

But, let’s look at what God says is the purpose for loving one another fervently within this verse…

Because love covers a multitude of sin.

So, we’ve learned about what kind of love Peter is telling us to have—and the purpose for other Christians? To cover their sin. How much sin? A multitude of sin.
So, if covering sin is the purpose, we have to realize we’re talking about dealing with someone who has sinned against us, or sinned around us. That’s what these particular verses are talking about.

Now this scripture is taken from Proverbs 10:12 that says this
“But, love covers all transgressions.”
Macarthur says: “It is the nature of true spiritual love whether from God to man or Christian to Christian to cover sins.

So, if a person has sinned, and repented…what should you or I do?
You treat it as done and forgotten. You bury the sin in oblivion. It’s not that we do away with the sin—only Jesus can do that; but it’s forgotten and you move on. By doing that, you’re helping that person to move on in their Christian walk. That’s truly covering a multitude of sin.

As Christians, we know that we are to love one another as Christ loves us. God tells us Above all, have fervent love for one another. We are incapable of that unless Christ permeates our lives. This is why unbelievers don’t forgive and move on. We have the ability to love one another, forgive offenses and progress in our walks.
That ability comes from Christ alone; it’s a gift that He has given us that enables us to reciprocate it to others in the same body of Christ.
The trouble comes when we aren’t spending time in the Word, when we aren’t praying, when we aren’t doing what we are supposed to do—if we aren’t being permeated with Christ, how can we ever love fervently?

A good example that we’ll have all around us soon is how the leaves change color. Leaves are truly yellow to orange in their original form. But, the leaves spend lots of time in the sun over spring and summer and get loads of green coloring and turn a wonderful luscious green. It’s only when the leaves stop spending time in the sun due to seasonal changes and they stop soaking up all that healthy chlorophyll that the green color begins to fade away and the leaf begins to show its true colors.
We may see it as a beautiful change in color (and I certainly love the foliage) but the truth is, the leaf is dying. That leaf needs chlorophyll to survive. The tree stops producing chlorophyll and the leaves dry out and the green color fades.
Isn’t it the same with us? We are sinners, our sin nature is there, it may not be yellow to orange in color, but we know what it is. We are truly sinful in our original form. It is only when we spend time with Jesus, time in the Word, time soaking in His truths that the sin gets covered and we begin to live a life that is holy. But, when we are lacking and not soaking in His truths, that behavior that is characteristic of that sin nature, creeps out and begins to show through. The leaves change due to outside influences that affect them on the inside. What we have to remember, is that we need to make our outside influences—reading the Word, being around our sisters in Christ, praying and spending time with God, we need to make these things happen so that we are affected on the inside to become more like Christ…
And then, we will be able to have fervent love for one another.

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