Like A Child

Saturday, April 19, 2014, 8:02 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put the song in mind, “I Do Not Seal My Lips.” I read 1 Corinthians 13 (NIV).

No Love

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

I believe, to truly understand this chapter, we have to look at it in the context of the book as a whole. Paul was writing to the church, the body of Christ, in Corinth, so he was writing to Christians, though, granted, some of them may have been Christian in profession only. There were divisions in the church because the people were following men and were raising one man above another. So, Paul wrote a discourse on the subject of man’s wisdom vs. the wisdom of God. He said that God has made foolish (silly; childish) the wisdom of this world; that God will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and that he will frustrate the intelligence of the intelligent (See 1 Co. 1:19). Although those who are perishing in their sins may regard the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ as “foolishness,” true foolishness (childishness) comes from when we rely upon the wisdom, thinking and reasoning of human beings to guide us, instead of relying upon the Lord.

Returning to the subject of divisions in the church, Paul said that he could not address the believers as spiritual, but as worldly – mere infants in Christ. He said that he gave them milk, not solid food, for they were not yet ready for it, i.e. he did not tell them everything yet because they were not yet ready spiritually to receive it, because they were too busy taking in human wisdom and were not receptive to the deeper truths of God. He told them that if anyone thinks he is wise by the standards of this world, he should become a “fool,” so that he may become wise. Notice with me here that the term “foolish” is being used interchangeably between what is truly foolish in God’s sight – the wisdom of man - and what is foolish in the eyes of man, namely the gospel. God sees man’s wisdom, thinking and reasoning as foolish (silly; childish), but yet humankind sees the gospel of Jesus Christ as foolish (silly; stupid). So, if we want to be truly wise, we must first become foolish in the eyes of man, i.e. we must reject worldly wisdom and we must submit ourselves to the cross of Christ and to the gospel of Jesus Christ, for that is where we will gain true wisdom.

The Christians in Corinth were apparently all caught up in the here and now, i.e. in the pleasures of this life, in humanistic thinking and reasoning, and proud of it, and in being followers of humans, though obviously they were not really following Paul’s teaching or they wouldn’t have still been worldly and “spiritual infants.” So, maybe it was more of a status thing with them. They were obviously making judgments about God’s servants based upon human thinking and reasoning. Yet, they were not living for the gospel of Jesus Christ, so they, also, were not facing the same types of persecutions as were the apostles. Paul wanted them to imitate him and his relationship with Jesus Christ, because, although he certainly was not perfect, he was walking in the Spirit and not in the flesh, and he was depending upon the wisdom of God and the truth of the gospel rather than on human wisdom. He wrote this to warn them, and he cautioned them against remaining arrogant.

Many were also involved in sexual immorality and/or they were allowing it to go on within the church. They were bringing lawsuits against each other in public court. Some of them were not acting in love toward their fellow Christians in the exercise of their freedoms. Some of them were self-indulgent when it came to partaking of the Lord’s Supper. Others of them were conceited about the spiritual gifts they possessed, as well as there was abuse and/or misunderstandings of some of the gifts and/or of their level of importance. So, Paul was writing them to teach them that the way of love and spiritual maturity, which went hand-in-hand, was the way they should go, and not the way they had been going. They could possess all kinds of human or even Biblical knowledge, they could be diligent in giving to the poor, and they could be faithful in the exercise of the speaking gifts, but if it was all based in pride and self-glorification instead of coming from hearts of love, it meant nothing.

Love Is

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Just in case they were truly ignorant of the meaning of true love, Paul explained to them what it means to truly love God and to love one another. We cannot act in love towards others when we are puffed up, focused on ourselves, self-consumed, relying upon human wisdom to guide us, misusing our freedoms, uninvolved in spiritual matters, involved in taking advantage of others and/or if we are ignoring deliberate sin in ourselves or in others, etc., for all this is self-focused instead of God and others focused. When we are thinking about ourselves and are consumed with what pleases us we may grow impatient with others, be unkind, be jealous or threatened by others’ relationships with Christ, be prideful of our own accomplishments, and/or easily angered. We may have difficulty rejoicing with truth because truth exposes what is hidden in darkness, and we may be compliant with evil, either by being entertained by it, or by allowing it to go on in others and/or in our own lives. True love, nonetheless, rejoices in truth, hates what is evil, and perseveres in hope.

Childish Ways

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

The Corinthian believers could not be addressed as spiritual, but as worldly – mere infants in Christ. They were behaving childishly in many of the things they practiced, in their behaviors and attitudes, and even in their thinking and beliefs. They were not moving on to spiritual maturity, and they were guilty of being prideful, arrogant and worldly. So, Paul was letting them know that the things in which they took pride were all going to pass away one day. It did not mean these were all bad things, though some certainly were. God has given us these gifts of the Spirit for a reason, yet there are people who abuse them, misuse them and who even abuse others with them, i.e. they use them to put one person above another and perhaps even to flaunt their own knowledge by lording it over others while not exercising the least bit of love and kindness in the process.

The Essentials

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

The message? – One day our knowledge and gifts will all disappear. What truly matters is love, for God is love, and love makes a difference in people’s lives, and it is what endures. And, all these other things, if not exercised in love, don’t amount to anything. It is just a bunch of noise and hot air.

The reality? – Not one of us is perfect in knowledge. We only have what God gives us, and he does not give us everything, so we have no cause for conceit. Yet, when Jesus Christ returns, and we go to be with him, what is incomplete and imperfect will disappear. We will then see Him face to face, and we will then know what we only know in part now.

So, if believers in Christ, who willfully remain spiritual infants, who are worldly and fleshly, continue on in their mediocrity and involve themselves in what is unholy, and it seems as though they lack concern for what matters to God, as they are acting childishly and selfishly, we should not let this unsettle us, but we should pray for them to come to their senses. Even if others do not love, we should still love, and we should keep believing God to move in their hearts to bring them to the place of spiritual maturity in Christ Jesus. And, even if others serve with the wrong motives, we should keep on serving the Lord Jesus, exercising our gifts in love, for the glory of God. And, if this evil world threatens to undo us, we should keep on keeping on in loving God and others, and in sharing the gospel of Christ.

I Do Not Seal My Lips / An Original Work / January 13, 2014

Based off Psalms 37, 40

Do not fear when evil man
Has success in all their plans,
For like grass they’ll wither soon.
They’ll be cut off from the land.

Trust in the Lord and He’ll give you peace.
Find your delight in Him through all stress.
All of your ways commit unto Him.
All your desires from Him He’ll fulfill.

Wait for the Lord; keep His way.
Delight in His Word always.
He’ll be with you to the end;
Life eternal found in Him.

I waited patiently for my Lord.
He turned to me, and He heard my cry.
He set my feet on the Solid Rock.
He gave to me a firm place to stand.

Blessed are we, who trust the Lord,
Who do not turn to false gods.
Our desire’s to do God’s will.
His word is within our hearts.

I will proclaim salvation to man.
You put a new song now in my mouth.
I’ll not withhold your love and your grace.
I’ll speak forevermore of your truth.