1Cor 13:5                               Charity Seeketh Not Her Own                                          ßą   

 

 

#1.       Charity Doth Not Behave Itself Unseemly (1Cor 13:5, Phil 4:8)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#2.       Charity Rejoiceth Not in Iniquity (1Cor 13:6, Rom 1:32, 2Thes 2:12, Psalm 10:3)

 

 

 

 

#3.       Charity Beareth All Things (1Cor 13:7, Rom 15:1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please open your Bibles to the First Epistle to the Corinthians, 1Cor 13:1 (2X). This is the third installment on 1Cor 13. We have covered the first part of this chapter, which was verses 1-3, concerning the excellencies of love above all other gifts of the Spirit. We have covered the first verse of the second part of this chapter, which is verse 4, concerning “Charity suffereth long, and is kind”. And today we will finish the remaining three verses of the second part of this chapter, concerning the characteristics of love and its influence on the minds and hearts of those involved. Next week we shall look at the third part of this chapter, concerning a comparison of love with the gifts of prophecy, and with knowledge, and with tongues.

It is interesting that God chose to include prophecy and knowledge in this third part, for prophecy, the declaration of God’s words, leads to faith, and knowledge of the words of God leads to the hope of eternal life with Christ and in Christ. And then God finishes the chapter with faith, hope and love, of which only love remains active all the way into eternity future. Let us now read 1Cor 13:1-13 to familiarize ourselves with the context:

1Cor 13:1-13 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth (boast) not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

We should be aware that the noun for love is “agape”, or the verb to love is “agapao” and “phileo”. Agapao is used when love is an impulse of the will. Phileo is used when love is an impulse of the inner feelings. Agapao appears 142 times in the Bible, whereas phileo appears only 25 times. This tells us of the relative importance of agapao and agape over phileo. The noun “agape” appears 116 times in the Bible. God emphasizes that the love of God that is shed abroad in our heart is agape. And thus we must have agape in our heart as proof that the Holy Spirit has done a miracle there, whereas phileo is optional. But even though agapao or agape is an impulse of the will, let us be careful to note that it is also the love of God that is shed abroad in our heart. It was God who put it there. If we by our own will have decided that we are going to love this person or that person, and by our own will we are establishing the signs that are associated with salvation, let us be aware that God also says that we cannot be saved unless we are born again. And since we cannot make ourselves born again, God says in John 1:13 “Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” In other words, the sign that we have love for our fellow man is the evidence that we have been born again, and this only occurs when it is according to God’s will; it does not occur by our own will. And so, let us be careful to search our heart where our love for others came from. Has God made us born again, or did we just buy fire insurance?

In 1Cor 13 we read the word “charity”. The translators wanted to make sure we understand that this word is the special word “agape”, which is the love that is an impulse of the will, and it is the love that God has put in our hearts, totally free of charge. The noun agape appears 116 times in the Bible, of which it is translated 86 times “love” and 27 times “charity”, even though the word agape never means “alms giving”. We can look at the characteristics of the word agape, translated here as charity, and we have already discovered the last time that longsuffering and kindness are two properties that are very prominent of the word agape. The remaining properties can be summarized under the banner: “Charity seeketh not her own”. It means that charity is not selfish, but always seeks the good of others. Therefore the title of this sermon is Charity Seeketh Not Her Own (2X). This is the overarching umbrella over all the properties of agape. This is the banner that contains in a nutshell all the essence and all the value of the love of God that was shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost. Let us look at 1Cor 13:5.

#1.       Charity Doth Not Behave Itself Unseemly (1Cor 13:5, Phil 4:8)

1Co 13:5  Charity doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;”

What does it mean “unseemly”? It means to conduct improperly, or disgracefully, or indecently, or in a manner to deserve reproach. Love seeks that which is proper, or becoming in the circumstances of life in which we are placed. If we have a proper respect for superiors, we should certainly also have a proper regard for those who have an inferior rank in society, not despising their rank, or their poverty, or their dress, or their dwellings, or their views of happiness. Love prompts us to respect all the relations of life, as those of a husband, or a wife, or a child, or a brother, or a sister, or a son, or a daughter. And so love produces in us a proper conduct in all these relations. The main idea of the phrase, “charity doth not behave itself unseemly” is, that it prompts to all that is fit and becoming in life, and that it would prevent us from all that is unfit and unbecoming. Love also would constrain us from behaving indecently, or immorally. These are activities that are common in temples of idolatry, but do not belong in the Christian life. So, what is fit and becoming in the Christian life? Please turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to the Philippians, Phil 4:8 (2X). Here is an example of Christian conduct that would flow out of the presence of love, agape, toward others. And as a fringe benefit this type of conduct produces peace within the hearts of those who practice it. Look at the context. The previous verse, Phil 4:7, speaks of “the peace of God which passeth all understanding”. And the following verse, Phil 4:9, speaks of the result of this conduct: “the God of peace shall be with you”. And so, let us now read Phil 4:8 (2X).

Php 4:8  Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any

virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Did you ever think that this verse was connected with agape? But it is true. This conduct, described by Phil 4:8 can only come if the love of God has been shed abroad in our hearts, for only then would we want to think on those things that are true, and that are honest, and that are just, and that are pure, and that are lovely, and that are of good report, and that are virtuous, and that are praiseworthy. All these virtues reflect the good of man, and if we love that person we do not want to think of his actions as bad as possible, but as good as possible. These are the things, says the apostle Paul, which ye have both learned, and received from God, and ye have heard it and have seen it in me. Nothing hinders you from imitating me, and to do likewise, and the God of peace shall be with you. Please return now to the Epistle to the Corinthians, 1Cor 13:5 (2X).

1Co 13:5  Charity doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;”

There is in the NT not a more striking expression than this, that charity in a person does not seek for his own profit, but for the profit of others. It does not seek its own happiness to the injury of others. However, we should not think that this expression excludes seeking our own welfare. People in a monastery think this way, but monasteries are unbiblical monstrosities. God does not tell us to come out of the world, but to mingle within the world and let our light so shine there where it is needed most. We must spend time to maintain our own health, our own finances, and whatever is good for our own salvation, or else we will be incapacitated to be fruitful servants of the Lord. We must not neglect our own life so that we become a burden to others. This is how we glorify God, our Savior, and accomplish the great design which our Maker had in view in His creation and redemption. Please turn a few pages back to First Corinthians chapter 10, 1Cor 10:24 (2X). We read here, within the context of “meat that is offered to idols” these words in 1Cor 10:24, “Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s wealth”, which is almost the same as “Charity seeketh not her own”.  If our happiness is the main or leading thing in our life, it proves that we are supremely selfish, and selfishness is not agape. But the expression that is before us, “Charity seeketh not her own”, is comparative, and it indicates that this is not the main thing, or the only thing, which we under influence of love are pursuing. Our love for others will prompt us to seek their welfare with self-denial, and with our personal sacrifice, and with our personal labor. If we have become born again then the characteristic of the presence of agape is that we do not promote our own wealth, or health, or happiness, but that we live to do well to others. Our love to others will prompt us to do that. There is not a particle of selfishness in true love. It was said of the Lord Jesus, in Acts 10:38, that “He went about doing good”. We can derive three principles from this statement: #1. No man is saved who lives for himself alone, or who makes it his main business to promote his own welfare and salvation (Matt 12:30). #2. No man is saved who does not deny himself, or who is not willing to sacrifice his own time, and comfort, and wealth, and ease, to advance the welfare of the kingdom of Christ (Matt 16:24). #3. The principle, “He went about doing good”, and the call to follow Him is a principle, so strong, that the whole world might be converted if this would be possible in the counsel of God. Just think of it, when all the saints make it their grand object not to seek their own, but to seek the good of others all the time, when true charity shall occupy the appropriate place in the heart of every professing child of God, then all the elect in this whole world would be speedily converted to the Lord Jesus Christ. Then there will be no lack of funds to spread Bibles and tracts, no lack of missionaries and no lack of funds for them, no lack of funds to establish schools and colleges where the Bible is taught, no lack of men who shall be willing to go to any part of the earth to preach the Gospel, and no lack of prayer to implore God for mercy on a ruined and dying world. It would actually mean that every one of the elect would become saved, and then the end of the world would be upon us. But God, in His own wisdom, according to the counsel of His own will, has allowed sin to permeate the lives of everyone here on earth, even the saints, so that the conversion of the elect is slowed down, and this earth’s existence would be prolonged, because the ideal saints to do all this work do not exist yet. And so, when we pray that all the selfishness of the human race might be taken away let us be careful what we pray for. We would be asking for the end of the world. Nevertheless the Lord Jesus, by His example, has showed us what is expected of us. It is to love one another in the church fervently, and to seek to work not for our own welfare, but for the welfare of others in this world, not only for those in the church, but also for others who are outside the church. God is able to use all our actions for the good of His Kingdom. We should not worry about it. That is why God says in Phil 2:4,

Php 2:4  Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

Let us now continue in 1Cor 13:5,

1Co 13:5  Charity doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;”

Charity is not easily provoked. This word “provoked” occurs in the NT only in one other place. In Acts 17:16 we read, “his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.” His spirit was “provoked” within him. The word properly means to sharpen by, or to sharpen with, or to sharpen on anything, and this may be applied to the act of sharpening a knife or a sword. Then it means to sharpen the mind, or the temper, or the courage of anyone. Here in 1Cor 13:5 it takes on the meaning “To rouse to anger”, or “to excite to indignation”, or “to wrath”. Tindal translates it, “Charity is not provoked to anger”. The word “easily” does not occur in the original Greek text. The translators have inserted it to convey the idea that the person who is under the influence of agape, though he may be provoked, or though there might be incitements to anger, yet he would not easily be roused to anger. It is not his character to be hasty, or to be excited, or to be passionate. He is calm, serious, and patient. He practices self-control. He governs his passions, restrains his temper, and subdues his feelings. This is what agape does to the character of a person. He looks kindly on the actions of a person who rouses his anger; put the best construction on his motives, and considers if it is possible that he has mistaken the reasons for his conduct, and seeks an explanation. Is it possible that he may be influenced by good motives, and that his conduct will have a satisfactory explanation? This is what is brought about when the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost. This is the change that is produced as one of the fruits of the Spirit when we have become born from above: a naturally quick, excitable, and irritable character is changed to one that is calm, and gentle, and subdued. And is that not what we also find in the Word of God, where we read in Gal 5:22-23,

Ga 5:22  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

Ga 5:23  Meekness, temperance (or self-control): against such there is no law.

Temperance. When we speak of “Charity is not easily provoked”, we speak of temperance, or self-control. Let us now finish 1Cor 13:5. There we read,

1Co 13:5 “Charity doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;”

“Charity thinketh no evil”, meaning that if we are filled with love for others, we think no evil of their conduct. We put the best possible construction on the motives for their conduct. Keep in mind that this expression is also comparative. It means that the love that is in our heart is not malicious, or disposed to find fault, or to impute improper motives to others. Not only are we “Not easily provoked”, but we are also not disposed to even think that there was any evil intention, even if their actions might tend to irritate us. We are not disposed to even think that there was any evil in the case. We put the best possible construction on the conduct of others, and suppose, as far as can be done, that it was in agreement with honesty, truth, friendship, and love. The Greek word that stands for “thinketh” is often translated “impute”. It means, love does not reckon, or charge, or impute to a man any evil intention or design. We desire to think well of the man whom we love; nor will we think ill of his motives, opinions, or conduct until we are compelled to do so by the most reliable evidence. True love, therefore, will prompt to charitable judging. It will be a truthful application of the words of the Lord Jesus when He said in

Matt 7:1-2, Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

In other words, do not be rash with your judgment of this person’s conduct. Wait until the judge, or another person of that authority, has judged him, and then be satisfied with the verdict. Let us now go on to the following verse, 1Cor 13:6. There we read of two contrasting statements.

#2.       Charity Rejoiceth Not in Iniquity (1Cor 13:6, Rom 1:32, 2Thes 2:12, Psalm 10:3)

1Co 13:6  Charity rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;”

What is God saying here? The man who is filled with agape toward others does not rejoice over the vices of other men. He does not take delight when they are guilty of crime, or when they fall into sin. He does not find pleasure in hearing others accused of sin, and in having it proved that they committed it. He does not find a malicious pleasure in the report that they have done wrong; or in following up on that report and finding it true. Wicked men often find pleasure in this. Men of the world often find a malignant pleasure in the report and in the evidence that a member of the church has brought dishonor on his profession. But men under the influence of God’s love do none of these things. They do not desire that an enemy, or a persecutor, or a slanderer should do evil, or souls disgrace and ruin himself. Love does not rejoice, but grieves, when a brother in the faith, or an enemy of the faith has done anything wrong. And perhaps there is no greater triumph of the Gospel than in its enabling a man to rejoice when even his enemy and persecutor in any respect does well; or to rejoice that he is in any way honored and respected among men. Human nature, without the Gospel, manifests a different feeling, and it is only as the heart is subdued by the Gospel of grace alone, and filled with benevolence for all men, that the heart is brought to rejoice when all men do well. And this is because we do not know who the elect are. Please turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to the Romans, Rom 1:32 (2X). In Romans chapter 1 God lists about 50 types of sins, with many referring to homosexuality. Three times do we read in this chapter, “God gave them up” and “God gave them over”, which are ominous warnings about the judgment of God. But then God writes in Rom 1:32,

Ro 1:32  Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

What this refers to is that in today’s movie theaters, and through electronic media in their bedroom, people can watch actors who commit all these kinds of sins. People actually pay money to watch these things, and have pleasure in them that do them. This is the pornography of the 20th and the 21st century. And when we warn people of this evil, we are not taken seriously. God allowed this technology to develop to perfection, and God did that to bring on the judgment of the last day. We can see that God gave people these toys, like we read in 2Thes 2:12,

2Th 2:12  That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

This last verse in Rom 1 is actually the bottom line of this list of sins. God is realizing the prophecy of Ps 10:3,

Ps 10:3  For the wicked boasteth of his heart’s desire, and blesseth the covetous, whom the LORD abhorreth.

These are sins that we need to repent off. God has no pleasure in people who deliberately sin. But the man who has the love of God in his heart does not rejoice in iniquity. Instead we read in 1Cor 13:6,

1Co 13:6  Charity rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;”

“Charity rejoiceth in the truth”. The word truth here stands opposed to iniquity, and means virtue, and piety, and goodness. It does not rejoice in the vices, but in the virtues of others. The man under the influence of charity is pleased and rejoices when others do well. He is pleased when others who differ from himself, conduct themselves in any manner, in such a way as to please God. And all they who are under the influence of that love rejoice that good is done, and that the truth is defended and advanced, by whoever may be the instrument. We rejoice that others are successful in their plans to do good, although they do not act with us. We do not rejoice when other denominations fall into error, or when their plans are blasted, or when they are gossiped and oppressed and reviled. The reason of this is that all sin, and error, and vice, will ultimately ruin the blessedness of many. And since love desires their blessedness, we desire that they keep walking in truth. What a change would such attitude produce in the blessedness of mankind if all the Christians would rejoice in the truth, and would not rejoice in iniquity? And how much change would be produced even among Christians in restraining them from rejoicing at the errors of rival denominations. And how much change would be produced if the Christians would mourn over their errors in secret. This would be a very different world if there were none to rejoice in iniquity, and the church would become a very different church if everyone in the church rejoiced in the truth. God says in 2John 4, “I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father.” Let us go on.

#3.       Charity Beareth All Things (1Cor 13:7, Rom 15:1)

1Co 13:7  Charity beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.”

The word here should not have been translated “bear” but “cover”. Literally it reads “Charity covers all things” The Greek word that is used here properly means “to cover”, like a roof, and then to hide, or to conceal. Thus it means that love is disposed to hide or conceal the faults and imperfections of others, and not to give undue publicity to them. For the good of the individual, and for the good of the public, would require that these faults and errors are concealed. Of course, this would not apply in the case of heresy, for that would not be in the interest of the people, for heresy tends to drag many people together with the false prophet into Hell; heresy we want to expose as soon as possible. And so, to sum it up, love is patient, long-suffering, not soon angry, not disposed to revenge, and covers up the faults of others. And then we arrive at the words “All things”. How can we understand “all things”? Obviously, all universal expressions of this kind must be limited. Therefore the meaning must be: “All things as far as it can consistently or lawfully be done”. There are offences for which it is not right for a man to conceal or to pass unnoticed. For example, offences where the laws of the land are violated, or when a man is called to testify in court must be truthfully reported. But the phrase here in 1Cor 13:7 refers to private matters, and it indicates a disposition not to make public, or to avenge the faults committed by others. God says in Rom 15:1,

Ro 15:1 ¶  We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.

1Co 13:7  Charity beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.”

“Charity believeth all things”. It cannot mean that we would believe all the heresies out there in the world. Instead it must mean that in regard to the conduct of others there is a disposition to put the best construction on it; to believe that they may have been done with good motives and that they did not intend to injure us. Then we have a willingness to suppose that what was done, was done consistently with friendship, good feeling and virtue. Love produces this in me, for love rejoices in the blessedness and virtue of others. Therefore God writes in 2Tim 2:24

2Ti 2:24  And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,

1Co 13:7  Charity beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.”

“Charity hopeth all things”. Hopes that all will turn out well. This must also refer to the conduct of others, and it means that however dark may be the appearance, yet there is a hope that matters may be explained and made clear; that the difficulties may be made to vanish; and that the conduct of others may be made to appear to be fair and pure. Love will hold on to this hope until all possibility of such a result has vanished. This hope will extend to all things, meaning all words, and actions, and plans, to what is said and done in our own presence, and to what is said and done in our absence. If we have love we will do this, because we delight in the virtue and blessedness of others. We will hang on to this until all hope is gone.

1Co 13:7  Charity beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.”

“Charity endureth all things”. It means that if I have charity I will bear up under persecutions at the hand of man. I will endure all efforts to injure me, or my property, or my reputation. And I will patiently endure all that may be laid upon me in the providence of God, for He knows what is best for me. God, who is infinitely wise, knows which sufferings will be to the benefit of His saints. Therefore God writes in 2Tim 2:10,

2Ti 2:10  Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

Please turn in your Bibles to the Gospel According to Matthew, Matt 24:22 (2X). Now that we have covered two thirds of this chapter, we can see that the life of a saint is not all covered with roses. We have received the love of God, agape, at the time we were born again. It was a free gift, just like eternal life was a free gift of God. But the free gift of agape brings with it many obligations which will cause some pain, and some rejoicing, but we would not want to live without that gift of agape. But here is where I must sound a warning. The Lord said in Matt 24:22,

Mt 24:22  And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.

It does not mean that the days will be shorter than 24 hours. It means that the number of years of the FTP will be shorter than it is supposed to be, for if the length of the FTP would be longer there would not be any saints living at the time Christ returns. What does that say about the spiritual health of the younger generation? This is a serious warning from the Lord. The spiritual health of the younger generation is zero. Please let this fact sink in. It ties into this study of 1Cor 13, for here we have discovered that if we do not have agape we are not saved. Many of the younger generation know the doctrines that we preach in this church. But do they have the love that the Bible says they must have? I do not see it. I am afraid they are involved in cold orthodoxy. And from this they must repent. You parents must sit down with your children and talk this over. It is a matter of life and death. I am not saying that we can override the counsel of God. But God has tied His elective program to family situations. And God expects from us that we do our parenting job right.

AMEN.                 Let us turn to the Lord in prayer