Lately, I have been exclusively in the Apostle John’s writings, in my personal readings, my blog writing, and my time with my wife.
John reiterates one theme, over and over again in my opinion, and that is that we are to love one another, to love like Jesus, to love.
It is refreshing to be reminded of the core mission of believers.
Love like Jesus.
Love is the goal of all of Christian life. Love that is displayed in the life of Jesus. The life and death of Jesus. This love is described in 1 Corinthians 13. Let’s consider
Love does not insist on its own way
It has been years since a brother once instructed me to replace the term “love” with “Jesus” to get a better understanding of who He is.
Jesus does not insist on His own way
This is a difficult study, in that the suggestion of my brother seems to go against the lordship of Jesus. I mean, the lordship of Christ, by definition is to have His way.
Maybe I am getting ahead of myself. Lets look at some passages that may flesh out the idea of “insisting on it’s own way” and consider it’s message.
Lets look at some passages that describe the act of love in not insisting on it’s own way
We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.”
This passage is teaching of the willingness of the Christ to give up what was pleasing to Himself, (not insisting on his own way) in the plan of God.
…”Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”
Again, when the most excruciating time in Jesus life was upon Him, He did not insist on His own way, but desired the Father’s will to be done.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
Paul is directing the believers in Philippi to not insist on their desires but to consider others more significant, to be open to other believers. To consider others to be more significant, would necessarily consider their ways to be worthy of considering, and by implication, we would need to be willing to be malleable, not insisting on our ways.
1 Corinthians 10:24
Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.
Another time where Paul instructs believers to seek the good of their neighbors. The same logic can be applied as with the Philippian passage.
1 Corinthians 14:4
He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.
It is becoming apparent that the believer is to be willing to adjust, to be flexible, to not insist on their ways in an expression of true Christian love.
And yet there are passages that speak of the believers responsibility to be inflexible, to stand and not be moved
Jude wanted to fight over something, definitely not a “give in” attitude.
Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.
To contend, or to earnestly contend, comes from the Greek word epagōnizomai. Can you see the “agony” in the Greek word? Jude was not willing to give in or “not insist” on a certain truth. The gospel was non-negotiable.
Of course, there may be some out there that consider every teaching, from end times to modes of baptism to be “gospel truth” and every secondary and tertiary teaching they hold to to be worthy of dying for. Convictions of belief are good and should be established in our lives, and yet we are to handle some truths with a kid glove, understanding that other truly born again believers hold to different teachings. This is where discernment comes in.
Before that discussion, let’s consider one more passage that speaks of a believer insisting on his own way.
Paul was preaching the gospel, teaching the unity of the body of Christ, when Peter came to visit the Galation church. All was well, until Peter joined a group from Jerusalem, separating himself from the others, and causing Paul a kinipshin fit.
Paul insisted on correction. He did not allow Peter’s decision to eat with the Judaizers to potentially split the Church into two factions
For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party.
And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy.
But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”
Paul wasn’t willing to let this go. He insisted on his own way.
So what can we learn from this?
1 Corinthains 13 teaches us that love does not insist on its own way, and yet there are passages that show the very leaders of the Church, even the author of 1 Corinthians, insisting on thier own way.
One point in this conflict may be helpful to consider. When it comes to self sacrifice, to giving up your own ways in order to consider a fellow believers thoughts and actions, show some grace and sacrifice your way for the body.
I once attended a church that was voting on the color of shingles to be placed on the roof of the building. You would have thought they were arguing over the divinity of Christ.
Be at peace with one another as much as is possible. It takes two to tangle, and if you give up your rights and ways, peace may erupt in the body. How wonderful!
When it comes to sacrificing the truth about the person of Christ, and the message the Word of God provides us, INSIST – do not budge!
In the context of 1 Corinthians, where the body was being ripped apart with infightings over gifts, and tongues etc. giving way is a powerful reminder of the attitude and mind of Christ. We need to practice the mind of Christ without giving up the truth of Christ.
Jesus replacing Love
So is my brother’s suggestion of replacing the term love with Jesus accurate and helpful?
Jesus does not insist, He does not demand.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, this one aspect of love seems to fight against the Lordship of Christ.
He does make demands on His people. You shall not lie, steal, commit adultery. You shall love the Lord with all your heart, soul and mind. He does expect obedience and that indicates His Words are commands, demands, items He insists on.
One verse that has caught me off guard is in 2 Corinthians 6:1, where Paul states that he works together with God.
2 Corinthians 6:1
Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.
Notice that Paul “works together” with God. He is the Lord, but am I off base to think that the Lord of all actually considers our thoughts, and adjusts His plans in order to work together with us? Prayer is the very topic I am thinking of in this instance, and it may need to be considered in a separate post, but it is amazing that the One who is above all, considers our thoughts and concerns in the grand scheme of all things.
He truly is a great God!
Please join me in our next study where we will consider how love relates to irritability.
I look forward to comments and discussion. May the Lord give you an understanding heart and a willing spirit to consider the Bible and all it’s wealth.
Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.