Performing in your world with the greatest gifts and abilities without love, jot down, “produces nothing.” Performing. Some of us are good at performing because we have learned that when you perform you get strokes and affirmation and strokes and affirmation, although it’s not like real love from in depth relationships, it feels pretty good and it’s a cheap substitute.
Second, possessing the best, the finest, the most amazing things you can imagine, without love, you become nothing. Now, in the context here he was talking about possessing these amazing gifts. But we live in a world, in America, and in materialism. We have all kinds of little mental markers about what you possess and what you drive and where you live and what your zip code is. And your position and what schools your kids go to, and what their SAT scores are.
And what you possess in terms of position and privilege and what you possess in terms of the esteem of other people and what you possess in terms of reputation and how old are you and how quickly are moving up? And what you possess in terms of your little kids and can they hit the ball or run faster or farther than other little kids?
And those, what you want to be known for, these get into the things that drive you. This is why so many people are living in SUVs. And eating fast food five nights a week. From mini van to mini van, from practice to practice.
This is why people don’t eat dinner together and don’t have time to eat dinner together and why couples see each other briefly in the morning, see one another with blurried eyes, and re-connect, not very well, at ten o’clock that night. And keep thinking, okay, there’s more to do, there’s more to get done, the to-do list is longer, I just gotta keep it going. And then the lie, but when this season is over, it’s always just a season. But seems like the seasons stack up on one another.
And third, sacrificially providing for those you love, the neediest. The greatest calls on earth, without love, profits you nothing. I mean, a lot of us, with our motives and our heart, it’s not we’re trying to live insane paced lives. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve talked to who’ve said, I’ve tried to slow down, I’ve tried…and I just keep getting pulled back into the rushing river of the Silicone Valley Shuffle of movement, demand, push, go, make it happen, innovate. You’re losing it. Market share.
What about this providing? And so you want to provide for your kids this, and provide yourself this, and provide that, until you can accumulate and…
Now, listen very carefully. Every time you buy into a lie, and the biggest ones are so subtle, they’re coated with such significant amounts of truth, that you feel like you’re between the rock and the hard place and you can never get out.
Here’s what I wrote. Many of us live very hurried, overextended, complex lives with shallow, superficial relationships, even with our closest friends and families, because we have unconsciously learned to believe performing well, possessing much, and providing stuff is what life is all about.
Your value as a person, your significance, you gotta perform well. Who you are, what you do, what people think, has to do with possessing stuff. Some of it’s intangible and some of it is very tangible.
How you doing with this? Boy, it’s quiet in here, isn’t it? You know what? You don’t get a free pass on this because you’re a pastor. As I’ve looked at my DNA and my schedule and when I look at the list of, not what I say, but the list of, what does my behavior say? What does my schedule scream? Where does my money go?
I feel like there’s a constant battle of fighting against this belief system that possessing, performing. And even that altruistic, I’m going to provide for. Can get me going at a pace that isn’t good for my soul. It isn’t good for my marriage. It isn’t good for my parenting or grandparenting. And it kills friendships.
So, if that’s the diagnosis, what would the doctor say? What would the “simplify your life” doctor say? Here’s a prescription for transformation.
Three things he would say. He gets his little pad out. You know, put your shirt back on. I’ll be right back in just a second. Little prescription pad’s coming out.
Number one. The secret to simplifying your life is focus. Now, this isn’t earth shattering, is it? You’re trying to do to much. Oh! You’re trying to accomplish too much. Oh! You’re trying to get your kids involved in too much. Oh! You need to do less. But do it better, deeper, more relational. But you need to do the things that matter most. Oh, okay.
Knowing that we’ve all done that and tried that and it lasts for two days to two weeks, depending on our personalities.
Rx number two. You can only do less when you purpose to love more. This, for me, is the biggest “ah-ha” of the series and this message. I have tried many, many times to tweak my schedule. Right?
I’ll do a little less of this, a little less of that. And I already, I go to bed early, I get up real early. I mean, I’ve read time management books like you all have. I do my As first before I do my Bs and then I do my Cs. I do know how to multi-task.
And I’m one very intense person. And yet, I watch it just multiply and multiply and multiply until, different seasons of my life, I feel like I’ve got the seven plates spinning or juggling the balls.
And then somehow, well, that can lay there for a couple minutes and I’ll give my attention over here. Ooh, that’s my marriage, it can’t lay there very long. And what, you’ve done it, right?
If just tweaking things was about intelligence, I’m talking to a really smart group of people who, you would have figured that out by now. But the dead silence in the room tells me, there’s a lot of Silicone Valley Shuffle going on.
And this isn’t an executive issue. This is a lifestyle issue. This is a mindset issue. I’m not a good stay at home mom unless I perform well and possess much and provide a lot to everyone all the time and say “yes.”
I’m not a Silicone Valley person unless I score so many points and I’m involved in this and I’m getting good grades in school and I go to this kind of a school. And this pressure and this demand has us going all these different directions and then sedating our pain and our loneliness with videos and technology and food and un-health.
And that’s why we have so many addiction issues. Because right before people get ready to crack, they just find a substitute to make them feel better.
I was in South Africa and afterwards went to Zimbabwe. And I, it’s been three years since I’ve been overseas. And as a rule, I’ve always wanted to be overseas at least once a year. And in my five years with Walk Thru The Bible, I was overseas all the time. So, I mean, it was really hard, schedule-wise, but it was great for my heart.
And, about a year and a half ago, I decided, thinking, this summer, I have to go overseas. And I have to visit orphans. And it was, yes, we want to help the orphans. And my wife and I have been financially supporting a ministry we really believe in. It wasn’t, am I going to check it out? I knew it was going to be good before I got there.
What I knew was, at the pace that I live, with the new things that I’ve taken on, unless I look into the eyes of little orphan kids who live in shacks, and unless I feel their pain and see what the Third World is like, I will just go faster and faster and try and do things bigger and better and faster and more, bigger and better and faster and more. And just because they’re spiritual, they can make your life just as crazy.
And so I remember in Zimbabwe, it was the second home, I’d been doing some teaching and our group visited a couple different homes and they have a gated place and you go into the home and they have, like, eight or ten girls and an auntie and a grandmother and they teach them the Bible and they get a good meal.
And, we went in the back and they’re teaching them to garden in order to feed them, and they had a chicken run where they’re raising chickens for their food. But I got out of the car and this little girl, in fact, she wasn’t, she was about this tall so she’s a little heavier than I’d hoped. She had this bright yellow smile, she was real shy, and she just walked up to me like this and went…
So, I, you know, got her and I put her on my hip and, you know, we walked around for a while and she seemed to really enjoy that and it was kind of like, we’re gonna go to the back, do you want to walk? I’m thinking, my back says it’d be nice if you walked.
And she just put her arms around, no. And I said, well, what’s your name? She goes, Blessing. Well, that’s interesting. And so, we went around back and she was on my hip for about twenty-five or thirty minutes. Actually, I had to change hips. And then we had a little girl that was thirteen years old that was taken off the streets when she was about five.
And you don’t know what it’s like for a little girl in Zimbabwe or around the world in these countries that are on the streets with no parent at five, six, four, seven.
Just let your imagination go and it’s a little bit worse than that. And this little girl, after now, four and a half years, five years in this home, was amazingly articulate. And not only amazingly articulate but she began to talk about, not just parroting verses that she’d memorized. I have a relationship with Jesus now. I get to eat every day. But the most important thing is, and she looked up, because a pastor comes, like, every other day, along with the auntie and the grandmother, she says, I have a family. And I’m loved.
And she just beamed. And I just thought, you know, I just sat and I thought, with Blessed on my hip, these kids possess what so many of us are chasing after. You know what? They’re not taking drugs to fall asleep at night. They’re not wondering how to balance seventy-five to-dos.
The simplicity of their life, I love God. I love these people. They love me. We want to help others in the way that we’ve been helped. And I just thought, that is a blessing. And what I realize for me was, the only way, this was a big “ah-ha.” I’ve tried to do less. But other stuff creeps in, right?
There’s always that great opportunity. And then, it always comes with, here’s a great opportunity, it’s right down the middle of the plate and, by the way, this great opportunity is only going to come now and if you don’t swing at it right now your kids are going to miss it or you’re going to miss or the business is going to miss it.
And it’s strategic and it’s great and you can do this and you could add it to your schedule, your not going to take anything off but you’re going to mentally say and act like you are.
And so, one more thing gets on there, right? And I just realized, my “no” isn’t strong enough to keep stuff off my plate until I have a lot stronger “yes.”
How did I have two weeks to go be with orphans? And when I was with them and I was with these pastors and when I saw the Third World afresh, all of a sudden, some of the stuff that felt so demanding and some of the people and things I needed to say “no” to.
It’s easy to say “no” to doing less when you’re saying “yes” to loving more.
The third Rx is, begin to redefine success. Begin to redefine success from, how did I do? That’s a performance question. And, is that not like a Silicone Valley…? Mom, how did I do? Dad, how did I do? Teacher, how did I do? Coach, how did I do?
Corporate earnings, how did I do? Change that to, who am I becoming? You might write above the question, how did I do? Performance. Then put an arrow. Who am I becoming? That’s a character question.
What do I have? That’s possessions. Put an arrow from that and move it to, how am I using it? Not, what do I have? How am I using it? You move from possessions to stewardship.
And the third question is, how much to I give? What if you changed that question to, why do I give? So it goes from providing to motive.
What we have before us is one of the greatest chapters in all of Biblical history. But I want to tell you, the Apostle Paul did not sit down one day and say, you know something? I would like to write a literary masterpiece. I’d like to write something that people, whether they were Christians or non-Christians, all over the world, when there’s ever a wedding, they would read this.
I want to provide something for people who love to decoupage. I want plaques to be filled in future Christian stores all over the world, I want it to be put with little lists of poems. You know, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Apostle Paul. If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels yet have not love. Right? If I prophesy…
You know, he was not trying to do that. In fact, what you’re going to find is, we’re going to spend our time and we’re going to walk through this. He doesn’t even define love in 1 Corinthians 13. He gives us fifteen descriptions of love beginning at verse 4.
And in the fifteen descriptions, I’ll show you a little bit later, he takes, at least fifteen of their dysfunctional, hurtful, bad, superficial, relational fallout behaviors, and every one of these things is a corrective so that they will be loving in their relationships.
This is a very practical chapter. He’s talking about, instead of suing one another, here’s how you do. Instead of feeling hurt and rejected and betrayed and gossiping about people, here’s what you do. Instead of living this way, here’s what you do. Instead of shacking up with your mother-in-law and being sexually immoral, here’s what you do.
I mean, this church had major problems. But if we’re going to love more, the danger is that we will think that love is an ooey-gooey feeling and I have, I feel better, God. I had seventeen point five seconds of ooey-gooey feelings with my wife and eleven point seven seconds of ooey-gooey feelings with one of my kids. Or, I’m a single person and I had coffee and we had a deep talk and I feel better.
Now, all those things may be good. But here’s the question. If simplifying your life never works by just saying you’re going to do less but the secret is loving more, the fundamental question is, what is love and how do you practice it?
What does it really mean to be loving? And I’m going to get us started and we’re going to start real small. And remember What About Bob? We’re going to take baby steps, alright? We’re gonna, for the next eight weeks, you know, we’re going to take little baby steps so you need to be here.
And we’re going to learn to start loving - what love really is. Not an emotion. Not a good feeling. But a choice to treat other people in a way that you don’t have the power, apart from God giving it to you, but we’re going to learn to love other people. And I want you to start with those closest to you. Family, friends, spouse, irritating in-laws.
And so, notice what he says. Verse 4. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast. It’s not proud. Just underline “love is patient, love is kind.” That’s all I’m going to cover today.
We’re going to take one baby step toward how to become more loving people. Because as your love will get deeper and deeper and practical this week, you will gravitate and spend energy and time there and you’ll start doing less and loving more.
Love is patient. The word is “macrothumus.” Macro, meaning broad or to spread out. Thumus has the idea of passion. Some translators say it is, to have longsuffering. The idea is - it’s not in reference to being patient with circumstances - this word has to do with being patient with people.
This says that when someone says a little remark that hurts your feelings and so you shut down and turn on the remote. This says someone who, you know, you wanted to be romantic on a certain evening and you got turned down so you decide, you know what? I’m not, I’m just not going to respond to her. Or him.
This is that little comment that your parents make and you just say, well, forget it. I’m gonna shut my door and, you know, play a video game. This is someone at school who says something to hurt your feelings and you just find yourself telling another friend what a jerk and how she’s stuck up and who does he think he is?
This is a different way to respond to hurt. Basically, love is patient, love is kind. He’s addressing the same issue. It’s one coin. The issue is this and write this down. How do I respond when people hurt me? And you don’t have to be in the church long to know you’re going to get hurt.
And we hurt one another in families. And we hurt one another in friends. And we hurt one another in ball teams. And we hurt one another in business. How do you respond when a word or an action or a neglect or someone doesn’t invite you or someone says something about you? How do you respond when there’s a little hurt or a wound?
My reaction is, I’m going to do it back. Or I’ll passive aggressively say, did you hear what he did to me? Or, she did that, therefore, you know, some of you will lash out with your words. Some of you will pay back later. Some of you will passive aggressively leak and be sarcastic. Some of you will cut your parents off.
This passage says, you want to learn to become loving? Here’s what it says. Love is patient. Then the word “kind” is only used in this form in the New Testament. And it’s giving an undeserved response of goodness, winsomeness, and encouragement to the person who’s wounded you.
And I can’t give it in my strength. But you said that to me and it hurt my feeling, I’m going to go to the bedroom and I’m going to forgive you. And then I’m gonna think about how could I affirm and encourage you? Because most people who hurt you, it usually comes out of a wound in their own life.
Can you imagine what’s going to happen in relationships if that’s all we do? Love absorbs the blow and gives a hug. Now, some of you have some historic situations and there’s some abuse situations and issues that you have, kind of, in the background. And this does not mean that, you know, you go home now and say that, you know, the father that abused you, sexually - you know, you think we could form a meeting? I learned from God I’m supposed to hug you.
No, no, no, no, okay? Let’s not over simplify. There’s issues and boundaries. But let’s just start with the everyday relationships of where we live in our homes or in our apartments with roommates and at work and our neighborhood. And let’s say, what would happen if we absorbed the blow like a pillow and we returned a hug?
That’s really what Jesus did, isn’t it? When he was on the cross, he was hurt, rejected, beaten. And it wasn’t just by those people, it was by our sin. And what did he do? He absorbed the blow. Into your hands, Lord, I commit my spirit. And then he died, he rose from the dead, and he said, Father, forgive them. He was kind. He loved.
Think about Nelson Mandela, what apartheid did. He had twenty plus years to think about, ‘how will we respond to the hurt that we’ve had in this country?’ And he absorbed the blow. He returned a hug. One of his secret service people we were with - she’s a committed Christian - she said, you should have seen this man and how he demanded that the white people would be treated after he and the blacks in South Africa were treated. It’s love.
And we’re going to learn, you know what that does? It never fails. It’s powerful.