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Doing Less, Loving More
Most of us live very complex lives that move too fast, deliver too little, and demand too much. We often succumb to the push and pull of all the demands. We lack time for God, relationships, or ourselves. We know we need to change our pattern of life, but we either put it off or just don't know how to get started. In the end, there's a key question we need to ask and answer: What do we want to be known for? It is possible to break free from the high speed, high pressure, high demand, guilt-producing disease of our lives. The answer is counter-intuitive and it's found in 1 Corinthians 13. Discover what is needed to enjoy Spiritual Simplicity in today's fast paced lifestyles.More from this series
I think there are three things that are true of every person on this planet. Number one: We all fail. I’m just going to – even you. You know? I mean, you can call it mess up, blow it, miss the mark. I mean, every single person, every week, fails.
Number two: We all have legitimate desires and needs that are God-ordained that we pursue. I mean, legitimate desires to be significant, to be loved, to give love, to be secure, to have purpose, that our lives would have an impact. We just have legitimate, God-given desires and needs that God wants us to pursue.
Third fact, in a fallen world, our failures are often an attempt to obtain good things in a bad way. I want you to let that one sink in. Sometimes when we fail, we’re covered with shame and sometimes we fail and we get down on ourselves or, if you’re like me, you try and at least blame someone else for a while instead of yourself.
But what would happen if you could begin to see that some of the patterns in your life and some of the patterns in my life, where you fail, where you mess up, where there’s breakdown in relationships, where there’s breakdown in your relationship with God, where you feel terrible and you know you’ve blown it.
What if you began to understand that you were really looking for something good that was a God-ordained need or desire, but you went about finding it in the wrong way? That would begin to give you some new light to deal with that failure.
In this book written to the Corinthians, the apostle Paul outlines a number of ways that they did it and we do it as well. I highlighted a few. We seek acceptance and belonging – that’s a good thing, right? – by forming cliques and criticizing and excluding others. And that causes division. That’s a bad thing. That happened in chapter 3.
We seek connection and intimacy through illicit sex, pornography, and emotional affairs that destroy marriages and ruin families. That happens today; that happened in chapter 5.
We seek security and significance – and destroy relationships by our greed. That happened to this group in chapter 6.
We seek to protect God’s holiness – obviously a good thing – but by misguidedly judging others’ motives and differences, resulting in disunity and broken relationships. It’s a bad thing. That happened in chapter 8.
We seek legitimate, godly pleasures, with no consideration for those who are weaker in faith, and we allow our freedom to destroy their relationship with Christ. That’s a bad thing. But the legitimate pleasures? God – there’s nothing wrong with those.
It reminded me of an old song. So many times, our gravest failures are attempts to look for love in all the wrong places. Lookin’ for love in all the wrong places! Is that – how do you like that twang? “Looking for love in so many faces, I’m looking for love.” I’ll never make it as a country singer.
You listen to the lyrics of that song. In fact, Johnny Lee. The story of that song is very interesting. He said it described his life. His life was totally messed up, but his desire was for a good thing. He really wanted to be loved and be connected and have intimacy and life and purpose.
But he went about it in ways that destroyed his relationship with himself, he hurt other people, and certainly violated more than a handful of God’s commands. Here’s what you need to understand. When you try to find good things in a bad way, you will hurt other people, you will hurt yourself, and you’ll miss God’s best.
And so, we talked about: how do we learn to really love in real time? Not a theory, not coming to church and you ought to love more, you ought to be more kind, but how specifically? And so, the apostle Paul, writing to a group much like, I think, high capacity, high gifts, strategically located. And so, what we learned is in situation number one, how does love respond to hurt? And in verses – verse 4 it said, “Love is patient; love is kind.” That was the truth. But then the practice was, when you’re hurt or wounded or rejected or ignored, love absorbs the blow, remember the pillow, and returns a hug.
So, let me ask you, did anybody, and I’m speaking mostly to the person who is sitting in your seat, have an opportunity to be hurt, wounded, rejected, someone dissed you just a little, and you said, “Ooh, I could diss them back or I could – you know what? I’m going to absorb the blow and I’m going to respond in a positive way.” See, as you begin to practice that, you know what that’s called? That’s biblical love. That’s loving people the way Jesus loves people.
The second situation is: how do we respond to differences? There’s all kind of differences.
Love doesn’t envy. It doesn’t boast. It’s not rude. It’s not self-seeking. It’s not easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs. And so, the practice is: love celebrates differences. Remember? The principle was: love refuses to compare. It refuses to compare upward and feel envy; it refuses to compare downward and be arrogant.
When you begin to practice that, you eliminate envy, you eliminate arrogance, and you start loving people the way Jesus loves them.
The third situation is, today, we are going to talk about: how does love respond to failure? We agreed that we all fail and that means that the people closest to you, whether it’s a roommate or whether it’s a wife or a husband or a son or a daughter or a mom or a dad or people at work or people in a small group or people in your neighborhood – they are going to fail, you’re going to get a lot of chance to respond to other people’s failures.
And as you listen to this, know that this is how we are to respond to other people’s failures, to be loving, to maximize love, but in the back of your mind, I want you to remember this is exactly how God responds to your failure. Everything we are going to cover, this is how the heart of the living, Creator of the universe responds to your failure.
Because the more you can get it vertically, the more you’ll begin to be able to give it horizontally.
And so, the truth is, “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, it always trusts, it always hopes, it always perseveres.” Summary, “Love never fails.”
And so, the practice is: love responds to failure with truth and grace. Underline in your notes “truth” and underline the word “grace.” Love, real love, demands truth. Love and truth are inseparable. If there is, quote, you think you have love but there’s no truth, it’s just mushy, sentimentalism. It’s just gushy feelings.
And we have come to believe, because of media and all the books and all the romance novels, we think love is just this ooey-gooey feeling that we’re connected.
We may be in complete denial, but, “I feel good about you and you feel good about me, and so we must be loving.” No, maybe you’re just on drugs. Having a good feeling about another person when there are major issues that are unaddressed, when there are behaviors and addictions and issues that are bringing about fallout, when you’re doing things to one another that is destroying a long-term relationship – that’s not love.
Having a good feeling about someone is a nice thing. Biblical love demands truth. It says, “Love doesn’t rejoice,” or find joy or satisfaction in evil. Things that are unrighteous. Things that are wrong. Things that are the opposite of the way God wants people to live. “But it delights in and finds great joy in the truth.” Love refuses to find joy in another’s sin, misfortune, or dysfunction, or pain.
I jotted a note to myself. We have a perverted attraction, a perverted attraction to the misfortune, addictions, and problems of others. I don’t know, I mean, I guess it’s just being fallen.
But we like to watch other people mess up. We like to hear about how badly they mess up. We like to watch and listen and view people making fools of themselves and then laugh on our couches as they do it. It’s called reality TV.
I mean, think of this. We all live in this house. She hates him. She hears, “I heard you last night,” and then the camera comes, “Man, I tell you, I think she’s a… and I don’t think she’d ever do. I’m not going to get kicked out of this house.” You know?
I mean, it’s just like, wait, it’s not like stories of, “We would like to bring you an exciting story of a major star who has now done amazing things for the inner-city children and those who are helping orphans in Africa.”
I mean, for every one of those, you get a hundred, “Lindsay’s in jail again. Will she get out? Who knows? Did you see so-and-so?” I mean, it’s just a proliferation of evil and misfortune and addiction and pain and very subtly you’re filling your mind with it.
And it is the culture and it is the absolute opposite of love. When I’m finding delight in things that violate what brings health and life and restoration, I’m setting myself up for dysfunctional, painful, negative relationships.
Love doesn’t rejoice in evil. In fact, I mean, think about. “This is really fun; did you see that movie?” “Yeah, everybody got blown up.” Boom, ba-boom, boom, bam, bam. “And did you see it? They put it in slow-mo.” Boom, boom, boom! The Teflon bullet! Blaaaah! “That was a great movie!” “Yeah.”
The sanctity of life and the value of human life is the highest thing the Scripture and the God who created life esteems. And we trivialize it with our thumbs, killing imaginary people over and over and over and over again until when real ones die, we get anesthetized to the impact. Love rejoices in the truth.
Real love is a response. It always has truth and grace. If it’s all truth, and no grace it’s a rigid, legalistic, self-righteousness. If it’s all grace and no truth it’s just mushy, sentimental emotionalism.
And so, after giving us the overarching principle that love demands truth and rejoices in truth and not evil, then he’s going to give us four specific ways to respond to the failures of one another.
He’s going to give four clear words that say when someone you love that lives under your roof or is a close friend or you work with, that when they fail – because they will fail – this is how you respond if you love them.
Are you ready? He’s going to talk to us about bearing all things, believing all things, hoping all things, and then he’ll go on and talk about how we endure all things.
Bears all things. The word occurs four times in the New Testament. Literally means – you can jot in your notes – to cover. It means to suffer or forbear. It’s to protect by covering something. To cover something with silence.
It has the idea of keeping a confidence. To hide, listen, to hide or conceal the errs and faults of others. Now, this doesn’t mean you bury it. This doesn’t mean you’re in denial. But here’s the issue. We all long for someone to love me enough to cut to the core, to expose the fault, the weakness, or the sin and help me deal with it and grow from it.
And then after dealing with it in truth, provide grace and allow me to grow and help us take the next step. And then they cover it. And they don’t exploit me. And they don’t pass it on. And if you’re married or you’re a parent, you don’t joke about it later. It’s covered. It’s gone. It’s not broadcast. You bear with them. You face it, you deal with it, you love them, and then you cover it.
Negatively, when I delight in passing on the faults of another, when I seek to feel important because I have inside information or feel powerful or superior because someone else has sinned and I love to tell other people or just pass on a little email that says, you know, “Did you, are you aware of…?” Often in the form of a prayer request. Listen carefully. That is not loving. Love bears all things.
Jesus pictures this very clearly. Remember the woman caught in adultery? They’re trying to trap Jesus. And the law talks about adultery. You’d be stoned, and it wasn’t practiced very often. So they’re thinking, We’re going to get Him on the hot spot.
So over here, “We found this woman caught in the very act!” And they drag her out of the house and they plop her right in front of Jesus. “Okay, what are You going to do with that? We caught her in the very act of adultery.”
Then Jesus, as they’re talking, He goes over and starts to, kind of, write in the dirt. And the text doesn’t say what He writes, but I think – now, this is the Chip Ingram theory not to be confused at all with fact.
I think He wrote in the sand, “Where is the man?” See, if you were really concerned about the law, if you were concerned about righteousness, you wouldn’t have brought one person caught in adultery. Last time I heard, sex usually takes two. So, where are both of them?
And by doing that, He exposed their hypocrisy. And so, then He says, “Whoever has never sinned, tell you what, you pick up the stones and you start.” And the older people, wiser, realized they’d been exposed and they leave. And one by one everyone leaves and here’s a woman. He says, “Does no one condemn you?” “No, Lord.” “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”
Did He act like it wasn’t an issue? Did He say the sin wasn’t important? The sin was dealt with and then He covered it. Who in your relational world needs you to help them deal with a failure and then cover it? Who needs to not hear, ever again, in your family, jokes or sarcasm or little innuendos about a fault that occurs on a regular basis?
And instead, “I love you, I’m with you, let’s deal with this, and then I’m going to cover it. I don’t talk about it to my friends, I won’t bring it up to you. I’m going to cover it.” That’s how you respond in love to people’s failures.
The second way you respond is believing all things. The word believe in the New Testament is two hundred and thirty-nine times. It has the idea “to believe” or “to entrust,” “to commit.” Here it has the idea of “to credit or have confidence in another person.”
It’s not naïve, it’s not that you believe or you’re gullible and whatever someone says, “Oh I believe, you know, whatever you say. I mean you lied forty-four times, but I believe anyway.” No, no, no, no.
This is a belief that is discerning, insightful, but it’s not suspicious and judgmental and it doesn’t assume the worst. The picture for me, what this means is, when you hear something about someone or you observe a circumstance, and maybe the circumstances kind of look a little negative but you don’t know for sure. You believe or assume the best.
You, in your mind, make a willful choice and you see this circumstance or you hear this about a person and you say, “That sure doesn’t seem to be the kind of person I know but someone said he or she did this. Or he or she was with someone or he…”
Then what you do is you step back and love says, “I’m going to create in my mind’s eye the best explanation for this that puts this person in a positive light because I don’t know all the issues.”
I was in a pretty important meeting and a person was supposed to be there that works with me. And so, everyone was around the table and the agenda was starting and someone said, “Where’s so-and-so?” I said, “Well, I don’t know. Well, is he supposed to be here?” “Well, yeah.”
And so, you know where your mind can go. Well gosh, I mean, is he blowing off this meeting? Is he late? Did he… you know, all the… And I remember just having this passage in my mind and I remember just willfully going: you know what? The character of this man I know is, he had a flat tire. Maybe his wife is sick. Maybe one of his kids have an issue. Maybe God showed him something that is way more important than this meeting and he is doing that and obeying God instead of being here.
Do you see? Do you see it? You create a scenario that puts them in the best light. And what happens, especially if you’re a parent or if you’ve got a roommate, once they do this once and they do it twice and they do it three times. When they do anything near that, what do you start believing? You’ll never change. She’s doing the same old thing. Oh man, I can’t believe it. Instead of, whoa, whoa, wait a second. Don’t assume the worst. Love believes the best. And then you check it out and you deal with it.
The practice is that everyone needs someone who will believe in them. Everyone needs someone who says: that fault, that sin, that weakness, that circumstance. It can’t define you. You’re God’s child, you’re valued, you’re loved, you’re gifted. And I believe, okay, you really messed up, alright? We understand that. But I believe in you.
Snapshot from Jesus’ life. It’s in the hot part of the day. It’s the part when everyone’s taking a little siesta. The righteous women have come out early in the cool of the day, but it’s John chapter 4 and here’s a woman in the hot part of the day getting water and it’s because she’s an immoral woman and she’s rejected by society.
And she’s been looking for love in all the wrong places. And Jesus is there and He asks for a drink and she can’t believe that a Jew would ask a woman or a Jew would ask someone from her Samaritan background.
And they get into this conversation and so Jesus – loving people always has truth and grace. And so, He says, “So, where’s your husband?” And she goes, “Well, I don’t have a husband,” which was honest, because she’s living with this guy and she’s had five husbands.
And Jesus informs her that He knows that and she goes, “Whoa, You must be a prophet.” And they get into this conversation about life and the meaning and how do you satisfy your soul? She was desperately trying to satisfy her soul, and man after man after man and illicit sex wasn’t delivering. And Jesus knew that. She was trying to get a good thing in a bad way and He wanted to give her life.
And so, He talked about a heavenly Father that pursues people even immoral people. Even failed people. Even people that have done really big and bad things over a long period of time.
And she discovers someone cares and believes in her. And here’s a woman that didn’t want to be seen, and she ends up going back into the town saying, “Hey! Someone who knows everything about me! I think He’s the Messiah!” And she leads an entire town and hundreds of people come to Christ because someone believed that her past could not mark her future forever.
Who in your world, who in your world needs you to look them in the eye and say, “Yeah, you blew it or there was this struggle or this is a pattern in your life. But I believe in you. I care about you. I believe in you.”
There’s a friend of mine who’s an extraordinarily gifted guy. And just, do you ever watch people kind of get a lot of darts here and darts there. And, I’ve seen him recently, he’s kind of discouraged and was more discouraged.
And as I was praying one morning, God just prompted me, You need to go sit down and talk with this guy. And so, I did and asked him a few questions and as he began to share, I said, “Well, time out. Do you understand in your field, you’re probably one of the top three in all of America? Okay, maybe top five. I think three. Two. Do you understand God has used you to do this, this, this, this, and this?” “Yeah.” “Do you understand that these things that are getting down are about this big? You’re starting to believe the criticisms that you’re getting. I just want to tell you something. I believe in you. I’m behind you a hundred percent. And whatever you decide to do with your life, I want you to know, I’m in it with you.”
And, you know what? It wasn’t a big deal. But I watched his countenance change. And I watched what happened to him in the rest of the week. Who in your world needs to hear from you, “I believe in you”? That mistake, that divorce, that abortion, that dropping out of school, that not making the team, that lie – that can’t, it doesn’t have the power to define you. “I believe in you.” Who needs to hear that from you?
And maybe change the course of their life. You know it’s called? It’s called love. And what we’re going to learn is, when you do this, see, love never fails. Love never fails when you bear with one another and cover the sin. Love never fails when you believe in people.
Third, love hopes all things. The word is used thirty-two times in the New Testament. Eighteen times it’s translated “trust.” Ten times it’s translated “hope.” A handful of times it’s translated “hope for.”
It has the idea: to wait for and have confidence in deliverance. Usually it has the idea of salvation. Deliverance, not just from the forgiveness of your sin, but deliverance out of this world and all of its evil. And our great, great hope is heaven. The return of Christ, the anchor of our soul.
There is coming a day that no matter what’s happening, how unfair it may be, our ultimate, ultimate hope is that we have a Savior, the God man, Jesus, who died, was raised from the dead, and those who trust in Him have an eternal hope.
And practically, it’s not hope in hope. When people speak, kind of, in English or in a sort of casual way, they use hope, I would translate it, wishful thinking.
It goes something like this. “So, what are you going to do?” Meeting someone at work. “I’m going to Vegas this weekend!” “Really!” “Yeah.” “What are you going to do?” “Get married!” “Really, how long you known him?” “Two weeks! Hope it works out.” “Good luck! How’d those last two marriages go?” “Not very good. But I’m hoping for the best.”
Hope, hope, hope, hope. I mean, it’s just hoping in hope. There’s no basis, it’s like writing checks without a bank account.
By contrast, this is confidence, this is absolute confidence. Not that this person has the power to change. Not that circumstances are going to change and work everything out. This is a hope that’s rooted in the promises of God, the character of God, and the sovereignty of God that He’s in absolute control.
And even though these are situations where someone’s been struggling with addiction and you’ve tried and tried and tried and they’ve been to a couple rehabs. Someone who’s, you know, got a kid, and they lie, they lie, they lie. You’ve done everything but stand on your head. And guess what, they still lie.
This is a problem in a marriage that you can’t even get them to go to counseling and you hope and hope and hope. And I mean, this is just where, you got a co-worker that, I mean, they just make everybody crazy, but they happen to be your supervisor.
And you get to the point where you’re just out of emotional gas. And you get where they’re going to change, that there’s going to be some big thing happen. You lose hope in their capacity or in your ability to fix the situation.
This is a hope where you say: you know something? I’ve done all I can do. This person, I’m not putting my hope that someday, someway, under the right conditions they’re going to have this “ah-ha” moment and everything’s going to be wonderful. But I refuse to give up hope because this is a book where Saul became Paul. This is a book where Rahab went from prostitute to being in the line of the Messiah. This is a book, as long as the resurrection of Christ is true, failure is never final.
And I’m not going to trust in this person, I’m not going to trust in this program, I’m not going to trust in my ability. But I’m going to trust that the all-knowing, all-powerful, sovereign, loving God cares about this person. And I’m going to trust that He’s going to work.
I had a really, what I thought was a pretty good illustration, right at this point in my message, which I would share right now. But I’m not going to.
Last night, we were singing and as we were singing, the third song was, The Greatness of Our God. And as we were singing that song, it was just like, God, bang, hit me. And I just, remember knowing the songwriter of that song. And that song now, it was introduced at Hillsong, there were a hundred thousand worship leaders from all over the world and it’s coming out on four or five major albums with major worship leaders. I mean, it’s just sweeping the globe.
And as I was sitting there last night and singing the song and hearing people embrace the greatness of our God, I just thought, You really are great. Because, see, when that songwriter was sixteen, I lost all hope that any of my parenting in any way could ever make any difference.
When that songwriter was seventeen, we were so butting heads, and he was rebellious, and he had a dad that was young and afraid and was too hard on him at the wrong times. And we just had a horrendous situation in our house.
And I got to where, I mean, he told me, he said, “Dad, I’ve got to tell you, I kind of like you as a person. I just don’t believe in any of the Christianity. That’s where you’re going. I’m not buying it. I’m just rebelling.” And I mean, it broke my heart.
And Theresa and I would sit up in bed and pray and talk and cry. And he had no desire, I came to where, you know what? I have lost all hope that he will change. And I have lost all hope that I have any parenting technique that will bring about change.
And I had just absolute hope that the God who changed Saul from Paul, the person that you think it’s impossible for God to reach or change. The issue in your marriage that you think is stuck forever. Or something with one of your parents or one of your kids or a close friend.
And I just came to, you know what? As long as Jesus rose from the dead, God still does the impossible and, God, I’m asking You for Your glory and for Your name that You do something special in that boy’s life.
And about late seventeen, it’s a long story, he did. By eighteen, he was leading worship. By nineteen, he had a band. By twenty-something, he was going around the country.
And then pretty soon he just started writing music. And to think that someone I had no hope could change and I saw my failure in my parenting to think that God would have him write a song that millions of people would talk about how great God is. That, my friend, is biblical hope.
See, that’s what Jesus did for Peter. I mean, I don’t know, there’s lots of sins and I think sometimes we categorize them, probably a little differently than God does. I think with God, betrayal is way up there on the top of the list.
People that love you – who give their life, they care, and you turn your back on them and you just totally diss them. That’s what Peter did. Under pressure, “I don’t know him!” In fact, it was, “Blankety, blank, blank, I’ve never seen the guy.” And the blankety blanks are cuss words, for those of you who wonder what that means.
And he turned away completely. And Jesus had such confidence. One, He told Peter, “You’re going to blow it. My trust isn’t in your bravado. My trust isn’t, ‘Everyone else will let You down, I’ll never let You down.’ My trust is not in the Peter of your willpower and what you think you can do. My trust is in what God can do,” the Acts 2 Peter, “and then after, Peter, you repent, go back and strengthen your brothers. I believe in the Peter, the statement that, ‘Upon this rock I’m going to build My church.’ And the rock isn’t your personality or your ability. It is My word and My promises through you.”
And so, in John 21, we have this amazing picture of this betrayer, and he feels like he’s ashamed and he’s blown it and he’s betrayed the Lord and he’s heard about the resurrection, and he feels like a heel. And, “My life’s over and I’m not going to be any good and I just, I’ve blown it! It’s too much, it’s too long.”
“Peter, have some fish.” “Thanks, Lord.” “Peter, a question. Do you love Me?” “Ah, yeah.” “Peter, do you love Me?” “Yeah.” “Peter, do you love Me?”
Betrayal, betrayal, betrayal. Question, question, question. “Lord, You know all things.” You know where Peter got? “My hope is not in my ability to obey. But You know my heart. I’ve blown it.” “Peter, feed My sheep. Feed My lambs. Feed My sheep.” God reinstated. God restored.
Someone you know needs to know that your hope in God, not their ability to change can bring about change. Who is that person, and what will it look like, this week, for you to love them?
The final way we learn is, we endure. We endure all things. To endure means to actively remain, to persevere under misfortune and trial. I love this. The meaning of the word is, “to bear bravely and calmly ill treatment.” It means, “to remain.”
You might just jot in your note, “love stays.” It’s not staying out of an inability to leave or an inability to set boundaries or an inability to deliver consequences. It’s not an enmeshed, co-dependency love that says, “I have to stay because I’m an incomplete person and so I will live in this dysfunctional situation and continue in this abuse or continue in this dysfunction.”
No, no, no, no, no. Truth and grace. Truth: Here’s the boundaries and that kind of behavior, that kind of addiction, those kinds of things will not be tolerated. And here’s consistent consequences and the help from others to maintain those.
Grace: But I’m not giving up on you. See, the opposite of love is not hate. When there’s hate, there’s passion left. The opposite of love is indifference. You just don’t care. Just, what the heck. And often you say that more strongly. Just, forget it.
This endurance. Hupomeno. Hupo, to be under. Meno, the stress, misfortune, pain, difficulty. And it’s an active word. It’s not passively, “I’m going to endure what’s happening around me.” It’s an active engagement of remaining healthy and understanding: this is the truth that must be obeyed.
But, despite these devastating failures and I might have every reason and right to leave, I’m going to stay. And I’m not going to stay because of you. I’m going to stay because what God has done in me and the strength and grace He gives me to demonstrate the love of Christ to you.
That’s what Jesus did on the cross. He endured. It wasn’t nails that held Him up there. It wasn’t the Romans that put Him up there and it wasn’t the Jews that got Him there. What held Him on the cross was: He endured. Love stays. And He remained because He knew you would fail badly, and I would fail badly.
And you may think you’ve just, “I’ve messed up a little.” When the standard is absolute, unapproachable light, complete perfection 24/7, 365, as long as you live, you’ve failed badly. And so, He endured. And as He endured, the Scripture says, that He became sin or a sin offering on our behalf.
And so, your sin, my sin, the sin of all people for all time, as He hung upon that cross as an offering, God took all that sin and He placed it on Christ and then He turned away because He couldn’t tolerate sin.
And the wrath of God for your sin and my sin and all people’s sins, and that’s why Jesus cried, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
Because there was a division in the Godhead for the first time in all eternity. And when He died, He paid, or covered, or atoned for your sin and my sin, once and for all.
And the gospel is not: get religious, become a Christian, and try hard to be moral. The gospel is: you have already been forgiven. The wonderful, happy news is of a God of love and kindness. And you can receive it by faith. You don’t have to receive it. You can tell God, “Forget You. I don’t want Your free gift.” But you can never earn it.
And so those that would understand the good news of the gospel, that you have been forgiven and the offer is by faith, will you receive it? And those who receive it by faith, by turning from their sin and believing and trusting on what Christ has done, the Spirit of God enters their life.
They’re born from above or, literally, born again. And the Spirit is sealed in their physical body and the life of Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit takes up residence in you and you have been removed from the kingdom of darkness, placed in the kingdom of light, spiritual gifts have been deposited, you’re connected to this supernatural community called the Church, and then God wants, through His Spirit, in relationship, for you to begin to walk by faith and live and enjoy Him.
So, the Christian life is not how long you read the Bible, not how much you pray, not how much money you give, not how many good works. It’s all about abiding in a relationship with the Father through the Son in the power of the Holy Spirit and then what you find is, you love to be around people that you love.
And you begin to read this because God speaks to you and your relationship deepens. And then you start talking to Him and it’s not just a little five minutes or ten minutes in the morning or at night. But it’s all through the day.
And then pretty soon, the love of God compels you because of what He’s done in you to share that with other people and you find yourself taking money out of your pocket to other people who need it more and you don’t get little brownie points for it, you are just following Christ. Why? Because love never fails. Love never fails.
Literally, the word is translated over seventy times, “falls” or “to fall down.” It means, love never falls down. Love never gets corrupted. Love never gets ruined. When you love, situations and circumstance may not come out the way you want them all the time, but you will never lose. Why? Because you are governed by an all-wise, all-powerful, sovereign God.
That’s why Joseph, who was betrayed, who was lied about, in terms of, the rape, who was forgotten in prison – at the end of his life, the difficulty, the pain. He understood, “I don’t get it but I’m not – I’m going to stay in God’s program. He’s in control.”
And he would say, at the end of his life, after he’s made the second most powerful person and saved the entire nation of Israel, he would say to his brothers who feared for their life after their father died, thinking now Joseph will take revenge.
And he says to them, “Guys, you still don’t get it, do you? You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good to bring about this present result to preserve many people alive.”
When you love you can never fail. Outcomes may not be the way you want them, but you can never fail. It never fails.
Listen carefully. “Nothing will enter your life that God does not either decree or allow and nothing will ever enter your life that, if you’re willing to trust Him, He cannot work out for your good.” That’s what it means when we say God is sovereign. And His sovereignty and rule in your life begins when you can just do what we said at the very beginning, admit, “I’ve failed.” All the energy of blaming other people, blaming your past, blaming your parents, blaming someone else, blaming Hollywood, blaming your family of origin.
When you can just face – love requires truth and grace and just own up and say, “I’m not the dad I’m supposed to be. I’m not the Christ follower I’m supposed to be. What’s coming out of my mouth is a failure. How I’m spending my money is a failure. This addiction I have, I’m failing.
God, I admit it. I can’t do this. Will You forgive me?” His answer will be, “I already have.” And He will ask, “Will you receive it?” And your answer needs to be, “Unreservedly.”
Scripture says, “If we confess,” it just means to agree with God, “if we confess our sin,” missing the mark, failure, He’s faithful and He’s fair, “to not only forgive you of your sin but to cleanse you from all unrighteousness.”
For many, that happens at a very first time and we call it trusting Christ, becoming a Christian. For many, many people that are Christians, you’ve trusted Christ, the fact of the matter is, you’re just negotiating all your failures. You’re just blaming here and chucking and jiving here. And you’ve got to come clean and be honest and get real and receive His forgiveness and then follow with His power and His grace.
The truth of the matter is, Christians and non-Christians alike have one country song in common. A lot of us are looking for love in all the wrong places. And when we do, we hurt ourselves, we hurt other people, and we miss God’s best.
If you’re going to find love in the right places, I’m going to tell you where it’s at. The intimacy, the security, the significance, the purpose, the impact, it happens in the family of God. It’s when His Word takes root in your life and you have relationships that are rich and deep and you feel connected and there’s genuine intimacy. And that aligns your sexual expressions in a way that are God-honoring and fruitful. That aligns the spending of your money and your priorities that are God-honoring and fruitful. That gets your time redirected in ways that are God-honoring and fruitful.
And we call it: becoming a Romans 12 Christian. And in verses 9 through 11, it says, “Let love be sincere,” literally, it means take off your mask. Let love be without hypocrisy. Notice, “Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.” Then here’s the love, “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love, giving preference to one another in honor, not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord, rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, contributing to the needs of…”
It’s just talking about doing life in community with a band of brothers and sisters where the real you shows up and meets real needs for the right reason in the right way.
And my passion, and if I’m getting a little excited, I’d say forgive me, but I don’t want forgiven. The great majority of Christians in America and around the world think church is an event that you come to once a week. It’s a community that you join, that you do life with, and where God changes you from the inside out.
What would happen if you got connected with a group of people and you got really loved that changed the entire trajectory of your family?
I long for you to maximize love, minimize the trivial demands of life. So you simplify. So you become who God made you to be.