Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places, Part 1
From the series Spiritual Simplicity
Do you long to be loved for just being you - apart from your looks, money, or status? You can have that, but you need to be aware of some pitfalls along the way. Chip inspires us to stop looking for love in all the wrong places.
Helping you grow closer to God
Download the Chip Ingram App
Spiritual Simplicity Resources on sale now.
About this series
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.
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.
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.