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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
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.
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!”
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.