Rev. Dr. Jaerock Lee 2008-01-20
1 Corinthians 13: 4 -5
“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant,  does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,”
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
A Korean saying goes, “Grind an axe to make it a needle.”
It means if you keep on trying with patience, you can accomplish even a very difficult thing. How much time and effort would be needed to grind a thick axe into such a thin and sharp needle?
Some may say, “How much does a needle cost? I would rather sell the axe the buy many needles. Why so much effort?” But there is someone who goes through this kind of effort for you. It is our Father God.
God keeps on grinding even a person who is as hard as steel.
He endures with a person until he changes, even though it seems there is little chance for him to change.
Matthew 12:20 says, “A battered reed He will not break off, and a smoldering wick He will not put out, until He leads justice to victory.”
To make each of us a true child of God, God is enduring with us again and again. Those who have come out as His true children understand this heart of God, and they love Him from the bottom of their hearts.
Of course, there may be difficulties from time to time in the race of faith to be changed into God’s true children.
So, I urge you to think of the love of God that is unchangingly waiting for you. If you think of that love and rejoice and give thanks, He will give you new strength.
I urge you to not give up in the middle, but keep on running your race towards heavenly kingdom until the end.
Furthermore, I pray in the name of the Lord that you will accomplish true love and become a precious fruit of the love of God the Father.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, it is said that love does not take into account a wrong suffered.
What is the ‘wrong suffered’? It is something evil. Anything that is not in agreement with God’s will is evil.
Then, let me explain in more detail what it is ‘to take into account a wrong suffered’.
There are three general aspects, and I hope you will check yourself. If you find anything, I urge you to cast it off. The first is your thought that you want something to go wrong with other people.
For example, let us say you had a quarrel with somebody. Then, you hate him so much that you think like, “I wish he would trip and fall down.”
How evil a thought this is!
Also, let’s say you didn’t have a good relationship with a neighbor, and something bad happened to him.
Then, you think, “Good for him!” or “I knew it would happen!” If you have true love in you, you will never think such an evil thing. Would you want your dear wife or husband to be sick or to get into an accident?
You would always want your dear wife or husband to be always healthy and free of any accidents. Because we don’t have love in our heart, we want something to go wrong with others, and we rejoice with other people’s unhappiness. Also, we want to know the iniquities or weak points of other people and to spread it.
Suppose you went to a meeting, and somebody there was saying something bad about another person.
If you are interested in paying attention to such conversation, then, you ought to check your heart.
If somebody was slandering your parents, would you want to keep on listening to it? You would tell them to stop it right away.
Of course, there are times and cases where you have to listen because you need to know the facts about a person’s situation. But the reason people tend to be interested in such things is usually because they have the desire to slander and gossip about others.
But Proverbs 17:9 says, “He who conceals a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates intimate friends.”
Those who are good and have love in their heart will try to cover the fault of others.
Also, if we have spiritual love, we will not be jealous or envious when others are well-off.
There is a Korean saying that goes, “If your cousin buys land, you get a stomachache.”
Your cousin bought a piece of land. Isn’t it a wonderful occasion? If your cousin buys land and you love you cousin, then you should be delighted about it.
But because we don’t have love, but have envy instead, we get a stomachache. We don’t like the fact that other people are better-off than we are.
But if we have spiritual love, we want others to be well-off and to be loved.
The will of our Lord is to love even our enemies. Romans 12:14 says, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.”
I pray in the name of the Lord that all of you will only desire for others to be well-off, and bless them, even though they are doing evil to you, so that you will receive greater blessings.
The second aspect is the thought of judging and condemning others. For example, suppose you saw another believer going into a place where believers shouldn’t be going. Then, what kind of thoughts would you have?
‘How can he do that?’ You may have negative opinion of him. Or, you may wonder, ‘Why would he go in such a place?’ But then, you change your thoughts and think that he must have a reason to do it. But if you have spiritual love completely in your heart, you won’t have any kind of the evil thoughts in the first place.
Even if you heard something that’s not good, you wouldn’t accept it judgingly.
First, you would think in the best way possible. Then, until you check what really happened, you wouldn’t judge or condemn any person.
In most cases, when parents hear some bad things about their children, how do they react? They don’t easily accept it and insist that their children wouldn’t do such things.
In the same way, if you really love somebody, you will try to think of him in the best way possible.
But today, we find that people think evil of others and say bad things about them so easily. They slander and even criticize, and they think it’s normal.
It is not done only in personal relationships, but those who are in public positions also do the same. Even among the believers, there are many who easily judge and condemn, and criticize others. They don’t even try to see the whole picture as to what really happened. They don’t even know the situation of others.
Furthermore, they don’t judge with the word of God, but only with their own standards.
But what is the good will of God?
James 4:12 says, “There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor?”
God tells us that to judge our neighbor is evil.
Suppose someone clearly did something wrong. In this situation, to a person who has spiritual love, it is not important whether that person is right or wrong in what they did.
He would just think of what is really beneficial for that person. He just wants the other person’s soul to be prosperous and for him to be loved by God.
Proverbs 10:12 says, “Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all transgressions.” Of course, the more perfect love becomes, it can not only cover the transgression, but it can also help the other person to be able to repent.
We should also be able to teach the truth and touch that person’s heart so that he can go the right way and change himself.
But if we have perfect spiritual love, we don’t have to try to look at the person with goodness.
We naturally love even a person with many transgressions. We would just want to trust him and commend him.
If we do not have any thought of judging or condemning others, we will be happy with whomever we meet.
I pray in the name of the Lord that you will all accomplish spiritual love quickly so that you will enjoy the happiness of the kingdom of heaven everyday.
The third aspect is all the thoughts that are not in agreement with the will of God. Anything that is not in agreement with the will of God according to the word of God is evil.
Not only having some evil thoughts about others but also having any thought that does not agree with the will of God is evil thought.
In the world, people who live by moral standards and according to conscience are said to be living in goodness. But even morality and conscience have many things that are contrary to God’s word. Furthermore, some things are completely the opposite of God’s word.
Only the word of God can be the absolute standard of goodness. As the first part of Hebrews 12:1 says, “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us,” there are so many witnesses to testify to this fact.
So many people testify to their blessings that they received and to the good fruits they bear when they live by the word of God.
Likewise, anything that does not agree with the word of God, the only absolute standard of goodness, is evil. It’s because anything that does not agree with the will of God is sin. Sin is lawlessness, which means violation of the law of God. 1 John 3:4 says, “Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.”
Brothers and sisters, here, let me explain about sin and evil in a little more detail.
If you properly understand these spiritual concepts, it will be helpful for you in becoming sanctified.
Generally, sin and evil are both untruth which is against the word of God the truth. They are both darkness, the opposite of God, who is the light.
But in more detail, they are different from each other. To compare these two with a tree, ‘evil’ is like the root that is in the ground and is not visible, and ‘sin’ is like the branches, leaves, and fruits.
A tree can exist only with its root. Without a root, a tree cannot have branches, leaves, or fruits. Likewise, sin is realized because of evil. Because a man has evil, he commits sins.
Evil is a nature that is in one’s heart. It is the nature that is against goodness, love, and truth of God. When this evil is realized in a specific form, it is referred to as sin.
Luke 6:45 says, “The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.”
Suppose a person is saying something that is hurting someone else whom he hates.
This is when the evil in his heart is realized as ‘hatred’ and ‘evil words’, which are specific sins.
Also, evil is any concept that expresses anything and any condition that is against God.
For example, when we see a person who commits a sin, he is said to be evil. But even if he does not commit a sin, if he has the desire to commit sins, we also say he is evil.
When this evil is realized in a specific form, it is sin. Sin is to violate the law of God, so we call it lawlessness. For example, God’s word tells us to love, and if we hate, it is to commit a sin called ‘hatred’.
God tells us to keep the Sabbath holy, and if we violate the Sabbath, it is also a sin.
Likewise, a sin is realized and specified according to the standard called the word of God, which is the commandment.
Thus, sin can be categorized into specific things of the flesh and works of the flesh such as hatred, envy, jealousy, adultery, etc., based on the word of God, namely the commandments.
Just to talk about the sins or crimes of this world, according to against whom they commit the crime, it can be against a nation, the public, or an individual. Also, the magnitude of the crime varies.
But even though one has evil in his heart, it is not definite that he will commit sins. If he casts off sins to some extent, he won’t commit any sin even though he has some evil in his heart. At this stage, he may just be satisfied considering what he has accomplished to that extent toward sanctification.
But to become completely sanctified, we have to get rid of the sinful natures deep inside our heart and even the evil that has been present in our nature since birth.
God is perfect; He has no blemish or spot.
Even though we do not commit sins, anything that is not perfect is a form of evil in the sight of God.
That is why 1 Thessalonians 5:22 says, “…abstain from every form of evil.”
Only when we completely cast off all forms of evil and accomplish spirit and whole spirit, can we say we are fully sanctified.
Brothers and sisters, above all, God is love.
Basically God’s commandments can be condensed into ‘love’. 1 John 3:23 says, “This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us.”
Romans 13:10 says, “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”
Namely, it is evil and lawlessness not to love.
Therefore, to check whether we are taking into account wrong suffered, we can think of how much love we have in us.
To the extent that we love God and other souls, we will not take into account wrong suffered.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, then, how can we cast off forms of evil?
To cast off evil, we must not even think of evil things. Also, we must not see or hear it. Even if we happen to see or hear, we should not try to remember or think about it again. We must not try to remember it.
Obviously, we should never intentionally think of it or remember it. Furthermore, we should cast off even the thoughts that flash through our mind momentarily.
2 John 1:10-11 says, “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching (namely the teaching of the Christ), do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds.”
It is that God is advising us to avoid evil and not accept it. It’s because a man of flesh can be easily stained by evil.
Men inherit sinful natures from their parents. While living in this world, people come in contact with so many untruths.
Based on this sinful nature and untruths, a person develops his personal character or ‘self’.
A Christian life is to cast off these sinful natures and untruths from the moment we accept the Lord. To cast off this sinful nature and the untruths, we need a great deal of patience and effort.
Because we are living in this world, we are more familiar with untruth rather than the truth, and with fleshly things rather than spiritual things.
So, it is relatively easier to accept untruth and put it in us than it is to cast it off.
For example, it is easy to stain a white dress with black ink, but it is very difficult to remove the stain and make it completely white again.
Also, even though it looks like a very small evil, it can develop into big evil in a moment.
Just as Galatians 5:9 says, “A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough,” a little evil can spread to the whole church. Therefore, we have to be cautious even about a little bit of evil.
To be able to not think of evil, but cast it off completely, we have to hate it.
First part of Psalm 97:10 says, “Hate evil, you who love the LORD.” Proverbs 8:13 says, “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil.”
If you passionately love somebody, you will like what that person likes and you will dislike what that person dislikes.
When God’s children, who have received the Holy Spirit, commits sins, the Holy Spirit groans in them, so in their heart they feel afflicted. Then, they realize that God hates those things they did, and they try not to commit sins again.
Also, as they love God more deeply, they would want to resemble God completely and go nearer to Him. They try to cast off even little forms of evil and not accept any more evil.
Evil is such a useless thing. Proverbs 22:8 says, “He who sows iniquity will reap vanity.”
As said, if we sow evil, we will reap trouble. Diseases may come on us or on our children, or we may face accidents.
We may live in sorrow due to poverty and family problems. All these problems, after all, come from evil.
Of course, the troubles may not appear immediately before our eyes. In this case, when the evil is piled up to a certain extent, it may even be afflicted on our children later.
Because the worldly people do not understand this kind of rule, they do many evil things in everything. For example, they consider it normal to take revenge against those who did harm to them.
But Proverbs 20:22 says, “Do not say, “I will recompense evil”; Wait for the LORD, and He will save you.”
God controls the life, death, and fortune and misfortune of human history according to His justice. Therefore, if we do the good according to the word of God, we will definitely reap fruits of goodness.
It is just as promised in Exodus 20:6, which says, “. . .but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.” I urge you to always accumulate goodness in your every day life, so that you will always be healthy, receive financial blessings, and live in the hope of heaven, peace, and joy.
To cast off evil and to keep ourselves from evil, we have to hate evil.
And on top of that, we have to have two things in provision all the time. They are the word of God and prayer.
When we meditate on the word of God day and night, we can drive away evil thoughts and have spiritual and good thoughts. We can understand the methods as to what kind of act is act of true love.
Also, as we pray, we mediate on the word even more deeply, so that we can realize the evil in our words and deeds. When we pray fervently with the help of the Holy Spirit, we can rule over and cast off evil in our heart.
I pray in the name of the Lord that all of you will quickly cast off evil with word of God and prayer so that your thoughts and words will be full of only love.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, 1 Peter 4:8 says, “And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.”
What kinds of problems do you have in your life? After all, the key to solve all problems is ‘love’.
I hope you will love God and people around you more diligently.
When we first love our brothers and forgive their transgressions, God will also forgive a multitude of sins of ours. He will also solve most of the problems that are caused by our sins.
You already know what love is and what it is to love.
I urge you to more diligently love from now. I pray in the name of the Lord that you will be nearer day by day to the peace and blessing that God of love is giving to us.