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
This is the fourteenth session of the lecture series on Spiritual Love.
Many people say that, in studying, there is no other way but to study hard to excel in academics.
It’s the same with accomplishing spiritual love. We may understand the shortcut through the message, but we cannot accomplish it just by hearing. After hearing, we have to cast off the things that are the opposite of spiritual love, and we have to struggle hard to cast them off.
Of course, practicing the word may not be easy.
But the certain thing is that if we keep on trying to practice, we will finally gain spiritual love after all.
When farmers sow the seeds on the field, the seeds will sprout, and they will grow.
Whether raising vegetables or fruits, farmers sometimes say it is fun to raise them and harvest the fruits of their labor.
It’s the same with spiritual farming. If we diligently cultivate spiritual love, fruits of blessings will be born in spirit and body.
I urge you to hear the word and practice it diligently. Then, you will feel the fun and joy of bearing the fruit of spiritual love. Also, the Father God who sees you will feel joy and happiness because of you.
Today, I will tell you the secret as to how we can accomplish spiritual love.
After hearing the word, I pray in the name of the Lord that you will diligently practice it and bear many of the fruits of spiritual love.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, in this session, I will share the grace in the passage that says, “it does not seek its own, is not provoked.”
First, love is not to seek one’s own.
In other words, love is to seek others’ benefits rather than our own.
Then, how much do you put the benefit of others before our own? Let me give you a real life example.
Many people go to eat together. They have to choose what to eat, and one of the two insists on what he wants to eat.
The other person follows what this person wants, but he is not comfortable about it inside.
Yet he is the one who always asks the other’s opinion first.
Then, whether he likes the kind of food the others have chosen, he always eats with joy.
In which category do you belong?
Jesus said in Luke 14:10, “But when you are invited, go and recline at the last place, so that when the one who has invited you comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’ then you will have honor in the sight of all who are at the table with you.”
Even if we are invited to be served, Jesus tells us to humble ourselves and give the higher seats to others.
If we are giving the choice to others all the time, it’s same as sitting in the lowest seat.
It seems that if we sit at the lowest seat, we will become the lowest person. But what is the result?
Right now, we may be the lowest person, but soon, the Lord lifts us up. We will receive glory.
Let me give you another example. Some workers of a small group are having a meeting to prepare for an event. They have various opinions available.
One person tries to persuade others until other people agree with him.
Another person does not insist on his opinion so much, but he doesn’t really like the other’s opinion, either.
Still other person listens to others whenever they give their opinions. And, even if he has a good idea, he tries to follow the others’ opinions.
If we love somebody, we will care for that person more than ourselves.
We will value that person more than ourselves and respect him. Also, we will always try to trust him.
Let’s consider the love of parents. Most parents think of their children first rather than thinking of themselves.
Rather than they themselves eating delicious food, they feel happier when their children eat well.
Rather than they themselves wearing good clothes, they feel happier to clothe their children with good clothes.
Also, they want their children to be more intelligent than themselves. They want their children to be acknowledged and loved by others.
If we give this kind of love to our neighbors and everybody else, how pleased our God the Father will be with us? To seek other’s benefit rather than our own is the sacrificial heart that give unsparingly.
Because this kind of heart is the heart of God the Father and our Lord, God cannot but be touched by this kind of heart.
Even Jesus always sought others’ benefit first.
He couldn’t eat or sleep well, but He only lived for the people who were wandering like a flock without a shepherd.
Jesus’ love was not just ‘not seeking one’s own’ because He did not have His own ego or ‘self’. Because His heart was overflowing with the love for the souls, He gave up everything He might have enjoyed.
Jesus is the Son of God, but He set aside all heavenly glory and came down to this lowly earth.
From a fleshly point of view, He suffered throughout His whole life and finally was crucified.
Then, was Jesus unhappy? By no means! Have you ever given something very precious to you to somebody you loved very much?
The joy of giving and sharing is greater than any other joy. The Lord was enjoying this greatest joy.
Then, how can we enjoy this greatest happiness? We can have it when we accomplish perfect love.
It is difficult to give to those whom you dislike. But if you love somebody, giving is not difficult at all. You are rather happy giving.
Therefore, I hope you will love your neighbors as yourselves, and rather than receiving, I hope you will be giving.
In order to do that, we have to resemble the heart of the Lord.
Also, in everything, we have to keep on trying to think of other people around us, rather than ourselves.
When we have something good, I hope you will not think of yourself first, but your neighbors and your brothers first. Also, rather than yourself, I hope your top priority will be God, the Lord, and your shepherd. I urge you that rather than your own work, the work for God will be your priority.
In your family also, rather than yourself, I hope you will be able to think of your parents, brothers and sisters, your husband or wife, and children first.
If we put ourselves in the last place in everything, who will take care of you? Our Lord will.
Acts 20:35 says, “He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive”
When we seek the benefit of others, our Lord will give us back better things. And our rewards will be stored in the heavenly kingdom.
That is why Jesus said it is more blessed to give.
But we should not misunderstand this. If we do not take care of ourselves being faithful and self-sacrificing, we may rather have situation that obscures the glory. We should not harm our bodies by working too much, not eating and not sleeping enough.
Of course, if we are faithful beyond the measure of our faith, God will be so delighted.
But until we become perfected, we should take in proper nourishment and rest daily .
Also, personally, we have to have time to pray, fast, and arm ourselves with the word of God.
But then, our devotion and sacrificial heart should not cool down.
As God’s children, in our life, the church and the souls, our neighbors and family members should be priority rather than ourselves.
But sometimes, if we seek our own, we may cause damage to others.
For example, when you fast, you may cause some trouble with the work for your company. Also, if you just do the work of the church all the time and not care for your family members, it is not doing your whole duty in your workplace or in your family.
Then, even if you are faithful in the work of the Lord, you cannot be considered that you did your whole duty as God’s child.
Therefore, in order not to seek our own in everything, we have to rely on the Holy Spirit.
If we follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit in everything, we will be able to live only for the glory of God whether we eat or drink, or whatever we do.
For this, we have to cast off evil from our heart.
Furthermore, if we accomplish true love in our heart, then, we will receive wisdom of goodness in each situation. We will be able to discern the will of God.
Likewise, if our soul is prosperous, all things will go well with us and we will be healthy, so that we will be able to work faithfully as much as we want.
We will equip ourselves with the things that we should have as God’s children, so that we will be acknowledged and loved even by unbelieving neighbors and family members. I hope all of you will care for other people around you first rather than yourself, with the heart of God the Father.
I pray in the name of the Lord that, you will give the love of the Lord to them abundantly.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, next, it says love is not provoked.
Some people easily get provoked when somebody causes some damage to them or when things do not go as well as they want.
If we get provoked and angry, it is not love. Also, getting angry is useless and harmful.
What if you get angry? It will harm our heart.
Love makes the heart of men positive.
On the other hand, anger makes one’s heart negative. It hurts the heart and makes it dark. So, if you get angry, you cannot dwell in the love of God. Also, your spiritual growth will be slow.
The enemy devil and Satan makes God’s children trip by causing them to get angry.
The major snares that the enemy devil and Satan set up before God’s children are hatred and anger.
Therefore, we have to quickly cast off all ill-feelings and hatred cause a person to be provoked.
I urge you to check whether you have anger or not.
But being provoked is not just getting angry, shouting, cursing, and becoming violent.
If your face becomes distorted, if your facial color changes, and if your way of speaking becomes abrupt, it is all part of acting on provocation.
Though the magnitude is different in each case, it is the outward expression of the hatred and ill-feelings in the heart. But then, just by seeing one’s appearance, we should not judge or condemn others thinking he is angry.
Those who are in the flesh cannot exactly understand other person’s heart.
Only God knows the inner heart of men. Also, even though one seems to be angry, it may not be that he is angry.
For example, it is the case of Jesus when He drove away those who were selling things in the Temple.
He made a whip out of cord and drove out sheep, cows, and other sacrifices.
He overturned the tables of the money exchangers and dove-sellers.
When worldly people see this Jesus, they may think that he is angry.
But at this time, it is not that he was angry because of some ill-feelings like hatred. He just had righteous indignation. By his righteous indignation, he let us realize that the unrighteousness of defiling the Temple of God cannot be accepted.
This kind of righteous indignation is the result of the love for God who perfects love with His justice.
In Mark chapter 3, on the Sabbath Jesus healed a man in the synagogue who had a withered hand.
People watched Jesus to see if he would heal a person on the Sabbath so they could accuse Him of violating the Sabbath.
At this time, Jesus knew the hearts of people and asked, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to kill?”
So, they kept silent.
Verse 5 says, “After looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored.”
At that time, the evil people only tried to condemn and kill Jesus, who was doing only good works. So, sometimes, Jesus used strong expressions for them.
It was because he had the grief for those who were not spiritually awake, as said that He was “grieved at their hardness of heart.”
It was to let them realize and turn from the way of destruction.
Likewise, the righteous indignation of Jesus was derived from His love.
This indignation sometimes awoke the people and led them to life.
Of course, not everybody can act this way. Only when one has become sanctified and has no sin at all, his rebukes and reproves give life to souls.
But without the sanctification of heart, one cannot bear this kind of fruit. In case of Elisha, he received a portion of inspiration double that of his teacher, Elijah, and performed more works of God’s power. But, when children made fun of him, he was provoked and cursed them by the name of the LORD God.
Then, the curse fell on them, and 42 children were torn by 2 female bears.
Elisha died of a disease despite his great works that he had done during his life.
It tells us what James 1:20 says is true, “for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.”
Therefore, I hope you will realize how pitiful a thing it is for a child of God to get angry.
Also, we have to clearly understand the sin of opposing and interfering with the Holy Spirit as blasphemy.
Matthew 12:31 says, “Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven.”
There are people who disturb the kingdom of God in judging and condemning a church or a pastor where the powerful works of the Holy Spirit are manifested.
It is not goodness to unconditionally keep quiet and bear with those people.
Suppose your parents have done nothing wrong, but your neighbors are cursing, standing against and slandering your parents.
And if you just watch it, can we say you are good in heart?
Now, can you boldly say what is right is right and what is wrong is wrong in the truth?
I hope you will check even this area and change yourself, so that you will have the kind of heart that has no blemish or spot at all.
Then, what can we do not to be provoked? Should we clinch our teeth and endure it?
We have to cast off the ill-feelings that provoke our hearts. It is said that love is patient. Here, being patient is not just suppressing ill-feelings.
Being patient is to change the heart into goodness and love, so that there will be nothing that needs to be endured.
Of course, we cannot just cast off all ill-feelings and fill our heart with goodness and love in one day. We have to try everyday, continuously.
First, when we are faced with a situation of provocation, we have to train ourselves not to get angry.
In such a situation, I urge you to take the time to think about what kind of benefit getting angry will bring to you.
Then, you will not have anything that you will regret later by getting angry. You will not be ashamed later, so how good this is!
If we endure and be patient, later we will be able to cast off the ill-feelings that provoke us.
Even if somebody gives you a hard time, you will just have peace of mind. Then, how comfortable and happy you will be!
Proverbs 12:16 says, “A fool’s anger is known at once, But a prudent man conceals dishonor.”
Proverbs 19:11 says, “A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger, And it is his glory to overlook a transgression.”
I hope you will be slow in becoming angry, and furthermore, I hope you will cast off the anger itself from your heart.
This way, you will be wise believers who advance into better heavenly dwelling places every day.
We also see some believers who are very different in church and outside church.
Even in a situation that can provoke him, he is patient before brothers in faith.
But at home or in the workplaces, he gets angry easily. But God is always looking at you, wherever you are.
God takes us as His temple and always stays in us. The Holy Spirit is dwelling in us.
God is sitting on His throne in Heaven, but He sees through the minds and thoughts of every person.
He searches them through the seven spirits.
Therefore, I hope you will become meek and gentle people without having feelings that can be provoked, as if you were standing before God all the time.
Now, I hope you will cast off every situation of provocation and getting angry with brothers, just as you throw out old clothes.
And then, I pray in the name of the Lord that you will clothe yourself with the new clothes of goodness, love, and meekness.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, next week, we have happy Christmas. What is the reason why Jesus came to this earth?
It was to give us as gifts salvation, eternal life, true peace, and richness.
To give us these many things, the Lord had to sacrifice many things.
He did not take anything for Himself, and He even gave His own life.
The heart of our Lord is so abundant like a spring that never dries.
During the Christmas season, I hope your heart will also be abundant.
I pray in the lovely name of the Lord that you will forgive everybody, and give rather than receive, so that you will be overflowing with the love of the Lord.[Amen]