Our theme for this year is Overflow. Jesus said in John 7:37-38 to come to him and drink. “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Living, healing waters will flow out of those who truly believe in Jesus. So we have asked the question for ourselves this year, “What is flowing out of you?” What flows out of us shows if we are truly followers of Jesus or not. This morning we are going to look at a quality that Jesus said will overflow from all of his disciples. Listen to what Jesus said in John 13:35.
Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (John 13:34–35 CSB)
Disciples will be known as overflowing with love. Now sometimes we do things as if we are showing love. So we need to know what God says love is and love is not. So I am planning a two part lesson, one this month and one next month, where we can understand what God says what love is and what love is not so that we will overflow with the love of God toward others. Paul wrote to the Christians in Corinth about love because it was something they were lacking. They were given spiritual gifts by God and yet did not possess love in how they were using them. They were not overflowing with love toward each other like Jesus said we must do. So Paul wrote to them and told them about love. Turn in your copies of God’s word to 1 Corinthians 13 and we are going to look at the things love does not do.
Love Does Not Dishonor Others (13:5)
Many translations read that love is not rude. Love does not act unbecoming (NASB). Love does not dishonor others (NIV). Just think about this idea for a moment. Love does not dishonor others. As disciples who are to love one another, this means that we will not be dishonoring or rude or unbecoming toward each other. Think about how dishonoring we can be of people by what we say. We can say some pretty terrible things to each other. We can say things that are just outright rude. We say things that are hurtful because we want to hurt that person. Why do we do this? We usually do this because we are hurt. We were hurt so we are going to hurt back. We are going to be rude back. We think that the other person deserves our dishonoring words. We think we have a right to say what we are saying. I think we could sum up this idea with a very simple concept. Love is not mean. We do not have any right to be mean. It is unbecoming. It is dishonoring. It is rude. There is never a time when we have a right to be mean. Think about how we ruin relationships because we think we are justified in being mean to someone else.
Sometimes what happens to us is we become proactively mean and dishonoring. What I mean by this is what we have been hurt by someone in the past, so we act mean first to fight off that person hurting us. Think about how often this happens in marriage. I think this happens the most in marriage. We are hurt and so in a later conversation, even the next day or the next week, we will be mean and rude because we are preempting what we think will be rudeness out of them. We say or do something dishonoring because we think that is what they are going to do to us next. We are trying to protect ourselves but we are actually hurting ourselves, hurting the relationship further, and hurting the other person. Love does not do this. Love is not ugly to other people. Think about how different your relationships with others would be if you made the commitment to not dishonor others. We will honor other people like Christ honored us.
Love Is Not Self Seeking (13:5)
There are a number of renderings of this idea that are worthy of our consideration for what love does not do. Love is not self-seeking (NIV, NASB, CSB). Love is not self-serving (NET). Love does not insist on its own way (ESV, NRSV). Love does not demand its own way (NLT). These translations paint a picture of what God is telling us about what love is not. In short, love is not selfish. Love does not tell other people what to do. Love does not demand its own desires. Love does not say that you will do what I want. Love does not seek for its own desires to be met. Relationships are ruined when you want things your way. Relationships are destroyed because you have expectations of what should be done for you. Love does not say, “This is what you are supposed to do for me.” I believe this is a big reason why relationships are ruined. People are saying in the relationship, “You are not doing for me what I expect or what I want.” You are not doing for me. This is what you are supposed to do for me and you are not doing it. Listen to what God is telling us: this is not love. Love does not say this. Love does not think this. Love is not self-centered. Love is not about you.
Now the problem is that we probably are in relationships because of what we get out of it. So we need to change our way of thinking. If we in a relationship because of what the other person does for you, whether it be marriage, friendships, or family, then you do not love that person. You love what that person does for you. You are looking at that person as your servant who is to do things for you. That is not love. Love does not say to do stuff for me. Love says, “I want to do for you.” We think that the only way we will get what we want is by demanding it. But we are not getting what we want when we do this. If we force, intimidate, or pressure someone to do something for us, did you really get what you wanted? Making people do things is not ultimately what you are looking for, though you may deceive yourself into thinking it is. Love focuses on the other person. Only then will we give and receive what we desire.
Love Is Not Easily Angered (13:5)
Some translations say love is not irritable (ESV, CSB, NLT). Love is not provoked (NASB, NKJV). Love is not easily angered (NIV, NET). Love does not get angry at others when they do something we do not like. Love does not retaliate. Love is not defensive. When pushed, love does not push back. Love does not have its buttons pushed and love does not push other people’s buttons. Why would love not be irritable or easily angered? Why would love not push other people’s buttons? The answer comes from what we are seeing in this picture of love. Love cares about the person and not about self. When we care more about the other person than ourselves and we are thinking about the person more than ourselves, we will not be easily provoked. We are not worried about what is happening to us. We are worrying about what is happening to them. So I do not need to deal out my anger as justice against that person for pushing my buttons. Rather, I am thinking more about what is troubling that person and how I can be of help. So love does not get riled up easily. Love is not a fighter. Saying we love someone yet continually get upset or angry and what they say and do shows that we really do not have love.
Love Does Not Keeps Record of Wrongs (13:5)
Some translations read that love is not resentful (ESV, NRSV, NET). Love is not historical. Love does not go back to the past and drudge up all the past problems and offenses. Love does not hold on to the past violations. Nor does love base its actions on those past offenses. Love covers a multitude of sins. Love does not keep bringing up those sins. Think about how we destroy relationships because we cannot move forward but remain stuck in the past. But we need to think about this for ourselves. In any given relationship, do you want the other person to keep bringing up your past faults? Would you want this in your marriage? Would you want this with your friends? Would you want this with your parents or your children? Would you want this with your work relationships? We do not want anyone to do this to us? So why do we do this to everyone else? Love does not hold on to the past and bring up all those wrongs. Love is willing to move forward. Love forgets the past hurts. Love is not resentful.
So how can we do what God tells us about this? Let us go back to where we started in John 13:34-35 and remember what Jesus said. Jesus said to love others as he has loved us. So what we are to do is look at Jesus and how Jesus has treated us.
Did Jesus show us honor or dishonor? Did Jesus act unbecoming toward us or rude? No, we see Jesus honoring us even though we were completely undeserving of honor. So what are we known for? Would people say we are typically dishonoring and rude? Or would they say we are typically considerate, thoughtful, and honoring? We are not looking at how Jesus has treated us if we are not overflowing with this love.
Did Jesus seek our interests or his own interests? Did Jesus do what was best for him or best for us? Love is not self-seeking or self-serving. Love is not pushy or demanding. We see in Jesus that he did nothing from his own interests. Everything he did was for our good. So what are we known for? Would be people say that we are typically doing what is good for us or what is good for others? Would they say we are doing what we want or what others want? We are not looking at how Jesus has treated us if we are not overflowing with this love.
Was Jesus easily angered or patient? Was Jesus easy to provoke or long suffering? Think about how much mistreatment Jesus faced with patience. Think about the slander he endured. Think about how he was mocked and made fun of regularly. Think about how people tried to trick him and trap him. People tried to catch him in his words and have him say something wrong. Through all of those moments, Jesus shows patience. Would people say that we are typically patient or easily angered? Would people say that we are typically provoked to anger or are long suffering? We are not looking at how Jesus has treated us if we are not overflowing with this love.
Finally, did Jesus keep a record of wrongs committed against him or was he forgiving? This one is easy to answer since Jesus cried out to the Father from the cross that God forgive rather than exact retribution. Did Jesus keep a record of wrongs against his disciples who repeatedly let him down? Did he bring up their failures after the resurrection when they all had forsaken him and ran away? What about how he handled Peter who denied him three times? Jesus was forgiving and let those offense go. Jesus was not an unforgiving record keeper. Would people say that we hold on to grudges or that we let things go? Would people say that we have a long memory about sins committed against us or that we are quick to forgive? We are not looking at how Jesus has treated us if we are not overflowing with this love.
The world will know that we are disciples of Jesus by our love for others. Love does not dishonor others. Love is not self-seeking. Love is not easily angered. Love does not keep a record of wrongs. Is love overflowing from us? Or do we need to come back to the cross of Jesus and see afresh the love Jesus has for us?