Leaders Study: "What Love is"(I Corinthians 13:1-8)
This passage is our template on how we must behave towards one another and towards those around us. We can do our best in preaching the gospel with power and conviction, and have a church filled with wonderful programs and staffed with gifted people. We can be in a magnificent cathedral reaching upwards and manifesting and pointing to the glory of God; but, if we're doing it to ourselves and not out of love, we accomplished nothing. We become just an annoying noise to our neighbors who we are called to reach. The proper use of our abilities and gifts as a Christian is always within the parameters of love. When a computer is programmed, the program runs because the language has instructed what the program is to do. Within this language of computers there are things called parameters which tell the program what it can and cannot do, thus the program can only operate within its own guidelines called parameters. We must look at this passage as our parameter, as our guideline and how we must execute the gifts, exercise the passion, and proclaim the truth.What Love Means
This passage tells us the way of our Christian life and walk. As Christians, we imitate Christ, and work within His parameters which is love. This passage is a character description of who Christ is, and this passage must also be our character description of how we act and behave responsibly.
When God tells us that love is patient, He means we are to give others room to grow, and time to accomplish the work that God is doing in them. When someone is abrupt with us, or someone treats us wrongly we are called to be patient because we cannot have everything our way all the time. We cannot allow ourselves to become angry when others fail to our expectations that we set for them. Because God is patient with us and God loves us, we are to show patience with others. We need to be content and not become angry, for this is love: love never gives up.
When God tells us that love is kind, He means we are to look for the best in other people. We spend our energies and time encouraging and building up each other, and not tearing them down. You see God takes our circumstances of life and builds them in a constructive way for personal growth and are for better use toward each other. God does not treat us as an object to be manipulated and controlled because He has given us free will. So we should do the same with each other. Therefore, we always need to be seeking the healing of relationships, and be cautious in our judgments toward others. Love cares more about others than it does for ourselves.
When God tells us that love does not envy, He means we need to be happy for who we are. So when we hear that a friend receives a promotion before we do, we are to be happy for them. If we have a sibling who excels better than we are, we should be happy with them. If our neighbor has a brand new car, we should be happy for them, and be thankful for the old wreck that we may drive. That is we are to be happy for someone else who has something we don't have even if we don't like it. So we do not become possessive and control freaks, especially in our relationships. Being possessive and controlling others will destroy a church very quickly, or the very least neuter its effectiveness. Love does not desire which it does not have.
When God tells us that love does not boast, He means we are not to go around bragging about our accomplishments and abilities. We are not to go around showing off our possessions. In doing so, we are condescending to those who do not have such things. We are not to be so full of our own accomplishments, we fail to see what others have accomplished too. Because God loves us so much we should have no need to impress each other, but allow God to impress us with his greatness because He is God and we are not. We can relax and enjoy who we are in Christ, since we do not have to be in control or be the life of the party to feel secure. Love does not strut around.
When God tells us that love is not proud, He means we must be willing to be in relationships with all kinds of people especially those outside our perceived race. We do not let our fears hold us back from one of life's most precious gifts: friendship. Not being proud means that when we make a mistake, we own up to it and admit that we are wrong even when we feel we aren't. Because God loves us, He is on our side and wants us to grow and mature in His love. We do not have to have an inflated ego about the perceived importance of ourselves. We need to seek others first and their well being, and not our arrogance and egocentric mentality. Love does not parade itself.
When God tells us that love is not rude, He means that we treat others with the respect and dignity that we would like in return. Because God loves us, He sent his Son to cover us and protect as from His wrath, thus when we make the mistakes that we do, even the big mistakes, we are not zapped by lightning bolts. So in return, we should not go around zapping others with evil looks and condescending comments, thinking that we are high and mighty and better than everyone else. Never think of yourself as the Capstone and the most important piece of the puzzle, because you're not. We should be grateful that God uses us, and our goal is to work together; and not be little dictators. Love does not force itself.
When God tells us that love is not self-seeking, He means that we place others first and not ourselves. That we are to be considerate, appreciative, not critical, and dignified as good manners would dictate to one another. Because God loves us so much, He did not have a self-seeking attitude, for if He did He would never have sent His Son on our behalf. Every Christian must respect the rights and dignity of other people and never force our will and thoughtless behaviors on others. We need to be happy when others around us experience success and growth, and never be jealous. Love does not have a "me first" attitude.
When God tells us that love is not easily angered, He means just that. We are to become very slow to get angry, and we do not let little things cause us to fly off the handle. Because God loves us so much, He did not allow His anger to wipe us out of existence when we so much deserved it. Instead He allowed His drama of redemption to unfold throughout history climaxing with Christ. We need to try to understand other people, and place ourselves in each other's shoes respectfully. We need to listen and not allow our hostile feelings to get the best of us. Since God is patiently working in us, we should reciprocate with the understanding of the debt we have to God and the unfathomable love and concern He has for us. Love is not touchy, resentful, and does not fly off a handle.
When God tells us that love keeps no record of wrongs, He means we don't go around with a list writing down the faults of each other. Rather we are to look for the positive things that happen in our relationships and affirm people. We do not go around with a negative attitude; but, one that is positive and equipping to God's people. Because God loves us so much, He does not keep a scorecard of our sins as long as we honestly repent from them. We do not need to reflect and gossip about the flaws of other people so to elevate ourselves, when God refuses to do it to us. Love does not keep a scorecard.
When God tells us that love does not delight in evil, He means we don't enjoy when bad things happen to others. We not only need to enjoy doing bad things to each other, but we refuse to allow evil to happen. We should feel bad when we see others being hurt. Compassion is one of God's great characteristics, and we should strive our fullest to model it to each other. Because God loves us so much, He is deeply grieved when we do not follow His example and His will. We are not to put others down, so to make ourselves feel good about ourselves. Love does not delight in evil.
When God tells us that love rejoices in truth, He means when we see injustice corrected, and people treating others with respect, kindness, and honestly, we should feel wonderful. Because God loves us so much, we should live our lives so that it reflects a God of truth and justice. Thus, we should find delight when we see justice being played out in others. As Christians, we should get excited when justice prevails, and we should be mad when injustice occurs and people's rights are violated. We should realize how much God rejoices when we personally stand up to the pressures of life and prevail with integrity and truth. Love takes pleasure in truth.
When God tells us that love always protects, He means we should feel protected and in return protect those around us. This does not mean we become security guards, it means our actions and attitudes are such that they project protection, and not destruction. Because God loves us so much, He does not forsake us, even though others may. People will always disappoint us, and we will always disappoint those around us; but God will never disappoint us. Love perseveres, and is the easier route than running off and abandoning our relationships, which we have committed to. We should realize how much God grieves when we fail to walk the life of His path and when we do not trust His protection. Love is always on the lookout and has staying power.
When God tells us that love always hopes, then we should be assured He will give us a future. We should be assured that when things are going bad, they will always get better. There is hope because our circumstances will always change. We should never lose hope. Because God loves us so much, He always has hope for us. God is patiently working in us, and when we understand what God has truly done for us, then we should have as much hope as we could ever need. We should see the potential in other people, what they can accomplish and become, and not hold them back out of our jealously. Love always is enduring and points to the future.
When God tells us that love always perseveres, He means for us to hang in there and keep going strong. Because God loves us so much, He will stand with us, and even carry us through our difficulties and strife. Even when we feel we have reached rock bottom, have no hope, and filled with despair, God is carrying us because He loves us. This is the love that will destroy rumors and gossip and cause us to believe the best about each other until proven otherwise by facts. Love refuses to quit.
(Excerpt from the book, "Pew Sitting" by Richard J. Krejcir)
Remember to begin in prayer!
· Prayer 5 min
· Pick one of the options 5-10 min
· Read lesson and bible passages 10-15min
· Discussion groups 15-30 min
· Going deep 5-10 min
· End in prayer and repeat application. 5 min
Total lesson time 45 min- 1 hr
Optional start up:
Get several books on various subjects and age levels from your church library or home. Start off with the simplest book and ask how hard will it be to master the knowledge in this book? And keep doing this to each book, from children's, juvenile, textbook, technical computer manual, etc. You can have the youth rate them on a scale of 1 to 10. Then the last book, hold up the Bible, and get the biggest King James you can find. It may get the 10 as the hardest. Explain to the students that God's Word is fully knowable and usable at all age levels. The more you study the Bible, the more you will know. It is practical and knowable, even more so than the simplest children's book because those books will not renew and save you. A health book may change your life, but God's Word will change you for eternity!
Optional start up:
Have students creatively act out as a skit or melodrama each of the attitudes listed: 1. "me first" identity, 2. always placing the emphasis on the "I" and "Me." 3. If only I... If it could go this way for me...Then I could. 4. Being conceited and condescending to others. Or create your own melodrama.
Lesson: "God's Love Letter"When we try to live the Christian life alone without the guidance and support from the Word, we are like a pilot of an airplane flying through thick clouds who then refuses to admit that they have vertigo and continues to fly upside down!
As a Christian, we need to live a life of distinction, and the only way to
receive the knowledge of that distinction is to get into the Word! We do not want to
be "bar-code" Christians who, do not care what's in the box only the label that
matters, or that Christianity is just "fire insurance" from hell!
We must seek out the truth and answers that we need, from the final authority, and not the ways of the world! If not then we set up ourselves as the final judge and authority and not God, thus we will lead ourselves to hell from false truths and distractions.
The Response of grace and the point of Christianity is to be a transformed person, through self-surrender to our Lord's holiness through His Word and prayer!
REMEMBER: THE BIBLE IS GOD'S LOVE LETTER TO YOU!
§ We need to get into the Bible ourselves. One of the problems of Christianity today is that we are conditioned to be taught from the scriptures but not to
do it for ourselves.
§ The cults place their authority elsewhere, and not in the Word!
The study of the Bible matters!
Because it brings us inline to His Holiness, and with reality! Science may have explanations, but they change completely every few years, however the Word of God never changes, what a great comfort!
Science can never explain love, justice, peace, goodness, purity, sin…because you cannot quantify it in a microscope or scientific instrument! "Why we do what we do," cannot be scientifically measured and hypothesized, that is why there are so many theories in science and psychology and they are always changing!
§ The Bible is read much, but studied little!
§ The truths of Scripture will transcend any other subject, discipline or passion!
The Bible gives us a greater reality that can not be seen but is clearly felt, and to deny it is like living in Huntington Beach in southern California and never seeing the ocean!
§ The point of Christianity is to be a transformed person, through self-surrender to our Lords holiness through His Word and prayer!
§ The Response of grace is to be a transformed person, through self-surrender to our Lord's holiness through His Word and prayer!
Q: When you hear the word "BIBLE" what comes to your mind first? Did love letter come to anyone?
1. Have you ever received a love letter? How did you feel? Have you ever written one?
2. What do you think is the best way to go about the study of scripture?
3. Have you ever been through a difficult or confusing situation where you did not know which end is up?
4. How did you respond?
5. Was God the focus, and was the Word consulted?
6. If not what difference would it make?
7. What specific things can you do to make your devotions a joy instead of a chore?
8. What does it mean to live a life of distinction? What happens when you do not?
9. What do you think about the statement; "If God's Word is not your final authority, then you set yourself up as the final authority and judge of life. This will lead your straight to Hell! False truth and distractions of life will lead you away from God's love and care to a life of unfulfillment and strife!"
10. How does this sit with you?
11. What will you do about it?
12. Read the following scriptures and compare it to these following statements:
HEB 4:12 EPH 6:17 ISA 55:11 MAK 4:1-9 JAM 1:21-25
MAT 7:24 JOHN 4:9-14
· Because the Bible is a "SWORD." Heb 4:12. Living and powerful. Thus Jesus is living, Jesus is sharp and will cut and penetrate our hearts. It will open us up from the inside out to reveal our nakedness and impurity!
· Since the Bible is a sword, it is a weapon that can and will defeat the dark forces against us, so we must know it to be able to use it! Eph 6:17
· Because the Bible is a "TACTICAL WEAPON." Isaiah 55:11 You can aim it for specific purposes.
· Because the Bible is a "SEED." Mark 4:1-9 A small but powerful word can make a big miracle in the heart and actions of the Bible student. And will only grow under the right soil conditions of our will!
· Because the Bible is a "MIRROR." James 1:21-25 It will reflect what is in our hearts and minds! It will show you the truth. Will you accept it?
· Because the Bible is a "ROCK." Matt 7:24-29 The foundation for our life and work. It is essential for us to build anything relevant and purposeful. Without it, we are building on sand that will wash us away! Without it, we will be unable to withstand the pressures of life and the call Christ gives us!
· Because the Bible is "LIVING WATER." John 4:9-14 It is the fountain we are to drink from!
· Because the Bible is our "BREAD." I Pet 2:1-3 It is our spiritual food, and we are what we eat!
· Because the Bible is the record of God speaking!
· Never tease a weasel or put ferrets in your pants (just good stuff to know)!
· Know the importance and relevance of Scripture (the real point)!
"Practicing Silence." Have students spread out and remain totally quite with no thoughts for 5 minutes. Then bring them back and close by reading Psalm 1 in a paraphrase.
This lesson will help to learn solitude and not to be so cluttered with our own thoughts that we have no room for God.