by Dr. Ken Matto
As Christians it is our responsibility to abide in charity as the Scriptures teach in 1 Corinthians 13:13, "And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity." I like the word "charity" instead of "love" because it provides a more apt meaning for the word. We have been persuaded to believe that love is only a huggy kissy type thing as the world portrays it. Hollywood has given us a wooden nickel definition of love.
Many people enter marriage with a false notion of what love is and as a result divorce is rampant. Many people enter marriage with the idea of what they can get out of it, instead of the biblical plan of going into marriage with the idea of what they can contribute to the marriage. A woman once told me that the only reason she got married was for legal sex. At the time she told me this, she was divorced. She took from marriage instead of giving.
What about the single Christian? Since they are not married, is it possible for them to experience love in its truest form? The answer is yes and the Bible gives us simple guidelines for us to manifest love to others. The biblical form of love is always a charitable one. This is why I prefer the word "charity" because it denotes a term of benevolence or altruism. When we give to charity, we give without ever expecting the recipients of what we have given to somehow pay us back.
If we expect payment of some kind for a deed we have done, then it is no longer charity. In other words, for charity to be charity, it must be unconditional with no strings attached. Let us look at eleven biblical principles which define love in the truest sense of the word. If you fulfill these, then you will know what real love is, even if you are unmarried.
(Phil 2:20) For I have no man like-minded, who will naturally care for your state
Here Paul was sending Timothy to care for the young church in Philippi. Timothy had proven himself to God and to Paul, that he had no ulterior motive in his service to Christ. Timothy was a faithful servant who manifested genuine care of other’s needs.
(Rom 12:1) I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
This verse tells us that we must become a living sacrifice to the things of God and for others. Here are seven principles of sacrifice:
1) A sacrifice is fully burned which means full commitment.
2) A sacrifice is messy which means that our lives may suffer in service to others.
3) A sacrifice is presented to God, which means we must be sincere in our duties. To have an alternative motive in service means a  sacrifice to a false god, namely self.
4) A sacrifice is groomed for that purpose. The Bible teaches us that we should arm ourselves for suffering in God’s service. (1 Peter 4:1-2)
5) A sacrifice dies which means we must be dead to self when we serve others. (Romans 6:11-12)
6) A sacrifice receives no reward. The only reward we are to expect is knowing that we have done which was required of us as we read in Luke 17:10. The only reward beyond this the believer will have is eternal life as we read in Luke 18:30.
7) A sacrifice is bound to the altar till it is completed. God may keep us in the frying pan until the job He sent us to do is completed to His satisfaction. If you can’t finish a job, don’t accept it. (Psa. 118:27)
(Luke 23:34) Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.
One of the highest forms of love is forgiving someone who has hurt you, especially when they do it intentionally. To say to one who hurts you that you forgive them usually shocks them into apologizing to you for their misdeeds. Unconditional forgiveness is one of the highest characteristics of true Christianity which can be manifested by a believer. It is with this trait that you may win people to Christ. We must be realistic, many times we hear people telling us to forgive and forget, only God is capable of forgetting. We will remember what people have done to us because Satan will not let us forget, so we must learn how to deal with those memories, so we don’t fall into Satan’s snare of dredging up past hurts and conflicts. When the memory arises:
1) Determine at that moment you will not raise that issue with the person who hurt you.
2) Ask the Lord immediately for strength to squelch the desire for revenge.
3) Keep in mind those whom you have hurt in the past and how they had forgiven you of your sins against them.
4) As soon as you have forgiven that person, seek immediately to rebuild the relationship.
5) Pray for the one who hurt you because it is hard to seek revenge when you are praying for someone.
6) Remember the Cross, God’s ultimate forgiveness.
If you keep these six principles of forgiveness in mind, then you will gain victory over a revengeful mindset and you will maintain stable relationships with all believers. True forgiveness is possible.
(2 Cor 12:15) And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.
The apostle Paul had no problem giving himself to his people even though many times he was not appreciated. Paul used two words in describing his commitment to these Corinthians: "spend" and "be spent." Spend is used in other places in the New Testament in the context of spending money, as in the case of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15. It carries the meaning of being "used up" as money that is spent is used up for whatever purpose it was used on. The other word Paul uses is "being spent." It is the only place in the New Testament that this Greek word is used and it carries with it the meaning of "being totally spent or utterly exhausted." Paul was willing to give himself completely to the task at hand. He purposed in his heart that he was not going to hold back any of his strength in doing the work God commissioned him to.
(Ruth 1:16-17) And Ruth said, Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: {17} Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.
One of the greatest gifts God has given the human race is the ability to be a true friend while still possessing a sin nature. The example before us is Ruth who refused to abandon her mother-in-law in a time of sorrow. You see Ruth lost her husband but Naomi lost two sons and a husband, so her grief was greater. Ruth looked beyond her own needs and saw those of Naomi and attempted to meet them. Orpah was a good example of a fair weather friend as she looked upon her own needs and chose to meet them. Ruth pledged her support to Naomi no matter what the consequences were. Ruth was determined to be a friend to Naomi even unto death. To abandon a friend in time of need, shows a spiritual deficit. It is true, we cannot do everything, but we can do something to support them. Showing true friendship is showing true love.
(Luke 19:8) And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.
There are going to be times when we will hurt each other and sometimes it is going to be intentional. This type of attitude will stem from the sin nature that dwells in us and our obedience to it. Friends usually have access to information about our lives that no one else will know about, in other words friends will build a trust. So occasionally we will hurt someone, especially a friend since they are the most vulnerable because they have our trust.
Sometimes that trust is broken, and when we realize that we have hurt that person it is necessary to: First, repent sincerely of the wrongs we have done and tell that person that we are truly sorry for breaking the trust; and secondly, we must restore, if possible, any damages that have been done. Sometimes we may hurt a person’s reputation and that damage may be irreversible but we must make an attempt to undo the wrong we have done. Sincere love seeks to right its wrongs. Satan is a master at driving wedges between Christians and if you know you have been deceived, then if you repent and restore, you will be healing the relationship God’s way. On the other hand the one that was hurt must be careful that they accept the attempts by the other person to right that wrong or else the one who was sinned against will now be sinning against the one who hurt them because pride will not allow to forgive.
(1 Sam 30:24) For who will hearken unto you in this matter? but as his part is that goeth down to the battle, so shall his part be that tarrieth by the stuff: they shall part alike.
Selfishness is natural but sharing is learned. Some principles of sharing are:
1) Sharing looks to the needs of others.
2) Sharing cures us of any greed problems.
3) Sharing brings inward joy.
4) Sharing builds your testimony to an unsaved world.
5) Sharing is a form of worship because it is obedience to God.
(John 18:10) Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest's servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant's name was Malchus.
Here Peter drew his sword to defend Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane. He did it out of love for Christ, although misguided in his method and understanding, nevertheless defended him. When we defend those we love (God’s definition of love) it shows our friends some things about us:
1) It shows our sincere love for them.
2) It shows they can count on us in hard times.
3) It shows our friendship is not superficial.
4) If our friend is wrong, then our defense of them opens the door to let us guide them on the right path to reconcile differences which have sprouted up causing the situation.
(1 Sam 12:23) Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way:
When we pray for others we are showing that we genuinely care about a person because we are taking the time to bring their name before the throne of grace. There is probably no higher form of love for a person than intercession on their behalf, after all, wasn’t that the purpose of Calvary. Praying for others unleashes the power of God in another person’s life and gives them confidence that they are in God’s will knowing that someone is praying for them. For better understanding of types of prayers to pray for others, look briefly at Paul’s prayers in Colossians 1:9-12 and Philippians 1:9-11.
(Col 1:9-12) For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; {10} That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; {11} Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; {12} Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:
(Phil 1:9-11) And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; {10} That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; {11} Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.
Prayer can be a binding force between Christians when invoked.
(John 11:35) Jesus wept.
One of the greatest signs of friendship is hurting with those who hurt. It is easy to share in those times when our friends are rejoicing but the acid test is joining them in their sorrow. Our verse tells us that Jesus wept over the death of Lazarus, even though He previously knew he died. Yet, Jesus identified Himself with the sorrow that pervaded the family. We fear being with friends at this time because we are fearful we will say or do something wrong, but just being there in a time of sorrow or pain is the important thing. Sometimes you don’t even have to say or do anything, just be there. This is a major indicator that you love a person enough to identify yourself with their sorrow, even if it costs you.
(Mat 5:44) But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
People are going to do things to us that are wrong but love is the ability to overlook the sins of others. This is the message of Calvary, as Christ’s substitute sacrifice allows God to overlook the millions of sins I have committed against Him.
(Psa 51:4) Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.
(1 Cor 13) Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. {2} And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. {3} And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. {4} Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, {5} Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; {6} Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; {7} Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. {8} Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. {9} For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. {10} But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. {11} When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. {12} For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. {13} And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. - 11/9/96