How do you react to the fault of others? The answer is with the love of Christ. At last weekend’s service, Pastor Kong Hee taught how to put this love for others into practice.
“Love is the greatest thing God wants to develop in us,” said Kong Hee, City Harvest Church’s senior pastor as he began preaching his third message on the love of Jesus over the weekend of May 23 and 24. Preaching from 1 Corinthians 13:4-6, he continued from where he left off, to talk about three things love is not when dealing with darkness that comes from others.
The essence of 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 can be summarized as the “2-8-4 of love”, the pastor reminded the congregation. Two main virtues of love, eight things love is not, and four attitudes that love carries.
He spoke now about “the remaining three things that love is not deal with the darkness outside us: the faults, flaws, and failures of other people and how we respond or react.”
He taught that it is important for Christians to show love, just as Jesus did, even when they are affected by the darkness of others. How one responds or reacts to these reflects the love that is inside of them.
LOVE IS NOT EASILY ANGERED
In life, there are people who annoy, irritate or hurt others. However, love is not easily provoked (1 Cor 13:5) and does not have a short fuse.
The original Greek word for provoked is parnoxuno, which is where the word “paroxysm” comes from—it means to have a sudden seizure of anger. Becoming easily irritated and having a short temper is not how one shows love, explained Pastor Kong.
Pulling out statistics that showed how much the average adult regularly lose his temper every day, the pastor noted that being angry is not always sinful or wrong, but being an angry person is. He noted that even God gets angry at times but that He is slow to anger (Ps 103:8). It takes a long time for God to become angry and His love puts a brake on His anger so that, most of the time, the anger fizzles away.
Of the 180 events recorded in the Gospel, Jesus was only angry in seven of them. Even then, He never once lost His cool despite being constantly provoked by His enemies. “To be Christlike is to be good-natured like Jesus,” explained Pastor Kong, quoting from Matthew 11:29. Jesus showed love by being gentle and tender.
“Temper is like a bomb that explodes,” described Pastor Kong, “it will leave people hurt and devastated.”
The pastor shared a personal story on how he used to struggle with temper issues. Once, when he found himself constantly being aggressive, he asked the Holy Spirit to help him change, and He did. Revival happens when God’s love is present and tangible, explained the pastor.
Referencing 1 Timothy 1:16, he encouraged the congregation to focus every day on the unlimited patience of Jesus. He pointed out that anger is the fruit of the devil, and is cultivated every time one lets anger get the better of him. Similarly, Christians must cultivate zero irritability, anger outbursts and harshness by focusing on Jesus’ unlimited patience. Pastor Kong encouraged the church to surrender all unresolved frustrations to God and allow Him to drain it out of them.
“Love patiently extends grace and mercy to all,” he reminded them.
LOVE KEEPS NO RECORDS OF WRONGS
The phrase “keeps no records” comes from the Greek word logizomai, which refers to keeping an account. Pastor shared a story of a woman who used to keep audio recordings of all the arguments she had with her husband, and often play them back to herself so that she would not forget what he had said to her. Things changed after she became a Christian and she was able to forgive him.
Jesus kept no records of wrongs even when His enemies wanted Him dead (Luke 23:34). In Matthew 18:21-22, Peter asked Jesus how many times he should forgive others who had wronged him, and Jesus replied, “seventy times seven times”. This was a Hebrew reference that stated that “you must completely forgive at all times” until the offense has been forgotten. Likewise, God will not remember the sins of His people (Isa 43:25).
However, Pastor Kong acknowledged that forgiving others is not always an easy thing to do. He pointed out that forgiveness has nothing to do with one’s feelings: it is a rational, non-emotional decision to let go of the other person’s wrongdoing. The pastor encouraged the church to “make a decision daily in your hearts and minds to let go of all offenses”.
“One day, God will make right every wrong you have suffered,” said the pastor. He went on to preach that God wants His people to forgive but not for the sake of their offender. Rather, “it is for your own sake, so that you can stop suffering inside,” he explained. “When you make a decision to forgive, you allow the fountain of God’s love to spring up within you and bring total healing.”
Unforgiveness can become emotional baggage one carries with him into every friendship and relationship. Pastor Kong encouraged the church to not let it shape their present and future.
LOVE DOES NOT DELIGHT IN EVIL BUT REJOICES IN TRUTH
Due to our fallen human nature, people tend to delight in bad things that happen to others, especially to those they do not like. “Love is the total opposite,” said Pastor Kong. “Love desires to see others grow and be blessed.”
Jesus Himself did not rejoice when Peter drew the sword and cut the ear of the soldier who was arresting Him (John 18:10). Instead, Jesus was filled with compassion for the man and healed him.
Pastor Kong also reminded the church that “we should not gossip about someone under the guise of prayer because a loving person does not gossip and love takes no pleasure in the misfortune of others.”
1 Peter 4:8 teaches Christians to have fervent love as “love covers a multitude of sins”. Pastor Kong encouraged the church not to gossip, but to increase in fervency of love for one another by not taking offense at things said or done.
Love covers and protects, in the same way that Noah’s two sons, Shem and Japheth, not wanting to see their father’s nakedness and walked backwards into his tent, took a blanket to cover their father (Gen 9:21).
“Honor your parents, elders, and superiors even when they are imperfect,” the pastor said. “With the privilege of access comes with the responsibility to love, to protect, to cover. This is true love.”
Love wants the best for others, the pastor continued. He taught the church to learn to be happy for others when they are blessed, even if they do not like the person. “Don’t wish, or hope for the worst of your rival so that you can be the number one in the industry. If someone you don’t like falls into sin, don’t gloat. And if they repent, you rejoice because love rejoices in the truth. Love delights in whatever things that are true and noble and just and pure and lovely and of good report,” he said, referring to Philippians 4:8.
In closing, Pastor Kong told the church that as they look to Jesus who loves unconditionally and with loving-kindness, His love will fill the hearts of His people, and supernatural love will overflow in them as they show love to others.