December 16, 2018 Living Order in One Verse



“Let all that you do be done in love.” (I Cor 16:14; ESV)


In the previous verse the apostle gave marching orders for our battle with the enemies of God. In this short verse he gives orders on how to live. If we could live by this verse we would discover that every blessing of God that we yearn for would be ours. If we could live by this one verse we would discover that our problems that we thought loomed so large are nothing at all. If we could live by this verse we would discover that the Christian life is a life of enjoyment. Because love and joy are handmaidens of God. They go everywhere together.


[I.] We must know what love is. We have a great deal to unlearn. In fact, the older we are the more we have to unlearn unless we have been immersed in God’s word. I have said before, and I say again, that the world is filled with ideas and philosophies that are not only wrong but antithetical to God and His word. It is not as if those ideas are just sitting out there waiting to be picked up. They are constantly being communicated through public schools, through movies, through television, over the internet, and in everyday conversations. They have been coming into us our whole lives and still are. We are in a war of ideas. We must conform our minds to God’s thoughts, not the world’s thoughts.


The idea of love is one of those concepts that make a profound difference in the way we live. The world’s idea of love is that it is a feeling that comes over you. It’s a good feeling. Except when it is not requited. Then it makes one miserable.


 Consider the notion that one can “fall in love.” When you fall into something it is usually by accident. You trip and then gravity – a force which is outside of yourself – pulls you down. The notion that we “fall in love” carries that same connotation. That is why people use the word “fall” to describe love.


This idea has been popularized in song after song after song. The music we listen to is not inconsequential. The lyrics get into our minds even if we are not paying attention to them. This is because our minds are amazing. We learn things subconsciously as well as consciously.


Consider some popular song lyrics. The song, I Can’t Help Falling in Love, by Elvis is one of my favorite songs. The melody is beautiful. Elvis’ voice is fantastic. And, the lyrics are moving. The song was first released in 1962 (56 years ago) but it is still one of the most popular love songs of all time and continues to get airplay.


 Wise men say only fools rush in
But I can't help falling in love with you
Shall I stay?
Would it be a sin
If I can't help falling in love with you?

Like a river flows surely to the sea
Darling so it goes
Some things are meant to be
Take my hand, take my whole life too
For I can't help falling in love with you


Some of the lyrics are quite good. “Wise men say only fools rush in.” Great! And true! We ought not to rush into a relationship of love. “Shall I stay? Would it be a sin…” Yes, it would be a sin to stay overnight when you are attracted to someone that you are not married to. “Take my hand, take my whole life, too…” I love that line. It is so romantic!


[Play song]


However, the song impresses upon us the idea that love is something that cannot be helped. “Like a river flows surely to the sea, some things are meant to be.” Love isn’t something that cannot be helped! Love is something that we can choose or choose to deny. This is the biblical witness. There are too many other good things about this song not to like it. I still like it. I’m just saying the major premise is wrong.


One of Jael’s favorite recording artists is Michael Buble. After hearing him I have to agree that he is quite good. The song When I Fall in Love was originally recorded by Doris Day in 1952. It was a hit then. Then Nat King Cole released his version in 1957. (Both Doris Day and NKC were outstanding singers.) His daughter, Natalie Cole, released a duet with her deceased father (a virtual duet) in 1996. That version is beautiful! The song has been recorded by about 120 artists over the years, including Rick Astley, Tony Bennett, Karen Carpenter, Perry Como, Sandra Dee, Celine Dion (with Clive Griffin), Kathy Lee Gifford, Eydie Gorme, Engelbert Humperdinck (Arnold Dorsey), Julio Iglesias, Tom Jones, Brenda Lee, The Lettermen, Barry Manilow, Johnny Mathis, Donny Osmond, Lou Rawls, Kenny Rogers, Linda Ronstadt, Rod Stewart, and Bobby Vinton.


[Play Buble]


 Another great song! But note the words:


And the moment I can feel that
You feel that way too (I feel that way too)
Is when I'll fall in love (I fall in love)
With you

The singer is saying that once he feels the other person’s feeling then he will irresistibly fall into love. Feeling, feeling, I can’t help myself. I am not unromantic! I like this song quite a bit. I even believe in romance. But romance is not love. They are different things.


Queen was one of the most popular bands of all time. They have the fourth highest number of record sales ever. Only the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and Pink Floyd have sold more. Queen has sold over 200 million records! A documentary about the band, Bohemian Rhapsody, was released in October of this year and has grossed over 600 million dollars! Freddie Mercury wrote a song in 1979 which the band released in 1980 called Crazy Little Thing Called Love. It was number one on Billboard for four weeks. It still is played on the radio all the time.


[Play song]


Some of the words:


It swings (woo woo)
It jives (woo woo)
It shakes all over like a jelly fish
I kinda like it
Crazy little thing called love

There goes my baby
She knows how to rock 'n' roll
She drives me crazy
She gives me hot and cold fever
Then she leaves me in a cool cool sweat


Love jives! It shakes like a jelly fish. His girl drives him crazy and gives him hot and cold fever. Well that is not love. That might be dysentery, but it’s not love.


One more. In 1972 Luther Ingram released the song, If Loving You is Wrong I Don’t Want to be Right. It was a very popular R & B song. I am not going to play it because it is a disgusting song about an adulterous relationship. The words again portray love as a feeling. But the two adulterers in the song do not love each other and neither do they love the man’s wife who he is cheating on. It is all a lie.


If love is not a feeling, if it is not a jelly fish, if it is not something that one has no control over, then what is it?


We can allow God’s word to teach us what love is. The apostle Paul by the Holy Spirit tells us.


Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; [1]


Verse 4 informs us what genuine love produces: patience and kindness, an absence of envy. But in verse 5 the apostle implies the very meaning of love by what he writes. Love “does not insist on its own way.”


I really like the NIV here. It simply states, “It is not self-seeking.”


This is love: It is desiring and acting upon the best interest of the other person. When you love you want what is best for the person you love. That is a choice!


Very often love means not giving a person what they want to be happy because what they want to be happy is not always in their best interest. Who better to say what is in a person’s best interest, them or you? The answer is: neither one! God is the one who knows what is in a person’s best interest. The apostle goes on to write:


Love,does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.” [2]


Because love takes joy in the truth, it seeks the best interest of the other person.


[II.] We can enjoy the issue of our love. When we love we will discover that the benefits that we experience will cause us to enjoy things that we formerly did not and that we will enjoy our favorite things even more.


Love is powerful and changes our perspective. In 1988 a science fiction movie starring Roddy Piper was released called They Live. The movie is about the earth being secretly invaded by aliens. They masquerade as humans by means of a technology that makes them appear like normal people. The main character discovers a pair of sunglasses that shows what is being hidden behind billboard ads and other literature.


[Play clip]


To the extent that we live without love, to the same extent we do not see things as they really are. The reality behind everything is hidden or distorted. When we love it is like putting on those sunglasses that lets us see things as they really are.


15 Then Laban said to Jacob, “Because you are my kinsman, should you therefore serve me for nothing? Tell me, what shall your wages be?” 16 Now Laban had two daughters. The name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 17 Leah’s eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful in form and appearance. 18 Jacob loved Rachel. And he said, “I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.” 19 Laban said, “It is better that I give her to you than that I should give her to any other man; stay with me.” 20 So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her. [3]


Jacob’s situation was not all that great. He loved Rachel and he desired to marry her. It was Jewish tradition for a bride price to be paid to a girl’s family for the marriage of their daughter. This was just the opposite of the nations around Israel where a dowry was paid to the groom’s family by the bride’s family for the taking of a bride. Because Jacob had no money he offered to work hard labor on his uncle’s farm for seven years so he could marry Rachel. Under normal circumstances, that would be a difficult situation to be in: working hard and for a long seven years, not yet having the wife you desire. But verse 20 tells us that those seven years seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her.” In other words, the labor didn’t seem difficult and the time didn’t seem long. Why? Because of love. The truth is that labor is not as hard as it seems and seven years is not long compared to the benefits that await afterwards. Love allowed him to experience those seven years with joy.


I remember not long after Josie and I were first married she wanted to watch musicals at our home. I never liked musicals. I only liked Adventure or Science Fiction movies. I had no desire to watch a musical. But because I loved her and she liked musicals so much I watched them with her. I remember the first one we watched was Oklahoma. I watched a lot of musicals. I liked them (and still do) because I loved her (and still do). Love made me see musicals differently.


Love and joy are handmaidens. They go everywhere together. Speaking of Jesus, the apostle Peter writes:


8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, [4]


Note that we love Jesus and believe in him (that means to trust him) and then we experience joy. This is our experience. The more we love the Lord, the more we trust in him, the more we enjoy him with a joy that is inexpressible and full of glory!


When Paul lists the fruit of the Spirit, love comes first, immediately followed by joy (Gal 5:22).


And the word of the Lord of hosts came to me, saying, 19 “Thus says the Lord of hosts: The fast of the fourth month and the fast of the fifth and the fast of the seventh and the fast of the tenth shall be to the house of Judah seasons of joy and gladness and cheerful feasts. Therefore love truth and peace. [5]


Here, God promises to bring his people out of captivity and back to Jerusalem. He says that the fasts that will be unto the Lord will be times of joy and gladness and cheerful feasts. Look how verse 19 ends: “Therefore love truth and peace.” When we love the truth and peace seasons of gladness follow. Love issues in gladness!


Finally, love empowers us to obey the Lord’s commandments. Do you find it hard to obey the Lord at times? Then stir up love in your own heart for him. For the more we love the Lord the easier we will find obedience to be.[6]


[III. Conclusion] In one short verse in Corinthians Paul gives an order to live by. “Let all that you do be done in love.”


Love is not a feeling and love is not something that overtakes us. Rather, love is something that can be chosen or that can be denied. Loving is desiring and acting upon what is best for the other person. It is wanting what is best for someone.


When we love it enables us to see things as they really are. Everything becomes less distorted. The seemingly hum-drum things become enjoyable and the good things become even better. Love is a gift to ourselves!


Although love is a gift to yourself, you must not keep it to yourself. It is meant to be shared. A wonderful parable is told that goes like this:


Once upon a time a person was touched by God, and God gave him a priceless gift. This gift was the capacity for love. He was grateful and humble, and he knew what an extraordinary thing had happened to him. He carried it like a jewel and he walked tall and with purpose. From time to time he would show this gift to others, and they would smile and stroke his jewel. But it seemed that they'd also dirty it up a little. Now, this was no way to treat such a precious thing, so the person built a box to protect his jewel. And he decided to show it only to those who would treat it with respect and meet it with reverent love of their own.

Even that didn't work, for some tried to break into the box. So he built a bigger, stronger box--one that no one could get into--and the man felt good. At last he was protecting the jewel as it should be. Upon occasion, when he decided that someone had earned the right to see it, he'd show it proudly. But they sometimes refused, or kind of smudged it, or just glanced at it disinterestedly.

Much time went by, and then only once in awhile would one pass by the man, the aging man; he would pat his box and say, "I have the loveliest of jewels in here." Once or twice he opened the box and offered it saying, "Look and see. I want you to." And the passerby would look and look, and look. And then he would back away from the old man, shaking his head.

The man died, and he went to God, and he said, "You gave me a precious gift many years ago, and I've kept it safe, and it is as lovely as the day you gave it to me." And he opened the box and held it out to God. He glanced in it, and in it was a lizard--an ugly, laughing lizard. And God walked away from him.


There is great truth in that parable.


Begin to do all things when you love and begin to see the world differently. And, do not keep it to yourself.



[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (1 Co 13:4–5). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (1 Co 13:6). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[3] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ge 29:15–20). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[4] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (1 Pe 1:8). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[5] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Zec 8:18–19). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[6] On how to love the Lord Jesus more fully, see