Love without Angles

Andy Sharples will be preaching a sermon entitled “Love without Angles” this Sunday on 1 Corinthians 13.

Passage(s): 
1 Corinthians 13
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Love Without Angles-AWS
 
From a sermon by Haddon Robinson, preached ca 1990, probably from a church he pastored in Dallas. URL: http://voicesforchrist.org/audio_messages/77642?dl=true
 
INTRO: You know, we sing songs that we didn’t write ourselves. We act in plays that we ourselves didn’t write. But we have this stigma about having to invent our own sermons every week. I have to tell you, I’m not that smart. And maybe I’m just a little lazy. 
 
The good news is that I recently heard a terrific sermon that was originally preached some 30 years ago that really helped my thinking. Rather than mess up a good thing, I’ll just tell you, the message I'm sharing with you is THAT message with just a few tweaks. If you want details about the original, the link will be on the messages page of the church website.
 
[SLIDES: the passage]
1 Corinthians 13:1-13
1If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. 3If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it;a but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.
 
4Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
 
8Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! 9Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! 10But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless.
 
11When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. 12Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.c All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.
 
13Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.
 
[SLIDE: Dr plus reporter]
Some time ago, a medical missionary was being interviewed by a newspaper reporter. After the reporter’s questions, he told about his difficult work in a distant and dangerous part of the world. Toward the end of the interview, the reporter asked the physician, “What makes you do it? After all, you’re a sophisticated, educated man. Why do you give your life to people who don’t appreciate you and don’t understand what you’re trying to do.”
The doctor replied, “Well, I suppose that the honest answer is because we love the people. God has sent us to those folks and he has created within us a love for them.”
The reporter wasn’t too satisfied with the answer, so he pushed a bit further. “I realize that, but isn’t there some other reason that you’re going there?”
Again the physician thought, “Well, there certainly are satisfactions, but I think it’s an honest answer to say that we go because we love the people.”
As they were leaving the room, the reporter turned to his photographer and said, “You know, it’s hard to figure a guy like that out. Everybody has his angle, and I’d like to know what his is.”
 
[SLIDE: Blank]
I can certainly understand why a reporter for a paper in a large city would have that attitude. Everybody has his angle. You play the game of life, you’re like a billiards player, always looking for the right shot that benefits you. It can be very difficult to conceive that there are people who are willing to put something INTO life, even if they’re sure they’re not going to get something out.
 
In fact, this working of the angles, which is so much a part of modern society, is something that consciously or unconsciously we often teach our children. How easily we can say to them, “Now whatever you do, look out for number one. Because if you don’t, nobody else will.” Or we can say to our daughters, “Do to others before they do to you.” We can smile when we say it, but deep down inside we think there’s some wisdom there. People who make it in this world work the angles.
 
Perhaps that’s the reason when we come to these incessant demands of the NT—that we as Christians be loving people—that we tend to shrug our shoulders and just write these demands off. 
 
Sometimes we decide that this is the ethic and motive of heaven, and that’ll be all right in the sweet by and by, but it just doesn’t work in the nasty now and now. It’s great on Sunday a.m., but on Monday through Saturday, we live in a rough, tough, competitive society.  And in that world that always works the angles, love profits us nothing.
 
Or perhaps we do the other thing. Instead of recognizing that this is indeed the ethic and motive of heaven, we try to make it the ethic and motive of earth. We say, “Well, look, I’m as loving as the next fella. I give my fair share and a bit more. And when it comes to love, I get passing marks.” 
 
Of course saying you’re as loving as the next fellow, in a society that is devoted to working the angles, that may be saying very little at all. For much that passes for love in our secular society is little more than disguised self-interest.
 
[SLIDE: puppies huddling]
Some time ago a group of people in NYC were looking at a pet shop window. It was a cold and wintery day and the puppies in the window were all huddled up next to each other. And a woman looking at the scene said, “Isn’t that lovely! What a beautiful picture of brotherhood. Look at how those dogs are keeping each other warm.” And the cynical New Yorker standing next to her said, “Lady, they’re not keeping each other warm, they’re keeping themselves warm.” And often what passes for love in our society is, in that sense, puppy love. We seem to be keeping each other warm, but we’re really keeping ourselves warm.
 
That can happen even in the exercise of spiritual gifts. [SLIDE: 1Co 13:1-2] Paul said in the first three verses of 1Cor 13 that it’s possible for someone to have the gift of tongues and so exercise a gift like that in the 1st century that they would be doing it for self-advertisement. It’s possible for someone to be a teacher, to have the gift of speaking, to understand all mysteries and all knowledge and do it, not because he seeks to benefit those to whom he speaks, but because ultimately it really benefits him. It gives him position, prestige, even possessions that he would have in no other way. 
 
[SLIDE 1Co 13:3]
In fact, Paul says it’s possible to give and yet not love—give all of your goods to feed the poor. Give your body to be burned. But giving can really be a form of self-gratification. How easily we can say, “The gift without the deduction is worthless.” And giving for us can be a good business venture. It can be a way of helping our income tax.
 
What I’m simply saying is that we live in a society that works the angles. It’s very possible for us as Christians to think that as long as we’re as loving as the next fella, then we are submitting to what Christ has called us to be. 
 
You are right if you think this is difficult. The disciples found it to be extremely difficult to give themselves to each other while our Lord was here on earth. You’re right if you feel this cuts across the grain. Because the Christian who lives in love marks himself off as being an alien living in enemy territory. [SLIDE: John 13:35] “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
 
The question is, what does that kind of love look like? When you dress it up in shoe leather and put it into a business suit and take it to the office, how does it behave? What does it look like at home? At the shop? At school? In 1Co 13:4-6, Paul tells us what love is by describing what love does.
 
The love of which Paul speaks here isn’t primarily a love of the emotions. It’s primarily a love of the will. It’s an attitude of the mind. A set of the disposition. A principle of life. It’s a principle of life that determines that, in every situation, it puts the other’s good before its own. And that it will never reach out to hurt the other person, but will always seek the other person’s highest good.
 
And now Paul takes that love of which he’s been speaking, and like a jeweler holding it to the light, he turns it and we see different flashes. And in those flashes we see how love behaves.
 
[SLIDE: 1Cor 13:4-6 “patient”]
This love that seeks the highest good of other people, Paul says, is very patient. It would have to be. If we’re going to love people, then we’re going to have to love SINFUL people. People who have weaknesses. Shakespeare said [SLIDE: Love is not love] that “love is not love which alters when it alterations finds.” And of course he was right. If I cease to seek your best when YOU change, then I may not be dealing with love at all. I may simply be dealing with manipulation. 
 
[SLIDE: 1Cor 13:4-6 “kind”]
Love is also kind. It is filled with those little unnamed, unremembered acts of kindness which smooth the journey for other people, which lift the load. 
 
It delights in saying the right word. It delights in NOT saying the unkind word.
 
And then Paul goes on to say that love deals well with the differences that exist between ourselves and others. 
 
[SLIDE: 1Cor 13:4-6 “jealous”]
Love is not jealous. Or, better, it doesn’t envy. Other people have gifts that God’s given them that I don’t have… Spiritual gifts that may be more spectacular than my own. But love recognizes that the gifts have come from God, who gives always with a loving hand. And what God has given to others is best for them, and what he's given to me is best for me. And so love gets beyond that difference and sees the person.
 
[SLIDE: 1Cor 13:4-6 “boastful or proud”]
What’s more, he says, “Love is not boastful or proud.”  Because while you may have gifts that I don’t have. At other times, the differences are reversed. There are skills, abilities, opportunities that belong to me that have not been given to others. But love doesn’t boast. Love doesn’t use other people as a platform for its own virtues. Love simply sees the other person and refuses to brag.
 
Real love doesn’t get its sense of satisfaction from the pride of race, or the pride of place, or the pride of face, or the pride of grace. No, love accepts itself for what it is, and rather than seek to exalt itself, it seeks to build other people up.
 
[SLIDE: 1Cor 13:4-6 “rude”]
Then Paul comes in v5 to tell us that love is not rude. A paraphrase says, “love will do nothing that will cause other people to blush.” Putting it positively, love has good manners.
 
It may seem that this is a bit of a come-down because for Americans at least, manners don’t seem to have a great deal to do with love. Usually that’s because we confuse manners and etiquette. 
 
[SLIDE: Manners ≠ Etiquette] 
The word etiquette comes from a French word that means “card”. It grew up during the glorious days of French royalty. Whenever someone went to visit the king or queen, that person was given a card that told the person how he should enter and what he should speak, and how he should bow, and how he should leave. So etiquette becomes those rules established in a society that determines how we meet and greet and eat. And since Americans don’t have a great deal to do with royalty, etiquette doesn’t have the place with us that it has in other cultures. 
 
[SLIDE: Blank]
But I’m not talking primarily about etiquette, I’m talking about manners. And all of us have manners. It’s the manner with which we deal with other people. The way we make them feel comfortable in our presence.  The way we relate to them. And love’s manner is always gentle. It’s always thoughtful. It’s interesting to me that in the NT, the same word that is used for “grace” is used for “charm”. And if you could draw anything from that, it seems to me that a Christian who knows the grace of God and manifests the LOVE of God will be a charming person.
 
You will be a gentleman or gentlewoman because in your manner of dealing with other people, you will have a gentleness.
 
A young man grew up in a ghetto in NYC, where the graces of etiquette were not of primary concern. When he went to college, he learned a great many things. He learned about introducing men to women and younger people to older people, and what you did with knives and forks. And so when he came home after his first semester, he was “educated beyond his intelligence”. 
 
There was a lady in his church—a rather wealthy woman and a rather cultured woman—who invited him to one of the elite restaurants of NY as her guest. That was all splendid. But the difficulty was that she also invited his father to go too. And his dad was unaware of the niceties of social conduct. They sat at the table and his father asked the waiter how he was doing. Whether the tips were very good. Whether he found that folks were generous on certain nights of the week and stingy on other nights of the week.
 
Somebody asked for the food and his dad passed it across the table. When the meal was over, he did the wrong thing with his knife and fork. And if you’ve ever been ashamed of your parents, you know what it’s like when you’re 17 to sit there embarrassed.
 
Surprisingly, though, a few days later, this woman who had invited them as her guests said, “You know, I was delighted that you were able to come. And I’m particularly delighted that your father was there. Because your father is such a gentleman. He’s so thoughtful of other people.”
 
[SLIDE: “You can put”]
Henry Drummond once said [http://henrydrummond.wwwhubs.com/greatest.htm] “You can put the most untutored person into the highest society, and if they have a reservoir of love in their heart, they will not behave themselves unseemly. They simply cannot do it.”
 
And while this father didn’t know the rules, he was concerned about people. And in all the things that he did, that was manifested. 
 
Love, whether it’s the love of a peasant or a prince, will always have good manners.
 
Don’t misunderstand me. This isn’t a plea for boorishness. Certainly, etiquette has a way of smoothing out the knocks that we give to each other in the landslide of life. In fact, love gives culture a soul. Good manners without love can become snobbishness, but with love can help us to deal gently with one another.
 
[SLIDE: Love does everything it can]
That’s simply to say: Love does everything it can to make other people feel comfortable.
 
And I think that often in our churches, we could do well with a course in good manners. Sometimes, for example, in our eagerness to win other people to Jesus Christ, we can be rude. 
[SLIDE: Blank]
There can be a way of evangelizing where we grab people by the lapel. To give them a religion that really gets no deeper than their shirt collar. There’s a way in which we can offend people. Put them down and insult them. And do it in the name of evangelism. It is a GOOD thing to evangelize. It’s an unlovely thing to be rude about it. 
 
In fact, one of the difficulties, it seems to me, is that there are some virtues that get cancelled out by other virtues. 
 
There are people who are proud of their honesty, but do not have sympathy. There are people proud of their candor who do not have kindness. There are people so intent on calling a spade a spade that they treat other people like dirt. And sometimes the mark of love in a church is that we’re not rude to each other.
 
[SLIDE: 1Co 11:20-21]
Paul found that they had a problem with rudeness in this city of Corinth. In 1Co 11, he talked about the potluck suppers they had. They were called “love feasts”. When they gathered for the Lord’s Supper, they gathered for a common meal. Evidently, the rich people were able to come early. And of course what they brought was large and adequate. The slaves, perhaps, had to come late, and they couldn’t bring as impressive an array of food. But it’s possible that for many of the slaves, that was the best meal they had all week. And Paul found that there were people in that church who got there early and began to eat before the others came. They were so concerned about being with their friends and being sure that they got their fill, that in a rude, crude manner, they left other people out. That wasn’t just a breaking of the rules of etiquette. That was an unloving thing to do.
 
[SLIDE: Blank]
I think we do rather well with our potluck suppers, but it’s possible for us in a church to be so taken up with our friends that we can be rude toward strangers. How easily we can sit next to somebody that we don’t know, and when the service is over, rather than give them a greeting, or ask them their name, or to ask if they’re here for the first time, we immediately turn and seek out our friends. 
 
And strangers who come within our gates feel that we are as cold as stars and as distant as space. Love doesn’t do that.
 
Love seeks to make other people feel at home. It does nothing that causes people to be embarrassed. It reaches out to make people feel comfortable. It has good manners. It does not behave itself unseemly.
 
Dr. Richard Sumi (sp?) who was a chaplain at Dallas Theological Seminary was having dinner with a well-known Bible teacher. It was a crowded restaurant and the waitress was quite busy. And as she passed their table, a glass of water spilled and spilled over the suit of this noted Bible teacher. He became angry and rude. And he scolded the girl in harsh terms. When she left the table, Dr. Sumi leaned over and said, “Doc, when that girl comes back, why don’t you witness to her?” He knew of course that he couldn’t. That if he were to speak to her then about Jesus Christ, it would be a kind of blasphemy. Because the manner in which he had behaved was totally out of keeping with the love of Jesus Christ.
 
[SLIDE: “Lord, make the bad”] then [SLIDE: “and the good people nice”]
A little girl once prayed, “Lord, make the bad people good, and the good people nice.” And love does that. Love does not behave rudely.
 
[SLIDE: 1Cor 13:4-6 does not demand]
And then Paul goes from manners to motive. And he says, “Love does not demand its own way.” In saying that, he’s saying that love doesn’t insist upon its own rights. Love lives for the benefit of others. 
 
The learning of love is not to have a degree to paste on the wall. It’s for the benefit of other people. 
The labor of love is that others might be helped. 
The sacrifices of love are to benefit others.
 
In our world, we see so many of the arrows pointed IN that we almost take it as a norm. 
 
[SLIDE: Dombey and Son]
Charles Dickens in his novel Dombey and Son said of D&S what could be said of many people. D&S: Those three words conveyed the one idea of Mr Dombey's life. The earth was made for Dombey and Son to trade in, and the sun and moon were made to give them light. Rivers and seas were formed to float their ships; rainbows gave them promise of fair weather; winds blew for or against their enterprises; stars and planets circled in their orbits, to preserve inviolate a system of which they were the centre. Common abbreviations took new meanings in his eyes, and had sole reference to them. A. D. had no concern with Anno Domini, but stood for anno Dombei - and Son. [http://www.victorianlondon.org/books/dombey-01.htm]
 
But that’s not love. “Love does not seek its own.” 
 
 
The love that is to characterize us as believers is to be the love that characterizes our God and the father of our Lord Jesus Christ. And when John wrote, he said [SLIDE: 1J 4:10-11], “This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other.”
 
When God loves, God does not seek His own. God seeks what is best for us. You see, when you become a Christian, one of the things that happens in a heart of a regenerate man or woman is that the arrows begin to change. And instead of pointing inward as they did in the lives of D&S, they begin to point outward toward other people. In fact, that is the characteristic mark that you are truly regenerate: that you begin to seek the good of others.
 
[SLIDE: Blank]
 
Paul was deeply disturbed by the church at Corinth. Because he found in that church, when they came to spiritual decisions, to social decisions, that many of the arrows still pointed inward. 
 
For example, they had a difficulty in Corinth that Paul takes up in 1Co 8 and again in 1Co 10. They were part of a pagan society in which people brought offerings of animals to the gods. When an animal was offered to the god, the whole animal wasn’t sacrificed. In fact, only a small part was given to the god. Another part was given to the priest. And then the worshiper could take the rest of the animal home and he would have a feast. 
 
That means that the best meat market in town was at the temple. Because the priest would sell part of the sacrifice in order to be able to get some money. Some of the best restaurants in town where right there at the temple. What’s more, when a man came home with his sacrifice, he threw a dinner for his friends. 
 
The questions that the Christians at Corinth had were, “If you were a believer, and you know that the meat has been offered to idols, should you buy it at the temple? Or if a friend invites you to a dinner party and you know that the rump roast that he serves has been offered that morning to the idol, should you accept the invitation?”
 
And Paul’s response in ch 8 and ch 10 is, “you certainly have a right to do that. You have a right to eat the food offered to idols since an idol is nothing. And meat offered to idols is not contaminated by that offering. You know that, if you’re theologically straight.” But Paul went on to say that that’s not the only consideration that you bring to that question. 
 
[SLIDE: 1Cor 8:13]
In 8:13, he says, “So if what I eat causes another believer to sin, I will never eat meat again as long as I live—for I don’t want to cause another believer to stumble.” What Paul is saying is that, even if I have a RIGHT to eat that meat, and I KNOW I have that right, and I’m theologically accurate, I will not eat it. I will become a vegetarian if necessary. If there’s any danger that in my eating meat, I will cause my brother to sin.”
 
[SLIDE 1Co 10:28-29a]
And again in 1Co 10, he says if you’re invited to a dinner party and a pagan is your host, and you feel free to go, go. And he said that when the meat is served, don’t make any issue about the meat. Don’t say, “Was that offered to idols?” Don’t plead some kind of Christian conscience. But if your host were to say to you, “Have some meat! It’s fresh from the idol’s temple. We just brought it back a few hours ago,” Paul said it would be better to refrain. Not because YOU have a conscience—you don’t—but there may be a conscience in your host or in somebody else at that table which is still weak and, being uninformed, that person might be drawn back into idolatry. And as a result of your concern for other people, you will not eat meat if they would be offended or hurt. That’s the attitude of love. Love doesn’t seek its own.
 
[SLIDE: Blank]
If you have no conscience against the drinking of wine, splendid! If you understand that it’s a fruit that God has given to you, splendid. But if you know that others might be drawn back to their old life as a result of seeing you take that drink, you would not touch it, of course. Because love does not seek its own. Does not insist upon its own rights. But love is concerned about the interests of others.
 
[SLIDE: 1Cor 13:4-6 irritable]
Paul goes on. Not only does love have good manners and good motives. But he says that love is not irritable.
 
But that almost seems a bit much, doesn’t it.  You can almost hear the objections from the 15th row. You say, “Look, when you get down to irritability, you are really trampling on something that’s really part of my personality and my temperament. After all, you don’t know my situation. Love doesn’t get irritable? What do you do when you’ve got a wife who fouls up the checkbook month after month? What do you do when you’ve got people who work for you and work with you who are constantly making mistakes? What do you do when you’ve got kids like mine?  Love isn’t irritable? Look, if you want me to be a plaster of paris saint, count me out. I’m just an ordinary human being, and that’s my temperament.
 
Let me grant the force of your objection.  I admit that some people have more trouble with this than others. I accept that there are some people that are born with the disposition of a cocker spaniel and others with the disposition of a bull dog.  It’s like the man who was exhorting his brother and he says to him, “Look, you get irritable. You get angry too easily. You need to control your temper. I’ve been able to get victory over mine and you ought to get victory over yours.” The bad-tempered man responded and said, “Look, I control more bad temper in 5 minutes than you do in 5 years.” Some of these folks who talk about losing their temper never really lose it at all. It’s usually right out there where everybody can see it. 
 
[SLIDE: Blank]
Now, I understand when you say that this is a matter of temperament. And you have problems with this that others do not seem to have. Just as they have problems with alcoholism or narcotics or sexual looseness. But I suspect that when a person says, “Look, this is a problem of my temperament. This is a problem of my personality,” what they’re really saying at that point is that this isn’t a sin. It’s just something I can’t help. And since it’s part of my personality, God ought to overlook it and other people ought to overlook it. But isn’t it interesting that that’s usually the thing that the irritable person DOESN’T do: that is, to overlook the weaknesses and faults of others.
 
In fact, getting irritable is usually the vice of the virtuous. The person who keeps a tight schedule gets very impatient with somebody who does not. The disciplined person gets very irritated with the person who is not disciplined. The person who lives with high standards gets very upset with those whose standards are not what theirs are. 
 
Now, usually when we plead personality, we are saying that this is not sin at all. Just something we can’t control. And we ought to overlook it. 
 
But I’m not ready to buy that. Not for people who know God and are in-dwelt by the Holy Spirit. I’m convinced that far more than modern psychology will allow us, we are able to control our moods. Sometimes we do it quite well. 
 
I know that there are legions of people who when they get up in the morning cannot be civil until they’ve had a cup of coffee. Usually what they mean is that they can’t be civil to their own family. But if you’ve got guests visiting you and they’re up, it’s amazing how you can come in with at least a HALF-smile on your face. 
 
LaFontaine was a chaplain in the Prussian army. There was a major in that army who was constantly losing his temper with his men. He was a professing Christian. He came to LaFontaine and told him about his problem but had decided that we would write it off as just something that was part of his own personality. 
 
LaFontaine said to him, “But tell me major, if you were in the presence of the king, and the king did what your men did, would you fly off the handle at him?” And the major said, “No sir, I would not.” LaFontaine said, “Then why is it that you live in the presence of the King of Kings, but his presence does not make a difference with your irritability?” The story is that the major left angry at what the chaplain had said. But a few days later, he came back and said, “Chaplain, you’re absolutely right. And when you see me falling or beginning to fall, remind me of the King.” [https://books.google.com/books?id=DS4EAAAAQAAJ&pg=RA1-PA9&lpg=RA1-PA9&dq...
 
And we who live in the presence of the God of heaven, who call “father” the one whose name and nature is love, who know him who bears with us in our weaknesses [Rom 8:26] and understands our frame that it is dust [Ps 103:14]—we who live before HIM can live in love and will not be easily provoked.
 
[SLIDE: 1Cor 13:4-6 keeps no record]
There’s a final thing in v5. And that is that he says, “love keeps no record of being wronged.” The language used here is the language of an accountant. He puts something in the books so that it would be remembered. So then “love does not keep accounts of evil. It does not keep a record of evils done to it.” 
 
All of us have multitudes of activities in which we can either show forgiveness or harbor hatred. A roommate flies off the handle and speaks angry words to you. A friend that you trusted betrays you. A member of the church cheats you in a business deal. A husband or wife is unfaithful. At a time like that, you make a choice. You can decide to write that down on the record of your mind and not forget it. Or you can decide to forgive. What you do depends on whether or not you respond in love.
 
You see, this unwillingness to forget is really a choice of the mind. When you want to remember something, what you do is go over it. The boy who wants to remember his mathematical formulas reviews them. The actor goes over his lines. If you want to remember names, you have to review them again and again. And so when we say, “love does not keep an account of evil” that means that you don’t take out your cards of the slights that people have done to you and go over them so that you will remember them. You will not allow that weed of bitterness to grow up in your heart.
 
And some people have so allowed a slight done to them to affect their lives, that it becomes central in their thinking. A businessman who was prosperous and well-known was asked what was the aim of his life, and he responded, “To get even.” Somebody had done him an injustice, and he wanted to get back.
 
[SLIDE: Blank]
At a dinner a while ago, this couple told about some friends of theirs. People who were Christians, who had hurt them deeply. The wife recounted the story. And if it was accurate, and I suspect that it was, certainly they had been hurt. Anything she forgot as she was telling the story, the husband was able to fill in. And as the story unfolded, it turns out that all that they were recounting had taken place 10 years before. They had made a record of it. And there was no statute of limitations. Love. Does. Not. Do. That.
 
[SLIDE: Pope Paul IV]
James Brodrick in his book, “The Progress of the Jesuits” [1947] said this about Pope Paul IV: “He never forgot [slights done to him], which was one of his fundamental weaknesses. He might bury the hatchet for a time, but he gave the impression of always carefully marking the spot.” [http://www.christianitytoday.com/pastors/books/soulcharacter/pstsoul6-4....
 
[SLIDE: Blank]
You and I select our memories. And love chooses to forget the slights. In fact, love chooses to do with others what God has done with it.
 
If there’s any group of people that ought to be experts in forgiveness, it ought to be us. If you’ve come to know God through faith in Jesus Christ, then you know that your sins have been forgiven. Fully. Finally. And forever. ALL of your sins. 
 
[SLIDE: Heb 8:12]
The writer to the Hebrews says in 8:12, “I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.” 
 
[SLIDE Ps 103:12]
David said in Ps 103:12, “He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.” 
I remember when I first heard that verse, it seemed to me that if God removed our sins as far as the east from the west, that, thinking about it in terms of the globe, that they would come and meet each other again. But of course there’s a true east and a true west that goes out into infinity. And God has removed our sins. And God has forgotten them. ALL of your sins are forgotten.
 
You say to me, “Does God forget ALL that we’ve done?” No. God remembers. 
 
[SLIDE Heb 6:10]
He says in Heb 6:10, “For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do.” 
 
[SLIDE God forgets]
The point is that God forgets what we often try to remember. 
[SLIDE God forgets…and remembers]
And God remembers what we often unfortunately forget.
 
[SLIDE Blank]
We ought to remember our creditors. Those who’ve acted in love toward us, and seek to repay back that lovely debt. But we ought to forget our debtors. Vengeance belongs to the Lord [De 32:35]. We ought to leave that with him.
 
A husband and wife were in counseling some time ago. The husband had been unfaithful to his wife. And he was repentant. But the wife said, “I can forgive it, but I can’t forget. I just can’t overlook that.” I can understand that. She’d been deeply hurt. But she was a Christian, so the counselor said to her, “Look, let’s talk for a minute. You put your trust in Jesus Christ?” And she said yes. The counselor said, “When you did that, how bad were you?” She gave a good orthodox answer, that she was a sinner. Counselor said, “well no, let’s hold it just a bit. Let’s suppose that we could’ve taken all the things that you did in your lifetime, that God forgave. Let’s say we could’ve put them into a movie and we were going to show it tonight. Would you show up?” She said, “All the things?” He said, “All the things.” “No.” 
 
He said, “Let’s suppose we went a step further, and we could take all the attitudes, all of the thoughts that you have harbored in your heart, and somehow we could put those on the screen along with the acts. What kind of rating would we give them? G? PG? R? X?” She said, “I think it would be X”. And he said to her, “Did God forgive that? I mean really? Did he forgive it? Is it all gone?”
 
Reluctantly at first, she said yes. He said, “No. Now you’ve got to tell me. Is it forgiven and is it forgotten? Will God bring that up to you again?” She said, “No. Never.” Then he said to her, “Tell me. Just once more. Since you have known that kind of forgiveness, why you can’t forgive your husband.” She sat for a moment and began to laugh. She said, “It’s kind of stupid, isn’t it?” 
 
They have a good marriage now. Because she understood what love does. It does not keep account of evil. It does not keep a record of wrongs done to it. Instead, it rejoices with the good.
 
Perhaps you’ve been bearing a grudge. You know it and the other person knows it. And you want to get that settled as a Christian. That ought not characterize our lives. Perhaps there’s some memory that you keep digging up like a dog digging in the dirt, and you chew it over again like an old bone. You ought to bury it. And you ought not mark the tombstone.
 
Or maybe you’ve just been too caught up in the many details of your own life. Working the angles. With God’s help, may today be the beginning of a walk of life that recognizes God’s love and forgiveness for you. And may you begin again to act in love and forgiveness toward your family and coworkers and others around you.
 
Will you please stand? Take a moment and take inventory. What might be a first action you take in order for YOU to love without angles? 
 
Would you like to speak with a prayer counselor? They're here for you. 
 
Is today the day you finally give your life to Christ and enjoy the love and forgiveness he offers? We would love to walk you through that.
 
Whatever God is calling upon you for, will you respond?