EBible Fellowship Sunday Bible Study – 13-Jan-2008


by John McOwen


Our study today will be in a particular chapter, 1 Corinthians 13, and we are going to read the first eight verses together.  1 Corinthians 13:1-8, and no, this is not a wedding ceremony, although this passage is most typically read in that setting, but you will see why in a moment.  If you would allow me to make one translation as I read, I am going to read the more common word “love” instead of the old English word “charity” that is found in the King James version.  The reason I do that is because we are going to see soon the word “love” in this chapter, every single time it is used, is the Greek word agape, and it is the word “love.”  There are three different words for “love” in the Greek New Testament and this is one of them, and it is the one used exclusively in this chapter.  So I am going to use the word “love” in lieu of “charity.”  Let us read the first eight verses together. 

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not [love], I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 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 [love], I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not [love], it profiteth me nothing. [Love] suffereth long, and is kind; [love] envieth not; [love] vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. [Love] 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.

Now, verses 1-3 from the very beginning of that chapter clearly established the preeminence of “love” above and beyond all other attributes one could desire to possess.  The word “love,” in this chapter is, Strong’s #26, which I said earlier is the word agape in the Greek.  The word itself, this word “love,” because this chapter clearly establishes the preeminence of this attribute of this character trait “love” above anything else, even “faith” that “could remove mountains,” “love” is better than that, this agapelove.”  And the beautiful thing about this chapter is, it defines this word in many different ways, many synonyms, and many phrases are used in this chapter to help us understand the word “love.”   Is this not one of the most difficult things in society today, is to define this word “love.”  We use it so flippantly, often times in this society, and we do not really know what it means.  People fall in love and they are not quite sure really what is the substance of it.  Is it a feeling?  Is it an emotion?  Is it an action verb?  Is it something I do?  Is it both thinking and doing?  The Bible is going to give us a beautiful description of this agapelove” today in this chapter, and that is what we are going to be focusing on. 

Probably the most and best epitomized description of agapelove” is found in John 15:13.  And it is the description of course, of Jesus Christ and how He expresses this attribute of “love,” this agapelove.”  It is the action He took to offer Himself as a sacrifice for those He came to save.  It is the same word agapelove,” and it is in John 15:13, we read there, Jesus is speaking:

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

That is amazing, and there is Jesus Christ who epitomized it ultimately.  Not only was His earthly ministry all about giving up His own fleshly desires, or pursuits, whatever they may be that you and I share as human beings, putting them aside for the benefit of others, that the other people that He would encounter would receive the truth, the salvation even of their own souls. And the action taken by Him to give up His own life on Calvary, on the Cross itself  to pay the penalty for the sins of those He came to save.  So, that at a high level is the ultimate of agapelove.” 

Now, back to 1 Corinthians 13.  The Scriptures are going to tell us how else this word “love” is used and expressed, and hopefully something that you strongly desire to possess in your own life, and to act upon and to do, and be about, especially if you are an individual who appreciates the Bible.  If you believe you are a saved person today, this agapelove” is something that we all need training in, and we all need to get better at showing it, and doing it every day of our lives. 

Let us go back to 1 Corinthians 13, and we will look at verse 4, where it really begins to define the word agapelove.”  The very first phrase in verse 4, after again the description of the first three verses, was simply, nothing is better then “love,” this agapelove” is the greatest of all.  The chapter ends:

And now abideth faith, hope, charity, [love] these three; but the greatest of these is [love].

So that is why we are looking at “love” today.  Verse 4 is where it really begins:

[Love] suffereth long, …

It is the first phrase, that is the first definition.  If this were a Webster’s Dictionary there would be a lot of notes in here after the word “love.”  There would be an a), b), c), d), e), f) because there are so many phrases in this chapter used to describe “love.”  But the very first one is “suffereth long.”  It is the Strong’s #3114, and a great example of “longsuffering” or “suffering long” as it is phrased here in 1 Corinthians 13:4, is found in 2 Peter 3.  And I am going to go there to define that word, because all it tells us in 1 Corinthians 13 is, “[love] suffereth long,” that is it, and then it switches to another description of what this agapelove” is.  But let us understand “suffering long,” or “longsuffering.”  What does it mean to “suffer long”?  2 Peter 3, the context of this chapter if you are familiar with it, is the end of the world.  So here we are going to talk about in verses 3-4:

Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, …

Those are the days that we are living in.

… scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.

Well, the context here is there are “scoffers” saying, “You keep talking about the end of the world is going to come.  Christ apparently promised it would, ‘where is the promise’?  Every thing is continuing the same: the sun rises in the morning, it sets in the evening, day after day.  I do not believe it.” 

Well, you have that kind of setting of people, which is really the world we are living in.  You probably encountered that talking to Tony earlier about that mission trip for New Year’s Eve up to New York City, a lot of people with that attitude apparently.  That is understandable in a wealthy society.  In the richest city of this country, I would expect people not to even be considering the fact that this could all come to an end someday. 

But here we are looking for the word “longsuffering.” So who is exercising the “longsuffering”?  Well, verse 9 is where it locks in:

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, …

Remember verse 4 said, “Where is the promise of his coming?” These people are saying, all things are continuing as they were, but see:

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; …

In other words, He has not forgotten about it, or He just mentioned it two thousand years ago, but it is not really true.  Here it is saying:

… but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

So you see here, the word “longsuffering” is the same word Strong’s # 3114, in the Greek, that we said the agape[love] suffers long.”  So what does it mean, what is the substance of this “longsuffering”?  It has to do with tolerating. What is God doing?  If He:

… is not slack concerning his promise, …

But He is:

… not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

It really has to do with this “longsuffering” of God as He exemplifies it.  It is the fact that He is showing that He is tolerating all kinds of sin which is going on all around us, and has been for years, and decades, centuries even, but even worse the last few decades.  No matter what, through all the generations of people God continues to patiently wait, He “suffers long” through all that rebellion, because He is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance,” until the last of His elect become saved.  That is “longsuffering.” 

So how can I apply that in my life?  If I want to be all about this agapelove,” if I want that to be part of my character, if I really want to understand “love” more and better and do it, how can I understand it?  Well, look at God, He is “longsuffering” toward all of us.  How do I apply it?  Do you have a child who is often rebellious?  Can you equate it with these people who are saying, “Where is the promise of His coming?” They do not believe what you have said, what you are teaching.  Maybe you have an unappreciative husband, an unappreciative wife, maybe you have disruptive classmates in school, friends, siblings who beat up on you if you are the younger one, whatever it may be that is challenging you to toward another human being, “[love] suffers long.”  The Bible here is giving us an example where God waits, waits, waits, is patiently waiting until the last of those become saved.  He is “not willing that any should perish.”  So, for us what do you need to do with that child who is rebellious, who is disruptive, who is completely intractable?  You need to be patient, you need to be kind, you need to be never giving up in hope that they will turn through your example, through your tenderness, through your teaching, through your expression of “love,” by patiently waiting, and not getting frustrated and giving up. 

Same thing with a marriage, 55% of the adult population in this country in North America I should say, that are married do give up, and they pull the plug on marriage and it ends up in divorce, they are notlongsuffering.” Ironically, this is read at weddings, and I said that earlier, it is typically the chapter that is read, and you ask one of your friends to be the one to go up and read that particular passage during the ceremony, and yet the very first, the very first description of agapelove” in verse 4 is, it “suffers long.”  God’s “longsuffering” is incredible.  How much more should we display that with one other person, our spouse especially, no matter what, no matter what the rebellion, no matter what the sin, no matter what the anger, fighting, whatever it may be, “[love] suffers long.”  And that is the way we can apply it in our own lives, because you never know.  Why is God “longsuffering?” And we will close this particular piece with this example. Why is God “longsuffering” in 2 Peter 3?  Because He is hopeful that they will “come to repentance,” He desires to use the Bible’s word, He is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance,” He is patiently waiting.  And that person may be one of the elect, God knows if they are or not, but He waits, He is waiting until the last of His elect become saved.  You too, me as well, should wait, because you never know when that person will turn.  God could get a hold of that person and save them the very last day.  Do not ever give up.  So there is a great way to express agapelove,” “longsuffering.”

Let us go to another description of this agapelove.”  Back to 1 Corinthians 13, and see what the Bible teaches us here, and we will go back to verse 4.  This is definitely going to be a two-part message.  There is no way I will get through all this today, but we will do maybe half of these today.  Back to verse 4, there we read:

[Love] suffereth long, and is kind; …

[Love] is kind.”  That is a pretty common word “kind,” its description.  I can think of many things when I hear the word “kind.”  What does it connote in your mind when you hear the word “kind”?  Generous, that is a good synonym.  Gentle, caring; they are all good; they all help describe what kindness is.   Let us see what the Bible says.  Well, it is the Greek word, Strong’s #5541, but believe it or not, this is the only time in the whole Bible this word is used is right here.  As common as the word in the English, “kind” is, it is the only time it is used in the Greek #5541.  But fortunately, and like many words that are only used once, if you can get help from the root of the word, and there is a root word here, and that is the Strong’s #5543.  That word really helps, I think define what is meant here in 1 Corinthians 13, about “love,” agape[love] is kind.”  And that is probably best described in Luke 6.  So let us go to Luke 6 to pick up this word #5543, in verse 35.  And it is also translated as the word “kind” in the English by our King James translators.  Luke 6:35 reads, Jesus is speaking:

But love ye your enemies, …

So let us immediately take the context there.

But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he …

The Highest.”

… is kind …

There is our word “kind.” What?

… unto the unthankful and to the evil.

He is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.”  So, notice the emphasis, the Lord here is saying “love your enemies.”  And these are the type of people who would typically be “unthankful,” they would be “evil” in your eyes, at least from what you see.  Perhaps it is someone at work, perhaps again it is a family member, perhaps again it could be a child, or it could even be a spouse, it could be someone you are witnessing to on the street who is “unthankful,” “evil,” they try to disrupt you, whatever the case may be.  What does the Bible say?  It says here, “lend,” “do good,” “hoping for nothing” back.  “[Love] is kind.”  Someone said gentleness and compassion earlier, you are right, that is what it really means to be “kind” here.  It is also found, and I think this helps underscore the meaning of being “kind” in the midst of “unthankfulness” and “evil” around you. In Ephesians 4, let us go there to further describe this kindness and “love.”  To give a better description of this I want you to picture yourself in this position, you are in a marriage and you just had a fight with your spouse.  Let us read these two verses, and I want you to think about that scenario as we read these two verses.  Ephesians 4:31-32:

Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, …

Are they not good descriptions of what happens when we have a squabble with a spouse or even a friend?

… be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind …

There is the agapelove.”

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

It is very hard, but God gives us the clue and the motivation as to why we should be that way, because here is all you have to think about, whether you say to yourself I could never forgive that.  I have said this before here, the one sin that is often time is bandied about in people when they talk about divorce, justifiable in their eyes divorce, is when there is adultery.  The Bible says here, “forgiving one another.”  Picture the worse possible sin you could imagine, and the Bible says, “forgiving one another,” that is hard to do, someone says I could never forgive that, that is one sin I could never forgive.  Well, the Bible tells us here that, here is the motivation, “even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”  Have not you adulterated your marriage relationship with Jesus Christ, the law of God?  Yes, we all have in sin.  So if God forgave us, He has given us the model of how to be “kind,” how to show the agapelove” in kindness by being “kind,” it is “forgiving,” it is being “tenderhearted,” it is doing good to those that are “unthankful” those that are “evil” perhaps. 

Again, if it is a spouse, it could be anyone else, what is the prescription?  Be “tenderhearted” towards them no matter what, the problem or argument was, “forgive” them, keep loving them expecting nothing in return.  What did Luke 6 tell us, we looked at “kind”?  “Your reward shall be great” in Heaven.  If you are a saved person you have everything in the world to look forward to, no matter what you have to deal with in showing this kindness to someone who is completely “unthankful,” who does not appreciate anything you are doing.  At least you might think that way in your own mind, but you never know when it is going to penetrate their heart.  Did not God in His “longsuffering” and kindness toward you if you are saved today, put up with you for a long time?  I know He did me.  First twenty five years of my life were completely pathetic, and look what God did for me.  I did not no more have motivation than that, to think about that, to express that to someone else, whether it is at work, or anywhere else in my life, and you can do the same thing. 

I will give you another example.  I was speaking to a friend about a week or two ago, and, picture yourself with a child, and this happens a lot apparently today, “unthankful,” not appreciative of your “love” at all, they can be disrespectful, or perhaps defiant, maybe rebellious whatever the case may be.  This person told me that she has three daughters and a husband, and they have a great routine in the morning where the husband takes the three girls from ages 7-12 to the bus stop, he walks them to the bus stop, and leaves them off, and then, the Mom had been doing this for the two older ones when they were younger.  The bus comes and picks them up, and then the bus goes around the cul-de-sac, and then comes around the back of the house, and she says everyday, no matter what the weather, it is cold or raining, whatever, every day once the children are picked up, she can see from the corner, she runs out to the back deck and starts waving like a maniac to her daughter on the bus, and most days does not even get acknowledged.   But you know what?  It penetrates, because one day just two weeks ago, this is when she told me the story her younger daughter told her, “Mommy, I saw you this morning waving to me, and it really made me feel good.”  She has three children, who in her own admission sometimes they are angels, and sometimes they are not.  And yet, everyday, no matter what the problem, no matter what the disrespect might have been at breakfast, whatever happened the night before, she does it day after day after day.  That is just one small way of expressing the kindness of “love,” agapelove” to someone who perhaps most of the time is “unthankful.”  You can probably think of an example in your own life of how you can express, or if you already are, keep doing it, keep doing it, because some day it might penetrate that “unthankful” person’s heart no matter who it is. 

Let us go on.  Back to 1 Corinthians 13:4, let us pickup another description of agapelove.” 1 Corinthians 13:4, and the next one is:

… [love] envieth not; …

So “[love] envies not,” that is the word Strong’s # 2206.  And a great example of it is in James 4:2.  Because once again 1 Corinthians 13 only gives us a phrase, a synonym, and it moves on, a comma after each one.  So we have to look elsewhere in the Bible to define these words.  So “love envieth not.” What does that mean?  Well, James 4:2, we read there:

Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.

Now, the Greek word, Strong’s #2206 is not translated “envy” in this verse.  Does anyone want to tell me what word or phrase is the word “envieth” that we read in 1 Corinthians 13, “[love] envieth not,” in verse 2 of James 4, does anyone want to guess?  “Desire to have,” that is the word “envy.”  Look at this:

Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, …

You “desire to have,” you want things, that is why “you kill.”  You want this, you want that.  It says here:

… and cannot obtain:…    … because ye ask not.

Why?  Verse 3:

Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.

That gives us a good clue there of what envying is all about.  You want to “consume,” you “desire to have.”  Is it wrong to “desire to have” Godly qualities?  No.  But is it wrong to “desire to have,” two vacation homes, one main residence and five cars, and you are single?  That is a problem because I want to “consume it upon my lusts.”  Do you see how I am going to the extreme?  But it is showing us here that “[love] envies not.”  What is this lusting have to do with what we just talked about?  It is lusting after things, or it is lusting after people, things or people.  You could do a lot of lusting or envying in either category, and you can look in your own mind and see what maybe is a problem, if there is any for you, because agapelove” says you are not going to “envy,” you have to get rid of that, you have to get rid of the envying, the desiring to have the things that you want to “consume upon your lusts.”  Therefore, if “[love] envies not,” it does not do this, then what am I supposed to do?  “Love” has to be contentment then with what I do have, right?  That is what “love envieth not” is. 

Now, let us go back to the marriage relationship again, these are the best examples to give.  Why does a marriage get dry, stale or routine after years?  Typically, because the person, one or both, does not appreciate the other as much, does not have that same feeling, does not have that same desire, that same appreciation for the other person, right?  And they are lusting or desiring to have someone else, “Oh I wish my wife had this, or my husband had the other thing, had this quality, or was not this way.”  A lot of times it is physical to people get trapped into adultery.  But “love” is contentment with what I have.  Let me give you a great example.  You are a man out there, and you need to be content with your wife, and that is a struggle for you, at least in your mind.  What does the Bible tell us?  It gives us a great example of how to fix that problem, how to meditate on something that is going to make you realize what I need to do, which is in Proverbs 5:18.  I am beginning to realize this more and more lately, and I may do a study on this at some point in the future.  Really, what does it take to have an absolutely, fantastic marriage?  There are a couple key ingredients in the Bible that give us the prescription for that.  In Proverbs 5:18-20, and I know there is a lot of spiritual meaning in here, obviously, but on the surface, listen to what this says:

Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love.

Now, you may have felt “ravished” the first six months, or year that you were dating, but do you still feel that way today?  The Bible says:

… be thou ravished always with her love. And why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the bosom of a stranger?

So you have to work at it, in other words it does not come naturally, that is why we need to be reminded of that.  Be “ravished always with her love,” and if you are a wife, think about it from your husband’s standpoint.  Always look for the good in that person, even if there is five things that they did last night, or today, this morning, that just really got on your nerves, think about the good, the positive, the blessings that you have in that spouse, and be “ravished always” with that person’s “love.”  That is the prescription that is not envying, that is one way to keep yourself from envying and lusting after other people or other things. 

Same thing goes for material goods.  This is all going to go up in smoke in a few years anyway so what does it matter?  That is an easy way to motivate yourself, to get away from the lust of the technology, and the things of today that really grab for our attention all the time through media and through advertising. 

Be content with your children.  You may have abject children, or a child who is such a case.  Be content.  Do not say, “How come my children cannot perform well in the sports field like the others?”  Do not feel like, “How come my child is the one failing three of the six classes in school this year?  Why can they not get it?”  That is pride in both cases.  You are projecting yourself on the child who is out on the sports field and you are a little embarrassed maybe if they do not do well rather than just being excited that they are out there performing the best they can; that is okay.  Same thing in school, as long as they are trying, as long as they are doing their homework and trying; if they just cannot get it, so be it.  “Love” them, do not “envy” other children or other families that you think have a better situation or that their children are more obedient. 

Do not “envy” other people’s finances, be content with your own financial condition whatever that may be, be content with it. 

Also, do not “envy” others, be content with the physical body God gave you.  Is that not a huge issue for so many people today?  In this society, especially in America, it is all about appearance, out in the work place, or whatever the case may be.  So many of us “envy” others that we see.  Perhaps we want to be like this, or like that.  Be content with what God gave you, whatever it is, and be thankful for it.  We are all beautiful people.  We have to look for the beauty in someone else.  It should not be physical.  It should not be surface-oriented anyway, so get your mind off of that should you ever fall into that trap.  That is, “[love] envies not,” other things, or other people.

All right, let us go back to 1 Corinthians 13, and pick up another one.  We might do one or two more here.  Verse 4:

… [love] vaunteth not itself, …

Vaunteth not itself.”  We do not use that word a whole lot today, “vaunting.”  Does anyone want to guess what that means?  Display, flaunt, good synonym, it is to showcase it, that is what “vaunting” yourself means.  The word Strong’s #4068, again another word that is only used in the Bible right here. 

It is interesting how “love” is described, and sometimes we have to go back and look at other words.  The Greek derivative of this word is perpairose, which means to be a braggart in the Greek language, to boast aloud, to be an arrogant boaster is another description in the Greek for the other word that is similar to this.  So we can maybe get some help there. 

I am going to use an example.  If you are my age or older, you probably remember this if you were a sports fan at all when you were younger.  But Cassius Clay was a boxer.  He had his name changed to Mohammad Ali, but he was known for one thing.  Every time Howard Cosell interviewed him on TV, he always would say, “I am the greatest of all time.”  Boy, I remember as a child watching him and thinking, “That is something.”  But you know what happened?  I feel bad for him naturally; because soon after he retired, he had Parkinson’s disease.  He cannot even talk now. 

God shut that up real fast.  He was not even retired for more than a few years before he lost all of his capacity really to communicate any more.  I am not saying that is judgment or not; I have no idea, but it goes to show you that God will bring down the proud and haughty.  So love does not vaunt itself. 

I had just two days ago at work, one of the guys in the mailroom was up on our floor, and he was talking to me about his review that afternoon with his boss.  Once a year you get a review, and he was not sure how it was going to go, he was not sure if he was liked by his boss, he was a little apprehensive about it, and he talked to me about it.  You have to fill out your own assessment and tell them why you are so good, and the boss is supposed to look at that and say, yes I agree, or say, I do not think that is so true. He was a little uncomfortable, and he was not sure what to do.  And, I thank God the Lord gave me the verse.  We were talking in the lunchroom and I said to him, Proverbs 27:2, and I quoted it. And I am glad I was able to find it for today to give as an example.  But I told him, do not worry about it, do it God’s way and let the chips fall where they may.  If the boss thinks you did a great job, fantastic, if he has some corrective suggestions, then take them humbly.  Proverbs 27:2:

Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips.

Do not worry about what the company expects you to put on that paper, be humble, take whatever he or she says.  It may be true, it may not be, but it does not matter, does it?  God put that person in authority over you, whether they say something is true, or not, be humble about it.  “Let another praise you.” If they are going to praise you, let him praise you, do not let it come out of your own mouth.  Do not “vaunt” yourself.  And this was fresh in my mind because I was doing this study, and I was familiar with this phrase about agape[love] vaunteth not itself.”  “Love” does not do that, “[love] vaunteth not itself,” it does not brag about itself.  Here is an example.  Let me give another real life example of “[love] vaunting not itself,” and again it is agapelove.” 

We have to really be careful, and I am speaking to myself here especially.  But maybe you are in the same company as me, when children come up to you and say, or your own child comes up to you and says, “Mommy, Mommy (it is a young child) I got an A+ in Math class today.  It was the highest grade in the whole class and the teacher pointed me out and said, ‘Suzie did the best job out of everyone,’ and it made me feel great.  Look, here is the test,” and then she shows you the big gold star and the A + in red.  And what do we typically do?  Hopefully we get excited for the child.  “Suzie that is awesome, that is fantastic.” 

But here is where I go wrong; I say, “I am so proud of you.”  And you know what?  I do it with our own Marlena here.  I do not have any children, but with others who I care about.  Dave and MaryJo have Marlena and they went, two weeks ago.  Marlena was at the New Year’s Day parade here in Philadelphia passing out tracts in the city.  So that next Sunday, I saw her at the Nursing Home and she was telling me about it.  I was so excited for her and I slipped and said, “Marlena I am so proud of you; you are out there on the street.”  She said it with a smile, it was not grievous for her to be with her Mom and Dad.  She was pumped up, excited, handing out tracts, walking all the way down to South Philly, coming back up Broad Street, and she is only seven years old.  So I am pumping her up, and thank God, Dave reminds me whenever I do that, pride.  Are you proud of her?  No, I have to stop using that language. 

I thank God for Dave giving me that reminder time and time again when I make that mistake with a child.  I try to pump them up so much because I am really excited about what they did, whatever it may be, where they accomplish something, but then I am feeding pride.  And instead of, yes, get excited, be enthusiastic with the child for whatever is done, but it has to be overridden with, “God did that for you, was that not amazing?”  You always have to make the main focus, God allowed you, He gave you that computer brain to get that A+.  Let us go to the couch for two minutes, you and I sit down, and let us pray and thank God for giving you the ability and the wisdom to get that A+ in the test.  Is that not a great way to answer the child?  Yes, get enthusiastic, yes, encourage them and say that is fantastic, but is it not wonderful that God gave you that blessing, and now what can you do with it?  Was there one of your friends in the class that got an F?  Maybe you could tutor her after school, or at lunchtime help her out.  Or maybe your younger sister needs help in Math.  God gave you such a smart brain maybe you can use it for His glory and help out your little sister who is struggling with her class.  Certainly you will know that material, you were there a few years ago yourself. 

It has to be that we are a wise steward of the gifts God gives us, and if He gives us any gifts that allow us to excel, or do well, or if it is physical appearance that He has given you, whatever it may be, you have to avoid the trap of “vaunting” yourself, or as a parent, allowing your child to vaunt themselves, because you just want to praise them so much, and differentiate them from others, and say that they are the greatest, they are the best, and you have to be careful.  There is a fine line between encouraging the children and being enthusiastic with them, and for them, and not puffing them up so they think it is them and therefore they get proud.  It is really incumbent upon us adults to let the children know that it is God who gave you whatever it is you got, and be thankful for it, be thankful for it and do not try to think for a moment that it was because of anything special in you that allowed that to happen.

Well, we are going to have to leave it there for today.  “[Love] vaunteth not itself,” “[love] suffers long, and is kind; [love] envieth not.”  Lord willing, next time we will pickup where we left off, and finish off this beautiful description in the Bible of this agapelove” that was best manifested as we said earlier when we began this study with what Jesus Christ said:

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.