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Staying Tender Hearted in a Cruel World

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100307AM EBG-8Healthy Love.doc

Grace Energized Men:

 Staying Tender Hearted

In a Cruel World

Titus 2:2e

Love is the greatest of all the manifestations of God at work in the life of His children.

 

That is why Jesus warned His disciples that it would be increasingly harder and harder to maintain that strong and healthy love, in this ungodly world.

 

As we open to Matthew 24, we are watching Jesus sit down[1] near the end of His earthly ministry and paint a vivid picture of what the world would look like as it neared its final days. We have studied that message in Matthew 24 many times. But this morning I would like you to look at just two verses in that chapter with me—v. 11-12.

 

Matthew 24:11-12 “Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.12 “And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. NKJV

 

Note the two indicators Jesus mentions:

 

False Doctrines Increasing and

Genuine Love Decreasing

 

Jesus warned that: as the end of days approaches, false doctrine would increase and that real love would decrease. The word “grow cold” is not an adjective describing a condition, it is a primary verb describing that the active display of love will be radically decreased.

 

Repeat those two indicators with me, we are in a world where:

 

  • False doctrine will what? INCREASE (right); and where
  • True love would what? DECREASE.

 

So the church nearing the end of the age is faced with increasing false doctrine and decreasing genuine love.

 

Of course, to prepare for such an onslaught facing Christ’s church, God had a plan. That plan is the fifth of the Titus 2 qualities that God wants to be lived out in the godly older men. We find it in that second verse of Titus 2:

 

Titus 2:2 that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience; NKJV

 

Notice the proximity of “sound faith” (vs. the false doctrine) and “sound love” (vs. the defective love) in this passage. Paul was addressing a current and future need in the church.

 

God wants His love lived out in the personal lives of saints in Christ’s church throughout all of its history.

 

  • He wants each member of Christ’s family to see soundness of love in action—starting with the older, godly men who are models and examples to the flock.

 

  • Then, the Lord wants sound or healthy love experienced by each member, lived out each day, before a watching and often loveless world.

 

So, as we come to this fifth quality of godliness: how sound is your love? How tender is your heart? How full of Christ-like compassion are we? Do we have the healthy love that God says should always characterize us as believers?

 

Jesus told His disciples as He neared the end of their formal training that LOVE would be their identification badge in the world. His words are so clear. Look at Christ’s expectations of us as we turn to the Gospel by John 13:34-35:

 

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.

 

By This

Love

 

This love is so important, that when we turn onward to the end of our Bibles in I John 4, we see that to God love is so vital, that without it we have no assurance of eternal life.

 

Listen to these incredibly sobering words from the last Scripture writing Apostle, John, who wrote these words in I John 4:7-16. Please stand as we read them:

 

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.

 

Pray

 

God is love, and to operate for God we are to be “sound in love” as Titus 2:2 explains to us.

 

We can see this love lived out in one evident part of Christ’s life called His compassion. The most loving human ever to walk the Earth was Jesus. So when God the Son, in human flesh named Jesus Christ, was observed, and His life captured on paper: the most often noted emotion of Christ’s ministry was His compassion.

 

Healthy Love

Is Compassionate

 

No less than 13 times[2] Jesus was shown in the Scripture record to be “moved with compassion”. Healthy, sound love is what God wants us to have in order to be useful. And that healthy love is most clearly seen as we allow God to keep us tenderhearted as we live in this cruel world.

 

How healthy is your love this morning? We all need a good, regular dose of Christ’s compassion. What did the compassion of Jesus look like? Jesus was moved with compassion for needy and troubled people. The Scriptures record His compassion:

 

  • For the confused.
  • For the sick and suffering.
  • For the weak.
  • For the desperate.
  • For the persistent.
  • For the helpless.
  • For the hopeless.
  • For the bereaved.
  • For the misfortunate.
  • For the repentant.

 

A great student of the life and ministry of Christ was the Apostle Paul. He said his ministry was motivated by Christ’s love, and referred to a sacred trio of graces at work within Christ’s church. Paul named that trio “faith, hope, and love”[3], and constantly reminded the early saints that when the grace of God flows through our lives the byproduct is “faith hope, and love”.

 

As we look back at the wording of Titus 2, we find that trio is the second half of God’s expectations for older, godly men. When Paul described these highly useful men of the church he said that they have three clear character qualities that correspond to this sacred trio:

 

  • Sound in “faith” means they are: Guarding A Healthy Mind In A Sick World
  • [sound in] “love” means they are: Staying Tender Hearted In A Cruel World
  • [sound in] “patience” means they are: Finishing Hopefully In A  Despairing World

 

Any doctrine not wrapped in love is useless to God in His plan for Christ’s church. To best see love as it should be, the sound and healthy love that the Lord desires to flow out of our lives, turn with me to I Corinthians 13:4-8 note what Christ’s love looks like when we let Him live in and through us:

 

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails. NKJV

 

The apostle Paul wrote to this city called Corinth, to a church that faced a very similar culture to the America we live in today. To Corinth Century one, and to Kalamazoo today, Paul said that healthy believers have a:

 

Genuine Love that 

Looks like Christ

 

The picture of genuine love in 1st Corinthians 13 is not Paul’s idea, it is the work of a Divine photographer; and Christ is the subject of the picture.  Jesus was and is the incarnation of love.

 

To love like God desires is for us to be like Christ; and the degree of our failure is the measure of our unwillingness to give up more and more of our lives to Him.

 

There is no instant way to become a mature Christian man or woman.  We are conditioned by the “instant” nature of the world we live in. We have instant food, instant communications, instant updates on weather and news; so we somehow believe that there ought be a way for “instant maturity in Christ”.  There isn’t.

 

We must be faithfully seeking to spend time with God in His Word each day, and surrender to what He shows us daily as we sit at His feet. Christ’s love comes not by hearing alone, it comes only by doing what God says.

 

In Romans 5, God says to us through Paul that this love flows from my heart only when the Holy Spirit lives within, because only God the Spirit is the source of this kind of love.

 

Here in I Corinthians 13 we see that Christ’s love through me (when my love is sound or healthy) is expressed by a set of:

 

  • 7 new proper actions that start flowing from my life (love is a verb that is seen in actions); and
  • a new beginning in ending 8 improper (seen by the negative “not”) actions.

 

These 15 qualities show us what healthy love looks like when it is in action by the Spirit of God as a complete portrait of Christ’s love through us.

 

To start our own personal pursuit of complete and healthy Biblical love, let’s review the pictures of love in 15 different actions, captured by this chapter.

 

Healthy Love is

Energized By Grace

 

  1. When I walk in the Spirit I am: UNUSUALLY PATIENT WITH PEOPLE (v.4 “Suffers long” is the Greek word: makrothumein). This word is always used of patience not just with my circumstances, but with people. It is used of times when I can get even but I don’t.  Literally, this word means: “long-tempered”, and is the grace-energized ability to be wronged over and over again.

 

  1. When I walk in the Spirit I am: KIND TO MY DETRACTORS (“Kind” is the Greek word: chresteuetai). This describes the other side of patience when I am willing to be helpful and useful to those who are at the same time causing me personal grief.

 

  1. When Christ controls me I: STOP BEING ENVIOUS (“Does not envy” is the Greek word: zeloi). With this third word, Paul now starts a listing of eight negative descriptions of love in action—what love is not doing. Christ’s love through me never boils and seethes over what others have that I do not have. Christ’s love never makes me wish that others didn’t have things that I want and do not have.

 

  1. When Christ controls me I: STOP BRAGGING (“Does not parade itself” is the Greek word perpereuetai). Christ’s love through me is not boastful, and keeps me from constantly pushing myself into situations and conversations; this is the word for which we get the idea of a person being a “windbag”.

 

  1. When Christ controls me I: STOP BEING CONCEITED (“Is not puffed up” is the Greek word phusioutai). Christ’s love in me never prompts me to swell with my own importance, or act conceitedly with an attitude that I am better than others.

 

  1. When Christ controls me I: STOP ACTING RUDELY (v.5 “Does not behave rudely” is the Greek word: aschemonei). Christ’s love is not rude in dealing with people, and never encourages me to behave gracelessly; instead He helps me to become winsome in my dealings with others.

 

  1. When Christ controls me I: STOP MY SELF-SEEKING (“Does not seek its own” are the Greek words: zetei eautes). Christ’s love in me keeps me from being insistent on my rights, but seeks to live out Christ’s attitude of living as a slave of the Lord.

 

  1. When Christ controls me I am: NOT CONSTANTLY EXASPERATED (“Is not provoked” is the Greek word paroxunetai). Christ’s love never prompts me to fly into a rage, or to cultivate the attitude of exasperation at people and circumstances. As it says in Proverbs 25:28, “He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city without walls and broken down.” There are really only two choices on the shelf, pleasing God and not getting exasperated, or pleasing self by allowing people to provoke us to an outburst.

 

  1. When Christ controls me I: STOP COUNTING EACH TIME SOMEONE WRONGS ME (“Thinks no evil” is the Greek word logizomai). Christ’s love makes me forget all the times I have been wronged; and so I do not have a scorecard for those around me in life. What a liberating truth to take the record of all wrongs against me, and by God’s grace clear the ledger. Christ’s love is so deep that all wrongs, no matter how big are quenched, like sparks falling into the ocean, and can’t remain afire. As God does not hold our sins against us in Romans 8:1-2, Psalm 130:2; so we can’t against others.

 

  1. When Christ controls me I: STOP REJOICING IN OTHERS FAILURES (v.6 “Does not rejoice in iniquity” are the Greek words chairei adikia). Christ’s love in me makes me refuse to listen to and secretly enjoy all the dirt on others. Love never rejoices in the sins of others.

 

  1. When I walk in the Spirit I am: REJOICING IN THE TRUTH (“But rejoices in the truth” is the Greek word sugchairei). Christ’s love in me makes me a truth-lover. I rejoice in knowing, believing, telling, and living the truth.  As Psalm 15 says that those who are godly “speak the truth in their heart.”

 

  1. When I walk in the Spirit I am: ENDURING OTHERS (v.7 “Bears all things” is the Greek word stegai). Christ’s love through me, make me want to shield the frailties I find in someone else’s life. Christ’s love throws a blanket of gracious, compassionate forgiveness over my many failures (I Peter 4:8); and so His love prompts me to do the same for others. The great 19th century Bible teacher William Scroggie once said:  “Love is strong in its silences. It is not shaken by any sort of ingratitude.  The word used here is employed of holding fast, like a watertight vessel (I Peter 4:8); it is used of a roof which does not leak; it is used of troops defending a fortress, and it is used of ice bearing weight, and not giving way.  It bravely stands up to life.”

 

  1. When I walk in the Spirit I: KEEP BELIEVING THE BEST (“Believes all things” is the Greek word pisteuei). Christ’s love keeps me from always being suspicious of others motivations. His love makes me trust God, and believe the best about others. Love sees the weakness, throws a mantle of silence over it, and then believes the best. Christ’s love in me is never cynical or suspicious.  Without Christ’s love I start trying to find out others faults, but in Christ’s love I start covering their faults.

 

  1. When I walk in the Spirit I: KEEP HOPING IN GOD (“Hopes all things” is the Greek word elpizei). Christ’s love helps me see that even amid repeated disappointments God is working all things for His own glory. Love refuses to take failure as final. Jesus didn’t give up on Peter; and Paul didn’t give up on the Corinthians.  Many a grace-energized, loving wife has held on to a struggling and failing husband; and many a grace-energized, loving parent has held on to a wayward child; and many a loving friend has held on to a fallen brother, by just holding on to Spirit—prompted hope.

 

  1. When I walk in the Spirit I: KEEP GOING TO THE FINISH (“Endures all things” is the Greek word hupomenai). Christ’s love is captured by this Greek military term which has to do with being positioned in the midst of a raging battle. This word describes love that stands wounded and bleeding against incredible opposition and still loves. Love never quits.  Love never dies; it cannot be conquered. This is the kind of love that took Jesus to Calvary, as it says in 1 John 3:16 By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down [our] lives for the brethren. (NKJV)

 

Where do

I Start?

 

So how do we stay tender hearted, filled with Christ’s love and compassion? We must take all this truth, all these facts and do something tangible in our lives starting today.

 

We can start exercising this type of healthy love as Christ’s Church. Today we should all decide that we will be 100% Employed in:

 

  1. Expressing Christ’s Greeting Love: Christ’s love through me wants no one left out, wants no one to go un-noticed and untouched by Christ’s love expressed through His Church. Each time I come to the gathered church I can be Christ’s smile, Christ’s warm embrace, Christ’s listening ear, and Christ’s compassion in person for those who can’t feel His love at that moment.

Healthy Love is Greeting Love!

 

  1. Expressing Christ’s Praying Love: Christ Jesus our Master loves us so much that: He ever lives to offer prayerful intercession for us (Hebrews 7:24-25). Jesus PRAYS for me all the time. If Jesus thinks prayer is so important, we should do the same, and pray for each other. Christ’s love makes me want to listen to others, share their burdens, and lift them before God’s Throne of grace and mercy.

 

Healthy Love is Praying Love!

 

  1. Expressing Christ’s Giving Love: Christ loved so much that He gave Himself for me. Jesus gave His love, His touch, His words of comfort to those in need around Him. We are to be Christlike in giving to others.

 

On Friday,  as Bonnie and I stood on the corner of 9th & Figueroa Streets in downtown LA we saw up close one of the hundreds of destitute street people. Wrapped in a tattered blanket, wearing torn, thin slippers, dirty, greasy, and with watering eyes he was shuffling down the street. We had ordered some extra food at breakfast, and had put it into a “to go” box. We caught up with him, asked his name, and as we looked into his eyes we said this food is for you.

 

We gave him that gift of food in the Name of Jesus.

 

Jesus told us that if we give to those in need, who can never repay us, in His Name, we gain eternal rewards. Michel looked at us, and thanked us. Bonnie then handed him a hot cup of tea (it was a chilly 50 degrees that morning) and Michael’s eyes widened and he said, “That is for me also?”

 

We are most like Christ when we give. Jesus said it is more of a blessing to give than to receive. Give to Christ’s Church as the offering plate passes give in His name. Give to those in need in Christ’s Name. Give, give, give.

 

Healthy Love is Giving Love!

 

As Christ’s Church we should all be “100% Employed” in: Greeting Love, Praying Love, and Giving Love: that is Healthy Love portraying Christ in a Cruel World!

 

The Confessing

Church

 

Through seven divine works of God, guilty sinners are made ready for dwelling in the Presence of God forever; and their bodies formerly slaves to sin instantly become the very dwelling place, and temple of God. How does God do all that? He does it through the seven elements that make up the Gift of Salvation. Confess with me what God does in each of us who have believed:

 

  1. I am FORGIVEN: God has removed my debts. Christ died the substitutionary death to take the hopeless debt I owed to God and paid, with His own life, the eternal death sin that made me responsible to pay–that’s forgiveness. Ephesians 1:7

 

  1. I am JUSTIFIED: God has changed my State. Christ died to take me as a guilty convict and destroy every record of my sin, by taking my place in the punishment—that’s justification! Romans 5:1

 

  1. I am REGENERATED: God has transformed my Heart. Christ died to take me dead in my sin and make me vibrant, full of endless life and brand new—that’s regeneration! Ezekiel 36:26-27

 

  1. I am RECONCILED: God has become my Friend. Christ died to take me as an enemy and make me His friend—that’s reconciliation! Romans 5:10-11

 

  1. I am ADOPTED: God has changed my Family. Christ died to take me from being a stranger to being called His son—that’s adoption! Romans 8:14-15

 

  1. I am REDEEMED: God has changed my ownership. Christ died to free me from slavery to sin; and make me freed forever by His ransom—that’s redemption! I Corinthians 6:19-20

 

  1. I am SANCTIFIED: God is changing my Behavior. Christ died to take my soiled and spotted life and make me clean, focused and fruitful—that’s sanctification! Hebrews 10:14

 

 

 

Grace-energized Men Are Sound in Love:

They Stay Tender Hearted In a Cruel World

 

Our Lord Jesus said in John 13:35 “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (NKJV). By what are we to be known? By love.

 

Compassion is a byproduct of love that means to feel deeply within—our ability to feel love deeply within (compassion) is diminished everyday by our world. Only Christ’s love within can renew and restore the love that is healthy.

 

We must take Christ and His love, into our church, into our homes and into our neighborhoods—that is, into every relationship of life. This is only possible as He who is love is shed abroad in our hearts. This is not a passive resignation. It must be an active participation on our part.

 

God Wants Men with

Tender Hearts

 

As we open to Titus 2:2, we are on the fifth of six qualities God is watching for in the lives of men. To be a highly useful tool in God’s Hands, and to live a highly rewarded life, God wants these qualities to become your life-priorities.

 

Titus 2:2 that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience; NKJV

 

  1. “Sober” as this Greek[4] word nephalious is rendered in the KJV and NKJV; or “Sober-minded” is the way that the ESV renders it; and “Temperate” is the rendering you find in both the NIV and the NAS. The only church-wide curriculum for men starts with this word God chose that communicates the quality of: MAINTAINING A BALANCED LIFE IN AN OBSESSIVE-COMPLUSIVE WORLD. In other words, for them to choose a life balanced by God’s Word in an unbalanced world.

 

  1. “Reverent” as this Greek[5] word semnous is rendered in the NKJV; or “grave” (KJV); “worthy of respect” (NIV); or “dignified” (ESV, NAS). This word God chose communicates the quality of: GETTING SERIOUS ABOUT GOD IN AN AMUSED WORLD. These men think deeply about God in an amused, shallow-thinking culture. That means they are not entertained by sensuality, never amused by vulgarity, and don’t treat God’s Word superficially.

 

  1. “Temperate” as this Greek[6] word sophronous is rendered in the KJV and NKJV; or “Self-controlled” as we find in the ESV and NIV; or “Sensible” as translated in the NAS. This word is chosen by God, and communicates to us the third quality He wants to see in His highly useful and rewarded men which is: LIVING WISELY IN A FOOLISH WORLD. God wants older men whose lives are lived in such a way that they demand an explanation from a watching world. God wants a man whose life is a pattern for others to use in shaping their own lives.

 

Then Paul gives the second trio of qualities: Sound in faith, in love, in patience.

 

  1. “Sound in faith” as these Greek words hugeinos pistei are rendered in the NKJV: This means God wants the men of Christ’s Church always GUARDING A HEALTHY MIND IN A SICK WORLD. God wants older men with healthy minds.

 

  1. [Sound in] love” as these Greek words hugainos agape are rendered in the NKJV, NAS, ESV, and NIV; or “Charity” in the KJV. This word means God wants the men of Christ’s Church always: STAYING TENDER HEARTED IN A CRUEL WORLD. God wants men who have His love overflowing within, making them personally loving towards others, not bitter. Christ’s prime emotion, most recorded in God’s Word is compassion. Love in our hearts makes us compassionate in our responses. These godly men are not fault-finders, nor unsympathetic. They are open to new people, new ideas, and not frozen in their old ways. They grow more and more tender toward the views and the mistakes of those around them—instead of getting more and more inflexible and intolerant.

 

 

[1] 080504AM GEM-23

[2] For the confused.  Matthew 9:36 But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. [Also Mark 6:34]; For the sick and suffering.  Matthew 14:14  And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick. For the weak.  Matthew 15:32 Now Jesus called His disciples to Himself and said, “I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And I do not want to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.” For the desperate. Matthew 18:27  “Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt. For the persistent. Matthew 20:34 So Jesus had compassion and touched their eyes. And immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed Him. For the helpless. Mark 1:41  Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.” [Also Mark 9:22]; For the hopeless. Mark 5:19  However, Jesus did not permit him, but said to him, “Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you.”  For the bereaved.  Luke 7:13  When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” For the misfortunate. Luke 10:33  “But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. For the repentant.  Luke 15:20  “And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.

[3] I Corinthians 13:13; Romans 5:1-5; I Thessalonians 1:3; 5:8; and I Peter 1:21-22.

[4] Strong’s number 3524

[5] Strong’s number 4586

[6] Strong’s number 4998

 
 
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