Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Grammar of Love (1 Cor 13: 4&5 - Small Group Study)

by JM

“ 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5).
To ignore basic grammar in speech or print is a recipe for serious miscommunications. If you start treating verbs as nouns, and nouns as adjective, you remove basic building blocks of language, universally accepted norms (at least universal within a particular language) that enable on mind to successfully interact with another.

I would insist that something like this is true of Love. There is a basic grammar of love; basic building blocks that enable one soul to successfully love another. Some of these are laid out in 1 Cor. 13: 5 & 6.

Before looking over the particulars of this passage, there are three basics of love that are suggested by a cursory reading:

1. Love is Verbal

“I want to point out something to you that you wouldn't know unless you were aware of the Greek. When you look at verses 4 to 7 in the English, it says: "Love is patient, love is kind, love is this, love is not that, and so forth." In the English, love is described with adjectives. But in the Greek, each of these descriptions of love is a verb...and verbs describe action. So, love is not something you describe with adjectives; love is something you describe with verbs. Love is only love when it acts” (John MacArthur)
2. Love is Relational
“Love is patience, love is kind, does not envy, does not boast… - Verbs that make sense only given a subject and an object.
3. Love is Oppositional
Again, “Love is patience, kind…” - Concepts that presuppose opposition or some form of resistance. Patience, of course is a virtue that assumes one coping with the delay or incompetence of another.
All this to say that 1 Cor. 13 isn’t written to instruct you so much what kind of feelings you can conjure up, or on how to act towards those that you find lovely and amiable, it’s written to us about how we are to act towards those who are quite irritating. This is merely a restatement of what Jesus had said a few decades before.

Matthew 5:44-48 44 "But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 "For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 "If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 "Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. -
I detect three different kinds of challenging relationship

*One Way Relationships
*Top-Down or Bottom-Up Relationships
*Criss-Cross Relationships
I. One Way Relationships

What do One-Way relationships look like? A relationship in which people give very little and require much.

How does Love Respond to One Way Relationships?
“Love is patient, love is kind.”
Patience: Love Puts Up With A lot
A good natured tolerance of delay or incompetence of a person; bearing of provocation, annoyance, or pain without complaint or loss of temper…"It is the word which is used of the man who is wronged and who has it easily in his power to avenge himself but will never do it."
“A pearl is a garment of patience enclosed in annoyance.”
Kindness: Love Gives A Lot
II. Bottom-Up /Top-Down Relationships

How Does Love Act When I’m a Have-Not: When I’m on the Bottom looking Up

“It does not envy”
Envy Defined: Envy is a painful and resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another…accompanied by a strong desire to possess the same advantage. Envy wants to have what someone else possesses. Why? They don’t deserve it, but you do. The root word for envy, in the Greek, means "to boil." It refers to an inner boiling,seething, or steaming over something somebody else has.
1 Samuel 18:6-11 6 It happened as they were coming, when David returned from killing the Philistine, that the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with joy and with musical instruments. 7 The women sang as they played, and said, "Saul has slain his thousands, And David his ten thousands." 8 Then Saul became very angry, for this saying displeased him; and he said, "They have ascribed to David ten thousands, but to me they have ascribed thousands. Now what more can he have but the kingdom?" 9 Saul looked at David with suspicion from that day on. 10 Now it came about on the next day that an evil spirit from God came mightily upon Saul, and he raved in the midst of the house, while David was playing the harp with his hand, as usual; and a spear was in Saul's hand. 11 Saul hurled the spear for he thought, "I will pin David to the wall." But David escaped from his presence twice.
How Does Love I Act When I’m a Have? When I’m on the Top looking Down

“it does not boast”
Boasting Defined: The root word means “windbag.” Boastfulness is the empty verbalizing of accomplishments for the praise and adulation of others.
“Empty Trucks Make the Most Noise”
Envy and Boasting are forms of Pride
“it is not proud”
In his Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis contended that we can even be proud of our humility. Pride is a telescope turned the wrong way. It magnifies self and makes the heavens small.
III. Criss-Cross Relationships

What are Criss-Cross Relationships? All relationships include conflict over superficial irritations and not so superficial values. A Criss-Cross Relationship are those associations in which there is abnormal conflict with idiosyncrasies and values. 1 Cor. 13 Love will force you to wrestle with these two questions:

Do I Easily Offend: Am I Insensitive to other’s Sensitivities?
“It is not rude (inconsiderate) , it is not self-seeking,”
Am I Easily Offended: Am I Oversensitive to My Own Sensitivities?
“it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”
Tempering Conflict: Living out Romans 14:1-19