1 Corinthians 13:4-7
4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not [a]puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, [b]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.
This verse reveals the humiliation of being a Christian. In the natural realm, if a person does not hit back, it is because he is a coward. But in the spiritual realm, it is the very evidence of the Son of God in him if he does not hit back. When you are insulted, you must not only not resent it, but you must make it an opportunity to exhibit the Son of God in your life. And you cannot imitate the nature of Jesus— it is either in you or it is not. A personal insult becomes an opportunity for a saint to reveal the incredible sweetness of the Lord Jesus.
The teaching of the Sermon on the Mount is not, “Do your duty,” but is, in effect, “Do what is not your duty.” It is not your duty to go the second mile, or to turn the other cheek, but Jesus said that if we are His disciples, we will always do these things. We will not say, “Oh well, I just can’t do any more, and I’ve been so misrepresented and misunderstood.” Every time I insist on having my own rights, I hurt the Son of God, while in fact I can prevent Jesus from being hurt if I will take the blow myself. That is the real meaning of filling “up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ…” (Colossians 1:24). A disciple realizes that it is his Lord’s honor that is at stake in his life, not his own honor.
Never look for righteousness in the other person, but never cease to be righteous yourself. We are always looking for justice, yet the essence of the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount is— Never look for justice, but never cease to give it.
Our miseries, messengers of mercy
By: Charles Spurgeon
‘Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. After two days he will revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.’ Hosea 6:1–2
Suggested Further Reading: Psalm 116:12–19
A missionary was preaching to a Maori tribe in New Zealand. He had been telling them of the suffering love of Christ, how he had poured forth his soul unto death for them; and as he concluded, the hills rung to the thrilling question ‘Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? Behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow.’ Then stood forth a plumed and painted chief, the scarred warrior of a thousand fights, and as his lips quivered with suppressed emotion, he spoke. ‘And did the Son of the Highest suffer all this for us men? Then the chief would like to offer him some poor return for his great love. Would the Son of God deign to accept the chief’s hunting dog? Swift of foot and keen of scent, the tribe has not such another, and he has been to the chief as a friend.’ But the missionary told him that the Son of God had need of no such gifts as these. For a moment the chief paused; then as a new thought struck him, suddenly despoiling himself of his striped blanket he cried with childlike earnestness, ‘Perhaps he who had not where to lay his head will yet accept the chieftain’s blanket. The poor chief will be cold without it, yet it is offered joyfully.’ Touched by love’s persistency, the missionary tried to explain to him the real nature of the Son of God; that it was not men’s gifts but men’s hearts that he yearned for. For a moment a cloud of grief darkened the granite features of the old chief; then as the true nature of the Son of God slowly dawned upon him, casting aside his blanket he clasped his hands, and looking right up into the blue sky, his face beaming with joy, he exclaimed ‘Perhaps the Son of the Blessed One will deign to accept the poor chief himself!’
For meditation: Christ chiefly gave us himself (Galatians 2:20); blessings come with him (Romans 8:32; Ephesians 1:3). From you God chiefly wants yourself, not your material possessions, but your repentance and faith in him, the Saviour of the world.
“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
A friend of mine is an agent for professional athletes. His whole career is based on representing his clients to teams in hopes of securing them the best possible salary and contract package. For each of his clients, he has a portfolio that highlights their statistics—height, weight, career highlights, awards, you name it. At a moment’s notice, he can give you a clear picture of the athlete’s accomplishments and abilities.
Every once in a while, my agent friend and I will talk about some of the athletes he represents. He has a couple of big names on his list, and I’ve found myself thinking, “Wow, you’re an agent for him? No way! That would be amazing.” But when I think about it, you and I have a far greater privilege and calling. We are agents of God—hired by the price He paid on the cross—to spread the “stats” of His glory everywhere we go.
Of course we know that God is totally self-sufficient and that His worth isn’t based on what other people think. But this fallen world needs to be reminded of how incredible and vast our God is. The psalmist points out that the heavens declare His glory. Creation speaks loud and clear about His creative power and divine nature. His Word paints a magnificent picture of His glory, recording the drama and wonder of God’s interaction with His people. And we have, on a daily basis, the responsibility of reflecting and representing God’s glory in this world.
His “portfolio” of glory staggers the imagination. It encompasses His personal, unconditional love. It draws in His broad and limitless mercy—mercy that patiently holds back His hand of judgment. His credentials include perfect wisdom, undiminished holiness, unflinching faithfulness, perfect justice, and the realities that He is all-powerful and all-knowing. Simply put, His glory is all that He is in His all-surpassing, praiseworthy, stunning perfection.
So how do we reflect His glory? On this side of heaven, as fallen sinful creatures, we do it imperfectly. However, as we begin to grasp how immense and incredible God’s glory is, it starts to show up in our lives. As we demonstrate mercy and forgiveness to a friend that has wounded us, we are agents of God’s mercy. When we remain faithful to our relationships, loving others through thick and thin, we are reflecting the glory of God’s unconditional love. When our hearts of compassion move us to act on behalf of the poor, the needy, and the marginalized, we are representing our God’s heart of justice and compassion. As our lives begin to line up with the principles of God’s Word, we highlight the glory of God’s perfect wisdom. His “portfolio” is on display for a needy and watching world.
Paul reminds the Corinthians that the purpose of our redemption—God buying us back—was that we might glorify God. You are His agent today. There is no greater privilege or calling!