The Maturity of God’s AGAPE
Kind of Love
1 Corinthians 13:9-10
“but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away;
if there are tongues, they will cease;
if there is knowledge, it will be done away.
For we know in part and we prophesy in part;
but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.”
Spiritual gifts will pass away. This world will pass away. We only understand a part, a fraction of who God really is, the true impact of His self-sacrifice, the the amazing perfection of Heaven. We need to contemplate the things we as Christians say about longing for heaven. We often say we can't wait for heaven because we won't sin anymore. Here again, our focus as summarized by Christ is to be on love for God and love for others! A proper focus on heaven is rejoicing that we will self-sacrifice for others and God perfectly as described here in 1 Corinthians. Focus not on the sin being removed but on the perfect love!
There will come a day when the spiritual gifts will be done away with. When we reach the joys of heaven we will no longer need prophecy, gifts, and faith. The perfection of eternity will be realized and this life and its ways will pass.
1 Corinthians 13:11
“When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child;
when I became a man, I did away with childish things.”
Children are born with no knowledge of God or life or even basic human skills. These things are all taught to them. As they grow we pray that it would be “in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.” (Luke 2:52) The same is true for us in our spiritual lives. At the new birth at salvation we are infants in the knowledge and practice of Godliness. We must grow! We must put off the childish spirituality and milk-drinking and put on mature speech, thinking and reasoning and “grow in all respects to our salvation.”(1 Peter 2:2) We must put aside the baby bottle and start to chew real meat.
Imagine for a moment how children love. Are children patient and kind, or must you train them in this? How do children respond to others? They typically tend to be jealous, they brag, they are arrogant, they seek their own, they rejoice in unrighteousness and resist the truth. They must learn to bear, believe, hope and endure. These are the things we teach children and ourselves. I ask my children often “What is worse than a foolish child?” and they know my answer is “A foolish adult.” Sisters, we must grow and mature and be perfected in our self-sacrifice. We must cast off the idea of love we glean from the world and our own foolish selfish natures, and mature into an AGAPE love that reveals Christ to the world-since it is His love through us!
Rich Thomson elaborates, “There is no deficiency on GOD’S part here, for God's love is totally complete. What is meant is that the believer needs maturity in God's love(AGAPE). Positionally we have love; practically we need to appropriate God's love in a moment-by-moment way daily. That is maturity-a consistency in being filled with God's love, a consistency in having God’s love pouring through his life.”
1 Corinthians 13:12-13
“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.
But now faith, hope, love (agape), abide these three; but the greatest of these is love (agape).”
Corinth was actually known for its manufacture of mirrors. However, in the first century AD they would have only been highly polished metal. As you know, shiny metal only reflects you generally or even with distortion. Now we see dimly. Then, in heaven, we shall see perfectly. We shall be face to face with perfect love.
Paul revisits this idea in 2 Corinthians 3:14-18
“But their minds were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains unlifted, because it is removed in Christ. But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart; but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”
Now we have a little understanding of God’s perfect AGAPE from His revealed word and common grace, but in heaven, then we shall fully understand it. Now we are children in our understanding, friends. Then, in heaven, we shall be perfected and matured to God's pure agape love.
Matthew 5:8. “Blessed are the pure in heart. For they shall SEE God.” Then….this will be our reward!
“When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be.” Hope and faith shall be sight! We will no longer need hope in heaven. The hope of glory will be before us.
We will no longer need faith in heaven, for “Faith is being sure of what you hope for, and certain of what you cannot see!” (Hebrews 11:1) Friends, we will see clearly with the eyes of our hearts. We will see His glory in our new glorified eyes and bodies. Faith and hope abide now, but they will pass away.
The greasiest of these is AGAPE, for AGAPE never fails. Agape never ends. It is eternal and enduring. It has to be. For God is eternal and enduring and GOD IS LOVE.
To be a Christian is to love the Lord Jesus Christ. Knowledge, gifts, perfect speaking, martyrdom and faith to move mountains, is not enough. We are to excel still more.
We must, as one of my pastors exhorted us through John’s warning to Ephesus, to not separate our orthodoxy from our orthopraxy. That is, we must walk the walk of the talk we talk.
What we know is proven by what we do.
What we say is seen in what we don't say, but the priorities we live.
Instead of saying I Love you, maybe we should say, “I self-sacrifice for You” and seek to mean it.
This is what we must know, must believe and must live:
God is love.
You are to be like God.
He is holy, perfect love.
Be holy as He is holy.
Perfect love is self sacrifice.
Christ laid down His life in love for all.
God is mature love.
In maturity, lay down your life in love.
Friends, I want to quote Rich Thomson’s book title: “Love (is)—The Answer.
1 Corinthians 14:1 says, “PURSUE LOVE”.
Three chapters after the hymn of love in 1 Corinthians 13, Paul reminds us again:
“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in ……self sacrifice. (love).”