Reading 4 – Tuesday, December 10, 2019
“DOES NOT BEHAVE ITSELF UNSEEMLY”
By Roland de la Paz, Philippines
“Doth not behave itself unseemly” 1 Corinthians 13:5.
Love” is one of the most miscon- strued words in the world. We often hear the words, “I love you,” spoken by people in different languages and places around the world. We may hear this expression from children, adolescents, adults, and the elderly. Couples and lovers express their affec- tion for one another with this phrase. Others use it with their friends.
Generally love is defined in a worldly manner rather than with a spiritual meaning. Consider the three kinds of love in Greek, eros (erotic), phileo (brotherly) and agape (godly love). People tend to focus on the erotic kind of love until they learn of God and are converted. As followers of Christ, we need to possess the love that God requires us to attain to, as it is written: “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity 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.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.
Christians are channels of bless- ings, grace, peace, and love in this world. Each one may have received several talents from God; but if a person does not acquire heavenly love, such talents will be of no value. The Spirit of prophecy describes the kind of love that one needs to develop and possess as Christ’s disciples. “No matter how high the profession, he whose heart is not filled with love for God and his fellow men is not a true disciple of Christ. Though he should possess great faith and have power even to work miracles, yet without love his faith would be worthless. He might display great liberality; but should he, from some other motive than genuine love, bestow all his goods to feed the poor, the act would not commend him to the favor of God. In his zeal he might even meet a martyr’s death, yet if not actuated by love, he would be regarded by God as a deluded enthusiast or an ambitious hypocrite.” –The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 318, 319. God looks at the heart, and He wants us to be motivated by love and the willingness to serve.
The decalogue is based on love to God and our fellowmen. That law is a revelation of the divine will, a transcript of the divine character, and a reflection of the attributes of heaven. Developing such love in our Christian lives is the most vital element for our salvation, since we need to be like Jesus in our characters. Jesus Christ is obedient to the Father, and we need to be obedient to Him and His commandments, as the Scripture says: “If ye keep My commandments, ye shall abide in My love; even as I have kept My Father’s commandments, and abide in His love.” John 15:10. “Christ is our pattern, the perfect and holy example that has been given us to follow. We can never equal the pattern, but we may imitate and resemble it according to our ability.” –Review and Herald, February 5, 1895.
Love in everyday life
The love that springs from the heart will be manifested in our daily lives. It will not become weary in well doing but will continue to work consistently and continually as the daily grace from God is received by the submissive learner of Christ. It is not a respecter of persons but rather is impartial in loving all men and does not expect any favor in return. It will have compassion on everyone and seek to save the lost. It is not self-centered and self-seeking.
“The word of God is to have a sanctifying effect on our association with every member of the human family. The leaven of truth will not produce the spirit of rivalry, the love of ambition, the desire to be first. True, heaven-born love is not selfish and changeable. It is not dependent on human praise. The heart of him who receives the grace of God overflows with love for God and for those for whom Christ died. Self is not struggling for recognition. He does not love others because they love and please him, because they appreciate his merits, but because they are Christ’s purchased possession. If his motives, words, or actions are misunderstood or misrepresented, he takes no offense, but pursues the even tenor of his way. He is kind and thoughtful, humble in his opinion of himself, yet full of hope, always trusting in the mercy and love of God.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 101.
Love is never passive but rather active in all its dealings. It will function continually until it comes into the full stature in the fulness of Christ. It gushes naturally like a river flows and touches hearts beyond its sphere.
“Love cannot live without action, and every act increases, strengthens, and extends it. Love will gain the victory when argument and authority are powerless. Love works not for profit nor reward; yet God has ordained that great gain shall be the certain result of every labor of love. It is diffusive in its nature and quiet in its operation, yet strong and mighty in its purpose to overcome great evils. It is melting and transforming in its influence and will take hold of the lives of the sinful and affect their hearts when every other means has proved unsuccessful.” –Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 1, p. 210.
Love does not dishonor others
To dishonor someone means to bring disgrace or shame upon him. Love does not mistreat others because of difference of opinion, ideas, origin, faith or religion. Love does not embar- rass or humiliate a person. Love does not delight in downing someone or making disparaging remarks about him but instead is sensitive to an individual’s noble qualities. A true Christian will never dishonor a person, regardless of his caste, race, age, gender, education, profession, religious affiliation, poverty, or affluence, for God is no respecter of persons.
A noble Christian will not destroy someone’s reputation to make himself appear better than his fellow and will not dishonor him, for he believes and understands that God is the owner of every person. Character assassination is rampant in the world and has crept into the church. Some professed Christians feast on rumors and gossip. They delight to hear destructive information about the people around them.
“When we listen to a reproach against our brother, we take up that reproach. To the question, ‘Lord, who shall abide in Thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in Thy holy hill?’ the psalmist answered, ‘He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbor, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbor.’” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p.58.
I remember an example my teacher gave when I was in the fourth grade. If you destroy the reputation of a person and want to be forgiven, it is like taking a pillow, going up to the fourth floor of a building on a busy street, opening the pillow, and shaking all of its contents out the window. Then you go down to pick up all the contents of the pillow until you have put everything back where it was before. Because the building is on a busy road where buses, cars, and trucks pass and and the wind may be strong, it will be extremely hard to pick up all the contents. The same is true in destroying the reputation of a person. It is a grievous sin before the Lord, not just before man. It is virtually irreversible even if we repent. It is a curse both to the speaker and the hearer. “Charity ‘doth not behave it-
self unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil.’ Christ-like love places the most favorable construction on the motives and acts of others. It does not needlessly expose their faults; it does not listen eagerly to unfavorable reports, but seeks rather to bring to mind the good qualities of others.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 319.
A true Christian will not dishonor God by dishonoring others. We must be courteous, kind, and forbearing, showing that the meekness of Jesus and His Spirit are ruling in our everyday lives so that His light will shine upon all men and His name will be glorified.
Respect, a Christian attribute
Respect is a virtue that professed Christians should cultivate and possess. In the family, in the church, and in the community where we live it should be evident and distinct. We need to respect every person–children, young people, and the elderly. We need to respect our fellow believers and the leaders whom God has anointed.
“Men who have been appointed to different positions of trust are to be respected. We do not expect to find men who are perfect in every respect. They may be seeking for perfection of character, but they are finite and liable to err. Those who are engaged in our institutions should feel it their duty jealously to guard both the work and the workers from unjust criticism. They should not readily accept or speak words of censure against any who are connected with the work of God, for in thus doing God Himself may be reproached and the work that He is doing through instrumentalities may be greatly hindered. The wheels of progress may be blocked when God says ‘Go forward.’
“It is a great evil, and one which exists among our people to a great extent, to give loose rein to the thoughts, to question and criticize everything another does, making mountains out of molehills, and thinking their own ways are right, whereas, if they were in the same place as their brother, they might not do half as well as he does. It is just as natural for some to find fault with what another does as it is for them to breathe. They have formed the habit of criticizing others, when they themselves are the ones who should be brought severely to task and their wicked speeches and hard feelings be burned out of their souls by the purifying fire of God’s love.” –Counsels on Health, p. 297.
Respect fellow workers
Jesus said, “I am the Good Shepherd,” and we are His undershep- herds, His co-workers. We are God’s property, and we need to respect Him and everything that He owns. Respect begets respect. The golden rule applies in every aspect of our being as well.
“A person who will allow any degree of suspicion or censure to rest upon his fellow workers, while he neither rebukes the complainers nor faithfully presents the matter before the one condemned, is doing the work of the enemy. He is watering the seeds of discord and of strife, the fruit of which he will have to meet in the day of God.” –Counsels on Health, p. 297.
“It does not please God to have His servants censure, criticize, and condemn one another. He has given them a special work, that of standing in defense of truth. They are His workmen; all should respect them, and they should respect one another. In the army, officers are required to respect their fellow officers, and the privates soon learn the lesson. When the leaders of the people in the Christian warfare are kind and forbearing, and manifest a special love and regard for their co- laborers, they teach others to do the same.
“The reputation of a fellow laborer is to be sacredly guarded. If one sees faults in another, he is not to magnify them before others, and make them grievous sins. They may be errors of judgment, that God will give divine grace to overcome. If He had seen that angels, who are perfect, would have done the work for the fallen race better than men, He would have committed it to them. But instead of this He sent the needed assistance by poor, weak, erring mortals, who, having like infirmities as their fellow-men, are best prepared to help them.” –Historical Sketches of the Foreign Missions of the Seventh-day Adventists, p. 120.
“A man who wishes to preserve his self-respect and dignity must be careful not to sacrifice the respect and dignity of others.” –Manuscript Releases, vol. 20, p. 186.
One attribute that was prominent in Jesus Christ was courtesy. He was courteous even in times of severe tests and trials from childhood to manhood. We need to develop this attribute with the help of the Holy Spirit if we want to be with our Creator in the hereafter.
“Those who profess to be followers of Christ and are at the same time rough, unkind, and uncourteous in words and deportment have not learned of Jesus. A blustering, overbearing, faultfinding man is not a Christian; for to be a Christian is to be Christlike. The conduct of some professed Christians is so lacking in kindness and courtesy that their good is evil spoken of. Their sincerity may not be doubted; their uprightness may not be questioned, but sincerity and uprightness will not atone for a lack of kindness and courtesy….
“The Bible enjoins courtesy; and it presents many illustrations of the unselfish spirit, the gentle grace, the winsome temper, that characterize true politeness. These are but reflections of the character of Christ….
“Christianity will make a man a gentleman. Christ was courteous, even to His persecutors; and His true followers will manifest the same spirit.” –The Adventist Home, pp. 427, 425. “We are to learn to be loyal to one another, to be true as steel in the defense of our brethren. Look to your own defects. You had better discover one of your own faults than ten of your brother’s. Remember that Christ has prayed for these, His brethren, that they all might be one as He is one with the Father. Seek to the uttermost of your capabilities to be in harmony with your brethren to the extent of Christ’s measurement, as He is one with the Father.
“‘Love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous.’ 1 Peter 3:8. True moral worth does not seek to have a place for itself by evil thinking and evil speaking, by demeriting others. All envy, all jealousy, all evil speaking, with all unbelief, must be put away from God’s children.” –In Heavenly Places, p. 178.
Love one another
God’s remnant church will be composed of loving people. The world will know them because they manifest love in their daily life, and this love will be the most prominent characteristic of the true followers of God. So, we ought to love one another as God commanded us, “that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another,” and “this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.” 1 John 3:23, 11 “Christ is our example. He went about doing good. He lived to bless others. Love beautified and ennobled all His actions.” –Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 1 p. 207.
“Christianity is the revealing of the tenderest affection for one another. Christ is to receive supreme love from the beings He has created. And He requires also that man shall cherish a sacred regard for his fellow beings. Every soul saved will be saved through love, which begins with God. True conversion is a change from selfishness to sanctified affection for God and for one another.”–Selected Messages, book 1, pp. 114, 115 (1901).
“The strongest argument in favor of the gospel is a loving and lovable Christian.”–The Ministry of Healing, p. 470 (1905).
“Love must dwell in the heart. A thoroughgoing Christian draws his motives of action from his deep heart- love for his Master.”–Gospel Workers, p. 123 (1915).
“Those who love God cannot harbor hatred or envy. When the heavenly principle of eternal love fills the heart, it will flow out to others.” –Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 1, p. 209.
“If we love God with all the heart, we must love His children also. This love is the Spirit of God. It is the heavenly adorning that gives true nobility and dignity to the soul and assimilates our lives to that of the Master. No matter how many good qualities we may have, however honorable and refined we may consider ourselves, if the soul is not baptized with the heavenly grace of love to God and one another, we are deficient in true goodness and unfit for heaven, where all is love and unity.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, pp. 223, 224 (1876). “Love, lifted out of the realm of passion and impulse, becomes spiritualized and is revealed in words and acts. A Christian must have a sanctified tenderness and love, in which there is no impatience or fretfulness; the rude, harsh manners must be softened by the grace of Christ.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 335 (1885).
“Heaven takes notice of the one who carries about with him an atmosphere of peace and love. Such a one will receive his reward. He will stand in the great day of the Lord.” –Our High Calling, p. 234.
“Church membership will not guarantee us heaven. We must abide in Christ, and His love must abide in us.
We must every day make advancement in the formation of symmetrical char- acter…. As God is perfect, so are we required to be perfect in ours.” –Gospel Workers, pp. 446, 447.
Christ came to this world to reveal God’s love. His followers are to continue the work which He began. Let us strive to help and strengthen one another. Seeking the good of others is the way in which true happiness can be found. Man does not work against his own interest by loving God and his fellowmen.
“The more unselfish his spirit, the happier he is, because he is fulfill- ing God’s purpose for him. The breath of God is breathed through him, fill- ing him with gladness. To him life is a sacred trust, precious in his sight because given by God to be spent in ministering to others.” –Counsels on Stewardship, pp. 24, 25.
May the Spirit of God enlighten our minds with the true meaning of love, as the Scriptures express it in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, and may we rejoice that charity “doth not behave itself unseemly.” I pray that this Week of Prayer will be a blessing to all the believers around the world. Let us continue in the faith, for we are fast approaching the end of the earth’s history and nearing the home that God has promised to all who are faithful, obedient, and loving. Amen