Manifestation of Love.
1 Corinthians 16:14-18
The Bible says that we are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that we declare the praises of him who called us out of darkness into his wonderful light. One of the ways we declare the praises of God is by operating in love. A church and believer is marked by manifestation of love of God. Everything that we do must originate out of God’s love.
I started this series last week with a message entitled “How love works?” Last week we saw that one of the manifestation of love in a believer results in taking the gospel to the unreached.
1. Manifestation of love: Evangelism.
The first manifestation of love is evangelism. No church can claim to know and experience the love of God shed abroad in our hearts, unless that love is extended to those that are without Christ.
2. Manifestation of love: Service.
The second manifestation of love is service to Saints. When there’s love in the believer, service to the saints results.
1 Corinthians 16:15 You know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and they have devoted themselves to the service of the Lord’s people. Here is a household who had no official appointment, who were not assigned by anybody in the church. They devoted themselves to serving the saints. They were self-motivated to serve.
The work of the ministry belongs to everybody and we all are called to devote ourselves to that. We don’t have to wait for somebody to appoint us to something.
People often say, “Pastor, you’ve got so many people in ministry, I’m sure that you don’t need any more.” Well, there is always opportunity here to serve. The point is that all the saints are to do ministry wherever they happen to gather. We don’t have those who serve and those who watch. We don’t have sanctified spectators who just come and say do it and we’ll watch. We’re all in the ministry. We just happen to assemble in this place on the Lord’s day, right? But then we get in our cars and we all leave and then we go out and we minister all the rest of our days.
Every one of us should be in some ministry either here or outside. Doing the Lord’s work in the Lord’s way is everybody’s responsibility. If you have love, you will be involved in service to saints.
The real meaning of service is put yourselves in line. You see, Stephanas and his family got in line all alone. Nobody called them in the line. Nobody said all of you who want to do this line here, they just got in line.
Ministry belongs to everybody and the chances are you’re never going to get appointed to a ministry until you take initiative and you prove yourself faithful. Serving comes by self-initiation. William Barclay, the British commentator writes, “In the early church willing and spontaneous service was the beginning of official office.”
What is the service of the saints? Well, the word service or ministry is the word from which we get deacon. Deacon meant a table waiter and it came to mean anybody who serves somebody else in the church out of love. Any loving service is deacon. Now the NT describes all kinds of service.
How can we serve the saints?
a. Spiritual Gifts.
Serve the saints through spiritual gifts.
1 Corinthians 12:7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.
1 Corinthians 12:4-5 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service by the same Lord. When we use our spiritual gifts, we are indeed serving the saints.
Serve the saints by giving. Acts 11:29 The disciples, each according to his ability, decided to provide help for the brothers living in Judea. We serve the saints through giving.
2 Corinthians 8:4 They urgently pleaded with us or the privilege of sharing in the service to the saints.
Serve saints through teaching the word. Acts 6:4 We will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word. So serving the saints can be through the word. When I preach, I am serving you.
Serve the saints through encouragement. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up. Encourage. That can be counseling, encouraging people building them up.
Believers can either use our mouth to speak the word encourage others or do godless chatter. See what Paul is exhorting to Timothy: 2 Timothy 2:15-17 15Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 16Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. 17Their teaching will spread like gangrene.
Serve the saints by helping physical needs.
Hebrews 13:16 Do not forget to do good and share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.
John 12:2 Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table. So it could be physical needs, it could be opening your house for a meeting.
And all of us are saved to serve and that is a response of Christian love. God will honor you for your service. Hebrews 6:10 God is not unjust; he will not forget our work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.
Now let me go back to the word devoted. Moffatt and Morris in their commentaries say that the root meaning of this word is addicted. Did you get that sentence? They have addicted themselves to the service of the saints. Isn’t that great?
1 Corinthians 16:15 You know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and they have devoted (addicted) themselves to the service of the Lord’s people. You got to get addicted to Christian service. Service is an addiction with me, really. I have severe withdrawal if I’m not at the work of the ministry.
The house of Stephanas were addicted. Paul was like that. I’m sure Paul got severe withdrawals if two days went by without a preaching. Now he said when he was writing to the Romans, Paul said: Romans 15:25 I am on my way to Jerusalem in the service of the saints there. He was always going somewhere to minister. He just was addicted to the service of the Lord.
Now, I don’t know if you know much about drug addiction. I will give you three words that describe drug addiction in the medical world and see how they move over into the Christian life.
a. Habit. The first word is habit. Drug addiction is described by the word habit. An overpowering desire or compulsion to do something. In this case, of course, to take drugs. First it becomes a habit which is a tremendous desire and a compulsion to take this thing and you’ll do it at any cost.
b. Tolerance. Second word is the word tolerance. And this is described by law enforcement as the progressive decreased responsiveness to the drug so that you have to keep taking more. Second, you move into the tolerance thing which means your body begins to tolerate that and you still have the desire, but you have to have more of it to be fulfilled. That’s tolerance.
c. Dependence. Then the third word is dependence. What happens in drug addiction is dependence. And this is described as a psychic, psychological, physical dependence on the effects of the drug in order to function normally.
So you’ve got habit, an overpowering desire that you’ll take any cost to fulfill. You’ve got tolerance which means the more you do it, the more you have to do and you have to increase the doses. And dependence, you can’t function normally unless you have it.
Now you know something, that is a terrific description of being addicted to the Lord’s service. First of all habit, if you want to know whether you’re like the house of Stephanas ask yourself this. Do I have an overpowering desire and compulsion to do the Lord’s work so that I’ll pay any price to get it done? If you’re not, you’re not addicted.
The second word is tolerance. Do you find that the more of the Lord’s work you do, the more frustrated you become about what hasn’t been done and the greater your efforts? I can relate to that. You know, first when I used to look at the Lord’s work, I thought about church and believers. So I started taking doses of that and pretty soon, I started seeing the Lord’s work get bigger and bigger and bigger. And you know something, the more addicted I am to the Lord’s work, the more I want of reaching out further for more of it. You know, because the more you get into the Lord’s work the more you realize what isn’t being done.
And the third word, dependence. You know, you ought to get to the place where in order to function normally, you’ve got to be doing the Lord’s work where you get terrible withdrawal if you’re not doing it. I go for vacation and in two days my mind is in a mad rush because I’m saying, “I should be doing this and I should be learning this and I should be preparing for this.” You know, I’m an addict for ministry. But that’s okay, because I’ve got this verse right here.
I don’t know about you, I hope you get addicted so that it becomes a habit, that you reach tolerance levels which make whatever you’re doing now insignificant as to what you need to do, and I hope you become so dependent that you get withdrawal if you’re not involved in the Lord’s work. You know something, I believe that if there’s love in the fellowship of City Harvest Church, Bangalore going to see a whole lot of people addicted to doing the Lord’s work.
3. Manifestation of love: Submission.
A third mark of manifestation of love in the fellowship is the word submission.
1 Corinthians 16:15-16 I urge you, brothers and sisters, to submit to such people and to everyone who joins in the work and labors at it.
The household of Stephanas was involved in evangelism. They were addicted to the service of the saints. Now, Paul is asking the church to submit to them. Do you know something beloved? In the church of Jesus Christ we’re to submit to people who are like this family.
Now submission is a vital part of the church. The church’s life literally revolves around submission.
Who are we to submit to?
a. God. Submit to God. James 4:7 Submit yourselves, then, to God.
b. One another in the church. Romans 12:10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.
c. Marital submission. Ephesians 5:21-22 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.
d. Children to submit to parents. Colossians 3:20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.
e. Human Authority.
1 Peter 2:13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority.
Hebrews 13:17 Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account.
f. Young people to elders. 1 Peter 5:5 In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders.
We’re all to be submitting somewhere. We are all to submit to the Lord. If you’re married, you have to submit to one another and to the Lord. If you’re a child, you have to submit to everybody. Everybody’s got somebody to submit to. Now that’s just part of the church. We’re a bunch of people who are to get under the right people.
I have seen people who cannot submit to anyone. They are always right and they are always on top in the family, in the society, as well as, at church. You know what spirit it is? It is the Jezebel spirit who always wants to control.
Church is a place where everyone submits to one another. Church is a place where you find people serving God and get under them. We don’t want people who want to get on top of everybody. Even Jesus said if you want to be chief in the kingdom, be the servant of everybody.
The word submit here is another form of the verb meaning hyper-addicted. When you find somebody who is addicted to serving the saints, you get hyper-addicted to him.
Find a Godly person, find somebody addicted to the Lord’s work and get your life underneath his or hers and make them your pattern and your model. Paul said to the Corinthians: 1 Corinthians 11:1 Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.
1 Corinthians 4:16 Therefore I urge you to imitate me.
We are to submit to those who proclaim and teach the word of God. And you know what happens, you follow the example pretty soon and you rise right up there to that level and then another bunch will come and follow your example. Luke 6:40 The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.
Just get under the right person and God guarantees that you’ll be like that person. Get under the wrong person, you’re in trouble. Submit yourselves.
You say who am I to submit to? Anybody who proclaims or portrays the word of God. They set the pace. Hebrews 13:7 Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.
4. Manifestation of love: Companionship.
1 Corinthians 16:17-18 17I was glad when Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus arrived, because they have supplied what was lacking from you. 18For they refreshed my spirit and yours also. Such men deserve recognition.
The fourth mark of manifestation of love in a believer is refreshing companionship. Here are three men who are just refreshing Christians. I really think that where there’s love in the fellowship, there should be a refreshing companionship.
You know, one of the reasons that I come to church is not just because I have to be here to preach, but one of the reasons that I come to church is simply because I love to just meet you, whom I count part of my family. It’s just refreshing. It’s our family. We have home care cells and the reason people come has to do more with the fellowship.
The word refreshing is the same word as rest. Paul was a worried man. He was greatly concerned over the Corinthians. And they just came and refreshed his spirit. You know what that tells me? That with all of the anxiety in Corinth, with all the pain, with all the problems, with all the mess, they have some positive things to say. People like that are refreshing, aren’t they?
Be positive. When you come to the assembly of believers will you be a source of refreshing, encouragement or putting people down? There’s more to life than your problems. There is more to life than the people who put you down. Maybe part of the reason you’re so miserable all the time is you never stop to bother with the things that would refresh your spirit. We need to refresh each other instead of putting one another down.
Proverbs 25:13 Like a snow-cooled drink at harvest time is a trustworthy messenger to the one who sends him; he refreshes the spirit of his master.
Proverbs 25:25 Like cold water to a weary soul is good news from a distant land.
We ought to come to City Harvest AG Church as ones who would refresh others and we get refreshed in the process.
2 Corinthians 7:6 But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus. Titus was literally a messenger from God who hit Paul like a cold drink of water. Just refreshed Paul’s heart.
2 Corinthians 7:13 By all this we are encouraged. In addition to our own encouragement, we were especially delighted to see how happy Titus was, because his spirit has been refreshed by all of you.
2 Timothy 4:9-11 9Do your best to come to me quickly, 10for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. 11Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.
Paul is at the end of his life. He said, I had a friend, but he betrayed the gospel, only Luke is with me. He says come on I just want some fellowship Timothy and would you bring Mark and bring my coat it’s getting cold here. And would you bring the books?
Well, Paul was a man who knew what it was to have a friend to be refreshed in the companionship of that friend. When there’s love in the fellowship people, we’ll refresh each other. I hope that’s true.
Conclusion: If we are believers of Jesus Christ, we are to bring in a change in the society we live in. That can happen only if we have love. 2 Corinthians 2:15-16 15For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life.
Manifestation of love: Evangelism, Service, Submission, and Companionship.