Love is Maturing by Abidan Paul Shah

LOVE IS MATURING by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson 

love-is-maturing

Introduction: Have you ever said about someone – “He/she is so immature”? Why do we call someone immature? Because they do something that is improper. When little kids do something improper, we just laugh and call it childish. As a little boy I was fascinated by superheroes (Superman, Batman, Spiderman, Captain America, Flash Gordon). What is one thing all Superheroes have in common? They all wear their underwear on the outside. They’re really underwear like shorts over their leggings, kind of like circus athletes and wrestlers of the time. One time we had some people visiting our home and I decided to impress them with my superhero outfit. Unfortunately, they just laughed at me. But, if I were to do that today, you wouldn’t just laugh at me. You would call me immature. Unfortunately, many times, immaturity is not funny but frustrating and hurtful to others. Today we’re going to learn why immaturity and love cannot coexist. Turn to I Corinthians 13 for our message titled, “LOVE IS MATURING.”

I Corinthians 13   4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails…13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Context: The Corinthian church was unlike any church in Paul’s ministry. They were very immature, spiritually, and Paul was frustrated with them. Listen to how he addressed them in I Corinthians 3   1 “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes (children/infants) in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able…” Meaning: You’re just as spiritually immature as before. Why? 3 “for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?” Meaning: “You’re still spiritually immature because you are so inconsiderate, hateful and rude to each other. You haven’t learnt how to treat each other with honor, dignity, and decency.” Did you know that spiritual maturity is connected to your treatment of others? This is in the context of the church, home, and life. Today’s passage on love takes it one step further – “love does not behave rudely, does not seek its own” – if you love someone, you will treat that person with honor, dignity, and decency. In other words, love and maturity are one and the same. That’s our message today.

Question: Are you a spiritually mature person? Have you grown in your maturity in Christ or are you still pushing, shoving, and pulling at those around you? How do you treat the people you are supposed to love? Are you saved? Before you can grow, you have to be born. Before you can spiritually grow, you have to be born again.

Let’s begin by examining the words that Paul used to describe love – “(love) does not behave rudely, does not seek its own.” The first one “does not behave rudely” is the Greek word “askhemonei.” This word belongs to the family of words that convey inappropriate behavior, shameful attitude, repulsive acts, vulgar actions, and unattractiveness. When the Jewish people translated the Hebrew Bible into Greek (LXX), they used this word group to translate the idea of nakedness, private parts, and even sex. In the New Testament, Paul used this word several times with the same idea. A prominent one is in Romans 1 where he used it to describe homosexuality as indecent and shameful. So why did Paul use it here in I Corinthians 13 to describe love? I believe that Paul had much more in mind than just – “love does not behave rudely.” He wasn’t saying, “if you love someone, you’ll be polite to them, hold the door for them and say please and thank you to them.” You can do all that for someone and never truly love them. If you take the real meaning of the Greek word (inappropriate, indecent, and disgraceful), Paul was telling the Corinthians that if you love someone you will respect them – give honor, show dignity, and act decently to the other person.

Why did Paul say this to the Corinthians? Because the Corinthians were disrespecting each other. Let me give you a few examples of where they did this:

1 Corinthians 5:1 “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles—that a man has his father’s wife!” Even though the word “askhemonei” is not used here, Paul was telling them that this was inappropriate on so many levels. To start with, it was dishonoring for this man to do this to his own father. Next, it was degrading to this woman. She was no longer a respectable woman. Now the couple was sitting in church without any sense of shame. This was disrespectful to the church family. You can imagine the negative impact this was making on the young people. How about the community? People in Corinth were shocked by this behavior as well. Overall, this was a sexually shameful behavior.

I Corinthians 6:6 “But brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers!” Again, the word “askhemonei” is not used here, but you can tell from Paul’s tone that this was a disgraceful behavior. One Christian was suing another Christian in the Corinthian church. Can you imagine the impact this must have had on the church? Families were probably avoiding each other in the church. One would sit on one side of the sanctuary and the other on the other side. This one was probably trying to rally others to their side and that one was talking trash about the other person. How relationally shameful this must have been to the church body.

1 Corinthians 11   20 Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper. 21 For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others.” The early church used to have a love feast (fellowship dinner) every week along with the Lord’s Supper. They used to have a “better room” known as the triclinium (lit. three couches), which was a formal dining room in Roman buildings. Some of the Christians would get there early to beat the rush and get the better seat in the dining room while the latecomers had to crowd into the Atrium. “…and one is hungry and another is drunk.” While people were in the Atrium waiting to get in, many of them were taking their time eating and drinking and actually getting drunk! 22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you. Paul was exposing their spiritually shameful behavior.

1 Corinthians 12   14 For in fact the body is not one member but many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling?…21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” Can you read between the lines and see their collectively shameful behavior?

Why did they behave this way? Paul clarifies “(love) does not behave rudely” with “does not seek its own.” This is word for word in the Greek. They were acting rudely because they were selfish and self-centered people. They only cared about their own concerns, pleasures, and gifts. They did not care about others.

What was the solution? Grow up. Remember, how God loves you. Remember, how important you are to him and remember how important others are to him.

I want us to see how Paul handled the issue of selfishness at the Lord’s Table. 1 Corinthians 11   23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”

The point is – God loves us in laying down His life for us. Now we are to do the same for others. 1 Corinthians 11   33 Therefore, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. 34 But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, lest you come together for judgment.

Next, listen to how Paul handles the situation of various gifts and ministries. 1 Corinthians 12   4 There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. 6 And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all…18 But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. 19 And if they were all one member, where would the body be? 20 But now indeed there are many members, yet one body…22 No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. 23 And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, 24 but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, 25 that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. 26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.”

This is not just in the context of the church but also our daily relationships.

Let me suggest a few statements that should become a part of our vocabulary if we want to be mature:

I need you.

What do you think?

Let’s work it out.

Together, we can make it.

I am thankful for you.

I’ll help you.

I won’t say it because it will not build him/her up.

I won’t do it because it will hurt him/her.

Are you saved? Are you mature? Are you loving?

It’s Time to Grow Up by Pastor Abidan Shah

IT’S TIME TO GROW UP by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

itstimetogrowupIntroduction: It’s only been a handful of times that I have opened a message with a remark like – “This is probably one of the most important messages I’ve ever preached.” That could be said about today’s message and you’ll know why real soon. Please turn in your Bibles to Mark 2 for our message titled – “IT’S TIME TO GROW UP.”

Mark 2   18 The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were fasting. Then they came and said to Him, “Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?” 19 And Jesus said to them, “Can the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast. 20 But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.

Bridge: How many of y’all have kids or grandkids 1-2 years of age? How do you react when they take their first step from the coffee table to the couch or get their first taste of lemon? You clap for them or ooh and aww over them. Now what if they are 10-20 years of age and still want you to do that? Unless they have some medical condition that is hampering their mental or emotional growth, it’s not the same, is it? Most Christians are 10-20 years or even more in their faith but they still act like they are 1-2 years old. They still want you to clap for them when they spiritually stumble from the coffee table to the couch and they still want you to call them cute when they make spiritually funny faces. In fact, they question your spiritual growth because you can walk without stumbling and have better control over your taste buds.

Context: In the message today we will see how the disciples of John and the Pharisees were shocked that Jesus was eating and drinking at Levi/Matthew’s house with tax collectors and sinners instead of fasting and keeping all the Jewish laws of purification and separation like them. So they came and asked Him, “Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?” Jesus’s reply was earth shattering!

Before we look at His reply: Are you growing up in biblical and spiritual maturity or are you content with stumbling from the coffee table to the couch? Are you growing up in wisdom and knowledge in Christ or are you content making funny faces tasting lemons? There can’t be growth unless there is birth. Have you been born again? Are you saved?

Jesus’s reply to the disciples of John and the Pharisees can be divided into 3 parts:

I. IT’S TIME TO CELEBRATE.

19 And Jesus said to them, “Can the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast.

Background: Before the coming of Jesus, the Old Testament prophets and people were preparing themselves with mourning and fasting for the coming of the Messiah. There was no celebration just solemn expectation. Once Jesus came, all that changed. To explain this Jesus invoked the imagery of a wedding celebration.

Illustration: As a pastor, I’ve performed many weddings. Before the wedding, the overall atmosphere is tense. People don’t eat much because they don’t want to overeat and get sick. They are even carefully about drinking because they don’t want to spill something over their nice clothes. There’s always someone who’ll say, “I’ll run to the gas station and get a soda,” and someone is quick to remind him, “The wedding starts in thirty minutes. Better off staying here.” If the bride and groom are getting ready somewhere else, people are constantly looking out the windows and checking their watches to make sure everything is still on time. People pace back and forth. Some stay seated, wringing their hands, and others are afraid to sit and get wrinkles in their clothes. Then as the music starts playing and the grandmothers and mothers are being seated, I am usually huddled quietly with the guys on the other side of the door. Everything is spoken in a whisper and everyone is checking his zipper. Someone without fail says, “I’m ready to get this over with.” The atmosphere is one of fear that something might just go wrong.

Doesn’t that remind you of many churches and Christians? Don’t get too excited, you’ll mess things up. Just be quiet and stay seated. Don’t go anywhere because you might get locked out. Everybody talks in whispers and checks their spiritual zippers. The atmosphere is tense and stressful to say the least. We call it reverence but it has nothing to do with the holiness of God. It misses the true mood of Christianity.

Let’s return to our wedding imagery. What happens once the bride and groom arrive and the wedding is over and reception starts? Everybody is excited. Nobody is quiet. People talk loud. They get food and drinks. No one cares if they get some on themselves. No one checks the zippers anymore. There is laughter and celebration and excitement. What Jesus was saying is – “I’m here. Let the party begin.”

Unfortunately, many church services look more like a funeral service than a wedding celebration and many Christians look like they just buried someone.

For e.g. Two boys were walking by the church. They didn’t know a thing about Christianity and decided to go in and see what went on. After a few minutes, one said to the other – “The people look like someone must have died.” To which the other replied – “You think it’s that man hanging on the cross?”

Now someone might say – “Shouldn’t we have a sense of reverence?” Listen again to Jesus in verse 20 “But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.” Meaning: Jesus was referring immediately to the cross and then later to His ascension. Either way, the fasting or reverence is one of excitement and personal holiness rather than grief and hopelessness.

Application: Do people see a spirit of celebration in you? Or are you like the little toddler who cries every time mommy leaves the room? Do people see the joy and excitement of Christ in you?

II. IT’S TIME TO STOP MIXING THE OLD WITH THE NEW.

21 No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; or else the new piece pulls away from the old, and the tear is made worse.

Background: There is something else that Jesus was telling these disciples of John and the Pharisees who came to question Him about the party He just had with the tax collectors and sinners at Matthew’s home. He was telling them that you could no longer bring old laws and rituals and mix them with the new life that He has brought. To explain this Jesus invoked the imagery from clothing.

Illustration: I remember growing up having to get patches to put on some pants because they had a tear. This was before all the preshrunk stuff we have today. My grandmother knew how to sow and she made sure that the patch had been soaked and would not shrink anymore. If she didn’t do that, the patch would shrink and pull the pant cloth from all directions. Back in the days of Jesus, the clothes were not as thick and durable as today and the cloth would easily tear. The point is that you cannot take a new cloth and stitch it on some old already shrunk cloth and expect it to work.

What was Jesus saying here? You cannot take the new life that He had brought and stitch on the old way of life of Judaism and expect it to work. It will tear it away. There is no happy middle ground. There is no saving the old. The old piece of garment has served its purpose and has to be retired. You cannot save the old laws and reapply them. You cannot take the old sacrificial system and reapply it. What I am talking about here is probably the most important and difficult matters in the study of the Bible – What to do about the Old Testament?

Does this matter today? There are Christians who get caught up in a lot of unnecessary distraction that has nothing to do with Christianity. Some try to keep the Old Testament dietary laws and rituals and prayers. Others get caught up into the various feasts and festivals of the Jewish people. Some go even further and get caught up into Hebrew names, the Roots of names. There are yet others who are always looking for patterns, number combinations, and secret codes. This is no laughing matter. Some actually deny the Trinity. That is very serious!

Please don’t misunderstand. The Old Testament is our foundation. I preach from it often. There’s much we can learn about how God worked with His individual people back then, something we can’t find in the New Testament. We also learn much about the nature of God from the Old Testament. We learn much about how Christ was promised and prophesied ever since the beginning of time. We learn much about how He worked with His people Israel and He still has many promises waiting for them in the future. In fact, it’s a shame that many Christians totally ignore the Old Testament. Having said that, we can’t go back to that period and start interacting with God as if Christ has not come. That is beyond foolish! In fact, those who fuss over food, the Bible calls him weak. Listen to Romans 14   1 Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things. 2 For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. 3 Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him…8 For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.

Colossians 2   16 So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, 17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.

Hebrews 9   10 concerned only with foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation. 11 But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Hebrews 10   1 For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect…14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.

Application: Are you trying to mix the Old and the New? Are you fascinated with trivial things instead of focusing on Christ? Do you know Christ more today than yesterday?

III. IT’S TIME TO CHANGE THE CONTAINERS.

22 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine bursts the wineskins, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins.”

Background: There is one more thing that Jesus wanted the disciples of John and the Pharisees to understand. It was this – the container of the truth has to change. To explain this he invoked the imagery of the wine and wineskins. If you know anything about fermentation you’ll understand that it makes the substance enlarge and grow in volume. The old wineskins could not enlarge anymore. If you poured in new wine, the container will burst. It needed a new container that will grow with the fermentation and will be able to withstand the pressure.

What is the point? The doors were always open to the Gentiles before the coming of Christ but there was a certain way you had to come. With the coming of Jesus Christ, the doors have been flung wide open. No laws, purification, rituals, sacrifices, or circumcision is necessary. “Believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.”

That’s exactly what we are doing at Clearview. It’s still the gospel wine not water or orange juice or diesel. We still hold to the inerrancy of Scripture, the doctrine of the Trinity, the salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone, literal heaven and hell, etc. But we are doing things in a new way. Is it the best way, right way, New Testament way? Who knows? It’s just a new wineskin. One day even this would be done away with. What matters is whether or not you have received Christ as your Savior. That’s why our motto is “MAKING CHRIST VISIBLE.

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