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"THE SECRETS OF LASTING LOVE" - 40 Days of Love – Part 6

(adapted with permission from Rick Warren, Nov.1-2, 2008)

Oct. 29 2018 at LWCF - 1Cor.13:6-13

        Whenever you’re going through massive change there is one thing you can always count on that never changes: that is, God’s unfailing steadfast love. The Bible says in Isaiah 54:8, “I will show you my love forever.” In other words, it’s eternal, it goes on endlessly. “I will show you my love forever,’ so says the Lord who saves you.” The foundation for a stable life, no matter what you go through, is the unchanging love of God. It’s guaranteed: if you’re His, you can know: “God will never stop loving me.”

        In turn, God commands you to give that same kind of unchanging love to everybody else. Jesus said in John 15:12, “I command you to love each other in the same way that I love you.” That means reliable, unchanging, consistent, steadfast, unwavering, eternal, enduring love.

        Is that possible? As of 2008, the divorce rate in the United States was 41% of all first marriages; 60% for second time marriages; and 73% for third marriages. “Love that lasts a lifetime” is sorely lacking. How do you get it? How can you love other people in the same way that God loves you – consistently, unconditionally, eternally?

        If you’re going to build a love that lasts a lifetime you have to figure out how to overcome “the Deadly D’s” – Difficulties, Disagreements, Differences, Discord, Disappointment, Defeat, Dead-ends, Depression, Delay, Doubt, Distance, Death, Debt, Demands, Difficulties. Those are not easy things to overcome. How do you counter with a love that lasts a lifetime? Today we’re going to look at the things you must never do if you’re going to build a love that lasts a lifetime. 1Corinthians 13:7 “Love never stops being patient, never stops believing, never stops hoping, never gives up.” These are the 4 habits of a lifetime of loving.

1) The first thing that you have to learn to do is you have to learn that lasting love extends grace. No relationship will make it without grace. The Bible tells us that this is part of love. You’re not going to have a relationship unless you have forgiveness, mercy, patience, acceptance, grace. You’ve got to cut people some slack, let things pass, put up with a lot. V7A “Love never stops being patient.” The Message paraphrase says “It puts up with anything.” New Century Translation - “It patiently accepts all things.” New Jerusalem - “It is always ready to make allowances.” You have to allow for mistakes.

        This word in Greek that says “It’s always patient,” is the word that means literally “covered with a roof”, to apply “thatching”; a roof covers and protects your home. Today we don’t use thatch – more and more people are switching to steel rooves: working on them, you’ve got to be careful you don’t slide! Likewise patient / gracious love covers a relationship: it lets some things slide. It doesn’t haul people into account for every mistake that they make. In John Regier’s terms, you FORBEAR, let it go right overtop. You need a roof on your relationship: the kind of love that extends grace.

        It’s essential to relationships because you married a sinner – and she/he married a bigger one! We’re all imperfect. Two imperfect people cannot create a perfect relationship. Romans 3:10 “There is no one who always does what is right, not even one.” None of us get it right 100% of the time. The next verse (11) says “If we say we have no sin, we’re only fooling ourselves and refusing to accept the truth.” Quit supposing the relational problems in your life are all the other person’s fault! We all make mistakes.

        God says we have to extend grace to each other: because forgiveness is a two way street. You don’t want to burn the bridge that you yourself need to walk over in order to get into heaven. Jesus points out we can’t receive what we’re unwilling to give to other people.

        The way you build strong relationships is to treat other people the way God treats you. Romans 15:7“Accept each other just as Christ has accepted you.” Accept them: that’s extending grace. One of the ways you accept people is simply by listening to them. Grace listens.

        Ephesians 4:2, “Be humble and gentle with each other.Be patient with each other, making allowances for each other’s faults because of your love.” Circle “making allowance.” To have a love that lasts, you’ve got to learn to make allowances for the mistakes and the faults, the follies and flubs, in other people’s lives. Show grace because love never stops being patient.

2) Lasting love doesn’t just extend grace, it expresses faith. Faith and love are intertwined because love is built on trust, confidence, believing in people. If I love you I will rely on you, put faith in you.

        Faith and love are not fearful; 1Jn 4:18“There is no fear in love.” If you are afraid of someone, you don’t love them. Faith and love go together because love is built on trust, not being apprehensive of someone.

        When you trust somebody, you can love them. Love utters things like, “I believe in you.I trust you.I think you can do it.” 1Cor.13:7B “Love never stops believing.” NIV - “Love always trusts.” New Living Translation - “Love never loses faith.”

        There are three kinds of people in the world. There are the gullible people who believe anything you say. There are the cynics who believe nothing. Then there are the healthy people, those who love: people who are loving give others the benefit of the doubt.

        Psychological studies show it’s far better to be over-trusting in life than it is to be overly cynical. It’s far better to trust too much. Scientifically speaking, you are better adjusted psychologically by learning to trust.

        One of the key evidences of trust is your willingness to give other people a second chance when they blow it. If someone disappoints you or says something about you and you write them down in your little black book – “They’re outta my circle! I’m never going back to that small group, you’ve got to keep away from that neighbour” – then you’re not very trusting, and you’re not very loving. Because love gives people a second chance.

        In sports, a coach knows the quickest way to restore confidence after a fumble is give the kid the ball again on the very next play; otherwise they start developing a phobia – “I’m going to drop it again!” The way you help a child get over a failure is put trust in them immediately and get them started again. “Take the ball the next play...Sure you dropped it; everybody drops the ball.” Give it to them again.

        To build a lasting relationship, you’re going to have to learn to trust. If you cannot trust your husband or your wife, you need to trust God because He knows what he’s doing: God is faithful, trustworthy, and can do things that you can’t do in your husband or your wife’s life.

        Sometimes what you think is a problem is actually a protection: God is protecting you from something far worse. He knows what He’s doing. Isaiah 55:8f “I don’t think the way you think and the way you work isn’t the way I work.For as the sky soars high above the earth so the way I work surpasses the way you work and the way I think is beyond the way you think.” God says I know what I’m doing: please trust Me. God specializes in miracles and He can transform anything.        To be trusted is one of the greatest gifts you can give somebody. It’s a very loving gift.

        Who do you need to express trust in this week? To a child? “I know you can do it!” To your co-worker? “You’ve got this covered; I know you can do it!” Believing in somebody is a big part of what real love is all about. Lasting love expresses faith and says, I trust you. Galatians 5:6 “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” Life is a school of learning how to trust and how to love.

        Love extends grace; love expresses faith.Third...

3) Lasting love expects the best. It’s forward looking, optimistic, not stuck in the past: it’s hopeful, positive, expecting the best. 1Cor.13:7C “Love never stops hoping.” Living Bible “Love always expects the best.” The Message paraphrase - “Love always looks for the best.”

        People tend to live up (or down) to your expectations of them. You set people up all the time. You set your spouse up by what you expect of them and what you don’t expect of them. Whom are you setting up? You can set people up with your nagging, which takes them down. “That’s just what you always do.” When you say that, you’re guaranteeing the perpetuation of the past. Remove that from your vocabulary: “You always do this!”

        Don’t set them up for failure. Don’t tell it like it is: instead, tell it like it could be. That’s love. Love always expects the best, it doesn’t nag. Love says, “I see what you could become, what you’re becoming.I believe in you.I know you can do it.I expect the best.” Whom are you programming with your expectations? Whatever you want the people in your life to become, treat them the way you want them to become, not they way they are. Guys, you want your wife to treat you like a king? Treat her like a queen. Emphasize the positive; forget the nagging. Visualize potential. Start expecting the best from them.

        Love never extends grace; expresses faith; expects the best; and...

4) It endures the worst. Lasting love is persistent, determined, diligent, resolute: love is almost stubborn in its insistence that it will not give up on the relationship. 1Cor.13:7D “Love never gives up.Love endures through every circumstance.” (NLT) NIV - “Love always perseveres.” The Message puts it - “Love never looks back but keeps going to the end.” One of the great secrets of a love that lasts a lifetime is simply this: Stay put.Don’t give up.Hang on.Don’t let go.Refuse to give in.

        When God wants to make a mushroom, he takes six hours. When God wants to make an oak tree, he takes sixty years. Do you want your marriage to be a mushroom - or an oak tree? Do you want your life to be a mushroom or an oak tree? There are things you will learn hanging on that you will never learn any other way. The purpose of marriage is not just to make you happy but to make you holy and teach you how to grow up in to the maturity of Jesus: to be unselfish; to be less absorbed in yourself and more thoughtful of others. Great people are just ordinary people with an extraordinary amount of determination – they just don’t know how to quit.

        A long-term relationship such as marriage requires that we GROW UP. Often marriage problems boil down to this: “I want my way, you want your way.” Two not-completely-trusting people being selfish. For a lasting relationship, you have to stop saying, “I, me, and my” and start saying “we” and “ours”. You must be willing to change for the benefit of somebody else. Marriage conflicts boil down to pride, ego, and selfishness...Grow up!

        Some of you are ready to give up. Keep on.Don’t let go.Don’t give up.Persevere.Be stubborn about it. “I’m not going to let go!” Hang in there; hang on!

        Learning to love is the single greatest lesson in life. Learning to love God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength; and learning to love everybody else – that’s why God put you on this planet, the 2 greatest commands. The only way you will ever learn how to love is by loving, when you don’t feel like loving...when people are unlovable and unlovely and unloving and unloved: that’s where you learn real love. It’s easy to love cool people like you.

        These four choices are the exact way God loves you; God just expects you to do with others what He has done towards you.Let’s recap...

        1) God has extended you grace. And He has forgiven you and He’s said I sent Jesus Christ to die for all your sins. He extends you grace: if you got what you deserved, you wouldn’t be sitting there right now. You wouldn’t be alive. He wants you likewise to extend grace others.

        2) God expresses faith in you. He believed in you enough to create you, love you, send His Son to die for you, and His Holy Spirit to live in you. He believed in you enough to give you a freedom of choice knowing that you could full well thumb your nose at God and turn away to live a self-centered life. You need to believe in the God who believes in you. He expresses faith.

        3) He expects the best. He knows what you’re capable of. He knows you’re not living up to your potential and he doesn’t nag you about it. He says this is what I see in you. He always has hope that you’re going to turn your life completely over to him and he expects the best.

        4) God has endured the worst from you and put up with it all and He’s never given up on you.

        For six weeks now we’ve been studying 1 Corinthian 13, the Bible’s famous ‘love chapter’. Let’s end by reading a paraphrase of this famous chapter. “Because God loves me he is slow to lose patience with me. Because God loves me he takes the circumstances of my life and he uses them in a constructive way for my growth. Because God loves me he does not treat me as an object to be possessed or manipulated. Because God loves me he has no need to impress me with how great and powerful he is because he’s God. Nor does he belittle me as his child in order to show me how important he is. Because God loves me he is for me and he wants to see me mature and develop in his love. Because God loves me he does not keep score of all my sins and then beat me over the head with them whenever he gets the chance.” //

        This is the real secret to learning a lasting love: letting God’s love flow through you. Philippians 2:5 says “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.” That’s the secret of lasting love: it takes Christ’s love in you. Human love wears out – that’s why we’ve got those appalling divorce statistics! But Christ’s love is eternal. Before you can offer it to others, you’ve got to get it in you. Say today, “I’m going to become a great lover and I’m going to start by getting God’s love in my life.” Let’s pray.

        “Dear God, I need so much to feel Your love. Put Your love in every room in my heart. Thank You for loving me, creating me, forgiving me, and the promise of Your Spirit to be put inside me. I want to learn to love You and to love the people in my life. Forgive me for my immature love. Do in my relationships what I could never do on my own. I want to learn to offer grace, to express faith and trust, to expect the best, and learn to endure the worst even in sickness and in health. I ask it humbly, in Jesus’ name. Amen.”