Building Upon God's Foundation
"Love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up ..." Go back to the beginning of chapter 8, and you will read this: "Knowledge puffeth up, but love buildeth up." There is a great deal of difference between 'puffing up' and "building up." 'Love is not puffed up:' there is nothing false, artificial, make-believe, pretend, about love. The false thing is like a rubber balloon: you can blow it up pretty big, but you have only to put the tiniest point of a needle in it- and where is it? It is gone. Paul says it is no use putting that on God's foundation.
"Love ... doth not behave itself unseemly ..." Unseemly behavior, we could spend much time on that, could we not? Is this seemly? Does it become a Christian? Does it become the Lord Jesus? Does it become that holy House of God? Does it become the Cross of the Lord Jesus? Love is seemly; it does not behave itself unseemly. "Love ... seeketh not its own" - does not want its own way, does not work to its own ends; does not draw to itself; "is not provoked, taketh not account of evil; rejoiceth not in unrighteousness, but rejoiceth with the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Love never faileth ..."
You may think that I am not saying very much, but I am saying a great deal. I would like to give you that passage in a translation which I think a classic:
"I may speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but if I have no love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal; I may prophesy, fathom all mysteries and secret lore, I my have such absolute faith that I can move hills from their place, but if I have no love, I count for nothing; I may distribute all I possess in charity, I may give up my body to be burnt, but if I have no love, I make nothing of it. Love is very patient, very kind. Love knows no jealousy; love makes no parade, gives itself no airs, is never rude, never selfish, never irritated, never resentful; love is never glad when others go wrong, love is gladdened by goodness, always slow to expose, always eager to believe the best, always hopeful, always patient. Lover never disappears" (James Moffatt).
You may put that on the foundation, for God says 'Yes' to all that. "To whom is the Arm of the Lord revealed?" To that; just to that!
There is a most pressing need that we should face this matter of what the Cross sets aside, and what the Cross brings in; what may be put on God's foundation, and what may not. It concerns every one of us quite seriously, as to what there will be at the end: not what there is now, however showy and popular, and however enjoying of man's approval and applause it may be. God is moving to build up: He shows what He cannot and will not use in His building, and then He says: "This is what I will use; this is the material for the building of My Church. This is what really builds: "Love buildeth up."
May the Lord smite our hearts, if need be, to enlighten us as to what the real values are. Not even spiritual gifts are the real values, unless the effect of them is real spiritual increase among the believers. That is the test. It is not the things themselves, not their presence, not even the fact that the Lord gave them. The test of every gift is: Does it really build the Church? Does it really build the House? Is it really resulting in a larger measure of Christ?
For these things may be an obstruction to Christ. This letter to the Corinthians makes it so clear that the possession of spiritual gifts is no guarantee of spiritual maturity. Here you have the most immature of the churches - Paul says: ' I have fed you with milk; you are still babes' - and yet characterized by all these gifts. It is not that the gifts are wrong, but that they have been sidetracked; they have not served the purpose for which they were given - that is, bringing to the full measure of Christ. That is the object, and that object is only achieved by love.
May the Lord give us that kind of love! This is not natural love; this love springs out of the Cross. It is the love which comes right out of the work of the Cross within us. We cannot get it by striving after it, but, as the Cross does its work in our hearts and in our natures, it will rise and grow. The Lord increase our love!
(continued with # 1 - "Resurrection")