Howard Mooney - Love

John 13, I Corinthians 13, and Hebrew 13 are all love chapters. In the 13th chapter of John, we read of the love of God manifested by His Son, Jesus. In the 13th chapter of I Corinthians, we read of the love of God manifested by His servant Paul. And, in Hebrews 13, we read of the same love of God manifested by the saints. We realize the importance of chapters like these because this fellowship we are part of is a fellowship of love. These chapters teach us how we can fit in and be a part of this fellowship that works by love.


We are asked by people who have observed our fellowship, "What is it that makes this fellowship work?" They know it works but how does it work without elected officers? The answer to this question is found in the Bible! We might add there is an answer in the Bible to every vital question. If someone should ask you how your faith works, take them to Galatians 5:6 for in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision: but faith which worketh by love. We tell people in gospel meetings that this is a wonderful Way that is from eternity to eternity. Jesus said this fellowship was planned in heaven in love before the world began. It was established on the cross by love and since then it has been held together in a fellowship of love. This is the greatest love scene that men have ever know. We today value these love chapters. These chapters give us an understanding of how we can fit into this fellowship of love.


John 13, "Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour was come that He should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end." This was the pure endless love of God. You might wonder why Jesus continued loving these disciples when many times they disappointed Him and let Him down. Why did He keep on loving them? It was because He loved them with a Godly love.


John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." The reason He gave His Son was because there is no other statement to the love of God than "giving." Human love is selfish and cruel but the love of God is wonderful because His love manifest itself in giving. The reason why Jesus could love these disciples unto the end was because He loved them with a Godly love. He didn't love these disciples because of what He could get out of them. Their salvation depended on what God could give them! If you don't remember anything else this morning, remember the love of God manifest itself in giving. The reason why God loves us and continues to love us right to the end of our journey is because our salvation depends on what this divine love can give us! This makes me thankful the love of God is an endless love.


In John 13, Jesus washed the disciples' feet. This reminds us that the love of God is a "serving" love. I am sure you understand that this matter of washing the disciples feet was not a religious custom; it was a necessity that was brought about by the conditions of that day. People in those days often made a long, dry, dusty walk. When they came home, their servants would meet them at the door and refresh them by washing their feet. It was an act of hospitality. Someone asked me recently, "Is there anything in the Bible that proves that?" There is one verse in my estimation above another that makes it very definite. That verse is found in 1 Samuel 25:41, "And she arose, and bowed herself on her face to the earth, and said, 'Behold, let thine handmaid be a servant to wash the feet of the servants of my lord.'" She was not only content to wash the feet of the king, but she was equally willing to wash the feet of His disciples or servants. There is a background to "feet washing" in the Bible.


In Mark's gospel, it mentions there was a dispute amongst the disciples "who would be the greatest." Jesus felt this spirit and He said unto them, "What are you disputing about?" He explained to them the greatest in this fellowship is not a matter of holding an office or wielding a club, but the greatness in this fellowship is the willingness to serve. This is the unalterable law of the Kingdom of God. Jesus, on one occasion asked them, "Whither is greater? He that sitteth at meat or he that serveth?" Jesus gave them plenty of time to rise to the occasion. He waited until after dinner and in that land there are several courses. A meal takes an hour usually and sometimes an hour and a half. Jesus put on the slave's garment and washed the disciples feet. He proved to them, He was the greatest. Our greatness in this fellowship is determined by our willingness to serve.


I have often wondered who it was among the disciples that was disputing. I feel it was Peter and John. Luke records that Jesus singled out Peter and John. Jesus told Peter and John to "go into the city and make ready the Passover." The fact that Jesus asked them to go and prepare the Passover would suggest there was no servant in that home. Perhaps the people of that home were invited to share the Passover in another home. When Jesus arrived at this home that night, there was no servant and it would have been a wonderful opportunity to settle that dispute as to who was the greatest! Peter and John were too proud to serve. Jesus didn't force the issue. Jesus waited until the Passover was over. He gave them at least an hour and a half to think it over. Finally, Jesus arose from the table and laid aside His garments and clothed Himself with the towel and Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, proved His greatness by taking the place of a slave and washed the disciples' feet. Peter responded, "Lord, Thou shalt never wash my feet." He made Peter take his medicine. John watching this dramatic scene, knew there was no need of him persisting. He took his medicine too. After the meal was served, John laid upon Jesus breast. Do you know why John did that? Was it because he was closer to Jesus than Peter. No, it was because he was like a whipped child and he wanted to get back into the graces of the Lord again. John was saying, "I have learned my lesson." This spirit of serving is what keeps the fellowship working among God's people. They didn't understand the spirit behind the "washing of feet" that day, but later on in the scriptures we read where they learned the value of serving and keeping that love alive in their own hearts.


Galatians 5:6-13, "faith which worketh by love." It is this spirit of serving that keeps the love working and it is love that keeps the faith working. You may not understand why this example and teaching is important, but with the passing of years, you will appreciate this working principal. This teaching is within the reach of each of us. It is always a thrill to me, to go into another field and see this wonderful teaching in our workers and saints being lived out. The more we learn to serve as Jesus served, the greater opportunity we will have of proving His greatness.


John 13:34, "A new commandment I give unto you:  That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another." I am grateful Jesus interjected that little clause, "as I have loved you." If Jesus would have left that clause out, it would have given the disciples a loop-hole. It was the same endless love and the same giving love and the same serving love. In this 13th chapter of John, Jesus brings Judas into the picture to give us the right estimation of our love. His love for Judas was burning just as strong as it was for the other disciples. That kind of love is the hallmark of God's people.


Sometime ago, we were having meetings in a certain place. The different churches in this city were disputing which one was right. One group said, "the proof that we are right is because we keep the Sabbath." Another group said, "The proof that we are right is that we have the right name." Another group said, "The proof that we are right is that we have the fastest growing membership." Some of our folks were mentioning this and I said to them, "Why didn't they use the Lord's standard to prove they were right?" Didn't Jesus say, 'It is the one mark by which all the world would know ye are My disciples by the love ye have one for another.'" This divine love is the same endless, giving and serving love that unites and keeps His people today.


I Corinthians 13, Paul wrote in detail about this love. Every verse in this chapter applies to every child of God. The wonderful part of this chapter is that Paul applied this chapter to himself! This was the barometer whereby he measured his love as a servant of God. Seventeen times in this chapter he uses the pronoun "I." We will say again, Paul was measuring his love by this standard as a minister of the Gospel. Many of you in this meeting remember our brother Jack Carroll speaking from this chapter often. I don't know of another worker who would be more qualified to speak from this 13th chapter of I Corinthians. Jack was 1 Corinthians 13 personified. He told us there are seven things mentioned in this chapter that love will do and seven things love will not do. Jack encouraged us to read this chapter over every week. This chapter helps us to understand how important our love is. When I read over the seven things that love will do, it deepen my joy. I love everything about His Way and His Truth. I love this Ministry that I am a part of and I love His people.


However, when I read about the negative side of this love, it made me stop and think. Paul wrote, "Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not it's own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, rejoice not in iniquity, envieth not and so forth. It is those thoughts that drive me to my knees. I realize this is the part of my love service that is often lacking. I would encourage you to read frequently this 13th chapter of I Corinthians. When you read over the seven things that love will not do again, ask yourself, "How do I fit into that picture?" I'll say again those are the things that causes me to go to my bedroom and bow my knees and heart before the God of heaven.


Paul wrote, "Though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing." This is the standard by which the world judges their ability. These acts move congregations to benevolent sacrifice. Paul was telling us this is not the mark of the true ministry. The Lord's servants are not classified by their ability to speak. We are not classified by our ability to bring out deep mysteries. The true ministry is measured by their love and willingness to serve. It is through this serving love, this fellowship of God's people is bound up. Our service before others will reveal our depth of love.


I would like to go back to the seven negative things that Paul wrote about for a moment. This year, at the Chelan convention in Washington, a sister worker shared a nice thought with us. She mentioned verse 11, "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things." She told us those seven negative things that love will not do are like the childish things. They certainly are, when you stop and think about them. She remarked for example about that statement, not puffed up. That is a childish mark! Paul knew he needed to put away the childish marks before a childlike spirit could be manifested in his life. We hope you will receive something from this chapter that will stimulate your faith to keep that love of God burning with a constant flame in your lives.


Shall we turn over to Hebrews 13 for a few moments. This is the love of God manifested in the private home-life of the saints. This chapter applies to the saints. It is a chapter that doesn't need any explanation. This chapter contains a list of things love will do and then a list of things love will not do. It would be a good idea to make a list of things in this chapter that a person will be doing if the love of God is in their hearts as it should be. Then look at the other side. Make a list of things you wouldn't do because the love of God would restrain you. Compare these two lists. You will find most of the help in this chapter is easily understood and needs no further explanation.


However, I might mention two or three things in this 13th chapter that might need some explanation. In verse 11, "For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp." He took these Hebrew Christians back to the Old Testament. He was telling them that the sacrifice to cover their sin, that was committed inside the camp, needed to take place outside the camp. People had to go outside the camp to get the benefit of the sacrifice. When Jesus offered Himself as the sacrifice for sin, he had to go outside the gate of the city. He could not offer himself in the social camp because sin was controlling the social camp. He couldn't offer himself in the political camp because He was not controlled by politics. Jesus went outside the camp, outside the gate to sacrifice. That is why they reproached him. The scripture reads, "Let us go forth without the camp." It does not say, "Go outside the camp to sacrifice." Jesus did not go outside the camp to sacrifice. We get the benefit of His sacrifice when we leave behind the world. If your love for the Heavenly Bridegroom is all that it should be, that love will lead you outside the camp.


Once we had the privilege of being in a home for a few hours. I didn't know that a home could be so elaborate. The daughter of those people married a fine professing young man a couple weeks before. They were living in a little cracker box apartment! The room that was her bedroom before was far bigger than the whole apartment. Do you think she was complaining? No, of course not. There was no evidence of self-pity. She was rejoicing because she had the privilege of spending her time with the one that captivated her love!


I also would like to tell you about one of our young men serving in Vietnam. While he was serving time in that country, he became acquainted with a Vietnamese girl. There relationship blossomed and soon they planned to be married. She knew if she married him that it would mean leaving her family and country. When the United States brought their soldiers home, they decided to wait for a few months before deciding to marry. If they still loved each other, he would return to her country and marry her and bring her back. Well, the absence made the heart grow fonder! She became his bride. She was anxious to marry him because she wanted to be close to the one who captivated her love. If your love for Christ is all that it should be, do you think it would be difficult to go forth without the camp? Sometimes we hear the Lord's people complaining that professing is so hard because you have go give up this and that. When I hear that refrain, I wonder how much of the love of God they have in their hearts for the Bridegroom. If you love Him as you should, and if I love Him as I should, we will want to be with Him! We will want to be with Him because He is the Bridegroom of our soul.


Hebrews 13:15, "By Him, therefore, let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name." This is another statement of love. When we give our testimony in meeting, we are expressing our "thanks." That is the purpose of giving our testimony. This is one of the basic differences between true worship and false worship. False worshippers come together to give something. When the Lord's people come together, they come together to thank God for what they have in Christ. Whether our testimonies are from the Old Testament or the New Testament, our testimonies should be leavened with the unmistakable evidence of thanksgiving. That is the true purpose of a testimony. When you express your thanks as you should, it is an statement that everyone can say, "Amen" to. It is also an inspiration to everyone in our meeting to hear your words of thanksgiving. This attitude of love becomes a child of God.


In the Song of Solomon, he said, "What is this bridegroom more than another?" The writer wrote a most wonderful song describing the wonderful virtues of that Heavenly Bridegroom. If my love for that Heavenly Bridegroom is all that it should be, this love song will always be on my lips. I don't know if there is anyone here that finds it difficult to give their testimony. Surely this spirit of thank you is within the capacity of everyone in this room today. If you just stood up in a meeting and from the bottom of your heart said, "Thanks," every soul in that meeting would be thrilled. Sometimes the reason people are reluctant to give their testimony is because they haven't been  as near to the Bridegroom as they should have been. There is not the thankfulness in their hearts as some of the others. If you have not been giving your testimony, this meeting would be a wonderful place to start. You can purpose in your heart that from this Special Meeting on you are going to give your testimony. As you express your thankfulness, you will understand just how much you have to be thankful for. And, the more you express your love for the Bridegroom, the more reasons you will find to love Him.


Hebrews 13:16, "But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased." This is another way in which we can express our love for God. We communicate that love by letter or visit one of our dear friends in a nursing home or someone who might be hospitalised or someone living in a lonely place. This is one of the avenues which we can express to others the love of God. Jesus asked Peter, "Do you love Me?" We express our love to Him in what we do for others. The best way to communicate that love, as that hymn says, "Live for others."


I would like to finish by telling you about a young couple living in our field. They hadn't been married very long. One day they came home from a Sunday morning meeting and they were just bubbling over with all they heard that morning. It was an extra good meeting and even during their dinner conversation, they were still talking about all that they heard. He said to his wife, "Let's go up and visit aunt Ella and tell her about the meeting." Aunt Ella was a faithful soul, confined to a nursing home. Her old body had played out. After they had shared their meeting with her, tears of gratitude flowed down her cheeks. This young couple made up their mind right then and there, that they would come every Sunday afternoon to share their meeting with that bedfast soul. They could have had fellowship with other young couples or it might have been easier for them to stay home. No, without fail, this lovely young couple would visit our dear friend confined to that nursing home. Do you known what they were doing? They were proving their love for the Lord. They were doing what they could do to help this poor helpless soul finish her race in victory. I suppose you know some shut-ins like that. Perhaps there are no fiends nearby to visit them. This would be a wonderful opportunity for you to express how much you love the Lord. You might remember one of the servants of God labouring off in a lonely corner for the gospel sake. You could sit down and write them a letter. Jesus said, "In as much as ye have done it to one of My little ones, ye have done it unto Me." One of the greatest ways we can prove our love, is by what we do for others. I hope these three chapters will help you in the days to come. Remember this is a fellowship of love and a faith that works by love and a service that keeps the love working. May the Lord help us to know better how to fit into this fellowship of love so that we can contribute our hearts to the joy of it.