“Love Does Not Act Shamefully”
1 Corinthians 13:5
INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of 1 Corinthians 13.5 Part 1 Love does not act unbecomingly
1 Corinthians 13. When I was a boy, I was fascinated with my dad’s baseball cards. I also had a baseball video game I played on the old MS DOS computers, if you remember those. This is in the late 1980s. In the game, you could be the old time baseball players. You could be the team with players from the 1950s and 60s, like Mickey Mantle and Ernie Banks. Although, all the players looked exactly the same!
However, Mario Mendoza didn’t make the game. Neither did Larry Littleton, who never even hit the ball in 2 seasons in the majors.
And those baseball cards… The most valuable cards were the ones with the most gifted players on them. The ones who got the most hits, like a Pete Rose or a Ty Cobb or a Hank Aaron. The most valuable card is the 1909 Honus Wagner, with an estimated value of $7.5 million. Why? Because he was a great ballplayer, winning 8 batting titles, a record that remains to this day.
We value gifted people. We even place dollar signs on their pictures! And I was pondering these great ballplayers again, it brought back nostalgic memories. Wow, these guys were great players!
We can do this with people in the church! We can trade our favourite preacher memorabilia, our famous missionary biographies. And we can begin to value giftedness and ministry success above what God values: and that’s love.
I’d rather be the prophet Jeremiah than the prophet Jonah. That seems a little strange, doesn’t it. Jeremiah had no outward ministry success, but Jonah had it all! Jeremiah was simply thrown into a pit because he was preaching God’s word and mourned with the people as they were taken away into captivity. Jonah disobeyed God because he knew God would save the Ninevites. Finally, after being regurgitated by the great fish, he goes to Nineveh and preaches and God spares the city and saves thousands of people….and Jonah was upset about it!
I’d rather be Jeremiah, who loved the people with little success than Jonah with much outward success and little love.
Why? Because ministry success isn’t the work of man, but of God! And love is also, … but love is greater than any giftedness and any intellectual or spiritual prowess; love is above anything else I could do today. Today, as in every day, is all about love.
The great people in the sight of God are those who love. So, I value Babe Ruth’s giftedness for what it’s worth, but as I grow in my walk with the Lord, I’ll value love above all!
Let’s read 1 Co. 13 1:8a
1 Corinthians 13:1–8 1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. 4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails …
This morning we’re studying verse 5, love “does not act unbecomingly.” This is a difficult subject due to some of serious topics it brings up. There is some study involved to properly handle it this morning, but the overall picture this morning is that love does not act shamefully, but love acts honourably.
Love does not act unbecomingly. The NKJ, ESV, and the NIV, translates this “love is not rude.” The KJV translates it, “love does not behave itself unseemly.”
Of the 51 other times that this word “to act unbecomingly” occurs in its different forms in the LXX and the NT, the vast majority refer to sexual immorality or nakedness in general. Over 90% of the time the word refers to either sexual immorality or nakedness. In general, many believe it refers to shameful conduct. It can refer to the shame of over punishment as well as shame to a king when his subjects do not pay taxes.
To act unbecomingly is basically “shameful behaviour.” In 1 Corinthians, it occurs here as well as in chapter 7 which refers to what can go on between a betrothed, or an engaged couple. As well as metaphorically referring to the less presentable members of a body, referring to certain members of the body of Christ.
And so when their is action involved, it refers to shameful conduct. Love does not act shamefully.
And of course, shame can take on different forms.
But we will focus on the topic of shame in the Corinthian epistles and then we’ll discuss our behaviour in Christ from the book of Titus.
“Shame” in First Corinthians
Let’s turn over to 1 Co. 7. Due to the nature of this discussion, we will attempt to be as reverent as possible. Paul is discussing marriage and in verse 36, he admits that an engaged man may act shamefully toward his fiancee.
The ESV is better here. If you have another version, I would recommend making a note here and make sure you compare it with the ESV. The ESV reads this way …
1 Corinthians 7:36 If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his betrothed [his fiancee], if his passions are strong, and it has to be, let him do as he wishes: let them marry– it is no sin.”
Because of persecution, some who were betrothed or engaged were deciding not to marry. Paul is giving advice for those who are engaged and are considering not marrying.
So, with engaged couples it is entirely forseeable that they do not act appropriately with one another. Temptations can be strong.
But Christian love will not act shamefully in a situation like this. He’ll be considerate of her walk with Christ and will act honorably and sacrifice himself so that she can love Christ and remain a virgin.
ILL: I’m reminded of how male grizzly bears will fight each other viciously for the rights over the females in an area. I looked up a video on that and of course the grizzly bears are fighting…so fast, so much weight moving at incredible speed as they bite and devour each other.
And one of the comments said, “No woman is worth this much trouble.”
But humans are capable of the same kind of attitude, in one way shape or form, not controlling ourselves. But love will control itself.
Christian love will not be a kind of flirtatious attitude toward another, but love will keep an appropriate physical and emotional distance between them before marriage.
And so by way of application, Christians who know the love of God will refuse to participate in the sex trade industry by making sure to use their phones and computers properly.
Christian love will not act shamefully, but will be considerate and act honourably.
That’s the first passage in Corinthians; let us behave honorably toward members of the opposite gender.
Secondly, in public worship. Let’s turn to 1 Co. 11. And as we turn, let’s keep in mind that 1 Corinthians 13 is a rebuke. So when Paul says “love does not act unbecomingly” he is rebuking them. What is he rebuking them for, when he says that love does not act shamefully? That’s a general term. To figure that out, we have to look at what Paul has already written in 1 Corinthians. I could preach that we need to act honorably and preach on what I want to, like obeying social conventions and minding your P+Qs, and being polite as our cultural has taught us. Or, we could emphasize what Paul is emphasizing and applying those passages. So what is Paul referring to when he’s referring to acting shamefully and acting honorably? For one, he’s referring to behaving honorably toward members of the opposite gender.
And we have another clue in 1 Co. 11.
1 Corinthians 11 is a difficult passage to interpret. When I studied this passage last year at about this time, I spent many hours attempting to wrestle with its meaning. If you are interested in that, the Wednesday night study is on the website.
This passage refers to public worship. In verse four, Paul is addressing the church when they are praying or prophesying. When there is a proclamation of the word of God and praying, there is a gathering of God’s people. This is public worship. And there can be shame involved under certain circumstances.
Note the word in verse four “disgrace.” Again “disgrace” is in the middle of verse five and in the middle of verse six. The idea is in verse 13 with the word “proper.” As well as verse 14 at the end… “dishonor.”
To avoid getting into the details, what Paul is talking about is the importance of distinctions between men and women. It is important for men to look like men and for women to look like women. Paul argues in this passage that God created men and women and it is important to keep that distinction.
And naturally today, in our day and age, there is a unique attack on God’s creation of men and women. And it is important not to act shamefully. We need to keep the gender distinctions in our churches in order to honor the Lord’s creation of us. He created us male and female. We need to honor that.
This would include our modesty, in demeanor and in dress. Modest behaviour and modest dress.
TRANS: So Christian love acts honorably between the genders not shamefully. Christian love acts honorably in public worship by keeping the distinctions between the genders. And now third …
A third example of the need for honorable behaviour is found a little later in this same chapter, but beginning in verse 17.
They are gathering together for public worship around the Lord’s table. What was common in the first century was to first have a meal together and then to observe the Lord’s table.
And when they gathered together verse 18, there were divisions among them. And that was shameful. And so they were not technically eating the Lord’s supper together verse 20 says, but they were eating their own supper… And they were doing so to the neglect of each other. One is hungry another is drunk. “Me first, me first…through the potluck line, as it were.” And so they were verse 22 putting to shame those who have nothing.
But in the Lord’s table, as in all of life, they should have been considering each other first. Consider each other first! That is honorable behaviour!
APP: Put others before yourself. In my heart, do I think first of myself or of others? Chidlren need to learn that they are not the center of the universe! They are to consider others first. “Seek to help little Suzie have a good time; don’t use your friend for your own enjoyment.”
And finally in our study of shame in 1 Co., let’s look at 1 Co. 14:40.
Paul here is addressing giftedness. And their use of their spiritual gifts was not being done properly in the public worship setting. Some were speaking in tongues and others were not interpreting and so many people didn’t know what was being said.
They were allowing our gifted ladies to teach the men, and they were, in some cases it seems, allowing multiple people to prophesy at the same time.
So Paul addresses that in verse 40 and says…
1 Corinthians 14:40 40 But all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner.
That’s true in the church service and in life. “All things” should be done properly and in order. Let us behave properly toward each other.
And so Paul’s general injuction in …
Ephesians 5:11–12 is appropriate …. you may make a note of this, Eph. 5:11-12 … 11 Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; 12 for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret.
Let us behave honourably from the heart before the lost and dying…and toward each other, that we may have the savour of Christ in us.
TRANS: That brings us to the damage that we can inflict if we fail to to behave honourably. Let us turn to Tit. 2. We’ll spend our remaining time here.
As we are turning to Titus 2, we can reflect on how the Corinthian’s poor behavior reflected on their testimony to those outside the church. Because they had a lack of love toward each other and because they were divisive and not considerate toward each other and because they couldn’t forgive and over look the slightest infraction, it gave an occasion for the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme.
Christian love would consider that others are lost and dying and seek to emulate Christ to them by loving the brethren.
And here in Titus 2, Paul is giving instruction to those in different stages of life.
Verse two, older men are to be like this. Verse three, older women are to be like this.
And then we have potential damage done if these things are not done, verse five, we are to live this way “that the word of God will not be dishonored.”
Similarly in verse 8, our speech is to be a certain way “so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us.”
And again in verse 10 servants are to live in a certain way “so that they will adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect.”
**Our lack of honorable behavior toward one another and toward those outside the church has great eternal consequences!
The word of God can be dishonoured because of us, those who oppose Christ may have bad things to say about us, and the doctrine of God may become unadorned and naked, maybe even shameful to those who look on.
And so I believe that this passage is a perfect reflection of what it looks like when love acts honorably. Let’s look at it more closely, verse 1…
Titus 2:1–15 1 But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine. 2 Older men are to be temperate [that’s self-controlled], dignified [that is, to live an honorable life, a respectable life], sensible [reasonable, thoughtful], sound in faith [a healthy faith in Christ], in love, in perseverance [endurance]. 3 Older women likewise [very similar….older women ] are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, 4 so that they may encourage the young women [older women are to teach younger women …. they are to teach younger women] to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored. [without you living out the gospel, the gospel will be dishonored among those outside the church….]
ILL: I don’t know how many times I’ve read this year about a supposed Christian defiling the name of Christ either by denying Him outright or by living a life that is not honorable. Lost people call him out and he finally admits it, or whatever. This is horrible and the word of God is dishonoured among the lost!
6 Likewise urge the young men to be sensible; 7 in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine [young men need to have their doctrine pure and according to the word of God…they need to be … ], dignified, [again , living an honourable life.] 8 sound in speech [proper speaking habits…] which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us.
And then the bondslaves….these we could apply to employees…
9 Urge bondslaves to be subject to their own masters in everything, to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, 10 not pilfering [that is, stealing time and resources from their employer], but showing all good faith so that they will adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect.
**By our respectable and honorable lives we can make the glorious gospel beautiful!
Note this: The life lived will always reflect the doctrine believed. A properly lived Christian life makes the doctrine believed beautiful …our behaviour actually “adorns the doctrine of God our Savior.”
TRANS: But where will our power come from to live this way? From where will our power come?
We can live righteous, dignified, honorable lives, not shameful lives, because …v.11…
11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, 12 instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age,
The grace of God that brought salvation is the same grace that saves! Did you catch that? Look at it again…verse 11… the grace of God has appeared, it brings salvation and it verse 12, that same grace instructs us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires.
We are saved from sin by faith, we have salvation only because of the grace of God! We’re not saved for eternity based on anything that we have done in righteousness, Paul says, but it’s according to his mercy that we’re saved.
And it’s that same mercy and that same grace that teaches us to live godly lives. If God’s saving grace is in you, you’ll have strong desires to progress in godliness. You’ll find yourself in great conflict and turmoil of soul if you aren’t progressing. When you fail and sin and act shamefully, someone with God’s grace in him will repent and confess and seek to make things right.
And that same grace enables us to look to the future… verse 13…
13 [God’s grace teaches us to look] for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, [we’re looking for Him to come again! … it is He …]14 who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.
It is the work of God in Christ Jesus, His sacrificial death and His life-giving resurrection and then God’s grace applied to a human heart … this is what saves us, gives us new life…repentance and faith in Christ … and then in that moment … a heart yielded and bowed to Christ receives eternal life, the very life of God now resides in a human heart!
That same glorious grace that saves, is the grace that sanctifies and causes us to grow…to grow away from ungodliness and shameful living and to grow toward being like Christ and living an honorable dignified life in the sight of God.
CONCLUSION What is the Meaning of 1 Corinthians 13.5 Part 1 Love does not act unbecomingly
Now, we all done shameful things. But Christ took our shame upon Himself! The cross of Christ was a very shameful way to die. And that shameful cross, He bore for us. The cross itself is a kind of symbol…that He took the shame of our guilt upon Himself. The cross, being a shameful method of execution, was a kind of illustration of the truth that He took upon Himself all of our shameful behavior, all of our guilt, all of our inappropriate behaviour toward others, all of our selfishness, He took upon Himself.
Hebrews 12:2 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him [of being reuinited with the Father] endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Fix your eyes on Him! Not on the guilt of your shame; look to Him who endured the cross for you and now you gain endurance to grow, to press forward, not looking back. God help us live honorable lives as we do so.
471 Higher Ground