In this series on the love of God, we are learning how to love with God’s love. We received God’s loving nature when we were born again of His spirit, and we have the ability to manifest His amazing love toward one another as we renew our minds to God’s Word. I Corinthians 13 lists characteristics of God’s love, and so far we have looked at the first five, which are listed in verse 4.
I Corinthians 13:4:
Charity [agapē, the love of God in the renewed mind in manifestation] suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up.
By revelation, the Apostle Paul expresses both what is inbounds and what is out-of-bounds when it comes to loving with the love of God. Manifesting God’s long-suffering nature toward each other is inside the boundaries of agapē love, and so is being kind to one another. These are two powerful ways to live God’s love. On the other hand, being envious, vaunting or bragging about ourselves, and being puffed up—cherishing inflated ideas of our own importance—are absolutely not within the boundaries of loving with the love of God. Love is not selfish in any way, and we’ll see more about this as we study the next characteristic listed in I Corinthians 13: “doth not behave itself unseemly.”
I Corinthians 13:5:
Doth not behave itself unseemly….
The love of God in the renewed mind in manifestation “doth not behave itself unseemly.” What does it mean to “not behave…unseemly,” and why are two negatives used to express a positive? “Doth not behave itself unseemly” is made up of two Greek words: ou and aschēmoneō. The word ou in Greek is the absolute negative, indicating here “absolutely not.” When God’s love is being manifested by the believer, it absolutely does not behave itself unseemly.
The Greek verb aschēmoneō, translated “behave…unseemly,” is defined as “to behave in an unbecoming manner, or indecorously; to behave disgracefully; to be void of proper deportment.” This kind of behavior is out-of-bounds when it comes to manifesting the love of God.
This truth is underscored by the two negatives (ou and aschēmoneō) in the phrase “doth not behave itself unseemly”: they clearly assert that love absolutely does not behave itself unseemly. This could have simply read that love “does behave itself seemly,” or “does behave in a becoming manner,” but instead God places emphasis here by having Paul express it with two negatives, which in this case changes the negation into an affirmation. Thayer’s Greek lexicon teaches us that when ou is followed by another negative, it can either strengthen the negation or change the negation into an affirmation.
Here in I Corinthians 13:5, it changes what starts out as an absolute negative into an affirmation, and it expresses the positive in a very high degree: “The love of God in the renewed mind in manifestation absolutely DOES behave itself in a seemly manner!”
What can we learn about behaving in a manner that is seemly? The Oxford English Dictionary defines the word “seemly” as “fittingly, appropriately; decently, becomingly.” In Greek, the idea of seemly is expressed by the word euschēmonōs, which means “in a seemly manner, decently.” This word is from eu—meaning “good, or well”—and schēma, which is defined as “fashion, form, external show.” Let’s go to God’s Word and look at each of the three occurrences of the Greek word euschēmonōs.
The first occurrence shows us what is involved in behaving in a seemly manner. We also see what unseemly behavior is.
Love [agapē] worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love [agapē] is the fulfilling of the law.
Let us walk honestly [euschēmonōs], as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.
But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.
To manifest the love of God, we put on the Lord Jesus Christ in our minds and walk honestly, decently, becomingly. That is inbounds behavior; whereas, walking in rioting, in drunkenness, in chambering (sexual immorality), in wantonness (unbridled lust), in strife and envying is outside the boundaries of God’s love. That is what God’s love is not. The way that God’s Word contrasts those behaviors with walking “honestly” (euschēmonōs) makes it clear that they are unseemly behaviors.
We renew our minds to God’s Word as Jesus Christ did, and we do not make “provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.” Manifesting God’s love is not about fulfilling the sinful desires of our flesh. It is not selfish in any way. And in looking at the next occurrence of euschēmonōs, we’ll see that manifesting this genuine, pure love of God is something we can increase in more and more.
I Thessalonians 4:9-12:
But as touching brotherly love [philadelphia—natural or human love, as for a brother] ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love [agapaō—to love with the love of God in the renewed mind in manifestation] one another.
And indeed ye do it toward all the brethren which are in all Macedonia: but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more;
And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you;
That ye may walk honestly [euschēmonōs] toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing.
Born-again believers are equipped with the spirit of God and the ability to go far above and beyond brotherly love, which is limited. We can renew our minds to love with the love of God because we have God’s divine love in us spiritually, and it’s unlimited. And we can increase in that renewed-mind love as we believe and live God’s Word more and more. There is always room to increase in the love of God in the renewed mind in manifestation toward our brethren—none of us can ever get or give too much of God’s love….
This is an excerpt from the September/October 2016 issue of The Way Magazine.
Copyright© 2016 by The Way International. All rights reserved.
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