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TEXT: I Corinthians 13:5b
SUBJECT: Attributes of Love #8: Love is Not Cranky!
Listen up please!
This is the second Sunday afternoon of the month and time for another Kids' Sermon. Now, kids, you know that all of my adult sermons are for you; and grown-ups, you know that all of my kid sermons are for you. Do you know why? Because the Word of God is not for adults or kids, men or women, rich people or poor. It is the Lord's gift to all people. Every one of us has the right and the privilege to hear the Word of God, to believe it, and to obey it.
I only call it the Kids' Sermon because I prepared it especially for them, and because I stop and ask them questions all the way through it.
Speaking of questions, let me start with a few.
We've been slowing working our way through this chapter for quite a long time. Can any of you kids tell us where we are in it? What verse and what part of the verse?
We're in the middle of v.5. It says,
Love is.not easily provoked.
This means: When you're loving others, you're not easily provoked by them, and when you're easily provoked by others, you're not loving them. Remember, love is not just a warm feeling, it's a good attitude. It's not about hugging and kissing; it's about treating other people well: your parents, your brothers and sisters, your friends, even strangers and your enemies.
Provoked is not a word you use every day, I suppose, but you know it means: it means mad. "Charlie is provoking me" is another way of saying, "he's making me mad".
There are two kinds of anger: noisy and quiet. Noisy anger is called rage or wrath. Quiet anger is called bitterness or pouting. Though they look-and sound-very different, they're all the same thing. They're all anger.
Love doesn't rant and rave. Love doesn't pout and sulk. Because love is not easily provoked.
There are many kinds of anger-and not all of them are bad. The Lord Jesus Christ got mad sometimes, and He never sinned. In fact, His anger was not only not sinful, it was good. When He tore into the Temple that day, flipped the money tables, drove the sheep out, and yelled at the men who were turning God's House into a den of thieves, the disciples remembered a verse in the Bible; it was Psalm 69:9,
Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.
They saw the Lord's red-hot anger as a proof that He loved God's House. And they were right.
This sort of anger is commanded in the Bible-Ephesians 4:26-Be angry, and do not sin.
But our verse is not describing that kind of anger-the holy kind-but the other kind, the anger we all know so well. The attitude our verse is against is the kind that is.easily provoked.
If provoked means angry, then easily provoked means.cranky or grouchy or grumpy. The loving person doesn't get mad about every little thing; he's not on edge all the time; he's not the kind of person you've got to be careful around.
To put it positively, love makes you easy to get along with.
What makes someone easy to provoke? If you ask an grouch why he's that way, he'll always give you one of two answers (or maybe both). The only things that make him grouchy are: other people and other things.
He's mad because something isn't going right. He's trying to fix his bike, for example, and he can't turn the nut! The harder he tries to, the more he strips it, or maybe, the wrench slips and he bloodies his knuckle. He's grouchy because of other things.
But, most of the time, we're grouchy about other people. They don't do what we want them to do or they do what we don't want them to do.
These are the reasons people give for being cranky. But they're not reasons at all; they're excuses. Another boy works on the same bike, but instead of getting mad at the nut that won't come off, he's patient, and, after a lot of grunting (and maybe a bloody knuckle or two) he gets it off.
If difficult things and annoying people made you grouchy, no one would be grouchier than our Lord Jesus Christ. What didn't go wrong for Him? Who didn't bother Him? Yet, even though He was bothered more than any other man, He was not irritable or cranky all the time. In fact, He was never this way.
Do you know why? Because He lived in love. He loved His Father, who controls all circumstances, and He loved other people, including the ones who were always bugging Him for something-even in the middle of the night!
The cause of your crankiness is not in other people, but in yourself. There's a word for it: sin. People are impatient and hateful because of their sin.
What sin? Every sin-I suppose-can make you grouchy, but one in particular stands out.
Pride. Why am I so mad that everyone and everything are not doing what I want them to? It's because I believe they ought to. But why should everyone and everything do what I want them to?
Well, because I want them to! But why should they? Because.I'm important! And what do we call the belief that I'm more important than you? Or that what I want to happen is more important than what God wants to happen? We call it.pride.
This means: until you repent of your pride you'll be grouchy and not loving.
To help you do it, let me offer you some advice. The advice comes from the Bible, and so you know it's good advice.
Don't be ruled by your feelings. Everyone has feelings, and some of us our feelings are cranky and sarcastic and negative. The feelings are real and they're strong. But you've got to resist them. If you have to feel rotten-okay, feel rotten-but don't speak or act on your rotten feelings. The Lord Jesus Christ said, If any one will be My disciple, let him deny himself.
The words, deny himself, mean say no to himself or disobey himself. The Bible teaches obedience: you ought to obey God, first of all, and your parents, teachers, pastors, and others who have authority over you. But the Bible never commands you to obey yourself! No less obey your feelings!
Christians are not disciples of their feelings, they're disciples of Jesus Christ. Don't forget who's Lord: it is the Loving Lord, and not your grouchy feelings!
In the second place, when your cranky feelings are strong, keep your mouth shut. The Bible says, A soft answer turns away wrath, but harsh words stir up anger. Nothing will make you crankier than cranky words. They make you feel worse-not better-and they make everyone else cranky, which makes you crankier. On and on it goes! If you can't control your feelings, control your teeth and lips and tongue.
Thirdly, think of how ugly crankiness is in other people, and remember it's no better in you. The Lord tells us to judge a righteous judgment-and righteous is the opposite of crooked or partial. Kids always notice when their parents favor another child over them. No fair! Betty got to! Tommy didn't have to! Why do they get to stay up later than I do? But if we want others to be fair to us, why don't we be fair to ourselves? Why don't we hate crankiness in ourselves as much as we do in other people?
Next, meditate on the example of our Lord Jesus Christ. If anyone in the world had a reason to be grouchy and hateful and peevish, it was the Lord. But He wasn't. We're called to be like Him.
Finally, repent of your sins and believe in Jesus Christ. The Number One reason that people are cranky and disagreeable is that they're not saved. Their parents might be, but they're not. They may go to church or be the pastor, but they haven't become new creatures in Christ. Until they do, they'll have no power over the sins, because they've got no one to fight against their sins. But sinners who repent and put their trust in Christ are given the Holy Spirit, who will fight against their sins and, in the end, will win. Do you want to be a loving person? If you do, you don't start with a set of rules, but with a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
What is love? It's an attitude that is not easily provoked, not cranky, not hateful, and petty, but is easy-to-get-along with. That's what the Lord wants for you. And it's what you should want too!
I pray God will give it to you and me both, for Christ's sake. Amen.
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