Looking for love in all the wrong places


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Chip Ingram
Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places, Part 1

SCRIPTURE: 1 Corinthians 13:6 – 13:8a
Do you long to be loved for just being you – apart from your looks, money, or status? You can have that, but you need to be aware of some pitfalls along the way. Chip inspires us to stop looking for love in all the wrong places.

I think there’s three things that are true of every person in this room and every person on this planet. Number one: We all fail. I mean, even you. You know? I mean, you can call it mess up, blow it, miss the mark. I mean, every single person, every week, fails.

Number two: We all have legitimate desires and needs that are God ordained that we pursue. I mean, legitimate desires to be significant, to be loved, to give love, to be secure, to have purpose, that our lives would have an impact. We just have legitimate, God given desires and needs that God wants us to pursue.

Third fact: In a fallen world, our failures are often an attempt to obtain good things in a bad way. I want you to let that one sink in. Sometimes when we fail, we’re covered with shame and sometimes we fail and we get down on ourselves or, if you’re like me, you try and at least blame someone else for a while instead of yourself.

But what would happen if you could begin to see that some of the patterns in your life and some of the patterns in my life – where you fail, where you mess up, where there’s breakdown in relationships, where there’s breakdown in your relationship with God, where you feel terrible and you know you’ve blown it.

What if you begin to understand that you were really looking for something good that was a God ordained need or desire, but you went about finding it in the wrong way. That would begin to give you some new light to deal with that failure.

In this book written to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul outlines a number of ways that they did it and we do it as well. I highlighted a few. We seek acceptance and belonging – that’s a good thing, right? – by forming cliques and criticizing and excluding others. And that causes division. That’s a bad thing. That happened in chapter 3.

We seek connection and intimacy through illicit sex, pornography, and emotional affairs that destroy marriages and ruin families. That happens today. That happened in chapter 5.

We seek security and significance – that’s a good thing. But through obsessive financial accumulation we destroy relationships by our greed. That happened to this group in chapter six.

We seek to protect God’s holiness – obviously a good thing. But by misguidedly judging others’ motives and differences it results in disunity and broken relationships. It’s a bad thing. That happened in chapter 8.

We seek legitimate, Godly pleasures, with no consideration for those who are weaker in faith, and we allow our freedom to destroy their relationship with Christ. That’s a bad thing. But the legitimate pleasures? There’s nothing wrong with those.

It reminded me of an old song. So many times our gravest failures are attempts to look for love in all the wrong places.

You listen to the lyrics of that song. In fact, Johnny Lee. The story of that song is very interesting. He said it described his life. His life was totally messed up, but his desire was for a good thing. He really wanted to be loved and be connected and have intimacy and life and purpose.

But he went about it in ways that destroyed his relationships. He hurt other people, and certainly violated more than a handful of God’s commands.

Here’s what you need to understand. When you try to find good things in a bad way, you will hurt other people. You will hurt yourself. And you’ll miss God’s best.

And we’ve been talking for the last couple weeks about how do we maximize love, the real love, with God and with one another, so that we minimize the trivia and the demands and the pulls and the overextension and the expectations and all the stuff that gets us living on the trivial and missing the important.

And so, the truth is, love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, it always trusts, it always hopes, it always perseveres. Summary. Love never fails.

And so, the practice is, love responds to failure with truth and grace. Underline in your notes “truth” and underline the word “grace.” Love – real love – demands truth. Love and truth are inseparable. If there is, quote, you think you have love but there’s no truth, it’s just mushy, sentimentalism. It’s just gushy feelings. And we have come to believe, because of media and, you know, all the books and all the romance novels. We think love is just this ooey gooey feeling that we’re connected.

I mean, we may be in complete denial, but I feel good about you and you feel good about me, and so we must be in love. No, maybe you’re just on drugs.

You know, having a good feeling about another person when there are major issues that are unaddressed. When there are behaviors and addictions and issues that are bringing about fallout. When you’re doing things to one another that are destroying a long-term relationship. That’s not love.

Having a good feeling about someone is a nice thing. But biblical love demands truth. It says, love doesn’t rejoice or find joy or satisfaction in evil. Things that are unrighteous. Things that are wrong. Things that are the opposite of the way God wants people to live.

But it delights in, and finds great joy in the truth. Love refuses to find joy in another’s sin, misfortune, or dysfunction, or pain.

I jotted a note to myself. We have a perverted attraction – a perverted attraction to the misfortune, addictions, and problems of others. I don’t know, I mean, I guess it’s just being fallen.

But we like to watch other people mess up. We like to hear about how badly they mess up. We like to watch and listen and view people making fools of themselves and then laugh on our couches as they do it. It’s called reality TV.

I mean, fifteen years ago they actually had writers and then actors and drama and storylines. The huge percentage now of reality TV, is we’re watching people’s misfortune and pain.

I mean, think of this. We all live in this house. She hates him. She hears, I heard you last night…and then the camera comes…man, I tell you, I think she’s a…and I don’t think she’d ever do. I’m not getting kicked outta this house. You know?

Or, how about this one? Ten studly guys. And one beautiful babe. Now, these guys seem to be obviously attractive. They seem to have good jobs, they seem to be fairly intelligent. What would possess you with any self worth or dignity to go on TV and make a fool out of yourself, trying to win, quote, “this babe that’s infatuated with nine other guys, depending on who she sees, what time on what day”?

And then, and then, and then the camera…I think Christy is…I think we really have something. This guy obviously has never watched the show before. Or, you know, you’ve got these nine or ten beautiful women. I mean, are you kidding me? Are you kidding me? And you do this in front of everyone and what do we do?

Or, you know, now by the way, I’m not as sharp on all this but, you know, like, TMZ or Entertainment Tonight or, I mean, those things that are near Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy, you know? Right in their timeslot.

I mean, it’s just like, what? It’s not like stories of, we would like to bring you an exciting story of a major star who has now done amazing things for the inner-city children. And those who are helping orphans in Africa.

I mean, for every one of those [stories] you get a hundred, Lindsay’s in jail again. Will she get out? Who knows. Did you see so and so? I mean, it’s just a proliferation of evil and misfortune and addiction and pain and very subtly you’re filling your mind with it.

And it is the culture and it is the absolute opposite of love. When I’m finding delight in things that violate bringing health and life and restoration, I’m setting myself up for dysfunctional, painful, negative relationships.

Love doesn’t rejoice in evil. In fact, I mean, think about. This is really fun, did you see that movie? Yeah, everybody got blown up. Boom, ba-boom, boom, bam, bam. And did you see it? They put it in slow-mo. Boom, boom, boom! The Teflon bullet! Blaaaah! That was a great movie! Yeah.

The sanctity of life and the value of human life is the highest thing the Scripture and the God who created life esteems. And we trivialize it with our thumbs, killing imaginary people over and over and over and over again until when real ones die we get anesthetized to the impact.

Love rejoices in the truth.

Real love is a response. Always has truth and grace. If it’s all truth, and no grace it’s a rigid, legalistic, self-righteousness. If it’s all grace and no truth it’s just mushy, sentimental, emotionalism.

And so, after giving us, sort of, the overarching principle that love demands truth and rejoices in truth and not evil, then he’s going to give us four specific ways to respond to the failures of one another.

He’s going to give four clear words that say when someone you love that lives under your roof or is a close friend or you work with, that when they fail – because they will fail – this is how you respond if you love them.

Are you ready? Page number three. He’s gonna talk to us about bearing all things, believing all things, hoping all things, and then he’s go on and talk about how we endure all things.

Bears all things. The word occurs four times in the New Testament. Literally means – you can jot in your notes – to cover. It means to suffer or forbear. It means to protect by covering something. To cover something with silence.

It has the idea of keeping a confidence. To hide or conceal the errs and faults of others. Now, this doesn’t mean you bury it. This doesn’t mean you’re in denial. But here’s the issue. We all long for someone to love us enough to cut to the core, to expose the fault, the weakness, or the sin. And help us deal with it and grow from it.

And then after dealing with it in truth, provide grace and allow us to grow and help us take the next step. And then they cover it. And they don’t exploit us. And they don’t pass it on. And if you’re married or you’re a parent, you don’t joke about it later. It’s covered. It’s gone. It’s not broadcast. You bear with them. You face it, you deal with it, you love them, and then you cover it.

Negatively, when I delight in passing on the faults of another, when I seek to feel important because I have inside information or feel powerful or superior because someone else has sinned and I love to tell other people or just pass on a little email that says, you know, did you, are you aware of…? Often in the form of prayer request.

Listen carefully. That is not loving. Love bears all things.

Jesus pictures this very clearly. Remember the woman caught in adultery? They’re trying to trap Jesus. And the law talks about adultery. You’d be stoned, and it wasn’t practiced very often. So they’re thinking, we’re gonna get him on the hot spot.

So over here, we found this woman caught in the very act! And they drag her out of the house and they plop her right in front of Jesus. Okay, what are you going to do with that? We caught her in the very act of adultery.

Then Jesus, as they’re talking, he goes over and starts to, kind of, write in the dirt. And, you know, the text doesn’t say what he writes, but I think – you know, this is the Chip Ingram theory not to be confused at all with fact.

I think he wrote in the sand, “where is the man?” See, if you were really concerned about the law, if you were concerned about righteousness, you wouldn’t have brought one person caught in adultery. Last time I heard, sex usually takes two. So, where are both of them?

And by doing that, he exposed their hypocrisy. And so then he says, whoever has never sinned, tell you what, you pick up the stones and you start. And the older people, wiser, realized they’d been exposed and they leave. And one by one everyone leaves and here’s the woman. He says, does no one condemn you? No, Lord. Neither do I. Go and sin no more.

Did he act like it wasn’t an issue? Did he say the sin wasn’t important? The sin was dealt with and then he covered it. Who in your relational world needs you to help them deal with a failure and then cover it? Who needs to not hear, ever again, in your family, jokes or sarcasm or little innuendos about a fault that occurs on a regular basis?

And instead, I love you, I’m with you, let’s deal with this, and then I’m going to cover it. I don’t talk about it to my friends, I won’t bring it up to you. I’m going to cover it.

That’s how you respond in love to people’s failures.

The second way you respond is believing all things. The word “believe” is used in the New Testament 239 times. It has the idea “to believe” or “to entrust,” “to commit.” Here it has the idea of “to credit, or have confidence in another person.” It’s not naïve, it’s not that you believe or you’re gullible and whatever someone says, oh I believe, you know, whatever you say. I mean you lied forty-four times, but I believe anyway. No, no, no, no.

This is a belief that is discerning, insightful, but it’s not suspicious and judgmental and it doesn’t assume the worst.

The picture for me – what this means is, when you hear something about someone or you observe a circumstance, and maybe the circumstances kind of look a little negative but you don’t know for sure. You believe or assume the best.

You, in your mind, make a willful choice and you see this circumstance or you hear this about a person and you say, that sure doesn’t seem to be the kind of person I know but someone said he or she did this. Or he or she was with someone or he…

Then what you do is you step back and love says, I’m gonna create in my mind’s eye the best explanation for this that puts this person in a positive light because I don’t know all the issues.

Trivial example but it happened this week. I was in a pretty important meeting and a person was supposed to be there that works with me. Everyone was around the table and the agenda was starting and someone said, where’s so and so? I said, well, I don’t know. Well, is he supposed to be here? Well, yeah.

And, you know. So, you know where your mind can go. Well gosh, I mean, is he blowing off this meeting? Is he late? Did he…you know, all the…

And I remember just having this passage in my mind and I remember just willfully going, you know what? The character of this man I know is, he had a flat tire. Maybe his wife is sick. Maybe one of his kids have an issue. Maybe God showed him something that is way more important than this meeting and he is doing that and obeying God instead of being here.

Do you see? Do you see it? You create a scenario that puts them in the best light. And what happens, especially if you’re a parent or if you got a roommate. Once they do this once and they do it twice and they do it three times. When they do anything near that, what do you start believing? You’ll never change. She’s doing the same old thing. Oh man, I can’t believe it. Oh man, I can’t believe it. Instead of, whoa, whoa, wait a second.

Don’t assume the worst. Love believes the best. And then you check it out and you deal with it.

The practice is that everyone needs someone who will believe in them. Everyone needs someone who says, you know, that fault, that sin, that weakness, that circumstance. It can’t define you. You’re God’s child, you’re valued, you’re loved, you’re gifted. And I believe, okay, you really messed up, alright? We understand that. But I believe in you.

Snapshot from Jesus’ life. It’s in the hot part of the day. It’s the part when everyone’s taking a little siesta. The righteous women have come out early in the cool of the day, but it’s John chapter 4 and here’s a woman in the hot part of the day getting water and it’s because she’s an immoral woman and she’s rejected by society.

And she’s been looking for love in all the wrong places. And Jesus is there and he asks for a drink and she can’t believe that a Jew would ask a woman or a Jew would ask someone from her Samaritan background.

And they get into this conversation and so Jesus – loving people always has truth and grace. He says, um, so, where’s your husband? And she goes, well, I don’t have a husband. Which was honest. Because she’s living with this guy and she’s had five husbands.

And Jesus informs her that he knows that and she goes, whoa, you must be a prophet. And they get into this conversation about life and the meaning and how do you satisfy your soul? She was desperately trying to satisfy her soul, and man after man after man and illicit sex wasn’t delivering. And Jesus knew that. She was trying to get a good thing in a bad way and he wanted to give her life.

And so he talked about a Heavenly Father that pursues people even immoral people. Even failed people. Even people that have done really big and bad things over a long period of time.

And she discovers, someone cares and believes in her. And here’s a woman that didn’t want to be seen. She ends up going back into the town saying, hey! Someone who knows everything about me – I think he’s the Messiah! And she leads an entire town and hundreds of people come to Christ because someone believed that her past could not mark her future forever.

Who in your world, who in your world needs you to look them in the eye and say, you know, yeah, you blew it or there was this struggle or this is a pattern in your life. But I believe in you. I care about you. I believe in you.

Spiritual Simplicity
Doing Less, Loving More

All You Need Is Love, Part 1
All You Need Is Love, Part 2
What’s Love Got to Do With It?, Part 1
What’s Love Got to Do With It?, Part 2
Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places, Part 1
Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places, Part 2
In the Name of Love, Part 1
In the Name of Love, Part 2
What the World Needs Now is Love, Sweet Love, Part 1
What the World Needs Now is Love, Sweet Love, Part 2
The Love Train – Get on Board!, Part 1
The Love Train – Get on Board!, Part 2
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