Deuteronomy 6 – 5And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
Matthew 22 – 37Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
Mark 12 –…30There is no other commandment greater than these.”; Luke 10:27W
“I love you” holds true to the adage “easier said than done.” It’s so casually thrown around and watered down, so let’s run it through the strainer and sift out the important things to know about love.
- Your Neighbor (strangers, acquaintances, friends)
- Brother (someone with whom you are close, or share similar beliefs)
- 1 John 4 – 20 If a man says, I love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? 21 And this commandment have we from him, that he who loveth God love his brother also.
- 1 Timothy 5 – 8But if any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.
- Exodus 20 – 12Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
- Matthew 5 –44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you…46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? 48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
- Luke 6 – 35But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.
- Love in the Greek can translate into four different meanings:
- Eros – love that should be reserved for a significant other; romantic love
- Phileo – what amounts to brotherly love; a love for people with similar thoughts, beliefs, interests; “easy” love
- Storge – love of community/family; obligatory love
- Agape – love that is mature, selfless; love that drives one to go beyond; sacrificial love
- Agape love is the kind of love Jesus refers to in his command to love our neighbor
- 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 says love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous, boastful, proud, rude, does not demand its own way, is not irritable, keeps no record of being wronged, does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance
- God is love (twice mentioned in 1 John 4)
- While ministering
- In 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, Paul says that without love: speaking all the languages of earth and of angels, would only be but noise; having the gift of prophecy and understanding all of God’s secret plans and possessing all knowledge, and having enough faith to move mountains, would all be nothing; giving everything to the poor, sacrificing my body, and could boast about it, but would have gained nothing. (NLT)
- In all things
- 1 Corinthians 16 –14 And do everything with love. (NLT)
- At all times
- Proverbs 17 – 17 A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
- Because He first loved us
- 1 John 4 – 9God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. 10 This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. 12 No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us. 19We love each other because he loved us first. (NLT)
- Because love eliminates fear
- 1 John 4 – 18Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. (NLT)
- Because it’s the greatest commandment
- Because it fulfills God’s law
- Romans 13 – 8BIf you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law…[All other commandments] are summed up in this one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law. (NLT)
- Because love identifies us with Him
- John 13:35 says all will know we are His disciples if we love one another, and 1 John 4:7 says love comes from God, so anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God.
- Because it unifies us
- 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. (NLT)
- As He has loved us
- John 15 – 12 This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you. 13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
- Without pretense (no strings attached)
- Romans 12 – 9Let love be without dissimulation [dishonesty, deceit, conditions]
- More often than not, we put selfish conditions on love. Some only love others if the other person is considered socially acceptable to be around, for their possessions or looks, if the relationship is mutually beneficial, or if the other person can meet our needs, even if we cannot meet theirs. Those kinds of love are not true. Love, as described in scripture, is pure and unconditional; as Christ loved us.
- Matthew 9 – 9 As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed him. 10 Later, Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners.11 But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with such scum?” 12 When Jesus heard this, he said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.” 13 Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”
- Church should smell like cigarettes and alcohol. People who need the church the most are the broken, hurting, hopeless, addicted, shamed, guilty, directionless, bitter, depressed, and needy. These are the people Jesus loved, ministered to, and associated with, regardless of what anyone thought. Religious leaders were repulsed by Him. The crowds had mixed feelings about Him. Even His own disciples regularly questioned Him. And yet, Jesus never stopped giving of Himself.
- 1 Peter 4 – 8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins (ESV)
- With gentleness, humility and kindness
- Romans 12 – 10 Be kindly affectionate one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another;
- 2 Timothy 2 – 23But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strife. 24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, 25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
- “Correcting in love” is a phrase often used to excuse being bossy, copping an attitude and being rude or mean to someone, lording some false sense of superiority over the “offending party.” Instructing in meekness, as told in scripture, is prefaced by avoiding strife, being gentle, able to teach, and patient. If you’re just looking for a reason to go off on someone, don’t. If you cannot think about what you say before you say it, use the opportunity of a mistake to teach in a non-confrontational manner, setting emotion aside, then just don’t. If you cannot meet those criteria, find a leader who can.
- Exodus 22 – 21You must not mistreat or oppress foreigners in any way. Remember, you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt.
- Exodus 23 – 9 You must not oppress foreigners. You know what it’s like to be a foreigner, for you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt.
- Zechariah 7 – 9…Judge fairly, and show mercy and kindness to one another. 10 Do not oppress widows, orphans, foreigners, and the poor.
- By thinking before you speak/act
- Ephesians 4 – 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (NLT)
- THINK. Is what I’m about to say or do: True? Helpful? Inspiring? Necessary? Kind?
- By forgiving
- Colossians 3 – 13Make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. (NLT)
- If “Forgive and forget” were true, no one would ever truly be able to forgive. Forgiveness does not mean you pretend to not remember the fact that something happened. To forget in this context is to stay down after being knocked down. Forgiveness is letting go of bitterness and a desire for vengeance. Romans 12:19 says vengeance is the Lord’s, and Psalm 91:8 says only with our eyes will we behold the reward of the wicked.
- Forgiveness and trust are two separate things. Forgiveness should come quickly, as to not allow negative side effects to show up in your life. Trust, however, is rebuilt over time and may not be restored to the point where the same person/people can hurt you again. You’re only punishing yourself when you don’t forgive; the other party many times doesn’t know/care. And to think you can harbor unforgiveness and not let it affect your relationships, especially your walk with God, is incorrect thinking. Jesus doesn’t sugarcoat, using the parable of the servant whose massive debt was forgiven, but that servant couldn’t turn around and forgive someone else with a much smaller debt. This reveals a misunderstanding we sometimes have of our own need of forgiveness from Jesus.
- If you’re struggling to forgive, focus on God and His grace and forgiveness in your life, instead of your feelings of guilt for struggling to forgive. It’s easier to forgive others when you remember how you’ve been forgiven. Try trusting God for forgiveness instead of yourself.
- Ephesians 4 – 32And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
- 1 John 1 – 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
- In John 21, Jesus asks Peter three times, “Do you love me?” It’s possible that He asked three times as a subtle reminder of Peter’s three denials. Each time Jesus asked, the Greek word used was agape; “Do you agape me?” Each time Peter answered, he responded with, “I phileo you.” Jesus was looking for reckless, sacrificial, unconditional love, and Peter was responding with brotherly love. Jesus wanted Peter to understand the gravity of what was coming – the birth of the church – and what was necessary to handle it – the capacity for agape love toward others. If you do not have the capacity to agape love God Himself, how can you suddenly have that capacity for anyone else? If we are to fulfill the greatest commandments (to love God and love others), it must be with agape love. To fulfill our call to be Jesus to this world, we must learn to love others as Jesus loved us; unconditionally. First-time visitors should feel just as loved as long-time saints, and the reverse is true as well. If we are going to be successful in soul-winning and disciple-making, it all starts with unconditional love.
More Questions for Personal or Group Study:
- Ice-Breaker: What’s your favorite love song and why?
- Did Sunday’s sermon give you a greater understanding of love? In what way?
- Pastor Michael used a lot of Scriptures in talking about love. Which one spoke the most to you? Why?
- In 1 John 4:18, John contrasts love with fear. Why? How does that change you and what do you need in order to ‘fully experience His love?’
- In reviewing the sermon, what aspects of love do you struggle with (fear, loving difficult people, etc.)? What do you need to change?
Excerpted from a sermon preached by Pastor Michael Lagle.
For the full YouTube audio/video, click here.
If you are looking for an Apostolic Pentecostal church and are in the Chicagoland area, come check out The Life Church located at 3030 Central Road in Glenview, IL. Services are Sundays at 1pm and Wednesdays at 7pm. We would love to see you there!