There are different ways we are to love, but that is God’s call to us. The good news is that we don’t have to love ourselves first, or find this love in our hearts. There is an inexhaustible supply that we can tap into. This sermon sheds light on God’s heart for His people to love, the lies of this world that can trip us up, and the freeing truths about God’s abundant supply to us to obey His word.
Healthy Loving Relationships
We’re in the middle of our series on being a healthy Christian. As Jenna Tatar said so well last week, being connected is being healthy. And today we’re going to build on that.
So what IS love? And what do we think of when we hear that word?
Today I’m talking about God’s love flowing through us to others–in our personal, social and professional lives. God wants to fill all those relationships with His love.
I Peter 1:22
This is a challenging scripture, and we’ll get into that later.
In your life, who’s easy to love? Your spouse, and your family! Your closest friends! How about nice Christians, thoughtful neighbors, and friendly salespeople? It’s easy to pull up different kinds of love for these kinds of people. What about just plain old folks that you meet during the week?
That last one–connecting with all sorts of people in the world that we meet–might not seem a place for love to be expressed. But that’s just the point–it is! What love looks like depends on the people and the circumstances. But it’s still love, and we are called to express love–remember that greatest commandment–loving God and ALSO loving our neighbors as ourselves.
Sometimes we feel love in our hearts for people. Sometimes we look in our hearts, don’t find love, and think we can’t express love. Wrong!
Here are some scriptures that tell us the real story about love.
John 17:20, 23, and 26. And of course, I John 4:19
We love because He loved us first.
Psalm 118:1–His steadfast love. It never stop, and God’s steadfast love to us is the SAME LOVE He has for His Son! Since that love comes is eternal, He doesn’t stop loving us. If we’re in Christ, that love is ours. The more we receive God’s love, the more there will be to pour out to others.
“I have to love myself first before I can love others” just isn’t true!
Let’s start with loving our neighbors. How do we do that?
Let’s start with the people in our neighborhood. Be kind. Offer to help in ways they might need. Rake their leaves. Bring over an extra something that you’ve baked. Offer to pray for anything that concerns them. Ask God how you can serve them. Be kind.
The teller or cashier or waitress. Be patient. Be gentle and kind. Be patient. Be thankful. Smile. This is love in action. Be the customer you would want to have if you were the person serving you. And finally… Be patient!
Did you notice something in the last two examples? I Corinthians 13:4
Co-workers: Do the work you’re supposed to do. Be the kind of employee you would want to have if you were the boss. Be patient and kind. Connect with how much God loves them as you connect with them.
And now the one that means the most to the Lord–and the devil! John 15:12
“It is your loving not the church universal, nor Christians everywhere, but a particular congregation and even a particular Christian that tests our big claims.” Mark Dever
How can we do this? Sometimes it’s easy! We click with some believers easily! But…“I could love other believers if they just weren’t so….” Or “If I go to another church, that person won’t be there.” But you will! And your inability to express God’s love will follow you there!
John 15:10 and I John 5:3
There is a connection between obeying God and being a vessel of His love. The best way to love others is to obey God! More on that soon!
Be real! Peter says love is to be genuine….unfeigned. Not hypocritical.
It’s to be from a clean heart. We get that by obeying the Lord.
Have to talk about a couple of things. When we have a serious disagreement with a brother or sister, follow Matthew 18. It really works. Plus, it’s God’s way.
Then we have to talk about another love-killer….20)Gossip! It’s a demonic inroad the enemy has made into the church.
If you’re not sure it’s true, don’t share it.
If it’s not your information to share, don’t share it.
If the sharing isn’t with the proper person, don’t share it….e.g., sharing something with a friend that should only be shared with a pastor.
If you’re tempted to share something that’s not motivated by love, don’t share it. (And don’t do the “I’m sharing this for prayer purposes” thing).
Proverbs 16:28 and Prov. 17:9
We are to love one another fervently –which means with strong, warm affection.
But ultimately, love in the scriptures isn’t a feeling. It’s something from God’s heart that shows up in action. We show love by helping in time of need. There are always things we can do to help others when they face hard times.
Prayer. It’s not thinking about someone, or even sending good thoughts and happy vibes. It’s taking time to center on the Lord and bring a person’s needs before Him.
God calls us to love, and when we do, he gives us healthy loving relationships–in every area of our lives. The most important, aside from spouses and children, is the love we have for one another. Learning to love is a process–it takes time and a dying to self, and a focus on others. But everything to do it is available to us!
God shedding His love into our hearts. He’s just training us to express it!