Monday, February 14, 2011

True Love (Part 1): Love That Gives

I'll be preaching at our small church again soon, and since Valentine's Day is today, what better subject to preach on than love?  This message is a one-shot in the middle of our pastor's series on the Ten Commandments, but I will present it here as a 3-part blog series.  Here we go!


"Charity (love) suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth" (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a).

Valentine's Day is barely behind us, and if you watched TV or went shopping, you've no doubt noticed the recent focus on "love".  Unfortunately, what the world calls "love" is, more often than not, a misleading euphemism for its less fulfilling shadows: infatuation, lust, materialism, and even tolerance.  These are the products of a sinful world that recognizes its need for true love, but rejects the only One from Whom it comes.  As a result, God's pure love is twisted into a misshapen mass, that is hardly recognizable.  As Christians, we are to not only love in spirit and in truth, but also to avoid the world's forgeries.

The topic of love is so very vast, I could do an entire sermon series on it.  However, for the sake of brevity, I would like to focus on: love that gives, love that saves, and love that obeys.  There is a natural progression here, which will be apparent as we go on.

Love That Gives

"If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?" (Matthew 7:11).

In our world, one evidence of how much you love someone is what kinds of gifts you give them; the greater the love (and the pocketbook), the greater the gift.  True love is one that gives for the sake of love, not because something is expected in return.  For example, most parents have an instinctive love for their children and would do anything for them, even sacrifice their very lives.

We are God's children, physically because He created us, and spiritually, if we repent of our sins and receive Him into our hearts (are born again).  So as His children, what gift did He give us?

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down (give) his life for his friends" (John 15:13).

There is a really powerful Christian anecdote, which I'm sure you've heard: "One day, I met Jesus and I asked Him, 'How much do you love me?'  He smiled and answered, 'This much.'  Then He stretched out His hands and died."

Jesus demonstrated His ultimate love for us by giving Himself on the cross, as payment for our sins.And in turn, He asks us to do something as well:

"Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 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; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect" (Matthew 5:38-48).

So, Jesus calls us to love not only our friends and family, but also strangers and even enemies.  This is hard to swallow and even harder to put into practice, isn't it?  What right does He have to ask this of us?  What example did He leave us with, that might compel us to obey?

 To be continued...


DJR @failedatheist said...

Thanks for sharing your message I'm sure all were blessed who heard it :)

Greg said...

I just preached it today (a week later than originally planned). I wish I was better at gathering my thoughts together, when I'm up there talking.

Thanks for stopping by, Dan!

Wakena said...

Wow... Loved it. I really miss talking to people who aren't wrapped up in how they are better then us and we will never be good enough. I miss just hearing about Jesus love for us!!!

Greg said...

Thanks for stopping by, Wakena! Long time no hear! I hope to be able to return to blogging... by the end of the year at least! LOL!

Congrats on your recent marriage!