Cannon Beach

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Learning To Love Like Jesus - A Practical How-To Guide - Part 3

January 18, 2015 - LEARNING TO LOVE #3 – Loving Like Jesus


In the past we've looked at a footnote in the ESV Bible that gives an alternate translation for the first part of John 3:16.  Instead of “For God so loved the world...”  the alternate translation says:

For this is how God loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

This makes it clear that “love” --- agape – is a verb, not a noun.  It is something we do.

If you start John 3:16 “For this is how God loved the world,” where is the focus?  On God, where it belongs.

God giving His Son... the Son's sacrifice... that is the love.  Biblical love is an action, not a feeling.   Biblical love glorifies God.


Agape - emphasizes the complete giving to another person.  It is used about 260 times in the New Testament.  We started to learn about agape in 1st Corinthians chapter 13, and we'll be going there in a moment.


There was an interesting example related to Christian love in the news this week.  It's actually very sad. The Pope made a statement that shows, if he truly believes what he said, that he has no understanding of Christian love.  This is from Wednesday's Wall Street Journal:

"Pope Francis waded into the debate over freedom of expression following the attacks in Paris, saying that killing in the name of religion is an 'aberration,' but adding that those who deride other faiths can expect to provoke a strong—even violent—response.”

If he was just talking about getting a violent response from Muslims, that would make sense. But...

Then the Pope went on and added, that “there is a limit to freedom of expression.”    BTW... Does the Bible say we should have freedom of speech?  It is silent on that topic.  It only says to proclaim the gospel, even if doing so is illegal.

The Pope continues:

“One cannot react violently, but if [someone] says something bad about my mother, he can expect a punch. It’s to be expected,” the pontiff said.

That is the sentence that bothered me.  Maybe the Pope just was not expressing himself well.  If you insult the Pope's mother, you can expect the Pope to punch you.  Is that a Christian response of love?  He continued, by applying this to other religions:

“There are a lot of people who speak badly about other religions. They make fun of them. What happens is what happens with my friend [who insults my mother]. There is a limit.”

So if you say something about religion that is offensive to someone, then you should expect a violent response.  That's what scripture says... you will be persecuted.  But, when the Pope finishes by saying there is a limit, he is saying that, if someone thinks it is offensive, we should not say it... there is a limit on what we can say.  That is not Biblical.  This is “let's all get along.”  Unity is more important than truth.

Should we make fun of what others believe?  Not if we want them to listen to what we say about Christ.  Should we tell them they are wrong, yes... we have to, in order to tell them the truth about Christ.

And the cross is offensive.  But, we should not have an offensive manner when we tell people about the cross.   We should be speaking in love, always keeping in mind what is best for the person we are speaking with.  That means we cannot avoid talking about the cross, or hell, or Christ being the only way.  They need to know the truth.

If we are going to speak in love, we need need to understand how to be loving. That's what we've been talking about.


What did we learn about love last week?  A quick review...


Love Is Patient....  

HANDOUT - My goal is for us to see ourselves through the lens of scripture, to think of ourselves as God sees us using the mirror of God’s word.   This handout may help.

Love Is Patient...  what does this mean?  What is patience?

The ability to be inconvenienced, or taken advantage of, by a person over and over again, and not get upset or angry.

Love is steadfast despite opposition, difficulty, or adversity.

Love is patient even when you feel like forcefully expressing yourself.

LOVE IS KIND
To be kind means to be useful, serving, and gracious.  It is active goodwill.  It is generous.  It not only desires another's welfare, it actively works for another person's welfare.
This is more than having a kind feeling toward each other... we do kind, helpful things for each other... and we don't take advantage of the kindness of the other person,  to the point of loving self-sacrifice. Kindness is a willful, conscience act.

Does this mean we do whatever the other person wants us to do? No... not at all.  If a person expresses a need, we evaluate it to determine if – on a Biblical basis – it is beneficial for them.  And secondly, is it something we can do for them, and do well.  Don't ask me to come play violin at your wedding... that will not go well, and it would not be kind for me to try to do that.

Love does not envy (that's jealeousy) or boast – LOVE DOES NOT BRAG

Bragging is the other side of jealousy.  Jealousy is wanting what someone else has.  Bragging is trying to make others jealous of what you have.

Jealousy puts others down.  Bragging builds us up.

BTW, did Christ every brag or exalt Himself?  No, He humbled himself.  He had everything to boast about, but He never boasted.

Charles Trumbull once vowed... “God, if you will give me the strength, every time I have the opportunity to introduce the topic of conversation it will always be Jesus Christ.”


Love Is Not Arrogant

The Corinthians believers thought they had arrived at perfection.  That's one of the problems Paul is addressing here.  We know we are not perfect.  But we can – for example – think we have all the answers... that we are right...  that we have the right answers.  We can be very arrogant.

But, love is not arrogant, even when you think you are right and others are wrong.  What is the opposite of arrogance?  Humbleness.

Love does not assert itself and become overbearing when dealing with others.

Arrogance is big-headed and love is big-hearted.

So, does this mean that we must just give in to the other person... not argue or disagree... even when we know we are right?

Did Jesus do that?  No.  He never compromised truth.  And he was never arrogant.  Did he get angry sometimes?  Yes... in particular with the pharisees.  But, was he arrogant?  NO.  

Last week I suggested reading Luke. So let's look at some examples from Luke:

In Luke 9:10-11 – the story of the feeding of the 5,000
The 12 Apostles had just returned from an exciting and very successful road trip, Jesus was tired, and they privately went away to Bethsaioda to be alone together,  to a deserted area to get away from the crowds.  

But the crowds – 5,000 men – found Him.  Jesus was tired. He needed rest. He wanted to spend time with His disciples. What did He do?  He welcomed them.  He ignored His needs and He ministered to the needs of this huge crowd... the needs He knew they had.  He spoke to them about the kingdom of God and healed those who needed healing.  Then, at the end of the day, He fed them all.
Jesus loved them, putting their needs above His needs.

Here is another example:
Luke 9:41
And Jesus answered and said, “You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you and put up with you? Bring your son here.”

Is Jesus being impatient?  Is he not being loving?

Was is the context? It's the same as above.  The disciples had just returned from a successful road trip on which they had healed people and cast out demons... very successfully.  Now, let's start in verse 37:

37 - On the next day, when they came down from the mountain, a large crowd met Him.
38 - And a man from the crowd shouted, saying, “Teacher, I beg You to look at my son, for he is my only boy,
39 - and a spirit seizes him, and he suddenly screams, and it throws him into a convulsion with foaming at the mouth; and only with difficulty does it leave him, mauling him as it leaves.
40 - I begged Your disciples to cast it out, and they could not.”

The disciples had just cast out lots of demons on their road trip. But, they couldn't do it with this one.  Apparently there are demons with different levels of power, and this was a more powerful one.

41 - And Jesus answered and said, “You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you and put up with you? Bring your son here.”
Who is Jesus talking to?

He is talking to the disciples... the 12... and their lack of faith, for their not turning to God in prayer and trusting in the Lord to cast out the demon.  Instead they trusted in themselves... and failed.

But He is also rebuking the entire nation of Israel. He was disappointed with them.  He was pained by their refusal to believe and trust what He told them.  Was He being loving?  Maybe the question to ask is, was He being impatient?

No. He was making a statement about their hard hearts.  In effect He was stating a fact, “No matter how long I'm here with you, you won't believe. You won't trust me.”


What is love?
Let's think about how our culture defines love...  it is a feeling.  But, what kind of feeling?  It seems like the majority of secular music is about love.  We call it romantic love... but what is that?  It is a desire, a passion, a craving for someone or something.   And usually in the songs it is wanting and craving after someone or something we don't have.  As defined by the world, you could say in many cases love is coveting.

In addition, for the world love is involuntary.  It is something that happens to us... we fall into it.  We are swept away by love.  We go crazy for love.  We can't help ourselves.  And on the other end we fall out of love... again we can't help ourselves, it just happens.

It is a nice romantic sentiment to characterize love as something we can't control, an uncontrollable passion... and it is very handy as a reason for divorce... I just don't love them anymore.  It's not my fault.

Now think about this carefully... what this means is that love is selfish, it's all about us, what we feel.  And love is irrational.  Irrational means there is no foundation, no reason, it is groundless.  It just happens.  It is an emotion that ebbs and flows involuntarily, controlling us but totally out of our control.

According to scripture love is not a helpless sensation of desire, it is a purposeful action of self-giving.

The world's view of romantic love is, I want.  God's view of love is I give.  The love of God is intentional, thoughtful, and willful... there is noting irrational or groundless about it.  The love of God is not concerned with what I want...  it's not about “I”...  Godly love is about seeking THE BEST for someone else.

Think about it. This is how God loves you.  God is in control of EVERYTHING... He loves you.  That means He is always seeking the best for you.  You don't get the best because you turn away from God.  You say “I want” instead of “Yes, Lord.”

How can we love God?  There is nothing He needs.  But, what does God want?

It is not a secret.  It's right here in this book.  

You love God by obeying God.   To obey Him is to love Him... and to love other people.  And to love Him is to obey Him.

Last week we talked about 1st Corinthians 13 verse 4, so let's look at verse 5 today...  Love is not...

5 - rude. It does not insist on its own way; is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,


LOVE IS NOT RUDE (ESV & NKJV)

A positive way to say this is, “love is always gracious.”  Or love is always polite.

Rudeness happens when you do not care enough for those around you. You are not as polite as you should be.  It is acting in a way that does not care about other's feelings.

Oh boy... this is starting to sound like political correctness. You can't say anything that would hurt someone else's feelings.  No... that's not it.  Haven't I been saying just the opposite?  Love is not abut making someone else feel good?

That's correct...   but, love is about being polite.  Jesus said negative things that got people upset, that hurt their feelings, in particular the Pharisees.  But, he was always polite.

Maybe the best way to say it is: not do or say anything that is intended to hurt the other person.

But, this can be VERY difficult.

For example, there are people who will take almost anything you say as being rude.  There are people who will hear your words, but think they can read your mind—and THEY KNOW what you are thinking is different from the polite things you are saying.
Cultural difference can bring out these types of  problems.  And different culture does not mean a different country.  We consider America to be a classless society, but we do have different cultures based on economics, for example.  And these different cultures have very different understandings of words and body language.


But, let's look at an easy cross-cultural example: when visiting a home in Russia, bringing a bouquet of flowers for the women of the house is a good idea. BUT, make sure you have an odd number of flowers. Even numbers are for funerals and would be very insulting.

Here is a tough one.  So how do you politely tell a gay person that homosexuality is a sin?  To do so in today's culture is considered in-sensitive, homophobic, and – the worst sin of all – it is intolerant.  So to say homosexuality is a sin is not only not polite, it is not acceptable, and it is such a mean and abusive thing to do that in some countries it is illegal.

So how do you deal with that?

It doesn't matter what the sin is.  The only way to tell anyone about sin, or the truth about hell, is in love.  If you are not truly heartbroken that the person is not trusting in Jesus Christ... if you don't want to see them saved... if you have no heartfelt compassion for the situation they are in... then you should not be telling them about Jesus.

There are a couple of places in scripture where Jesus cries.  “Jesus wept.” is the shortest verse in the Bible.  John 11:35.  Why was he weeping?  What was it that was so sad that it drove Him to tears?

32 - Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

33 - When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled.

34 - And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.”

35 - Jesus wept.

Why did Jesus weep?  Was it because a good friend, Lazarus died?  No. Jesus knew Lazarus would rise.  Way back in verse 4 He said:

But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”

Jesus knew Lazarus would live.

Jesus was weeping for the people around Him.  They were all lost. They were all heading for an eternity in hell.  And they were blind to the fact that He was their messiah... their savior.  That He was God...  that He ruled over death... that He conquered death.

And He had compassion for them. Even after His three years of miracles and teaching, they still did not understand that He was the life.  And even after He raised Lazarus from the dead, many of them still would not believe.

It was His compassion for sinners that brought tears to His eyes.  That's how we should be when we're talking about sin – any sin -- and death, and hell.  That IS love.


LOVE DOES NOT INSIST ON ITS OWN WAY

Love does not seek its own.  Here is the key to everything,  The root evil of fallen humanity is in wanting to have things our way.

Adam and Eve rejected God's way so that they could do things their way.  Self replaced God.

This is the opposite of righteousness, which puts the focus on God.  And it is the opposite of love.

Love is not pre-occupied with its own things... with its own desires.  Love is occupied with the interests of others.

The story is told about a chauffeur who drove up to a cemetery and asked the minister who served as the caretaker to come to the car...

As always Jesus is our perfect model...  He did not come to be served, but to serve.  He lived His life for others.


LOVE IS NOT PROVOKED

Love guards against being irritated, upset, or angered by things said or done against your love.  If the response to your love is not the response you hoped for, do not be provoked into anger or resentment

BTW... Anger is not always wrong.

Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness... so we may be angered by, for example, people mistreating others or by their cursing the word of God.  This would be righteous anger, and it is appropriate.  

But we should never be provoked to anger by something said or done against us personally.

What was Jesus angry about when he overturned the tables in the temple... when He cleansed the temple?  He was angry at the profaning of His Father's house of worship.  That is righteous anger. That is something we should be angry about.

But when Jesus was personally vilified or abused, He did not once become angry or defensive.

Paul was the same. He was only angered by those things which anger God.

He responded strongly against heresy, immorality, and the misuse of spiritual gifts.  But he did not become angry at those who beat him, jailed him, or lied about him.


What we are talking about here are things that are done against us or that are personally offensive.  Love does not get angry when something displeases us or prevents us from having our own way – or even when it is harmful to us.


Possibly one of the greatest causes of  anger today is an overwhelming preoccupation with our rights.  When everyone is fighting over his own rights, no one can succeed or be happy.  Everyone grabs, no one gives... and everyone loses – even when one person gets what he wants.

But, in the end, lovelessness always costs more than it gains.


LOVE DOES NOT TAKE INTO ACCOUNT A WRONG SUFFERED

The word translated as “account” is a bookkeeping term meaning to write down, or make a record of.  The purpose is so that the record can be consulted whenever needed.

In personal matters this is very harmful.  Keeping track of things done against you is a sure way to unhappiness—both our own and that of those on whom we are keeping records.

We are not to be taking into account the wrongs done to us in the past.

What has Christ done for us?  Once sin is placed under the blood of Christ, there is no more record of it.  It is blotted out.  Wiped away in the words of Acts 3;19.


Christ's record of righteousness replaces ours... no other record exists.

So what type of record should we keep concerning wrongs done against us?
No wrong is ever recorded for later reference.  Love forgives and forgets.

Resentment is careful to keep an accurate record, which it reads and rereads.

Love keeps no records, because there is no place for resentment nor grudges.

One of the early church fathers, Chrysostom, observed that a wrong done against love is like a spark that falls into the ocean... it is quenched.

Love quenches wrongs rather than records them.

Loves does not make memories out of evils... out of wrongs done against us.

If God so completely and permanently erases the record of our MANY sins against Him, how much more should we forgive and forget the much lesser wrongs done against us.  (Matthew 18:21-35 & Ephesians 4:32)


So, where are we?

Love is patient...

Love is kind...

Love does not envy, nor does love brag...

Love is not arrogant...

Love is always polite...

Love does not insist on getting it's own way...

Love is not provoked....

Love does not remember wrongs suffered in the past...

How are you doing?  I've got a lot to work on in myself.  These are commands from God about how we should love.  It is not easy to change...  but we can change... and we can become better at loving God and loving others.

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