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Learning To Love Like Jesus - A Practical How-To Guide - Part 4

January 26, 2015 - LEARNING TO LOVE #4 – Loving Like Jesus


Your assignment was to read the book of Mark this week.  So let's take a look at Mark to see Jesus' love:

Mark 1

40 - And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.”

41 - Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.”

42 - And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean.


Mark 6

1 - Then He went out from there and came to His own country, and His disciples followed Him.

2 - And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the synagogue. And many hearing Him were astonished, saying, “Where did this Man get these things? And what wisdom is this which is given to Him, that such mighty works are performed by His hands!

3 - Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?” So they were offended at Him.

Why did they take offense?  Was Jesus being offensive?  No.  He was teaching with wisdom and performing mighty works – miracles.  But, Jesus had no training... he was just a carpenter's son.  That he had no credentials, no visible authority they could see, was offensive.  Was it Jesus' fault they were offended?  No.  Should he have not taught, not done miracles?  No.

Sometimes, even when we are loving, people will take offense.  Was it Jesus' fault that they took offense?  No.   While just our presence may be offensive to some people, we should never speak or act in an offensive way.


We looked at this next one in Luke last week, but we get more detail here.  The context is that the apostles had just returned from a very successful trip teaching, healing people and casting out demons:

Mark 6

30 - Then the apostles gathered to Jesus and told Him all things, both what they had done and what they had taught.

31 - And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.

32 - So they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves.  [So they are tired, hungry and they want to get away for some down time.]

33 - But the multitudes saw them departing, and many knew Him and ran there on foot from all the cities. They arrived before them and came together to Him.

34 - And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things.

He needed rest... he needed to eat... but Jesus put the needs of others ahead of his own needs.  That is love.

Mark 7

2 - They [refers to enemies of Jesus] observed that some of His disciples were eating their bread with unclean—that is, unwashed—hands.

3 - (For the Pharisees, in fact all the Jews, will not eat unless they wash their hands ritually, keeping the tradition of the elders.

4 - When they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they have washed. And there are many other customs they have received and keep, like the washing of cups, jugs, copper utensils, and dining couches.)

5 - Then the Pharisees and the scribes asked Him, “Why don’t Your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders, instead of eating bread with ritually unclean hands?”

6 - He answered them, “Isaiah prophesied correctly about you hypocrites, as it is written: These people honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.

7 - They worship Me in vain, teaching as doctrines the commands of men.

8 - Disregarding the command of God, you keep the tradition of men.”

Jesus is being confrontational here.  He is telling the Pharisees they are wrong.  How is He doing it?  Using scripture.  Using the words of Scripture... Biblical truth.  The Pharisees had made up their own laws based on tradition... Jesus said they needed to obey God's laws, following scripture.

We should never be afraid to speak Biblical truth... and there is no better way than to quote scripture.  Jesus quoted scripture that was very plain and straightforward in addressing this issue.  If we hide the truth... don't speak the truth...  are we being kind?  No.  Are we being loving? No.

What have we learned about love so far... about how to Biblically love God and love one another?  We have learned that love is an action, not a feeling, and it is an action that involves:

Being patient with others.        
Being kind – helping others with their needs.  But, love doesn't mean doing everything they ask us to do.  

Not envying – not desiring what others have
Not boasting – we do not work to get others to desire what we have
Not proud – not putting the focus on yourself
Not rude – Being polite – being courteous
Not self-seeking  – it's not about us, it is about the other person
Not easily angered – not taking offense at personal insults or injuries.  However, taking offense... getting angry... over insults directed at God is appropriate.

Love Keeps no records of wrongs – don't keep a record of wrongs done against you

These are components of love...  all of which need to be there if we are truly loving others.  Remember how I said Paul is showing us the parts of love, just like a prism shows the parts of white light.  You need all of the colors, combined, to make white light.  If you leave out one color... one part... then you don't have white light.  It is the same with love... if you leave out one part you no longer have love.

Do these mean we just give people whatever they want?  We are just someone whom people can go to to get whatever they want for free?  No.  In many cases love means we walk away from someone... that may be what is best for them.  We'll be talking about that next week.   Or, sometimes we need to rebuke people, tell them they are wrong and need to change, as Jesus did in Mark 7.  We'll be talking more about that next week.  But right now...

let's continue and finish 1st Corinthians chapter 13...  we're in verse 6...


6 - it [love] does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.

7 - Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing....

Love never takes satisfaction in sin.  It does not take satisfaction in our own sin... and it does not take satisfaction in the sin of others.

If you rejoice in sin... any form of unrighteousness... you are justifying it is right and good.  It is making what is wrong appear to be right and acceptable.

Isaiah 5:20 warns us:

Woe to those who call evil good
    and good evil,
who put darkness for light
    and light for darkness,

Television, popular magazines, movies... what are most of them about?  Glorifying sin.  Most often sexual sin, but many other types of sin also.

BWT... is television sinful?  No.  Is going to the movies sinful?  No. Is watching videos at home sinful?  No.  There is nothing wrong with watching television... there is nothing wrong with going to see a movie...  (or watching a video at home).  It's what you decide to watch that can be the problem... it is what you watch that can be glorifying sin.

Things like TV can also be wrong if it devours your life.  If you use all your free time to watch videos... even good videos... what are you worshiping?  Entertainment.  Where is the focus of your life?  Are you putting God first in your life?  No.  Are you being loving?  No.

But... we're getting off topic....  Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing....

Rejoicing in unrighteousness can also take the form of hoping someone will fall into sin or make a mistake.  

I have heard of Christians who want to get out of their marriage and marry someone else.  But, they want to follow the Bible... and that means they know they cannot remarry unless their current spouse is unfaithful.  So they hope their spouse will commit adultery so they themselves will be Biblically free to remarry.

That is rejoicing in unrighteousness.

Why is rejoicing in sin is wrong?  Because it is an insult to God.  

Here's a question... If love... agape love that we've been talking about... is defined as doing helpful, kind things for other people... helping them with their true needs... how do we love God?  

Is there anything God needs?  No.

So if love is helping with needs, how do we love God who has no needs?

One way is that we do not delight in sin.

Imagine if your son, or daughter, or parent, or a best friend is tragically  harmed in some way.  Something happens so that they are incredibly sad.  Do we rejoice in that?  Whoo hooo, your best friend just died.  Do we rejoice? No.  They are grieving... we don't rejoice in that.

So, should we rejoice in things that grieve God?  No.  If we love God, what grieves Him will grieve us.  If we love God, what offends Him will offend us.

David wrote in Psalm 69 verse 9 – he is talking to God here:

For zeal for your house has consumed me,
 and the reproaches of those who reproach you have fallen on me.

When God was dishonored, David was grieved.

When we enjoy sin, either directly, or through things such as television or movies, we prove our lack of love for God.


Here's where it gets even more personal...  one of the most common forms of rejoicing in sin is gossip.  Scripture repeatedly tells us not to gossip:

1 Timothy 5:13 – talking about younger widows.

Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not.

Ephesians 4:29 – talking to Christians in general

Let no corrupting talk [gossip] come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

Proverbs 16:28

A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer [a gossiper] separates close friends.


Gossip – what does it do?  It uncaringly reveals the weaknesses and sins of others – it therefore hurts rather than helps them.  The heart of gossip is rejoicing in evil.

Even if it is the truth... gossip is still gossip.  Gossip is the way unfavorable truth is passed on.
But sometimes we need to share the truth – share about problems.  What is the difference between gossip and sharing the truth?

The fact that it is passed on makes it gossip.  For example, in our Friday morning prayer time we may share about people's needs so we can pray for them.  However, what is said in the prayer meeting should never be repeated... and it is never a forum for repeating gossip.  What is said, is said out of compassion and a desire to help others through prayer.

Another characteristic of gossip is, if it is said with the intent to harm, it is gossip.


Love does not focus on the wrongs of others.  Love does not parade the faults of others for the world to see.  It looks for the good and emphasizes the good.  

Love appreciates the triumphs of ordinary people.  Our children are built up and strengthened when we encourage them in their accomplishments and in their obedience.  Love strengthens, it does not weaken.


A person is never helped by spreading the news about their sin.


Granville Walker, a prominent pastor from the 1950's and 60's said:

"There are times when silence is yellow [meaning cowardly], times when we ought to stand on our feet & regardless of the consequences challenge the gross evils of the time, times when not to do so is the most blatant form of cowardice.

But there are other times when silence is golden, when to tell the truth is to make many hearts bleed needlessly and when nothing is accomplished and everything is hurt by a loose tongue."

Here's one last thing to think about – rejoicing in sin is harmful because of the consequences it has on the person who sins.  What does rejoicing in sin do?  Rejoicing encourages that person to go deeper into sin.  Rejoicing in sin delivers the message that sin is to be encouraged and to be practiced more frequently.

We should not rejoice... we need to help them... if we can and it makes sense to do so.


Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing....  We never rejoice in doing wrong... in not being loving.  We rejoice in what is good and right and pleasing to God.  ...And this brings us to the next point...


LOVE REJOICES WITH THE TRUTH

Paul has mentioned 8 negatives, now he returns to positives.  This first one contrasts with the one he just finished discussing.

The truth Paul is speaking about here is not just simply factual truth, he is speaking about God's truth.  Love always rejoices in God's truth.  Why?

Love always rejoices in God's truth and never rejoices because of false teaching.  In other words, it makes no sense to say, “It doesn't make any difference what people believe.  What matters is that we love them and that we have unity.”  That would be rejoicing in false teaching, because we are ignoring false teaching – ignoring the fact, for example, that someone worships a different God – a God that is not a trinity – in order to have unity.  Love... truth... is more important than unity.

When the word “love” is used in the context of unity it typically means, we all to do and believe whatever we want.  In the name of unity we don't do or say anything that another person might not agree with.

But in 1st John verse 6 the apostle John says:

And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it.

In other words, true love... truly desiring the best for another person... is grounded in God... in what God has said... in what God has commanded.  If you ignore what God has commanded... if you ignore God's truth... if you ignore the Bible in the name of unity... that's not love.  In fact, it is then impossible to truly be loving.  Why?

God created you.  We were created perfect, but now we are broken... flawed... damaged goods.   In our broken condition, are we in any condition to know... on our own... how to fix ourselves?  No.  Can we even know, on our own, what we should be like, if we were not damaged?  No.  We only know our damaged, broken, fallen condition.

Let's assume we discover a planet where everyone on that planet is blind.  Everyone is born blind.  So we find the smartest man on the planet, tell him to  do whatever is necessary to heal the people on this planet.  We'll supply the machines and equipment he needs to carry out his plan.  But, he was born blind. That's all he knows.  For him that is the normal condition.  So what will he do?  Nothing that will heal his blindness, or the blindness of others, because he doesn't even know he is blind.  That's us, before we know Christ.  We're blind – and we don't even know it.

Who knows what we should be like?  God.  Who knows how we were originally designed... the way we were before we were damaged... for example who knows we are blind, but that we should not be blind?  Only God.  He's the one who made us.  He knows the who we are intended to be.


So who knows what is best for us?  Only God.  That's why we rejoice in God's truth.  It's the truth we can not see on our own.  It's the truth that shows us who are are intended to be.  What we are intended to be like.  How we are to love.  This is the truth we rejoice in, God's truth.



LOVE BEARS ALL THINGS

This is the first of four qualities of love that are closely related and are listed in ascending order.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

What does “bear all things” mean?

First, by “all things” Paul is speaking of all things that are acceptable to God... that are righteous and in God's will.

BTW, what does righteous mean?  A righteous person is someone who is living according to Gods truth... according to God's commands.  A person who is obeying God.

What does “bear” mean.

To bear in this sense means to protect others from exposure, ridicule, or harm.  For example, genuine love does not gossip... which is only harmful.  Who or what are we protecting?

When there is sin, even when sin is certain, love tries to correct it with the least possible hurt and harm to the guilty person.  Love NEVER protects sin, but love strives to protect the sinner.

Our fallen human nature is inclined to do the opposite.  We get pleasure in exposing someone else's faults and failures.  We even rejoice in the depravity of others.  
That's what sells magazines and newspapers that feature exposays – the true confessions type of publications.  We take pleasure in the sins of others.

That's not love. Love has not part of that.  Love does not expose, exploit, gloat, or condemn.  Love bears all that it has to bear in order to minimize the hurt and harm to another person.


LOVE BELIEVES ALL THINGS

Does this mean we believe anything someone tells us?  No.

But, love is not suspicious or cynical.  Love does not  focus on believing people are motivated by self-interest or distrust of others.

Love believes in the best outcome for the one who has done wrong---that the wrong will be confessed and forgiven, and the loved one will be restored.

If there is doubt about a person's guilt or motivation, love will always opt for the most favorable possibility.

If a loved person is accused of something wrong, love will consider them innocent until proven guilty... and if proven guilty love will credit them with the best motives.

We've been reading the gospels to see how Jesus acts in love in various situations.  Continue your reading by reading the book of Matthew this week.    See if you can notice situations in which love bears all things... love believes all things.

Luke 19,482 words – longest book in the New Testament.  Matthew 18,345 words.  (Mark 11,304 words.)

BTW, do we see bad examples of this in scripture?  Examples of someone assuming another person is guilty, for example.

In Luke 5:21... Jesus forgives the paralytics of his sins.  What do the Pharisee's immediately assume?  They immediately concluded he was blaspheming... that he was making himself out to be God.  They did not respond in love, they assume the worst of Jesus.  They did not even look at the evidence... they just proclaimed Jesus was blaspheming.  Was Jesus blaspheming?  Only God can forgive sins... and Jesus is God.  He was giving truth... not blaspheming.

Love is the harbor of trust.  When that trust is broken... what do we do?  Reject the other person?  Seek revenge on the other person, maybe through gossip?  No... love's first reaction is to heal and restore.

That's what love believes all things means.  Love trusts. Love believes the best of those being loved.


LOVE HOPES ALL THINGS

What does this mean?  Love hopes all things?

Even when belief in a loved one's goodness or repentance is shattered, love still hopes.

When it runs out of faith in a person, love still has hope.  When a person has disappointed you in every way, love still has hope.

Remember, as long as God's grace is operating, human failure is never final.

God's grace only ends when we die – the second chances end at that point.  Until then... there is always hope.  When children backslide... or have never repented and trusted in Christ, there is still hope.  When a good friend walks out on their marriage, there is always hope for repentance, and restoration.


Love refuses to take failure as the final answer.  As long as there is life, there is hope.  When our hope becomes weak, we know our love has become weak.

Has anyone seen the movie:  Hachi: A Dog's Tale.  9 years, nine months and fifteen days.

Every day there was hope...  that is love.


LOVE ENDURES ALL THINGS

The term translated as “endures” here was a military term used to describe an army holding a position at all costs.  Every hardship... every suffering is to be endured to hold fast.

Love holds fast to those it loves.  Love endures all costs... love endures all hardships... love endures all things at all cost.

Love stands against overwhelming opposition and refuses to stop bearing... refuses to stop believing... refuses to stop hoping.  Love will not stop loving.  God NEVER stops loving you.  Never.

After love bears, it believes.  After love believes, it hopes.  After love hopes, it endures.  There is no after for endures... endurance is the unending climax of love.

1st Corinthians chapter 13 is called the love chapter. But it is actually about spiritual gifts.  For three weeks we have been looking at just fours verses, verses 4-7 – in which Paul shows us what love is.  It's been a very revealing study... but we're not done yet.  There is still more to learn about love.  There are times when loving someone means we don't say anything, or we walk away from them, or we may need to tell them things they don't want to hear.  But all of these are done with the attitude and behavior we've seen described here in 1st Corinthians 13 verses 4 thru 7:

4 - Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant
5 - or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
6 - it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
7 - Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

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