Love: God's Protocol for Your Life
Slide, Psalm 119:105:
How many of you have to deal with “Protocol” in your job?
Any of you really good with AF protocol?
Alrighty, those who haven’t gotten into this yet but soon will—look at those hands…
Protocol is definitely big business with the AF, they devote an entire full-time paid position to it!
But it isn’t just the AF that cares about this, is it?
In international relations protocol is also a big deal!
Diplomatic protocol training will train people with the right attitude, manners, self-presentation, dress code, way of speaking, social etiquette, common blunders to avoid, and such, necessary to actually accomplish their mission!
The word Protocol comes from the Greek word protokollon, which means “First” (proto) “Glued” (Kolla)
This came from the early practice of forming scrolls where they would glue pieces of papyrus together
The protocollon was the first glued sheet on the document; It was...
the key to understanding the rest,
the page that framed an understanding of everything that would follow
While the term is applied to many areas today, knowing the etymology can help us understand that
Protocol is that first thing you should do before anything else.
You want to plan a retirement ceremony? Have a squadron change of command?
Follow the protocol first, then add in the extra things that fit within that
The Protocol is that which we do first, before anything else
It is that which frames everything else to come
Did you know that the Bible gives us protocol for our life?
God’s Word actually tells you that which must come first in your life, within which everything else must fit
It tells you that which should frame all aspects of your life (from how you think, speak, & live)
Slide, Title1: And this is what we are looking at today—God’s Protocol for your Life
This is what must come first in your life
This is what must frame all aspects of your life!
Any guesses out there as to what this is? What must come first in your life? What must frame all of how you live? (Hint: It is actually something that captures all of God’s commandments…) Allow responses…
Slide, Title2: Love!
To see this we are going to look at a discussion Jesus had with one of the Pharisees of his day
Slide, Thesis: As we do so, I hope that you will see…
We were designed for the “love of God” to frame & direct our entire life.
It is what we do first, before anything else & all other things need to fit within it!
Transition: Now, let’s begin to see what God’s Word has to say to this.
The confrontation between the Jewish leaders (Scribes, Pharisees, & Sadducees) & Jesus has risen to an extreme level
It was actually as early is Matthew 12:14 that you first see the Pharisees conspiring against Jesus, considering how to destroy Him.
And in just a few days, Matthew 26:4, you see the chief priests, elders, & scribes conspiring on how to stealthily arrest and kill Jesus
They aren’t quite at the killing point yet, in Matthew 22 they are actually just trying to publically disgrace and discredit Him by getting Jesus to say something that will get Him in trouble either with the Roman authorities or the Jewish people.
In Matthew 21 the triumphal & cleansing of the temple entry took place (Palm Sunday)
After spending the night in Bethany Jesus returns to Jerusalem the next day and enters the temple to teach
While there, the chief priests & elders of the people come to Him and question His authority.
This begins a dialogue where Jesus continues to teach through parables & interact with questions posed to Him in an attempt to discredit & disgrace Him
Just prior to today’s verses the Sadducees tried to outwit Jesus, but His answer to them bested them & effectively silenced them from any further attempts
Just after today’s verses, though, (spoiler alert),
Jesus turns the tables again on these leaders and asks them questions about the Word of God that draws attention to their false beliefs and hypocrisy!
And so we find this verse at the end of the chapter, “No one was able to answer him at all, and from that day no one dared to question him anymore.” (Matthew 22:46, CSB)
2 Slides, Passage: But now let’s look at this small interchange before that—where a Pharisee scribe, seeming impressed by Jesus’ answer to the Sadducees (Mark 12:28-34), poses a theological test to Jesus; join me in Matthew 22:34–40,
34 When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they came together. 35 And one of them, an expert in the law, asked a question to test him: 36 “Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest?” 37 He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the greatest and most important command. 39 The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. 40 All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”
Transition: In these verses we see...
Slides, Main Point 1a:
The protocol for our life: Loving God
The protocol for our life: Loving God
Explain: Before we look into the meaning of this command, let’s consider the significance of the command…
MP1b: The Jews in Jesus’ day numbered all of the biblical laws to be 613 in total; they had a bit of a debate concerning which of these laws was “greatest,” as this questioning Pharisee asked (v36)
In Greek that word is “mega,” a word meaning, “the upper range on a scale of extent”
It showed “the intense, highest degree of one thing over all others of the same category”
Jesus shares that loving God with your all (a quote from Deut 6:5) is the mega command, the command of a higher degree than any others
MP1c: Jesus goes on to say that loving God is not just the greatest command, it is also “the most important”
This is the Greek word proto, meaning the ‘first in a series of 2 or more’
In our opening talk we heard that this is a root of the word prototype
MP1d: This means that all other commands or moral rules are defined by it & must fall under & within it.
So, if you want to live a life obedient to God…
MP1e: Loving God must direct every life decisions!
It must come first in all parts of our lives!
Furthermore, at the end of sharing this mega-proto law & its companion, Jesus shares that “All the Law and the Prophets depend (or “hang”) on these two commands.” (v40)
MP1f: In other words, following this command fulfills all of the Old Testament requirements…
From the Law, to the History, to the Major & Minor Prophets!
The commandments of God can only be truly observed when we love God & others as Jesus so says here.
Seeming to follow the other laws without a love of God would simply be external legalism & not the truly transformed life that God has called us to!
Video, Illustration: There is an excellent organization out there known as “The Bible Project” that will help take concepts like this & break it down for us
I invite you to watch this short clip as they help us realize the significance of this law…
Show The Bible Project’s video, “The Law” (5:30), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BGO9Mmd_cU
Expand: So, we are to be men & women of love—let’s consider, What does it mean to “love?”
Slides, Main Point 1g: As you know, love can have a wide variety of meanings
I love Tillamook sharp cheddar cheese, my job, & days off; yet I also love God, my parents, my children, & my wife!
Hopefully I love these things in different ways!
MP1h: The Hebrew word in Deuteronomy 6 for love is “‘ahev”
This love generally means “to like, have delight in, or be endeared to” the other
It is used to show the affection between two individuals like parents & children, husbands & wives, or God & His people
MP1i: It also describes a commitment that results in obedience; because I love God, I obey God
MP1j: The Greek word that Jesus uses to focus this concept is “agape”
This love generally means “To cherish, have a warm regard for, affection for, & interest in another”
It includes having a high esteem for or satisfaction with that one; taking pleasure in him/her
MP1k: Interestingly it describes a form of love that proceeds from a deliberate choice based upon moral principle or duty, rather than a mere feeling (e.g. of attraction)
To agape someone is to love that one regardless of how ‘deserving’ that one is of your love
It is a love that keeps loving through disappointment & rejection
And yet it is a love that is not ‘cold’ or ‘stoic;’ it actually brings along the warmth of kindness & care, affection & delight!
MP1l: Finally, this love, while a matter of will, results in the actions of putting this other one first, even before yourself!
This love is a verb, it is seen in actions of kindness & compassion toward its object
This is the form of love that Jesus calls on us to have for God!
And note that it is not just a small element of our life, or a ‘just on Sundays’ type of thing
Jesus says that we are to have this love for God with… what? “All your heart, … soul, …mind.”
At another time Jesus is recorded as saying ‘Strength” as well
These different terms aren’t meant to compartmentalize our beings, but rather to emphasize that...
We are to love God…
MP1m: With everything we are,
MP1n: With everything we do,
MP1o: With wholehearted devotion,
MP1p: With every aspect of our beings!
This means that...
Emotionally, volitionally, cognitively---we are to love God.
With our whole person—we are to love God
With our time, our talents, our treasures—we are to love God
With our friendships, our family, & our coworkers—we are to love God
With our cell phones, our internet use, the books we read, the movies & videos we watch—we are to love God
This is the high calling of our Lord!
Transition: And yet He does not stop there…
Jesus helps us realize a key commandment that naturally flows from this—
If you love God, you will love what He loves; therefore, you will…
Slides, Main Point 2a:
Love your neighbor as yourself
Love your neighbor as yourself
Jesus says that this command is “like” the first one, put another way, it “resembles” it
MP2b: If you truly love God with your all, you will share His love for others
MP2c: Consider how the Apostle John put it in 1 John 4:20, “If anyone says, “I love God,” and yet hates his brother or sister, he is a liar. For the person who does not love his brother or sister whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.” (CSB)
While the greatest & first command came from Deut. 6:5, this command comes from the oft ignored OT book of Leviticus
MP2d: Lev. 19:18 shares, “Do not take revenge or bear a grudge against members of your community, but love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord.”
MP2e: Lev. 19:34 shares, “You will regard the alien who resides with you as the native-born among you. You are to love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the Lord your God.”
Taken together these show that your ‘neighbor’ is not simply those who are ‘of your community,’ but are also the ‘foreigners that you are near’!
In the Luke 10:25-37 you will find another time this discussion of the ‘Greatest Commandment” came up...
“Then an expert in the law stood up to test him, saying, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“What is written in the law?” he asked him. “How do you read it?”
He answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,” and “your neighbor as yourself.”
“You’ve answered correctly,” he told him. “Do this and you will live.”
But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”” (CSB)
Does anyone know what happens next? This is where Jesus shares the story of the Good Samaritan!
This story highlights that your ‘neighbor’ is not merely the person living next to you, or your friend, or those who are like you…
MP2f: We are actually called to love everyone we encounter!
Whether from our community or a foreigner as Leviticus points out
Whether friend or foe as Jesus elsewhere points out when He says, “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” & “do what is good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you” (Mt. 5:44, Lk 6:27-28, CSB)
Living this command out means that we make other person’s problems your own in a humble & loving way
MP2g: Consider how the Apostle Paul put it in Philippians 2:1–5, “If then there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, make my joy complete by thinking the same way, having the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus,” (CSB)
And then he goes on to describe the incredible humbleness & love that Jesus exhibited in His lowly incarnation & sacrificial death
Living this command out will cause you to fulfill what we call, “The Golden Rule”
MP2h: “Therefore, whatever you want others to do for you, do also the same for them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Mt. 7:12, CSB)
These are the ways in which you love your neighbors “as yourselves”
Do you so love your neighbor? It is the calling that we have received…
Transition: Now, let’s wrap this up…
Reiterate: We were designed for the “love of God” to frame & direct our entire life.
Loving God is the greatest & most important commandment
It must direct every decision of our life!
Regardless to how we feel, we should delight in & cherish God
We should love Him with our all
Living this out through obedience
If you truly love God with your all...
You will share His love for others!
We are to love everyone we encounter, those like us & those very different, friends or foes, everyone!
Con-b: Apply: So, how should we respond?
Con-c: Understand God’s great love for you!
As John 3:16 shares, "For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”
Or as 1 John 4:10 shares, “Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. "
I’d encourage you to spend some time in 1 John 4:7-21 this week to dig into this very thing
John beautifully lays out these concepts of God’s love & it’s affect on us
Isn’t it wonderful to know that although we break this Greatest Commandment every day...
God still loves us, draws near to us, & welcomes us into a friendship!
I hope that you’ve been seeing this throughout our study of Jesus!
I urge you this week—check out the ‘Digging Deeper’ part of your notes
You don’t have to do it all, I actually gave quite a bit of extra ways you can dig into these concepts…
But take your time through some of this!
Especially reflect on some of the listed Psalms & celebrate the amazing love that God has demonstrated toward you!
Con-d: Work hard to more greatly love God
Realize that you cannot truly obey God if you do not love God…
Many people seem to think that simply ‘being a good person’ is enough (“If there is a god, I think it will see that I’m a good person.”)
And yet they deny the existence of God or refuse to earnestly pursue Him
They do not love God & are thus missing out on the Greatest Commandment and a life-transforming relationship with God
Rather than obedience to God they demonstrate humanistic legalism which totally misses the Greatest Commandment!
They do not understand that they cannot truly obey or even please God if they do not truly love God.
Honestly many Christians fall into this same trap…
We have set up rules & procedures that we think will make us right with God
We compare & contrast ourselves with others based upon these external markers
Consequentially we develop an elaborate form of religious legalism, by which we feel secure & ‘in the will of God’
However, we forget that which Jesus said that we heard last week, “I desire compassion, and not sacrifice” (Mt. 9:13, NASB)
We forget what the Mark 12:33’s parallel story to this encounter in Matthew points out, to love God “with all your heart, with all your understanding, and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself, is far more important than all the burnt offerings and sacrifices” (CSB)
We too can neglect His Greatest Commandment in favor of religious sacrifices & externalism
May we repent of such things & instead work hard to love God more greatly!
Learn to love Him with all of who you are:
Your heart’s desires & passions
Your soul’s meditations & celebrations
Your mind’s thinking & creativity
Your strength’s efforts & application
Con-e & f: Work hard to more greatly share God’s love for others
1 John 4:11 reminds us, “Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another.” (CSB)
We will naturally love others more as we get to know God’s love more!
Realize that the application of God’s love toward others will take godly wisdom
Godly love is often expressed in very different ways to different people
For example, you will express godly love to a homeless man differently than you would to your children,
And both of these would be different from how you would love your wife on this Valentine’s Day,
Or how you would love your supervisor in the shop!
Learn wisdom to know how to express godly love for others in every circumstance of your life
Remember, in doing this, you are sharing God’s heart & thus fulfilling the greatest commandment to love Him with your all!
Con-g: Balance your love for God & your love for people
Be careful not to emphasize one at the expense of the other...
Do not pursue godly piety at the expense of caring for your family & friends, or even strangers & enemies!
The Pharisees ran into this trap when they neglected to financially care for their parents in favor of giving that money to God
Let us not be ‘so heavenly minded that we’re no earthly good’
Also be careful not to emphasize care for others (expressed through various social concern) at the expense of loving God!
Philanthropists & social activists of many sorts can fall into this trap
Indeed, you could “give all your possessions to feed the poor,” but w/o the love of God—it brings you no profit (1 Cor 13:3)
Or perhaps more common we may find the idolatry of family appear in this area…
American Christianity has at times in recent history unfortunately so greatly put family on a pedestal that God has received second place…
These two loves, Love of God & love of others, should be balanced together with the Love of God clearly defining the others.
Appeal: We were designed for the “love of God” to frame & direct our entire life.
Will you so let God direct your life? I pray that you will.
Conclude: Pray with me.
Loving God—He who taught us how to love through the demonstration of the greatest love of all--
Guide us as Your sons & daughters to be a people of love.
Indeed God, it is our greatest prayer that love of You will come first in your life,
And that everything will from from and fit into that.
Teach us how to love You
Teach us how to love each other