The How's of Love
Sermon • Submitted
0 ratings· 4 views
I saw a sign the other day that I have just not been able to shake the thought of.
The sign said, “Not all who Wander are Lost.”
There is a lot of truth in this statement. Some are not lost who are wandering. Some have just strayed or have been misled. Some are lost but seeking.
The question that I pose to you this morning on this statement is this:
How often do we ignore those who are wandering? How often do we disregard them? How often do we bypass them because they are not acting Christian?
The point is, even if all those who wander are not lost we should show them love. If they are far from God we should love them and draw them to God by our love.
This love is not a fake love. It is not a love that affirms everything.
No, it is a love that is genuine and brought on by a genuine love for God.
It is a love that is sincere. And as sincere it is a love seen by showing love to all, even those who hate you.
It is a love like what the law of diminishing returns says.
This law states that you put in a set amount for a time for production. Then desire for the product increases and the original set amount is not enough to meet that desire. You need more to meet the desire.
That is what this section is saying, the diminishing return is love. Paul states to outdo one another in love and honor. Our initial love will eventually meet the law of diminishing returns. Our initial love will not be enough. We will need more and more to meet the needed return.
An example of this can be found in chocolate. When you first taste chocolate a little is enough to meet the desire. Then that little needs to be more and more to meet the desire. This continues on until you buy a large bag of Hershey’s chocolates and then realize that you have eaten the whole bag and still desire more. This is how our love for people should be. We should desire to love and care for and have compassion for others to the point that we must seek it daily. We need to go and be loving to people. To all people, not just those we already love.
We must care for and love others daily and constantly to meet the desire to serve the Lord with honor and love. This love is not just affirming what others do.
No, this love is sometimes speaking the hard truth into someone’s life. Telling them what they are doing is bad and harmful.
This brings us back to the statement Not All Who Wander are Lost. They may not be but to be wandering is not healthy and they need to hear the hard facts of truth and Love.
In this section, verses 9-21, we see an inclusio. This inclusio is seen in the words evil and good found in both verses. An inclusio is simply, a similar word, phrase, or clause that begins and ends a literary unit that serves as a framing device to unite a paragraph, section, or book treating the same theme.
This unit shows that a Christian is to abhor evil and cling to what is good and by so doing they will continually pour out love that is genuine.
To achieve this type of love to be this way you must...
Be Genuine in Love: vv. 9-13
Be Genuine in Love: vv. 9-13
A. Outdo each other by being genuine.
Genuine love is a love that has a hate for evil and clings to what is good. This love Paul speaks of is Agape love. Agape love is the highest form of a self-sacrificing love. It does not allow for selfishness nor does it allow for revenge, which is selfishness. It is not a love that just states loving sounding words. That is not genuine love. No, that is hypocritical love. It is hypocritical because it is pretending love. Genuine love is unhypocritical. Hypocritical love is a grotesque form of love. Hypocritical love is phony love that is from the flesh. It is from your own pride and ego. From the evil one. It is manipulative, in competition with, or has a pretense to it. True genuine love is just that, true. Truth and love go hand in hand.
Genuine love is desired by all. Genuine love is a love for all your brothers and sisters in Christ. As is seen by the terminology “Love one another with brotherly affection.” Brotherly love is the term philidelphia in the Greek. This is an affection for another Christian. Affection is referencing the affection one has for relatives of their immediate family. Basically this covers all angles of how we are to love our fellow believers. This love is deep and not surface level. We outdo one another in showing honor by being genuine in our love. Simply, if you are genuinely loving you will strive to always honor others above yourself.
B. Have a zeal for the Lord.
All of this is accomplished by having a zeal for the Lord. This zeal is not a zeal like that of the pharisees. Nor is it like that of the apostle Paul when he was persecuting the church. No, it is a zeal that is imbedded in the Lord. It is a zeal that only a believer who is genuinely seeking God daily can have. It is a love that can only be obtained from the Holy Spirit. Authentic love is from the Spirit. Romans 5:5 tells us that, “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
This is a zeal like that of Phineas back in Numbers 25:6-11. In this section we see that an Israelite had brought in a woman not of Israel. But this is after the nation had already submitted to idolatry. There was a plague placed upon the nation and twenty-four thousand had died because of this. Phineas upon seeing this Israelite with a foreign wife took up his spear and pierced them both through and thus ended the plague. He was jealous for the Lord as the Lord is jealous for those who are His. This is the zeal you need for the Lord.
It is a spiritual fervor that is energized by the Spirit. It is a bubbling up, boiling over work of the Holy Spirit in you. This zeal is a zeal for the service of the Lord. It is a zeal that comes from a submission to the Spirit and not a quenching of the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19) or a grieving of the Spirit (Ephesians 4:30).
C. Rejoice in Suffering
By the Spirit’s power and your dedicated zeal to the Lord you can be patient in tribulation and suffering. This is genuine love for others also. How? It is because you rejoice in hope during tough times. You do not whine or grumble as the world does. You rejoice and celebrate the goodness of God that you are alive and able to maybe reach one more person for Him today. You accomplish this your hope being in God and by being constant in prayer. This is a devoted prayer life in the good times and the hard times. This is a prayer life that has the Word of God at the 10 position and prayer at the two position. Simply, this is your steering wheel not your mayday call. By this you will have the power of the Spirit and have a zeal for God and genuine love for others.
D. Be Hospitable
When you live this way you will take the focus off yourself and place it outwardly on others. By this you will be able to be hospitable. You will contribute to the needs of fellow believers whatever this may look like. What is crazy is not only will you contribute to other believers but you will be able to show hospitality to all people. We are to share with our fellow believers but also with those who are our enemies.
When you love genuinely you will...
Despise That Which Is Evil: vv. 14-18
Despise That Which Is Evil: vv. 14-18
This includes the evil that may be in you towards others. This section is crazy. It tells us to bless those who persecute us. Paul is reflecting back to a section in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:43-48 and Luke 6:27-36. As well as what Peter says in 1 Peter 3:9, “Do not repay evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.”
A. Love those who hate you.
Bless those who persecute, simply, love those who hate you. Bless is the Greek word eulogeoo this is where we get our English word eulogy from. Simply, it is blessing them speaking well of those who persecute. Praising them by not speaking ill of them. You love those who hate you. You are not blessing or loving their actions but you are blessing and loving the fellow image bearer. We are not all like Will Rogers who famously said, “I have never met a man I didn’t Like.” No, we all have people we do not like. People who grind us. We try to not think of them but then boom there they are in our minds or in person. We must love them even if we do not like it. Even in the hurt they pour out on us. Again, we do not love the actions but the fellow image bearer. It is much like Matthew 5:38-39 where it says you don’t return an eye for an eye or tooth for tooth as was said but if slapped allow another slap on the other cheek. This is not foregoing justice the other deserves. No, taking the other slap is taking the punishment they deserve on yourself. You are suffering in their place. The punishment is rendered. Just as it was at the cross for you. Albeit, it is in a far more minor way but by our love and not our retaliation we may win some over and they receive eternal life.
B. Don’t celebrate in others struggles or be mad when they do good.
Not only this but we celebrate with those who rejoice whether it is a loved one or one that hates us. We also genuinely weep with them in their losses. Whether this be family, friends, loved ones, or any other loss we weep with them, we do not celebrate. John Crysostom said, rejoicing is harder because “it requires a very noble [humble] soul, so as not only to keep from envying but even feel pleasure with the person in esteem.” True love is found in true humility and humbleness.
C. Don’t be arrogant.
This also keeps you from being arrogant. With no arrogance you will live in harmony with others. It keeps you from becoming high on yourself. Which will keep you from associating with those who are in a lowlier position than you are. When we associate with the lowly we are genuinely loving. We are not becoming haughty and proud. By associating with the lowly we are not setting our minds on high things which causes pride. Not only does it cause this but when we set our minds on our own thought processes and do not subject them to God’s thoughts, we have disunity and self-love above others. We set our minds on God’s thoughts by transforming our minds as this chapter begins with.
We need to be like this couple from Miami I have heard about. When out and about the husband and wife greet servers they know, learn the names of waiters and waitresses they don’t know, ask about the workers who were not there, and jot names and notes in a journal. And you know what? The workers seemed genuinely glad to see them. Was it because they treated them like fellow image-bearers? The couple explain that, while Miami was spiritually dark, if you treat the people (especially the “common” people?) with love and respect, you’d find they were open and hungry to hear the gospel. “One night,” the wife explained, “we were sharing the gospel and a group of servers gathered around, and you could feel the Holy Spirit created a sense of peace and quiet in that little circle, even though it was busy all around us.”
We need to remember that Christ died for everyone, poor, wealthy, those who are mean to us, all of them. Also, we need to remember that Christ, while on the earth, did not even have a place to lay His head (Matthew 8:20; Luke 9:58). He was lowly and not haughty and He is God, but He loved even His enemies (Romans 5:6-8), and hung around sinners (e.g. Matthew 9:10-11). When you associate with those less fortunate you are diffusing pride and showing genuine love. Also, remember, the lowly may be the one’s persecuting you and that hate you. They may be wealthy by world standards but lowly in Spiritual God’s standards.
D. Don’t retaliate but be honorable and at peace.
When you act this way, you do not exact revenge. This does not mean that you allow evil to go unchecked. No, you hate evil. So you live at peace as much as possible by being honorable but being honorable you do not allow evil to thrive. Sometimes being honorable is going against the grain and standing for the gospel. That is genuine love. It is also blessing those who hate you. It is not exacting revenge but stopping evil with genuine love. Sometimes this love comes in the shape of justice being served, note, justice being served not revenge or vengeance. When we take revenge upon ourselves we may be standing between God and His beloved, whom He may choose to pursue. We stand for what is right and good and stand against evil but we do not seek vengeance or revenge. Again, this does not mean we lay down and allow for evil to run rampant. No, True love is not naive love. We do not affirm all things and allow for evil to run rampant. No, we abhor evil we hate evil we deliver people over to God for justice and the authorities, that we will be studying next week, for this justice.
We are to live at peace as much as possible with others. But sometimes this peace and love comes with standing up against evil and standing for the glory of God. There is evil in this world and it sometimes has to be stopped by force, which is love. We have to consider what John Stuart Mill said, “Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.” Being genuine in love is sometimes taking a stand. Just make sure when you are standing it is for God’s glory and not your own justification.
When you despise evil and know when to stand up it is because you...
Cling to and Love What is Good: vv. 19-21
Cling to and Love What is Good: vv. 19-21
A. When wronged hold fast to God.
Paul continues the theme of not seeking revenge. Vengeance is God’s not our own. We can stop evil when we see it but vengeance is God’s. God is the only perfect Judge. He is the only one who knows exactly why and what of every situation. When we seek vengeance it is on emotions not reasons. We do not go out and kill those who have wronged us. Who have persecuted us, who have hated us. What kind of message is that sending the world? It is sending the message that Christianity is no different than anything else. They get hurt then get even just as we do, says the world. That is not a good message. That is not a loving message of forgiveness because you have been forgiven. No, it is the worlds message.
Now, what we do is take that slap and then the second slap. We do this because we have clung to the all-holy God and show that our faith rests in Him and in Him to deal appropriately with the world. We do this because we have clung to Him and we know, as Exodus 34:7 tells us that He by no means allows the guilty to go unpunished. This is genuine love because by us not returning hate for hate, evil for evil, we are giving those who wrong us a chance to see Jesus.
B. Show love and compassion for those who are against you.
As verse 20 shows we do the opposite of revenge. This is not saying that we kill them with kindness either. It is saying we show genuine love and compassion. When we “Kill Them With Kindness” we are seeking revenge. Why, you may ask? Or, how do you figure that? I am being kind you say. I am being loving you may say. I am not hurting them you say. The reason it is seeking revenge is because it has an underlying tone of I am seeking justice to it. It is you are killing them with kindness to hurt them. It is usually done to prove a point. Not always I know but usually it has a revenge quality to it.
We are to be genuine when we love others. We are to genuinely show love. And it is through this genuine love that you heap burning coals on their heads. You are not self-seeking when you genuinely love them. You are doing it for their good not your own. You are loving because you are to love them because Jesus has loved you. Remember we love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). He could have killed us with kindness but we would still do like all those who we fake love that way, they stay the same most usually or get worse. But through genuine self-sacrificing love, the kind where even when they are mean and cruel we love them as Christ loves us, we pour hot coals on their heads. This is what Christ did. He came and took abuses for us and was beating and he never reviled back (1 Peter 2:18-25). He took the abuse and loved deeply because of that abuse we can have eternal life. He could have wiped us out but He genuinely loves us and died for us and took beatings when He could have called 12 legions of angels to destroy everyone and not suffer (c.f. Matthew 26:53). When we love like that and do not seek vengeance, we pour hot coals on them. This is a deep shame and remorse felt by them. It is them seeing that you genuinely love them no matter what they do and they reconsider what they are doing. It makes them wonder about Jesus and what being one of His means. It makes them wonder what kind of love that must be to be able to love when being reviled.
But this is only able to be done when we hold fast to Christ. We do this...
C. When holding fast to Christ we overcome evil.
When we cling tightly to Christ, because He is Good, we can overcome evil and genuinely love. We will be able to bless and not curse we will be able to return good for evil. By this we are doing as God does, we become active participants in His great plan for the world. This love and compassion for others keeps us from being overcome by evil. We see this evil and what it does and we know it is evil because we are intimately connected to that which is Good Himself, Jesus Christ. When holding fast to Christ we avoid hatefulness and slothfulness in zeal. Holding fast to Him keeps our spiritual fervor aflame. It will keep you in a genuine love for God and others. It keeps you in doing good and showing love. It does so because you are sacrificing what you want for the needs of another. Those needs are their need for Jesus Christ in their lives. When you are loving and not vengeful you may be the only one who can show them Christ. God has placed you where you are for a reason, remember that. You are not suffering for nothing. You are not where you are going through what you are going through for nothing. God has a plan and you are involved. You are to 1) speak well of others, 2)be sensitive to the emotional needs of others, 3) show no partiality or prejudice, 4) not to be sneaky or underhanded, 5) seek to live peaceably with all, and 6) do not seek to get even with others. This is what you are to do because God has placed you where you are for a reason.
Let me close with this story about this amazing soldier.
This young soldier had a habit of praying beside his bunk before going to sleep. The other soldiers seeing this, some of them decided to ridicule and mock him to see if he would break under pressure. One day, after the entire platoon had been out all day on a forced march, they returned to their barracks, tired and dirty. As was his habit, the Christian soldier knelt beside his bunk and prayed. One of his tormentors, meanwhile, removed his muddy boots and threw them at the young man, hitting him in the head, spattering him with mud. The Christian said nothing in response, but simply kept praying.
The next morning, the tormentor woke up and found his boots standing beside his bed, shined and polished. The man was overcome with remorse for the way he had mistreated the Christian soldier, and he went to him and asked forgiveness. The two men became friends, and in time the Christian led the other man to faith in Jesus Christ.
That is what Paul means when he says to overcome evil with good. That is what he means when he says to let love be genuine.That is what he means when he says to abhor evil and cling to what is good. The soldier could have retaliated but he knew that was evil and to do so would be evil and not good. He clung to that which is good and abhorred evil and therefore he loved genuinely.
Will you do the same?