*Series:* Renewing Our Relationship with God
*Sermon:* Sharing God’s Love
“Love one another” sounds so simple, doesn’t it?
And it is.
It sounds so easy, too.
But if it were so easy Jesus probably wouldn’t have felt the need to mention it so many times.
If it sounds so simple, and it sounds so easy, then why is it so difficult?
By the time we’re finished this morning we’ll discover the answer to that question.
Renewing our lives begins with renewing our relationships.
The two most important relationships are our relationship with God, and our relationship with others.
Loving God and loving others are the two commands that we’ve been given, which if we follow those two commands will fulfill every other command that’s ever been given.
We’ve already discussed renewing our relationship with God the past 2 Sundays.
Renewing our relationship with God begins with accepting that God loves us.
Today we begin looking at renewing our relationship with others.
Renewing our relationship with others begins with sharing God’s love with the people around us.
Loving our neighbors.
Who are the people around us that we’re called to love?
That question was put to Jesus in Luke 10. “25On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus.
"Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
26"What is written in the Law?" he replied.
"How do you read it?"
27He answered: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"
28"You have answered correctly," Jesus replied.
"Do this and you will live."
29But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"
Who is my neighbor?
Does it amaze you the lengths to which some people will go to try to keep from loving someone?
In response to the question, Jesus tells the story of the Good Samaritan.
“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers.
They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.
31A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.
32So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.
33But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.
34He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine.
Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him.
35The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper.
'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.'
36"Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?"
37The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him."
\\ Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise."
Notice that the man’s original question was “who is my neighbor.”
Jesus, however, turns the question around and asks, “Who was a neighbor.”
That needs to be the question we ask ourselves.
Not “who is my neighbor” so we can squirrel out of helping someone, but “am I being a neighbor” to those who need mercy.
The expert in the law understood that loving your neighbor is about showing mercy.
It’s easy to “do no harm”, but that doesn’t necessarily give people the help they truly need.
It’s easy to do no harm, it’s more difficult to show mercy.
Loving our family.
The Lord makes it very clear that family relationships are very important.
But we are often more loving to strangers than we are to our own family members.
Have you found that to be true in your experience?
Love at close quarters can be difficult.
A Sunday school teacher was discussing the Ten Commandments with her class of five and six-year-olds.
After explaining the commandment to honor thy father and thy mother, she asked, "Is there a commandment that teaches us how to treat our brothers and sisters?"
Without missing a beat, one little boy answered, "Thou shall not kill."
Look at 1 John 3:11-15.
“11This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.
12Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother.
And why did he murder him?
Because his own actions were evil and his brother's were righteous.
13Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you.
14We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers.
Anyone who does not love remains in death.
15Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.
Here are the first 2 siblings and they can’t even get along.
Cain gets jealous of his brother and he kills him.
This is sibling rivalry taken to the extreme.
John follows Christ’s teaching when he says even if you hate your brother in your heart you are a murderer.
Do you see a pattern beginning to come out here?
We’ve got to do more than just do no harm, we need to show mercy.
We’ve got to do more than just not hate, we’ve got to love.
Love is more than words, it’s also actions.
“16This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.
And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.
17If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?
18Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.”
What does it mean to lay down our lives for our brothers?
Does it mean we’re willing to die for them?
Maybe, but probably not.
In a practical sense it means laying down the wants and wishes and desires of our lives in order to help a brother or sister.
(Story of Sagemont Church in Houston giving up their church’s money for a new building and paying off their debt in order to help a woman who needed surgery but couldn’t pay for it.)
As husbands it means giving up our plans for the sake of our wives.
As wives it means giving up your wishes for the sake of your husband.
Parents (good parents) regularly sacrifice for their children.
What is rare is when a child sacrifices their wishes for the sake of a parent.
This goes for siblings too.
Love your enemies.
“43"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' 44But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.
He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
46If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?
47And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others?
Do not even pagans do that?