Summary: One of a series on Christian growth, this sermon focuses on our need to grow in love.

Are We Growing in Our Love for Others? —

1 John 4:7-12

I. Am I willing to enter into the lives of others?

A. Without hesitation, the Son came into the world --- leaving heaven behind.

1. He came bringing the gift of life.

2. He came bringing hope.

3. He came because of love.

B. People are eagerly waiting for someone to bring hope into their lives.

1. They’ve been beaten down all of their lives.

2. They’ve been criticized and scorned.

3. They’ve faced rejection, time and again

4. They’re waiting, they’re just not certain how longer they can hold out for hope.

C. Here is where we enter the picture.

1. We can care enough to get involved.

2. We can care enough to share their burdens.

3. We can even care enough to offer correction.

4. But will we???? We will, only if we’re growing in our love.

II. Am I willing to give myself for others?

A. Jesus came with the Father’s will in mind --- to offer himself as a sacrifice for our sins.

1. This was the primary purpose for Jesus of Nazareth.

2. His entire existence was pointed to this end.

3. When the time was right, he freely offered himself as the sacrifice that could bring us to God.

B. We cannot, and need not, repeat this sacrifice.

1. Only Jesus could atone for sins.

2. I cannot set you free.

3. Literally billions are needing someone to set them free.

4. None of us can meet this need alone.

C. But with a self-giving love, maybe I can point someone to the One who can set them free!

1. When I begin to live for others, barriers can come down.

2. When I truly love, I earn the right to be heard.

3. By pouring my life into the lives of those around me, I establish new priorities in life --- it’s no longer “me first.”

4. But can I live sacrificially? I can, only if I’m growing in my love.

III. Am I willing to love those who don’t deserve it?

A. When did Jesus come into the world?

1. Did he come to this world only after it had “straightened up?”

2. Did he give himself only when humanity deserved it? NO!!!!!

8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. — Rom. 5:8, NIV

3. God’s love is real --- and unconditional.

B. Surely to benefit from God’s love a person must yield to it.

1. God truly loves the world.

2. But many in this world will never know this love --- for their hearts are hardened against it.

3. Their hardness does not hinder God’s loving them and working in their lives.

C. A lot of unlovely people will enter into our lives: what will we do about it?

1. Can I reach out to someone I don’t like?

2. Can I seek to minister God’s peace to a heart that is sowing strife?

3. Can my enemy become a person for whom I am burdened? I can answer “yes” to these questions, only if I am growing in my love.

4. How do I grow in love?

a. Follow John’s lead.

b. Allow yourself to be overcome with the love of God.

c. Remember his great and mighty love for you.

d. Let the love that comes from God overflow in your heart.

e. Spend time with him.

f. Surrender to his love!

As God’s love for you becomes more real in your heart, you can begin to love others --- just as God has always intended!

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