Summary: Christian maturity shows itself in Christian love.
Born To Grow
1. After a very difficult day at the office, a psychologist walked through his front door and said, "Honey, I’ve had a terrible day. All I did was listen to one problem after another. So, please, don’t tell me about any more problems. Talk to me, but just give me the good news." The wife quickly restrategized and said, "O.K. The good news is . . . two of our three children didn’t break an arm today."
· Rotarian, April 1993, p. 64
2. Story: Lee Iacocca once asked legendary football coach Vince Lombardi what it took to make a winning team. The book, Iaccoca, records Lombardi’s answer: There are a lot of coaches with good ball clubs who know the fundamentals and have plenty of discipline but still don’t win the game. Then you come to the third ingredient: if you’re going to play together as a team, you’ve got to care for one another. You’ve got to love each other. Each player has to be thinking about the next guy and saying to himself: If I didn’t block that man, Paul is going to get his legs broken. I have to do my job well in order that he can do his. “The difference between mediocrity and greatness,” Lombardi said that night, “is the feeling these guys have for each other.” Point: In a healthy church, each Christian learns to care for others. As we take seriously Jesus’ command to love another, we contribute to a winning team. [Sermoncentral, Todd Fetters]
What is Christian love? How does it differ from people pleasing? How does it differ from having a warm or cold personality? How does it interface with truth?
Main Idea: Christian maturity shows itself in Christian love.
I. Maturity Begins With BIRTH: Regeneration (22-25)
Perfect participles: a done deal
A. CLEANSING Through Repentance and Faith (22)
1. Now that you have purified yourself
2. Although God works in us to bring us to the this point, we do make a choice
B. Regeneration Through the WORD (23-25)
1. This occurred first; it is the underlying cause of repentance
2. The Word of the Lord endures forever
----old commentaries from centuries back ---
---it not only endures, it is always relevant ---it never even wilts!!!
C. The command to LOVE our brothers is sandwiched
1. Who are our brothers?
2. Some challenged to find their identity in their old peer groups (4:3)
3. Rich Christians found themselves fellowshipping with poor slaves…Jews with gentiles
4. The word for love here means, "brotherly love" which is heart-felt, not just duty
5. It is based on being socially connected, fellowship, knowing one another
6. Not the same as people pleasing, or having a warm personality; you do not have to be an extrovert to love Biblically, but you have to care and express that care…
John Piper summarizes: "So the picture is complete: the lamp of love is held up and made possible by two pillars. One pillar is God’s sovereign act -- his causing us to be born again through the living and abiding Word of God. The other pillar is our response to that divine act: as new-born children of God we hear the Word of our Father and obey by putting our hope in him. And when we hope in him -- that the future he plans for us is greater than all the glory the world can offer -- then our hearts will be clean, and we will be free to love each other earnestly from the heart."
II. Maturity Requires NURTURE (2:1-2)
A. Saying goodbye to ILL will (1) – like food that harms our health
It takes a SAFE environment for Christian love to thrive
Although we are supposed to put all sins away from us, these particular sins destroy good relationships. If we are characterized by these qualities, people will not open up to us, and we will not open up to them. I
1. Malice = wickedness, cruelty --put down humor often masks this
2. Deceit = a Greek word, meaning to "catch by bait" (tricky, manipulative)
3. Hypocrisy = to pretend to be whom I am not
4. Envy = jealousy or setting up a competition in my mind
5. Slander = defamation of character
"Pastor Ed can hardly remember anything unless he gets a note" is not defamation; it is true and does not attack my character.
"Pastor Ed does not have a heart for God" = defamation of character
B. Saying hello to the WORD (2) – food that nurtures our souls
• imagery: we nurse on the Word
• we gain nurture through the Word
• Psalm 138:1-2, " I will bow down toward your holy temple and will praise your name for your love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word."