Summary: Spiritual Growth is important! In this series we’ll use 2 Peter 1 as a blueprint for the areas we are called to continually add to our faith as we grow spiritually. This week: Love
Growing by Addition
Love – Colossians 3:12-17
2 Peter 1:5-7 (NIV)
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.
Today we finish up our series on “Growth by Addition”. Last week we did part one of the two-part series finale, and we broke it down because the last two areas of character growth are completely intertwined. Here’s a quick review:
For simplicity’s sake, we defined the two like this:
Brotherly Kindness extends to the members of God’s Family,
Love extends to the entire Human Race.
We defined Brotherly Kindness as “Love on the Inside”; as the way we are to love and minister to those inside the body of believers. Not just within our church, but to all who believe.
God’s vision for the church has always been that of a unified force, who serve one another, share in good and bad times, and in turn reach out to those who do not know Christ personally.
That last line is where we are headed today; Love that extends to all people.
The Greek word used for Love here is Agape. And this word is interesting because it was not a word that was found in classical Greek, but was only revealed through religion.
The translation is charity, or benevolent love. But the benevolence isn’t based on what someone desires, but rather based upon what someone truly needs. I’ll use a famous example in God’s love for us:
For God so loved the world… (have the congregation finish)
So God’s love for man is doing what He thinks best for man, not what we desire. But there’s a catch to being able to show God’s Agape Love to others, and that is we must receive it first! It’s back to square one isn’t it?
Until we recognize and receive God’s UNCONDITIONAL Love, we are not going to be able to dish it out, because Agape Love must be learned from the source, God! This is where Agape Love separates from love seen in Philadelphia. It is based on God’s Love alone, and ignores common interest, relationship or circumstance.
Colossians 3:12-17 (NIV)
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
15Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
If we examine this passage closer, Paul offers a strategy to help us live for God day by day. But in doing so, we’re also being shown a blueprint of what Agape Love looks like.
1. Imitate Christ’s compassionate, forgiving attitude
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Does anyone else here feel like Paul starts with the hard stuff? It’s true, we call ourselves Christians and love all the things that Christ is about, but the easiest thing to forget is why we can call ourselves Christians—because God loved us, showed compassion and forgave us in spite of all the ugliness we have done!
Now it’s our turn.
There’s a Spanish story of a father and son who had become estranged. The son ran away, and the father set off to find him. He searched for months to no avail. Finally, in a last desperate effort to find him, the father put an ad in a Madrid newspaper. The ad read: Dear Paco, meet me in front of this newspaper office at noon on Saturday. All is forgiven. I love you. Your Father. On Saturday 800 Pacos showed up, looking for forgiveness and love from their fathers.
Bits & Pieces, October 15, 1992, pp. 13.
There is a world desperate to receive compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience! They want to know what forgiveness feels like. But we are a stubborn people. We allow personal pain and pride to get in the way.