Summary: This message coincides with FIREPROOF the movie - the second in the series of sermons. Theme is that we can’t give real love until we first experience God’s real love.
He First Loved Us
Scripture: 1 John 4:7-21
Today we look at the second in our series of fireproofing, not only our marriages, but our relationships in general. The message last week centered around some of the differences between men and women and how those differences can actually be used to enjoy one another more fully and how our relationships with members of the opposite sex, are, at varying levels, a shadow and copy of Christ and his bride, the Church.
Humor: There was a line of men standing in front of the Pearly Gates, waiting to get in. A sign overhead read: “For men who have been dominated all their lives by their wives.” The line extended as far as the eye could see.
There was another sign nearby: “For men who have never been dominated by their wives.” One man was standing under it. St. Peter came over to him and said, “What are you standing here for?” The man said, “I don’t know. My wife told me to stand here.” (Michael Hodgin, 1001 More Humorous Illustrations for Public Speaking)
The message today centers around the necessary foundation for good relationships. If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll remember when Caleb and his Dad are walking on the trail and they get to the campfire area, Caleb, after trying for 20 days to show his wife Catherine how much he values and cares for her - with much intensity exclaims to his father, “How am I supposed to show love for someone over and over and over again who constantly rejects me!!??”
And Caleb’s father has moved over to stand beside the cross, and when Caleb notices, he says, “Oh no, Dad, that’s not what this is about. That’s not what this is.” And John Holt says, “Isn’t it Son?” And he explains to Caleb that his frustration - his seemingly dead-end efforts, stem from the fact that he can’t give his wife what he hasn’t got himself. You see every human effort at love, fails. It falls short. Because we fall short. The only perfect love we can ever receive, is from Jesus. So if we want to give good love, even perfect love, the only way we can do that, is to first receive it.
There is only one way to give true love - that’s to have it yourself. We can’t give away what we don’t have. Our scripture lesson today says in verse 7, “love comes from God.” That’s the first principle we need to understand if we’re going to even try to love others.
1. Love comes from God. (Vs 7)
We will never fully understand what true love is, until we receive it in our own lives. Now most of us spend a good deal of our lives trying to get love. Just like Caleb. We do good things. We strive to be good people. We work hard. We smile when we’re supposed to smile. We help when we’re asked to help. We are all good people. And then, just like Caleb, we find out that all of our efforts, all of our goodness, comes up short. Because God’s standards are so high, all of our good-ness doesn’t measure up. Even a hero like Caleb, literally giving people’s lives back to them day after day, doesn’t measure up to God’s standards - isn’t good enough to get to heaven, or save his marriage.
You see, we as humans - because of our pride, because of ego, we always want to give something for what we get - we want to earn our way. It makes us feel better if we know we, at least in some small way, deserve what we get - because we contributed to it, even in a little way. And that’s pride. That’s conceit. And that’s detestable to God. His standards are so high we will never deserve what he offers to us. And when we understand that, and receive his love, then the power of our ego is broken and that’s when we can start to love others.
Until we receive THAT love - God’s love - we will always give love with strings attached. When Caleb told his dad what was so frustrating about trying to love his wife, he said it was because she was stubborn and ungrateful. He said he had been trying for three weeks to show her how much he valued her and cared for her and all she did was throw it back in his face.
You see Caleb was showing his love with strings attached - he wanted something to happen. So he was loving her selfishly. Now that sounds pretty harsh. It only seems fair that when someone does something nice for you - shows you some consideration - it’s not asking too much to expect some kind of good response in return. A simple thank you, at least, would be nice. And that’s what our society is built upon - reciprocation - you do this for me, and I’ll do this for you. You give me what I want and I’ll give you want you want, and we’ll all get along.