Summary: We know that loving each other is much more than just a good idea. Jesus said: "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another...Knowing that we should love other Christians and even saying that we love other Christians is not enough. We must
Purpose: To show that we are free to love other Christians when we are fully trusting in Christ.
Aim: I want Christians to look for ways to improve how they love other Christians.
INTRODUCTION: We know that loving each other is much more than just a good idea. Jesus said: "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another" (John 13:34 NAU).
If we refuse to love other Christians then we are not Christians. John made this truth very clear: "The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love" (1 John 4:8 NAU). Since some of the members of the church in Corinth were struggling with loving other believers Paul confronted them with the possibility that they were not really Christians. Notice what he told them: "...we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God" (2 Corinthians 5:20 NAU)
"Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you--unless indeed you fail the test?" (2 Corinthians 13:5 NAU).
An unloving attitude among church goers is an evidence of a lack of spiritual life. "A large quantity of radioactive material was stolen from a hospital. When the hospital administrator notified the police, he said: 'Please warn the thief that he is carrying death with him, and that the radioactive material cannot be successfully hidden. As long as he has it in his possession, it is affecting him disastrously!'"  So it is with dislike or indifference toward other Christians.
Knowing that we should love other Christians and even saying that we love other Christians is not enough. We must be sure that we are actually doing it. So, let's begin by asking:
I. How do Christians Show that they Love each other?
Two of the prominent themes of Paul's second letter to the Corinthians are #1 the need for brotherly love and #2 Christ's love for us through the Gospel. For example, Paul says that "For the love of Christ controls us... " (2 Corinthians 5:14 NAU) and Paul also talks about "...the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God" (2 Corinthians 4:4 NAU).
In Paul's first letter to this church he had to rebuke them for some serious problems in the church. The worst problem was probably their tolerance of a church member who was involved in open sexual sin. The church as a whole responded correctly to Paul's instruction in the first letter about the matter, but there were still lingering divisions in the church and criticism of Paul's leadership that he had to deal with in the second letter. This is why this letter from Paul gives us a list of tests that we can give ourselves that will show if we are REALLY loving other Christians.
Before we look at eight statements that Paul makes that describe what loving other believers really looks like, let me give you a very important warning. God's main purpose for His Word is to be a mirror where we can see ourselves. Please resist the temptation of looking at these eight statements to see if others are loving you.
1:3-7 A. We should be a comfort to each other
God doesn't comfort us just so we can have comfort. He does it so we can share that comfort with other Christians [see verses 6 & 7].
1:11 B. We should pray for each other
When someone offends you or bothers you, do you pray for them? We cannot be angry at a person and be praying for God to bless them at the same time.
1:21-22 C. We are all joined together by God
Paul uses the pronoun "us" four times in these two verses. It is God that has brought us together, so separating ourselves from or ignoring other believers denies God's work in the church.
1:24-2:3 D. We should bring joy to each other
It is not loving when we just tolerate each other. We need to bring joy to each other. This is why the Bible says, "let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near" (Hebrews 10:24--25 NAU).
2:6-9 E. We should forgive believers who repent
Forgiving someone means treating them as if they had never sinned. If we are not seeking to comfort a believer who has gotten right with God then we have not forgiven them.
3:2-3; 7:3 F. We should tenderly care for each other
Our care for each other should flow from a heart that desires to care. Acts of kindness out of an attitude of duty is not real love. We should want to be with other Christians and we should be willing to die for other Christians.