Summary: Let’s take one more look at the subject of love. And in doing that, there are 3 things I want you to see: 1. The Magnificence of God’s Love. 2. The Mediocrity of Man’s Love. 3. The Maturity of Christian Love. (Powerpoints available - #135)
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
(Powerpoints used with this message are availaable for free. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and request # 135.)
A. I’m convinced that if there is one thing the world really needs to know more about, & to put into practice, it is love. In fact, so important is love that Jesus devoted a whole section of the Sermon on the Mount to it.
But first, let’s make certain that we understand the kind of love that Jesus is talking about, the kind of love that the Bible consistently urges to be a part of our lives.
It is not the kind of romantic love, the erotic love for someone else that is splashed across the pages of much of our pulp fiction today. Rather, it is the desire to do that which is the very best for the object of our love. We may not personally like the person we are told to love, but we still seek the very best for that person.
In fact, this love may even cause a parent to say, when issuing corrective discipline to a child, “This hurts me worse than it does you.” And the child is thinking, “Yeah, I don’t believe that.”
Listen as I read what He had to say about this kind of love in Matthew 5:43 48. "You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor & hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies & pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.
“He causes His sun to rise on the evil & the good, & sends rain on the righteous & the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?
“And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."
B. I’m afraid that our first reaction when we hear these words of Jesus is to think that He is being unrealistic, telling us to do something that we can’t possibly do.
But Jesus doesn’t make impossible demands. I believe that what He is asking here is that when people look at us that they see a family resemblance between us & our heavenly Father.
Often we see children who look just like one of their parents. Here is a son who is the "spitting image" of his father. He has his father’s profile. He talks like his father. He walks like his father. And one day he’ll probably look just like his father looks right now.
Jesus is saying, "When people see you, I want it to be obvious that you are children of your Father in heaven. You know that your Father shows His love to everyone, & I want you to learn to do the same thing."
C. But before we go any further into that, I want to call your attention again to vs. 48 where Jesus concludes His comments on "love" by saying, "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."
That word "perfect" there causes problems to us because we think of something "perfect" as being without any flaw or blemish. And no matter how hard we try, we know that there are going to be flaws & blemishes in our life.
But the Greek word used here also means "mature, fully equipped, ready & able to do the job that needs to be done." And I believe that is what Jesus expects from us in putting into practice God’s love in this world.