Summary: Series on the power of love to restore relationships
“Loving Your Brother”
1 John 3:11 For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.
I. Love is the preeminent commandment
A. The background for the directive – “to you that believe” ch. 5:13
B. The teachings of the Savior
John 13:34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
1 John 3:23 And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.
C. The behavior of the early church
Tertullian, an early Christian author, reported that the Romans would exclaim, “See how they love one another,” and
Justin Martyr, a Greek speaking Christian apologist, sketched Christian love this way: “We who used to value the acquisition of wealth and possessions more than anything else now bring what we have into a common fund and share it with anyone who needs it. We used to hate and destroy one another and refused to associate with people of another race or country. Now, because of Christ, we live together with such people and pray for our enemies.”
Clement of Alexandria, describing the person who has come to know God, wrote, “He impoverishes himself out of love, so that he is certain he may never overlook a brother in need, especially if he knows he can bear poverty better than his brother. He likewise considers the pain of another as his own pain. And if he suffers any hardship because of having given out of his own poverty, he does not complain.”
Compare these statements with a Gallup poll from several years back…
There's little difference in ethical behavior between the churched and the unchurched. There's as much pilferage and dishonesty among the churched as the unchurched. And I'm afraid that applies pretty much across the board: Religion, per se, is not really life changing. People cite it as important, for instance, in overcoming depression--but it doesn't have primacy in determining behavior.
George H. Gallup, "Vital Signs," Leadership, Fall 1987, p. 17.
II. Love puts care in practice – v. 18 “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.”
A. The caution – v. 12 “Not as Cain…”
Genesis 4:9 “And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper?”
Someone has said that, “Hate is like acid. It can damage the vessel in which it is stored as well as destroy the object on which it is poured.”
One of the worst cases of hatred I have ever come across is found in a will written in 1935 by a Mr. Donohoe. It says, "Unto my two daughters, Frances Marie and Denise Victoria, by reason of their unfilial attitude toward a doting father...I leave the sum of $1.00 to each and a father's curse. May their lives be fraught with misery, unhappiness, and poignant sorrow. May their deaths be soon and of a lingering malignant and torturous nature."
The last line of the will is so vicious I shudder to quote it. It reads, "May their souls rest in hell and suffer the torments of the condemned for eternity."
Our Daily Bread, February 18, 1994
B. The condemnation – v. 14b-15 “…He that loveth not his brother, abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer…”
C. The comparison – v. 16 “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
10 yr old boy was failing math, his parents did everything, even hired tutors; finally as a last option they send him to a Catholic school. Right on the first day of school he began to spend every night pouring over his books. When the 1st report card came back, he had an A for math. So the parents were curious "what made the difference." they asked. "The nuns; the textbooks?" "Well, I never took math seriously but the 1st day I walked in
to math class I saw this guy nailed to a plus sign. I knew then they meant business."This is just it. Jesus meant business when he showed us what love is. We broke all the rules and Jesus could have spent eternity counting all our infractions, mistakes, every sin – but what did he do instead to communicate love… Jesus laid down his life for us. He chose to forgive, to put love with action, coming and die in our place.
If you and I really love our brother we will do what Jesus did; we will lay down our lives for our brother!