Love is …Part one
Thesis: Love needs to be defined in light of what the Bible says love is. Love really is only defined in light of the statement “God is Love!” If you do not start with God then you cannot know or experience love in your life.
Opening Illustration from: “Forever Young”.
The young boy was told by the pilot you have to tell her you love her. The scene is funny and humorous because of the innocence of the young boy. But is this what love is?
I do agree with Mel Gibson’s character that you have to tell some one you love them! It must be verbalized to demonstrate what is in the heart.
This is why I come back to the point that Love is only defined and experienced in light of the truth that “God is Love!” Without this as our base we cannot love. So we must start with a love relationship with the Lord. This relationship is formed and put into action when we openly confess with our heart and mouth that we love the Lord and want to live and serve Him with our lives.
5Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.
… 16“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
1 John 4:7-21:
7Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
13We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. 16And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. 17In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. 18There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
19We love because he first loved us. 20If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. 21And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.
I Cor. 13:1-13 (NIV)
1If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
I Cor. 13 - The Message:
THE WAY OF LOVE
If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.
If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.
If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.
When I was an infant at my mother’s breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.
We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!
But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.
Love oh that magic word full of promise and bliss. Love the goal of every person in the world. We all want to experience and be recipients of love. We find talk shows dedicated to love. We find books written in honor of love. We find TV shows dealing with the search for love. We find movies written for the purpose of the discovery of love. Love has been called the many splendid thing. Love has been deemed the greatest thing in the world.
But love has also been miss-defined, misdiagnosed, misrepresented, misunderstood, and totally missed by many in America and the world today. They have Love but their love does not align with what the Bible calls is love. They have tried to re-write the meaning of love in our society. They have tried to redefine its importance and its intention.
I wish we had several definitions for love like the Greeks did. They defined love three different ways.
1, Agape – God’s perfect love demonstrated by John 3:16
2. Phileo – natural love- Based on the thought if you love me I will love you.
3. Eros – Sexual love
All three describe a different dimension of love. But the truth is you can never attain true love without starting with the right base. The right base to begin the definition of love and the integration of love in your life starts with God. The Bible makes it crystal clear that “God is love” 1 John 4:16. Therefore if God is not at the root of your life you will never be able to achieve love’s supremacy in your life. Because 1 John 4: 7 says “Love comes from God!” So before I say anything else remember this “Love is GOD- because God is love!” So with that truth in mind let us start defining love in light of this revelatory truth today. So for true love to appear and be in your life you must understand it all goes back to a personal relationship with the Lord God almighty.
Let me put it this way Love is birthed in us by God!
T.S. - Lets now look at the greatest chapter in the Bible which deals with the supremacy of the way of love as it is defined by the Lord.
1. Love is according to the Bible the greatest most powerful force on this earth.
a. Love is greater than knowledge we are told.
b. Love is greater than supernatural prophetic words.
c. Love is greater than having the faith that will literally move mountains.
d. Love is greater than the ability to understand mysteries of the Universe.
e. So how great is Love when it is birthed and implanted in us by God?
i. It will stop the tongue from cursing
ii. It will stop wars
iii. It will stop divorce
iv. It will stop gossip
v. It will stop starvation and hunger
vi. It will stop rape and murder
1. Reference the 11 year old killed in Florida this week
vii. It will stop suicide
viii. It will stop theft
ix. It will stop evil from spreading
x. It will stop hunger for the starving children
xi. It will stop the spread of aids
xii. It will stop the destruction of the family unit.
xiii. It will stop destructive addictions
xiv. It will stop crime
xv. It will stop the Devil right in his evil plot to kill, steal and destroy.
f. So why has love lost its power- the reason we have thrown God out of the equation for LOVE. The Bible gives us this equation LOVE = GOD. Today we have LOVE – GOD. Which leaves us with no love!
T.S. - So what is love according to our text today lets explore and find out what Love is.
2. Love is defined by the Bible as follows:
a. Love is? – “Love suffers long” It has the ability to suffer a long time and still be genuine love. The truth is love never gives up and quits!
i. God is role modeling this quality of love today!
ii. He has suffered long with the sinful condition of the world.
1. If he did not love us he would have wiped us out years ago.
2. He would have destroyed the world as we know it.
3. He would not have sent his son Jesus to die for us.
iii. The world does not have true love because the people who claim they are love struck fall in and out of love all the time. Their love has no endurance it does not want to suffer at all. A few things go wrong in a relationship today and we throw it in the trash and go search for another love relationship.
1. Just look at you Hollywood stars!
2. Just look at the society around you.
iv. We often hear people say, “We fell out of love with one another!” So we got a divorce!
1. Implying that this is normal thing for Love!
2. In the word of God falling in and out of love is a impossibility.
v. Henry Ward Beecher shares this thought about love, “We never know how much one loves till we know how much he is willing to endure and suffer for us; and it is the suffering element that measures love. The characters that are great must, of necessity, be characters that shall be willing, patient and strong to endure for others. To hold our nature in the willing service of another, is the divine idea of manhood, of human character.”
b. Love is? – “Kind” which is defined as gentle, tenderhearted, generous.
i. It’s a character that is tender in nature toward others, one who seeks to be generous with others. It’s one who has a compassion for the feelings of others. The truth is love cares more about others than it does for itself.
ii. A person described as kind is affectionate in nature.
1. A couple was loading their car in the parking lot of the immigration service in Loredo, Texas, when a long-haired young man holding a pair of scissors approached. "Can anybody here cut hair?" he asked. "I can’t get a Mexican tourist visa until I get a haircut." After taking full account of his striped flared jeans, bare chest, and peace beads, a gray-haired woman in the next car volunteered. She snipped and clipped with obvious pleasure, while the young man bemoaned the locks falling around his feet. A small circle of amused tourists gathered to observe the impromptu barbershop. When someone remarked that a haircut was worth $10, he groaned even louder. As she finished cutting, the woman said, "Haircuts are only $7 in my hometown, but this one is worth $10--to me." And having said that, she handed the surprised young man a ten-dollar bill, climbed back in her car, waved, and drove off.
2. While Lincoln was a poor young lawyer in Springfield, he was going to his office one morning when he saw a little girl crying at the door of one of the houses. Lincoln stopped to see what was the matter. She sobbed out her story. She was going to visit a little friend of hers in another town. It was to be her first ride on the train, and the expressman had not come for the trunk. Mr. Lincoln lifted the trunk onto his shoulders and started off, calling to the little girl to "come along." They just caught the train. No wonder the little girl never forgot him! A great, brave, noble man he was--never too busy to be kind (Pulpit Helps 2, Heaven Word).
c. Love is? – “Love does not envy.”
i. Envy means to have hatred or ill will toward another person and to desire what they have. To despise another because of something the other haves and they do not. The truth is love does not want what it does not have.
1. Truth is love is not involved in adultery type relationships. Sorry- not according to God’s word.
a. Share the story of the individual who felt God wanted them to have an affair.
ii. The sad fact is people end their love by choice and then allow envy to destroy their once precious relationship.
1. Have you ever heard the phrase some spouses use after killing their spouse, ”If I cannot have her then no one will!”
iii. People choose to love or not. But God’s word makes it clear that the Christian is not to waver in and out of love. He or she does not act like this because God does not act like this.
1. I John 4:8 states, “8Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
iv. Love will never seek to destroy another person.
1. Yet, it’s amazing how hatred and envy take over after marriages end in divorce. Not only are the people crushed so are the kids and other relationships around this family unit.
v. The world allows envy into their relationships and they even think its all part of love.
d. Love is? – “Love does not parade itself!”
i. Love does not strut around like a peacock saying look at me.
ii. Is this not what happens in the world with all these people striving to be sex symbols?
iii. That has nothing to do with love!
iv. Love instead draws attention to the one who is love – God!
1. They focus all the glory and all the praise to the one who deserves it.
e. Love is? – “Love is not puffed up!”
i. Love does not have a over swelled head full of itself. I preached a sermon a while back called “Puffy Heads go Poof!”
1. When pride takes over, in a persons head their head puffs up and eventually their head goes poof!
2. Proverbs 16:18 "Pride goes before destruction a haughty spirit before a fall."
3. Isaiah 2:11,12 "The eyes of the arrogant man will be brought low; the Lord alone will be exalted in that day. The Lord almighty has a day in store for all the proud and lofty, for all that is exalted (and they will be humbled).
4. Kapteyn helps us see what happens with pride along with some of my observations: Pride is what hurts us in our relationships - in church, in families, (at work, at school), with friends. Pride makes us stubborn - I’m right, she’s wrong - (I know all more about this than they do-they need to listen to me!). Pride stops us from forgiving "I was right she needs to apologize to me not visa versa! Pride makes us put up false fronts "I’m not letting anyone else know my sins and weaknesses" ("I don’t have any problems only those kind of people do! My life is perfect! I don’t make mistakes! ) It creates walls of pretension. Pride makes us think we are better or know more than the other. We become proud of what we do, read (or achieve).
5. Pride has nothing to do with love and as a matter fact it is an enemy of love.
6. Remember Satan’s whole demise came from a prideful heart.
a. He was blameless until wickedness set in (Pride!)
b. See Isaiah for the description of his wickedness * Isaiah 14:12-15: How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! You said in your heart, "I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High." But you are brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit.
i. Bottom line PRIDE
ii. “A proud man has no God!” - Benjamin Whichcote
7. The result of Satan’s pride led him to be driven from heaven.
f. Love is? – “Love does not behave rudely.”
i. In other words love does not force its way on to others.
1. Rape is not love!
ii. Love is not crude or rough.
iii. Love does not act barbarous or ignorant toward others.
iv. Love does act in rough, harsh, violent ways.
v. Love does not tear others down.
vi. Love does not call others vile names.
1. The wicked practice of swearing, which is so common as to offend the ear in every restaurant and hotel, and which can be heard in almost every motion picture and television show is often mere bravado. Boys think it sounds manly to be profane, and men think it gives force and character to their sayings. Unlike most other vices, it is done openly, and is intended by the swearer for other people’s ears. It is a public sin against God, and a public insult to all good men. The boldest blasphemers are often the greatest cowards. A tale is told of a preacher, who told a man with a profane mouth, that he would give him fifty dollars, if he would go into the village cemetery at midnight, and alone with God, repeat the same profanities that he used earlier in the day in public. "Agreed," said the swearer, "an easy way to make fifty bucks." "Well," said the preacher, "come tomorrow, and say you have done it, and you shall have the money." Midnight came. It was a night of great darkness. As he entered the cemetery, not a sound was heard; all was still as death. The gentleman’s words came to his mind. "Alone with God!" rang in his ears. He did not dare to utter an oath, but fled from the place, crying, "God be merciful to me a sinner!"
2. Reference the Super Bowl halftime show.
3. Reference some of the rap songs of today.
vii. Love does not act in this manner.
This week we are moving toward the big day Valentine’s Day:
Saint Valentine and the legends around him all have to deal with a individual or individuals who willing showed how much they loved the Lord Jesus Christ.
There is a saying by Arsene Housaye which states, “Tell me whom you love, and I will tell you what you are.” Everyone in Valentine’s era knew what it meant to love Christ sacrificially. You could say this in light of Arsene’s statement.
Valentine loved the Lord Jesus Christ with his whole mind, heart, soul and he used all his strength to demonstrate it to others. Therefore his legend of love for Christ has lasted for over 1700 years. Anyone who looked on Valentine’s life would know who he loved and then determine that he was a Christian when it was not popular to be Christian and he paid with his life. He Loved the Lord and he showed us were we need to start if we really want to know how to love.
Morris Gantley notes:
Every February 14, for about 1700 years, people have remembered St Valentine, a man who died because he was in love.
He discovered a unique type of love. A love so exciting, so powerful, so overwhelming as to make the romance of Romeo and Juliet look like puppy love, and the affairs of Josephine and Napoleon, Anthony and Cleopatra, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor look second rate.
From the moment he became a Christian until he was murdered, the threat of death and terrifying torture dangled over his neck every day. But nothing could stop him. He was in love. With innocent Christians suffering unspeakable horrors, dying like flies around him, he was unfazed by the question as to why a God of love would allow such things. He knew a secret.
In the times in which he lived, multiplied thousands were tortured to death. Rather than compromise, they chose to endure indescribable agonies, because each of them was in love – with the same person. God.
Is it really possible to be in love with God?
Gloria gather notes:
His Love ... Reaching
Right from the beginning God’s love has reached, and from the beginning man has refused to understand. But love went on reaching, offering itself.
Love offered the eternal ... we wanted the immediate.
Love offered deep joy ... we wanted the thrills.
Love offered freedom ...we wanted license.
Love offered communion with God Himself ... we wanted to worship at the shrine of our own minds.
Love offered peace ... we wanted approval for our wars
Even yet, love went on reaching. And still today, after two thousand years, patiently, lovingly, Christ is reaching out to us today. Right through the chaos of our world, through the confusion of our minds. He is reaching ... longing to share with us ... the very being of God.
His love still is longing, His love still is reaching, right past the shackles of my mind.
And the Word of the Father became Mary’s little Son. And His love reached all the way to where I was! --Gloria Gaither
Think about the true meaning and purpose of Love – the kind of Love that God wants you to live by.
"Will the hassle never end?" One senses that this is more and more a feeling which is becoming a way of life to the majority of us in this country. What has happened? We have let ourselves be swept along in the current of modern society and culture until we are almost swallowed up. We have been molded into place by machines, schedules, neurotic activity, peer pressures, and "little league" activities of all sorts. Family units seem to be more individual units living under the same roof. Could it be we only have a form of that which God intended and that modern society has gutted our spiritual house? It is possible! What is to be done?
First of all, it is time to take time to think. We do so little of that these days. No one needs to think as long as he is swept along in the stream of routine, never-ending activity. Get out of the stream, on the bank, and think. Stop right now and think.
O.K. Here I am. What am I supposed to think about? The following suggestions are offered by Gary D. Taliaferro:
1. Think about God’s love and power and how they have affected your life.
2. Think of your family and all the natural gifts and resources He has given you.
3. Think about and enumerate what the components of His kind of life are in your world and in the life you are living.
4. Think about a growing tree, the birds flying south at winter, the process of a bee making honey.
5. Think about a boy learning from his father about the wonders of life and of creative work.
6. Think about a day without any yelling and screaming and hassle.
7. Think about how your life in your world and family can incorporate the quiet serenity of Jesus Christ.
8. Think and control your life in harmony with God and not be gobbled up by this present world.
Remember, Jesus said through the Apostle Paul, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect" (Rom. 12:2). (Stories for Preachers).