Summary: Building relationships means spending time together, and this means more than just once a week. A sermon to encourage personal and corporate growth among the church - with God and each other.
This is the fourth sermon in a series entitled “Loving others…and letting them know it.” The purpose of this series has been to understand what true Christian love is, as well as specific ways in which we can express that love to others so that they will actually know without a doubt that they are loved.
In our first study, we learned about the unconditional love of God, and how we are called to have this love. We saw that so often, the love we profess to have as Christians is really a conditional love – a love reserved for those who think, dress, talk, worship, and live the way we do. But as we studied the words of Jesus in Matthew chapter 5, we learned that we are called to a perfect love, which the Scriptures explain to be an all-encompassing love, a love that reaches out to all, indiscriminate of differences; indeed, a love as perfect as that of our Father in Heaven. We discovered that the Scriptures tell of a God whose love knows no bounds – not race, nor class, nor denomination, nor lifestyle. It is a love that is not based on what we do, but who we are – children of Almighty God, the crowning work of His creation. Because each one of us is created by God, we are all loved by God, no matter how bad we may be. Once we understand this love God has for each of us, we begin to understand how we are to love those around us, with a love that will draw them closer to the heart of God – a love that, once received, will inspire a change that we could never accomplish on our own.
We then learned about the power of loving touch. In the life of Christ, we discovered that though He had the power to heal over great distances, or even with just a word, yet in the majority of His healings He reached out and made physical contact with those in need. Each one of us is created with the need to be touched – through a handshake, a hand on the shoulder, a pat on the back, a hug. And there are many in the world – indeed, many even in this congregation – who have not felt the warmth of another human touch for a long time. As followers of Jesus Christ, we realised that to preach the Gospel is not enough – that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. And so we realised that we are called to be the hands of Jesus, reaching out to a world in need, and with a gentle touch leading them to the arms of the Saviour whose embrace will save to the uttermost.
Then last week, we learned about the power of our words. Over and over in the Scriptures, we are told of the power of the tongue, either to bring life, or to bring death. Again through the words of Jesus in Matthew chapter 18, we discovered that our words come forth as reflections of what is in our hearts. And so, we concluded, if our hearts are full of the love of God – this unconditional love that reaches out to everyone – then our words must also be reflectors of this love.
We studied the principle of Ephesians 4:29, which says, “Do not let any unwholesome or corrupt communication come from your mouth, but only that which is useful for the building up of others.” As Christians, we are called to keep a very careful watch over our words, speaking only that which will encourage others in the faith. The challenge was set forth from the Scriptures to affirm one another in our service, and to support our leadership with words of encouragement and prayer, casting off harsh criticism and gossip. We read in Matthew chapter 12, verses 36 and 37, that in the final day, our very words will be accounted in the judgment, and that by our words we will either be justified or condemned.
From our studies thus far, we have concluded that the love of God does not simply abide in our hearts; it is reflected in the words we speak and the actions we take.
Which brings us to our study today. I would invite you to turn with me, once again, to the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 6, starting at verse 19. (Read verses 19-21).
What is Jesus saying here? He is saying that where we invest of ourselves is a reflection of where our hearts are. If we invest in the worldly, then we show that our hearts have not been fully converted by the Divine. Likewise, then, if our hearts have been touched by the love of Almighty God, and we are responding to that love, our investments will be a reflection of our conversion. And this touches all aspects of life.