Summary: Love must be expressed in the flesh in order for it to be real.
September 7, 2008
Text: Luke 10:25-35
Subject: The Fruit of the Spirit
Title: The Limit of Love
Turn to Luke 10. What kind of love do you have in you? As I shared with you last week from Galatians 5:22-23, if you are born again you have certain attributes that now are alive inside of you – in your spirit man. Love is one of those attributes. So let me ask you again, what kind of love do you have inside of you? For most of us love is something we show to our families and closet friends, and maybe even once and a while to a stranger in need. Luke 10:25, 25On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
26“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
27He answered: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
28“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” 29But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
The “expert” in the law wasn’t satisfied with what he heard from Jesus so he asked further.
In verse 27 the word love is used two times – Love the Lord your God… and Love your neighbor. The word that is translated “Love” is the Greek word that refers to the same kind of love God has for us – unconditional love; Love without reason. He asks us to love Him the same way He loves us and then to love our neighbors the same way. That’s not something that is easy to do sometimes for some of our neighbors seem to be unlovable.
It was the 1930’s in northern Canadian prairie. The height of the Great Depression. Jansen family was share-cropping but then lost their farm. A friend told them of a farm across from Jud Brewster. Few lasted there because Jud was so mean. Mr. Jansen said, "I’ll just kill him."
They moved to the new farm. One week later, Brewster appeared at their door in a rage. Their chickens were bothering him, and he threatened to kill them. The family locked them up in the henhouse.
Peace for a time, then he showed up again. "Jansen, your pigs have been in my garden. They’ll never get in my garden again!" There, in Brewster’s wagon, was their herd of young pigs, all dead. He had shot each of them. Without saying a word, Mr. Jansen buried the pigs.
A few weeks later one of the Jansen boys came rushing into the house. "Daddy, go get a gun quick. Jud Brewster’s pigs are in our garden!" The kids could already taste revenge. The father replied, "We won’t need a gun. Round up the pigs."
After a lot of trouble getting them in the wagon, they headed over to Brewster’s farm. "Good evening, Mr. Brewster. Your pigs have been in my garden. I’ve brought them back." The color drained from Brewster’s face. "My pigs, my pigs in your garden?" "That’s right. Where do you want us to put them?" Brewster’s body sagged against the door and he said, "Just dump them over behind the barn."
Jansen replied with a slight grin, "OK, but they’ll just get out again." When it had sunk in the Jansen had not killed the pigs, Brewster clutched his hand like a dying man. They talked for a long time. Brewster gave him half the pigs to keep, and on Sunday he came to church. From that point on, he was a changed man.
Later one of his boys asked him what he meant when he said he would kill Brewster when they moved by him. He replied,
"Not with a gun. I planned to do it another way - by heaping coals on his head. "That old neighbor is as dead as a doornail, just like I’d said he’d be. "And we’re glad to be alive to see it."
I want to look with you today at the rest of the passage that I began in Luke 10. Let’s look at love to see if we can find out what kind of love God wants us to have in us.
Lord, open my eyes to see and my ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the church today.
I. IN LOVE WITH YOURSELF. (30-32) “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. The same way that He often did, Jesus tells a story to get a point across. The road from Jerusalem to Jericho was dangerous. It was often traveled by robbers and thieves just waiting for some unexpecting soul that they could prey upon. They didn’t just rob this man, they took his clothes, his dignity, his belongings and then beat him. Now, along comes a priest and a Levite. Some have suggested that these two were traveling to the temple in order to perform their temple duties, which would kind of give them and excuse According to the Law. If the man appeared to be dead they wouldn’t be able to touch him and still perform their duties – they would be unclean. That really doesn’t justify their actions but you can kind of see where they were coming from. However, that appears to not be the case. Verse 31 says the priest was also going down the same road, which would indicate that he too was going away from Jerusalem and headed for Jericho. How would you have responded to the situation? I can think of a lot of different responses. “I don’t know first aid. What can I do? I’m just one person. How can I make a difference? I’ll pray for him. He probably got what was coming to him. You remember about three weeks ago that a man was killed in Hannibal when he stopped to help a woman who was being beaten by two men. Jesus said, 13Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. The man in Hannibal laid down his life for someone he didn’t even know. The Priest and the Levite, who were supposed to be the religious leaders of Israel, were not even willing to go and check on the man. I can hear the attitudes of the Priest and Levite screaming out from their self-righteous selves. “I’m a priest. There are plenty of others who should be able to help the man. I love the people of Israel and I show it by being willing to serve in the temple when it is my time. I don’t even know this man. He may not even be a Jew. The Levite wouldn’t have been much better. The point is, they each saw a great need and chose to move to the other side of the road to avoid it. Paul alluded to this kind of a lifestyle in 1 Corinthians 13. 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. Paul wasn’t talking about the priesthood or the Levites but about “religious” Christians. You can have all the gifts of the spirit in operation in your church but if you don’t have love what good does it do? Paul uses that word for unconditional love again – the kind of love God has for all mankind. That takes us back to what I talked about last week. If the love we have remains on the inside of us is it really love? For spiritual attributes must be manifest on the outside for them to become real.