Summary: Love is at the core of what it means to be a Christian.
Title: The “Ought” of Love!
Text: I John 4:7-21
Thesis: Love is at the core of what it means to be a Christian.
Series: The second in the series from I John 4:7-21, “The Christian’s Litmus Test”
(If there were one decisive factor in determining the reality of one’s Christianity… what would that test be? A confession of faith and doctrinal purity? Would the test be ethical or behavioral… a holy life? Good works? Unconditional, Christ-like love?)
This week I ran across a few bloopers recorded on hospital patient charts that may or may not be real… but here are a few examples:
• Patient refused autopsy.
• Patient became very angry when given an enema by mistake.
• Patient has chest pain if she lies on her left side for over a year.
• Patient is tearful and crying constantly. She also appears to be depressed.
• Patient is numb from her toes down.
• Patient’s skin was moist and dry.
• Patient is under our car for physical therapy.
• Patient has occasional, constant, infrequent headaches.
• Patient was alert and unresponsive.
• Lab tests indicated abnormal lover function.
This morning I want to speak to the condition of having abnormal lover function…
In I John 4:11 our text states, “Since God loved us that much (see verse 9), we surely ought to love each other…” So it would seem that God’s love for us literally compels us to love others. As recipients of God’s love we then “ought” to love others.
But the fact that we “ought” to love others does not make it so.
There is at least one reason why the “ought” isn’t.
I. There is a reason people who “ought” to love, don’t.
“I tell you, her sins – and they are many – have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But, a person who is forgiven little, shows only a little love.” Luke 7:36-50
Once, while having dinner in the home of in influential religious leader named Simon, an immoral woman of the city came into the home and began to anoint Jesus’ feet with expensive, perfumed oil. And as she did so, she wept and kissed his feet and dried them with her hair. Simon reacted just like most of us would react if anyone, much less a known prostitute, came in and began to anoint someone’s feet. Simon was flabbergasted and said to himself, “If Jesus was really a prophet he would know that the woman touching him is a sinner!”
Just as we readily pick up on what others are thinking in given situations, Jesus knew exactly what Simon was thinking. Jesus then spoke to Simon and told a parable about a man who forgave the debts of two men, both of whom owed him money. One man owed him 500 pieces of silver or 500 denarii. A denarii was the equivalent of a what a laborer would earn in a day. So the man owed the equivalent of what a man would earn in 500 days or nearly a year and a half of earnings. The other owed a much lesser amount, 50 days earnings.
In the story Jesus said that the man owed the money “kindly” cancelled the debt of both men. Then Jesus posed the question, “Which man do you supposed loved him most after that?” Of course the obvious answer was, “I suppose the one for whom he cancelled the larger debt.”
Jesus went on explain himself, “I tell you, her sins – and they are many – have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But, a person who is forgiven little, shows only a little love.” Luke 7:36-50
So, John points out in our text today that since “God has showed how much he loved us by sending his only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him… since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other.” I John 4:9 and 11
The man in the parable could not love like that woman loved because he had little or no sense of his own wretchedness. He only knew he believed he was a lot better person than was the woman, presumed to be a prostitute. He could not and he would not do such a selfless and sacrificial thing for Jesus or anyone else, for such a spectacle was well beneath his dignity… And as Jesus, not so subtly pointed out, it was because he loved little.
That is why we find the word “ought” in our text today. “Since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other…” The word “ought” means “to owe.” There is a certain compulsion to love others.
It is that sense of owing that puts a negative spin on the “ought” of loving.