Summary: Everyone talks about true love. But the Apostle John tells us how we are supposed to love.
In just two days, we celebrate a holiday centered around the concept of love. We’ve seen traces of it for weeks. Hearts, flowers, candy… My wife told me exactly what she wanted this year… she told me she wanted flowers…but not roses. Anyone can get roses, she said. She wanted tulips. And so I will do my best to take care of that.
If you really examine it, love is the motivation for a lot of what we do. I look at my day during a typical week. Every morning, I get up and wake up a certain 7 year old. I have to look really hard to find her because she’s so tiny. But I only finally see the little lump in the middle of the bed and I scream out “Cheyenne Nicole! Let’s go! Let’s go!”. She bounds out of bed, gets dressed and while I’m getting ready enjoys the madcap world of “SpongeBob”… I take her by Casstevens and we get three donuts (she sometimes wants four or five but the agreed upon number is always three). Now, I keep pretty late hours sometimes and there are some mornings I would rather sleep late. But this is the regular ritual. Why do I do it? Out of love.
On one day a week, I devote a couple of hours to housecleaning. Now there is nothing I hate more than that type of work. I get down on my knees and scrub the toilets. I mop the kitchen floor. I dust which means I have to move everything around and then back to its original spot. I hate it! But I know how hard my wife works during the day and though she has a higher standard for a clean house than I do, she says it still helps. And I do it because I love her. That’s my motivation.
And the feelings are reciprocated. If you ever look on the office wall behind my desk, you’ll find it decorated with all sorts of lovely pieces of artwork drawn by my 7 year old Picasso. She spent an afternoon one day decorating my wall. There is a beautiful puzzle portrait in my office as well. When my wife was down from surgery this time last year, she took the time to do that for me. Both of these had the motivation of love behind them.
Love is the highest motivation for a minister to connect with people. John Maxwell, a great guru on leadership today, says “If you don’t love them, don’t try to lead them>” Love in fact, is the highest motivation in our service to Christ. You cannot be an effective Christian, an effective servant for Jesus and don’t have love.
Consider what the Apostle Paul said in I Corinthians 13
1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
2 And though I have the gift of ch. 12:8-10,28;& 14:1;See Mat. 7:22prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith,so that I could remove mountains, and have no charity, I am nothing.
3 And Mat. 6:1,2though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. (I Corinthians 13:1-3.. KJV)
Morgan Cryer summed it up in his song “If I don’t have love, I don’t have nothing”
I am amazed sometimes when I see people who seem to dislike everyone around them, always have something negative to say, and yet claim to love the Lord. The truth is that if we ‘re going to follow Jesus, we must learn to love.
First of all, we must love the Lord.
One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?" "The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: ’Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ (NIV, Mark 12:28-30)
Our theme for this church year (September to September) has been “Back to the Basics”. I am convinced that one thing that has happened to today’s churches is that we’ve gotten off target. We’ve overcomplicated things and become more about strategies than we have anything else. We glitz it up with programs and we’re all about numbers. There are churches full of people with no spiritual depth. They’re growing, but at what price? They’ve forgotten their motivation. People ask me “Brother Rick, do you want to grow as a church?”. And my answer is always “yes”… what pastor would say no to that? But I want to grow in a way that constantly points to Jesus. I don’t want to grow because we employed some major secular marketing strategy. I want to grow because people have earnestly decided that they are all about loving Him.