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Summary: Exercising Christian love will result in two things.

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Acts 9:23-31

Walking Together in Christian Love

Woodlawn Missionary Baptist Church

February 12, 2006

Introduction

I heard about a young man that said to his father at breakfast one morning, "Dad, I’m going to get married." "How do you know you’re ready to get married?" asked the father. "Are you in love?" "I sure am," said the son. "How do you know you’re in love?" asked the father. "Last night as I was kissing my girlfriend good-night, her dog bit me and I didn’t feel the pain until I got home!”

Do we really know what love is? I would venture to say that the average believer really doesn’t know. For years we have taken our cues from Hollywood, where love is fantasized and romanticized, where divorce is not only acceptable but normal. The truth though is that our ideas of love must come from heaven, not Hollywood. Our values must be shaped by Scripture and not by the songs coming out of Nashville. If anyone ought to know about real love it ought to be you and me – those of us who know and have experienced the love and grace of God.

This week Americans will celebrate Valentine’s Day, a special day for many people. Husbands and wives will express their love for one another; some of you will think of those you love who have gone on to be with the Lord, and certainly that is a great opportunity for you to thank God for the love He allowed you to know. Some of us just aren’t good at Valentine’s Day. You might even related to the preacher who quoted 1 Corinthians 7:1 on Valentine’s, “Now for the matters I wrote you about: It is good for a man not to marry.”

In the passages we’re going to consider this morning, it is not the Valentine’s Day sort of love I want deal with, but rather I want us to consider love for one another: brotherly, or Christian love. You remember that Jesus told His disciples that by their love for one another would all men know they were His disciples. For a people who constantly talk about witnessing and sharing our faith, perhaps one of the most frequently missed opportunities to do so is through our love for one another, or the lack thereof. The world in which we live needs to see the love of God demonstrated as much as it needs to hear the words.

In the two primary passages we’ll read, two men come under consideration who spent much time together building the Lord’s churches. Though Saul, better known as the apostle Paul is the better known of the two men, it is Barnabas that I want see, and more specifically it is his Christian love on display that I want us to see. We may revel in the magnitude of Paul’s ministry, but we forget that Barnabas was God’s instrument in getting that ministry started.

Barnabas is first mentioned in Acts 4:36 where he was a part of the church at Jerusalem. Remember that the Jerusalem church had many needs, and under the leadership of the Holy Spirit many who had land and goods sold them to help care for the needs of others. Barnabas was one such man. He would later be instrumental in strengthening the church at Antioch. His name means “encourager,” and we see that out of his love for God and for others that he truly was a disciple of Christ.

You and I are called on to love one another like Barnabas loved Paul. I am to love you. You are to love me. We are each to love one another. You can call it brotherly love, Christian love, agape love or biblical love. You call it what you like, but when you practice it two things will always happen that are going to draw attention to you and your Savior.

You Will Accept People As They Are

Do you remember the reputation Paul had before his conversion? In Acts 7:58, we read that the religious leaders of the day had taken deacon Stephen, “And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul.” Chapter 8:1 says that

“Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering into every house, and hailing men and women committed them to prison.”

Everyone around knew about Saul! He had a great testimony all right – the man was bad news! He was causing great trouble for the followers of Christ. He hated them and wanted to stamp them out of existence because of their blasphemous religion.

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