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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.


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