Love And Joy Perfected
9 “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. 11 “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. 12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. 17 These things I command you, that you love one another.
If I were to ask you this afternoon… “Do you love God”, raise your hands. Just as I thought, all hands will be raised. From our opening verses, loving God has a lot to do with our obedience. As you have just witnessed, all hands were raised when I asked, “do you love God?” Its not a very challenging question now is it?
“If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love”. We obey Jesus, not by gritting our teeth and doing what we hate, but by depending on His power to enable us to do what our love for Him compels us to do. Willing obedience leads to an intimate relationship with Him.
These are the words Jesus spoke to his followers not long before he was to be killed on the cross… His farewell speech. Jesus is getting them prepared vertically and horizontally, shaping them up to live responsibly with God and with man before He leaves this world. He’s talking about abiding on the vine but also loving one another. He is putting supreme importance and weight to those two things.
Again, as you have witnessed, we all love God. Now… I will not put you on the spot with my next question, don’t raise your hands but open your hearts to this question, “do you love one another?” That is a very hard question to answer isn’t it?
You see when it comes to loving God, our obedience will be proof of that love. He knows how much we love Him by how we abide in Him. God also knows if we are obedient to His command to love one another. (He knows) That is why I didn’t ask any of you to raise your hands. But I am pretty sure that as soon as I asked that question, God has opened our hearts and revealed the true answer to that question.
35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested Him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.
Jesus is serious about our loving one another. Look at what John 15:17 says, “These things I command you, that you love one another”.
It is not an option!
1 John 4:21
21 And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.
If you choose to be a follower of Jesus, loving each other is not an option. It’s a commandment. It’s not just any commandment but the second greatest or important.
Have you heard the story about the actor who was playing the part of Christ in the Passion Play in the Ozarks? As he carried the cross up the hill a tourist began heckling, making fun of him, & shouting insults at him. Finally, the actor had taken all of it he could take. So, he threw down his cross, walked over to the tourist, & punched him out. After the play was over, the director told him, "I know he was a pest, but I can’t condone what you did. Besides, you’re playing the part of Jesus, & Jesus never retaliated. So, don’t do anything like that again." Well, the man promised he wouldn’t. But the next day the heckler was back worse than before, & finally the actor exploded & punched him out again.
The director said, "That’s it. I have to fire you. We just can’t have you behaving this way while playing the part of Jesus." The actor begged, "Please give me one more chance. I really need this job, & I can handle it if it happens again." So, the director decided to give him another chance. The next day he was carrying his cross up the street. Sure enough, the heckler was there again. You could tell that the actor was really trying to control himself, but it was about to get the best of him. He was clinching his fists & grinding his teeth. Finally, he looked at the heckler & said, "I’ll meet you after the resurrection!"
Jesus was serious about our loving one another because it reveals whether or not God lives in us…
1 John 4:12
12 No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.
No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and His love becomes complete in us—perfect love!” Does God live in you? He does when we love others. Love is the distinguishing mark of the child of God. It is also the distinguishing mark of the church of God!
Is the Fil-Am Baptist Mission Church being obedient to the two greatest commands? “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself”.
Christ demands that the driving force in our life must be love. All other things, although important, are secondary. Love is the sign of true discipleship.
Let us read….
1 Corinthians 13:1-3
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
What Paul is saying here is that, even though he has received all these gifts, all these talents, it means nothing if he didn’t learn how to love. Everything he has done and accomplished meant nothing without love. “it profits me nothing”.
We can’t substitute spiritual gifts for genuine love. Love can’t be replaced by good preaching ability, good attendance, singing ability or the ability to have great faith. Genuine love for others can’t be substituted with money. You can’t put a price tag on love. A church can survive without a huge budget, but it can’t survive without love. It might keep its doors open… but the spiritual life is gone.
So, how are we supposed to love others? Listen…it is really hard to grow and learn to love someone if the first thing that we see in them is their faults. Like I had mentioned before, God in His power, by His will decided to make church, (Building, and believers) and all of that. He (God) decided that it would be a great idea to put a lot of messed up people in one place, and have them get along, and love one another.
You see, there will never be a perfect church. Nor a perfect believer. We can go to all the churches in the world and as result, we will find faults in all of them. Especially, if that is what we are looking for. We have never seen God face to face. So, the only time that we will see God in church, or amongst believer is by the affection of love.
So, are we to love others?
12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
Wow. What a responsibility. How did He love us? Jesus didn’t just tell us what to do, but how to do it…
1 John 4:19
We love Him because He first loved us.
God came near to us. From creation to the cross and after the resurrection…God is always taking the initiative…to love us and care for us and lead us. He didn’t have to persuaded. He sees something very valuable in every person. If God did not see any value in any of us here today, then God would not have to sacrifice His only Son in order for you and I to be saved.
When we didn’t deserve to be loved…He loved us. You know, I’m so glad God is for the underdog. That’s exactly where each and everyone of us is at. We didn’t deserve His love, but He gave it anyway. God poured out His love for you and I. The proof of that is through His Son.
8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
We didn’t have to be perfect for God to take notice in us. God loved us still. “while we were sinners.” Church…I may be the messenger of this church, but we all stand on even grounds. No one here is higher than the other. We are all the same. Imperfect, under construction by God. Being made new everyday, being conformed to His likeness.
We need to start seeing each other, loving each other the same way God does. It’s a command, and its not an option. Will it be easy? NO! It will be a challenge, simply because we are all made different. But, if we start neglecting…on seeing the faults in each other, and start seeing Christ in each other we can be obedient to His command to “love one another”.
We have the greatest model of how to love by looking to Jesus. For many, it seems we’ve been looking at the wrong model. Now think about it. If Jesus calls these, His greatest commandments. Doesn’t it make sense that the enemy and all of his forces will do whatever it takes to keep us from obeying them?
So, the enemy will do whatever it takes to keep you from loving God. The devil doesn’t even want to turn you into a devil worshipper. He just wants you to get distracted, get busy, fill your life up with things that keep you from loving God. He has the same strategy with keeping you from loving others. He’ll plant seeds of doubt, discord, anger, jealously to keep conflict happening.
Now, no doubt I think the we give the devil more credit than he deserves but understand he will throw out all the ammunition he can muster at us to keep us from obeying the second greatest commandment. Keep in mind that his ultimate goal is to destroy the church.
We are going to have problems. It’s not a matter of if but when. Every church has its problems. Again, like I had mentioned earlier, “there is no perfect church.” Most of the letters written in the New Testament were written to churches having some sort of problems. Fortunately, the Bible teaches us how to avoid some problems, and He also teaches us what to do if there are problems or broken fellowship in the church.
But, the command still stands, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself”.
The book of James can give us a clear understanding of why this command is so hard to follow…
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
It always starts from within. But remember that as long as we are in the flesh, these things will be evident. That is why we have to rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to defeat the fleshly desires.
So, how can I be sure I’m living the kind of love Jesus is talking about? I’m to love others because Christ is loving me.
1: Ask God to give you a heart full of Christ like love.
If you are having problems loving someone start asking God to work in your heart towards that person. Pray specifically, “God give me a love for ____________”. I guarantee the more you draw near to God’s heart—the more your heart will become like His.
2: Put your love in action:
1 John 3:16-18
By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? 18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.
Basically, what John is saying here is, if you see your brother or sister in need, and you have the means to help, but you didn’t, “how does the love of God abide in him”.
“let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.” That should be easy enough to understand. We can say that we love, then it has to be seen in action as well. Look for practical opportunities to show love to others. This takes using your time, your talent and your treasures.
Sometimes, one just needs someone to talk to. Be the listening ear. (One can give without loving, but one cannot love without giving.)
3: Follow the way of love:
1 Corinthians 13:4-8
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
I really do hope and pray the message has opened our heart to these two commandments. It may not be an easy task, but God doesn’t fail. If we truly have God in us, like we say we do, then these commands will not be a burden to follow.
Our last verse for tonight…
1 John 5:2-4
2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. 4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.
From last weeks message, Jesus lives in you and will be with you wherever you go. And also, Jesus gave us each other, us a proof that we will never be alone. We are all that we have while we are still here.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself”.
Pastor Richard Santos
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