JeremyHouck.com

Love One Another 
1 John 4:7 - 12

Jack Kelley, a reporter for USA Today writes about a trip he took to the country of Somalia to cover a terrible famine in the land. He writes that it was so bad that the streets were filled with people who were already dead. In his retelling of the story he recalls how the smell of death is something that gets into your hair, onto your skin, onto your clothes, and can’t be washed off.

As he made his way down the road he came across a little boy. He could tell that the boy had worms,  his stomach was protruding, his hair had turned a reddish color, and his skin had wrinkled as if he were 100 years old, all signs of malnourishment. 

The photographer who was traveling with the reporter had a grapefruit, which he gave to the boy. But the boy was so weak that he couldn’t hold the whole grapefruit for himself. And so they cut the grapefruit in half and gave it to him. He took the grapefruit, looked up at the two men as if to say “thank you” and began to walk back towards his village. What the little boy didn’t realize was that the photographer and reporter were following at a distance.

As he entered the village there was another little boy, his eyes were completely glazed over lying in the corner of the street. As it turned out, this was his younger brother. The older brother kneeled down bit off a piece of the grapefruit and chewed it. Then he opened up his younger brother’s mouth, put the grapefruit in, and worked his brother’s jaw up and down. The reporter and photographer later learned that the older brother had been doing that for the younger brother for two weeks. 

A couple days later the older brother died of malnutrition, and the younger brother lived. You know why the older brother would loose his life to save the life of his brother? The answer can be summed up in the word, love, and love changes everything. It changes our hearts and causes us to do things for others that we would never have done before. That’s why when Jesus was asked about the greatest commandment, He talked about love. And in a world that is populated with selfish people, love get’s such a prominent place in scripture.

Listen to a few passages:     

John 13:34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 

John 15:12-13 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this that someone lays down his life for his friends. 

Romans 12:9 - 10 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.  Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 

 There is no doubt that love holds a prominent place in the lives of the children of God. It’s not just in these passages, but the whole of Scripture teaches us to Love one another as I have loved you, and Love one another with brotherly affection.

I want you to look with me at one more passage that will serve as our text today. It’s found in 1 John 4:7-12 and if you have your bibles I would like for you to read this text with me this morning. (Read Text)

In this text John reveals three reasons that we need to Love One another. This morning let’s look at those reasons and then we will look at 3 ways that love manifests itself in our lives.

First we love because that is our natural response to a God that loved us first.

Love is not just a characteristic of God; He is Love. And I believe that we will follow in line with His character when we come to a real realization of what He has done for us.

God’s love is on a totally different level that what the world considers or passes off as love. God’s love is not a me first or let me meet my needs type of love. Rather it’s a loving others more than we love ourselves sacrificial love. God’s love enters a room with a “There you are”, mentality instead of a “Here I am” mentality. 

Second we love one another as evidence of our relationship with God.

Remember that John says Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 

You know we can fool a lot of people, and we can even fool ourselves at times, but I believe that in the end our life always tells the truth about our relationship with God. You can tell a lot about my relationship with God by the way that I love the people that He loves. The way I treat the unloveable.

Finally we must love one another so that we can reflect Christ.

One of the things that I miss about living in Scuffelgrit is the chance to see the moon. You know living among the refineries and neon lights of the city, there are times that I forget how beautiful the moon and stars are. Back in Alabama I would walk home from the church building at night and be awestruck at how bright the stars and the moon were. Some nights it shone so bright I felt like it brightened up the whole house.  

But we all learned in 5th grade Science class that the moon only shines because it reflects the light of the Sun.  In the same way John says that we must also shine, if we reflect the Son, Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. So today let’s look at how that love is to be reflected in your life.

First it must be reflected in our Kindness

I wanted to start here because I believe that kindness is powerful, and just like love kindness is something that the world doesn’t understand.

The German philosopher Nietzsche, who influenced Hitler, taught that kindness striped our power from us. When we are kind then we are weak. But he was wrong kindness doesn’t take our power away, it strengthens us, but at the same time it makes us vulnerable.

You know how it feels to reach out and be that vulnerable. Sometimes people see our kindness as suspect. Like when a woman’s car breaks down on the road and she worries whether to accept the offer of help from two strange men.  Or when a man is kind to a woman who is not his wife, or a woman is kind to a man who is not her husband. And the world looks at that and sometimes misinterprets it.

Now I am not saying the there are those in the world wouldn’t use kindness to get an advantage, but that doesn’t relieve us from our duty to share Christian kindness.

Or sometimes we are afraid to express kindness because we are scared of being misused. You have seen those folks standing on the side of the road or outside Wal-Mart asking for some spare change so they can eat. When you see them what do you do? I have had the conversation about not knowing what people are going to do with money you give them, or even worse we are just teaching them to be dependent upon us. We think if we help once then they will come back again and again with open hands for us to repeat the act of kindness.


So what happens? Some decide that it is too risky to be kind. So they turn kindness over to the welfare agencies, the church benevolence program, or to the Salvation Army. They say, "They’re professionals, they know what to do. Let’s leave it all up to them." And we allow bureaucracy to replace kindness and love is left out.

Solomon writes in Proverbs 21:21 Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honor. We show our love by pursuing Kindness.

 

Before we leave this too quickly I want to share something with you. Because of the work we are doing with Memorial High School, last week I was given the opportunity to meet with a group of folks from the Solid Rock church in downtown Port Arthur. While I was there they began to talk about you as a church and how you had and continue to show them kindness.

One lady shared how she was having a difficult time making ends meet one month and she was too ashamed to ask her church for help. She came to us, was welcomed by Grace and met with Gerald. She said that our compassion and kindness made an embarrassing situation easier.

Then a man who has worked in the maintenance department for Port Arthur School System for over 20 years told me how we were the first people to ever tell him “Thank You”. He said teachers and Principals always get little gifts, but we were the first ones to treat the “ lowest of the low the same way we treat the highest of the high”.

Another person got up and told about how we helped their family after Hurricane Ike. We didn’t ask for anything in return, we just showed up at the worst time of their lives and offered supplies and prayers.

I just sat there awestruck and listened to these folks who remembered how we had showed them kindness. They cried as they told their stories and I cried as I listened to them. If you put it in perspective, $100 for a light bill, a candy bar, and some cleaning supplies doesn’t amount to a whole lot. But for this group of folks it was not just the gift, but also the kindness that was shown that made them feel loved. Thank you for that.           

Secondly we must love one another through our politeness.

Have you ever heard a sermon on being polite?  I I haven’t but I think that it is a critical part of showing my love for you. We have become a people that care only for themselves, and only do what makes me happy, and politeness has gone the way of the dinosaur.

A few years ago, I took Trista’s little sister out before she could start dating. Our family thought that it was important to show her how the boys she were going to date needed to treat her and how she deserved to be treated.  I opened the car doors for her, the door to the restaurant, made sure that she had anything that she needed, and even went and watched the movie that she wanted to watch. When we returned to the house I asked her if she understood how she deserved to be treated.  She looked at me and said, “If I have to wait for someone to treat me like that I’ll never get a date.”

Maybe she’s right.  But in 1 Corinthians 13:5 we see Paul say that love is not rude. J.B. Phillips paraphrases this verse by saying, "Love practices good manners." 

The reason that we are polite or practice good manners is that we show people how much they matter. People are important to God so the must be important to me. That what I was trying to impress on Tina and that’s what our love for one another needs to impress on the world, and this community.

We say please, and thank you, hold open doors, smile, and remember one another because we are trying to tell each other through our actions that you matter, that people matter.   

Thirdly we must love one another by trying to meet the needs of people.

Love meets the needs of others before it meets the wants of self. We can’t tell our community that Jesus loves them until were ready to love them, too. I can preach a dozen sermons on the subject of love. But one act of love on your part will communicate better than all the sermons that I might preach.

As a Christian community we need to learn to meet the needs of others. Our culture says, "You meet your wants first, then maybe you might try to meet the needs of others. But it is only through meeting their needs that we can lead people to Christ. Love is infectious. And in a world that is starved for love, if we can learn to love one another and our community, will draw people to Christ.

The story is told of a preacher riding on a bus, and a drunk comes stumbling on, sitting down beside him. The preacher immediately took out his Bible and began reading scripture to the man. Then he announced to the drunk, "Do you know that you’re going to hell?" The drunk said, "Oh, no! I got on the wrong bus again!"

I believe that it is important that we teach following the world’s ways will lead you down the broad path to hell, but the best way to lead the world away from hell is to show them how to get to heaven. We need to communicate a message of love, for love leads people to Christ.

When Christ looks at us it is His love that sees us for what we can become, rather than what we are. In 1 Corinthians 6, the apostle Paul paints a picture of what the church really is. He talks about how the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of heaven. Then he gives a long list of those who will not get into heaven. They are the sexually immoral, the idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexual offenders, thieves, greedy, drunkards, slanderers, swindlers. None of those, he says, will inherit the kingdom of God.

 

Then he says, "This is what some of you were." We are sinners, too. But then Paul says, "You were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." That’s the church! That’s why we have to love one another.

I want this church, more than anything else, to be a community of love. More than anything else, I want to be able to come here, and I want you to be able to come here, and feel totally and completely loved. 

If we love each other as God has loved us then we will draw people to this place like a magnet. We live in a world where people are starving for the love of our Savior, a love that we can share by

L—listening when another is speaking,

O—overlooking petty faults and forgiving all failures;

V—valuing other people for who they are;

E—expressing love in a practical way.

Offer Invitation

 

Questions To Consider

When do you feel the most loved?

How does feeling unloved make you feel? (alone, depressed, angry, …)

What kind of response does the realization that God loved you first cause in your life?

If there is no response or not the type of response that you believe God desires what does that say about your belief in God’s love?

How do you reflect God’s love in your life?

Why would some people believe that kindness is another word for weakness?

Why do you think that Jesus would say that all of the law and prophets could be summed up in two commands, Love God and Love one Another?

Jesus reached out to the poor, despised, and rejected. Do you see the church reaching out to those same types of people today?

What can you do personally to reach out and show love to those who most desperately need it? 



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