Summary: A very practical message on practical ways to love one another and the real motivation or benefit of loving one another.
Joke: A husband and wife could never love one another because they used to often fight over money. This man never went to work but wanted to make fast money, so he would buy lottery tickets. The wife was money minded too. She wanted her husband to get good income. Finally, fed up with the husband’s ways the wife gave him a divorce. Surprisingly, a couple of weeks after divorce the wife wrote a letter back to her husband.
“Dearest Donald, No words could ever express the great unhappiness I’ve felt since breaking our marriage. Please say you’ll take me back. No one could ever take your place in my heart, so please forgive me. I love you, I love you, I love you! Yours forever, Maria… P.S., And congratulations on willing the 1 Crore lottery.” We are living in a world where money determines love.
How is your love for the people around you? We all are comfortable with some individuals whereas uncomfortable with others. Do you feel that loving some and ignoring the difficult people is good enough? Well, Pastor, how do I love tough people?
Today, I want to speak to a message entitled: Love One Another
By the time I finish you will know the amazing benefits of loving one another.
Peter is writing to believers who are persecuted in Rome. 1 Peter 1:3 God has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Peter is telling them that now that you are saved I am giving your 2 commands.
1. Commands for the saved.
a. Be Holy.
1 Peter 1:15-17 15But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” 17Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear.
Now that you are saved, strive to live holy as our God is holy. Be holy like God is holy. I have to live in reverent fear because I have been brought by the precious blood of Jesus. I need to honor God with my body. When I sin, I treat the blood of God with contempt. I fear because I do not want to treat the blood of God with contempt.
b. Love one another.
1 Peter 1:22-25 22Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. 23For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. 24For, “All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, 25but the word of the Lord endures forever.” And this is the word that was preached to you.
At the center of this text is the command for a born again person to “love one another deeply from the heart.” The emphasis here is brotherly love or love in the church. Love is a command here.
Illustration: During World War II, the American soldiers on duty in France lost one of their friends. They wanted to bury him and give him a good funeral as he fought for the country. Soon they found a church fenced with barbwire, found the priest and requested for a burial in the church cemetery.
The priest asked, “Is he Catholic?” No, they replied. “I am sorry, he cannot be buried here. This is a Catholic church cemetery.” Disheartened they went outside the cemetery. It was getting dark and they had to move on with the war. The soldiers took their friend and buried him outside the cemetery. With a heavy heart they went to their hideout and slept.
The next morning the soldiers got up and before they could leave the location, wanted to pay one final respect to their dead friend and walked to the grave. To their surprise they could not find it.
They thought they forgot the place as they had dug in the dark. As they were searching for the grave, they found the priest. They asked the priest, “Sir, can you help us find the grave outside the fence?” The priest said, “Well, for the first part of the night as you were digging the grave, I felt sorry for what I told you. But after you slept, the second part of the night I spent moving the barbed fence and included your friend’s grave in the church cemetery.”
Love one another. We are called to expand our barbed fences and hostility and include others in. Don’t you think this is the place people get hurt the maximum?
2. Reasons to Love.
a. Love reflects Christ in me.
The world will be able to see Christ in us when we love one another. John 13:35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
Love is like a lamp that has to keep burning. The two pillars that hold this lamp is God’s love to us and our reciprocation of that love by loving God and loving people.
So if there is going to be love among us at City Harvest, we have to receive God’s love and reciprocate it by loving God and loving people. You can be that lamp only if you accept God’s love.
Illustration: Dr. William Biederwolf relates the incident of a construction engineer who was inspecting a building site. And while he was out on a scaffold about three stories high, he suddenly tripped and his body fell to the ground. All ran to see his dead body. Dr. Biederwolf says, “A workman below happened to be looking up just as the builder fell and since he was standing where the man’s body would strike the ground, he instantly braced himself, taking the full impact of the falling man. The builder was only slightly injured but the workman was driven into the concrete. With almost every bone in his body broken, it took a long time for him to recover. After recovery, he was an object of pity and could not work.
“Later in an interview a reporter asked him how the man whose life he had saved was treating him. The crippled man’s reply was, `Well he gave me half of everything he owns. I also have a share in his business. He never lets me want for a thing. He is constantly concerned about me and hardly a day passes that I don’t receive from him some little token of remembrance.'”
It’s a beautiful story of gratitude. But, I think so many times we forget that there was one who caught the full impact of falling man, who caught us when we would have been crushed in death. Christ loved us and died on our behalf and we have reciprocate love by loving God and people. God is calling you to love him this morning with all your heart and all your soul and all your strength. It is only when you love God can you love people.
1 John 4:7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Altar call.
b. Love is a Commandment.
John 13:34 A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
1 John 3:23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.
3. Practical ways to love.
a. Be authentic.
1 Peter 1:22 Love one another deeply, from the heart.
Many times our fellowships are very superficial in the church and society. We ask questions like, “How are you? Hope you are doing well?” and so on. Most of the time our fellowship is a shake hand, a smile, how are you and we move on. We have no time for genuine love or fellowship because we have other things lined up in my program on a Sunday morning. We have not time to love in our home because we are so busy with many things in life. Genuine love happens when one takes time to be with others. This time has to be intentionally created. People are hurting and wounded all around, they want somebody to talk to. If one cannot love someone at home, he cannot love brother in the church, and we will fail in our love to others in the society. Be authentic.
How can you be authentic?
Give your time. Understand time is love.
Discover a common ground.
Listen and respond.
Do not expect anything in return. Do you know that love is fake if motived by reward? 1 Corinthians 13:5 Love is not self-seeking.
Help if needed.
What prevents us from being authentic? Fear. Fear of previous hurt.
Yes love is risky but we are called to love. We all have been hurt and betrayed before. You shared something confidentially and someone has publicized it. Someone has exploited you. You have loved someone deeply and they have rejected you. You helped people in need but no body helped you in your need. We have various reasons why not to love one another. Let’s be authentic. God was intentional and authentic when he loved us.
b. Be Merciful.
Matthew 5:7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Do you know that one of the best places to get hurt in the world is in the church? People have high expectations from believers and love without barriers, and when they get hurt at church it is painful.
Many times our memories are full of hurts.
Illustration: A writer tells that in Polynesia in some of the islands, he found some natives who spent a lot of their time warring and fighting. And it was customary for every man to keep the reminders of his hatred. And so suspended from the roof of the hut, all the way around the hut, are articles, and every one of those little articles represents something about somebody that causes them to hate that somebody.
You say, “That’s incredible.” And yet, can – can you imagine that in our society? Everybody’s house decorated with stuff like that? And yet, it’s not untrue to say that most of our minds have some of that hanging in it. That’s not something we’d like to admit, but I’m afraid it’s true. Love never makes memories out of evils, love hesitates to believe any rumor. Love always forgives, love never keeps account of wrong.
Some hurt from the past should not stop us from loving. You don’t quit driving because accident happens, you still drive. You don’t quit loving if someone has hurt you, you still love.
Some believers are like the touch me not plant. They don’t want to go near anybody or trust anybody. We must learn to give mercy for the ones who have hurt us. Do you know that we have hurt others, broken promises, wronged our loved ones unknowingly or knowingly and we expect to be forgiven? If we expect mercy from others, we too need to be willing to give mercy. Be authentic and merciful.
4. Motivation for Love.
Now this is interesting. There are benefits of loving others. Now, I do not love others because of the benefit but there are promises for the ones who are loving.
1 John 3:16-18 16This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
1 John 3:19 This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence
a. Assures Our Salvation.
1 John 3:19 This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: 20If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.
When a brother is in need and when we chip in to help, that proves the assurance of our salvation. That proves that we are truly God’s children. On the other hand, if we tell some excuse to a brother when he comes for help, and if our hearts condemn us, God who knows the secret of our hearts condemn us and we stand guilty of not loving one another. Love assures our salvation.
Illustration: There was a pastor who went to the remotest parts of Africa. He heard about two tribes in that region who were great enemies. The tribe would go for civil war with each other and come back with the head of their enemies. As this pastor went into a church there were these two tribes worshipping the Lord together. Tribes ones who were enemies were united in the church. After the meeting the pastor sat for lunch with the congregation and saw the brotherly love among these tribes. When the pastor enquired what brought them this unity the head of one of the tribe said, “We were blood enemies, but the blood of Jesus has united us.” Brotherly love is an assurance of our salvation.
b. Answered Prayers.
1 John 3:21-22 21Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him.
When we help others in the time of need, we have confidence before God. We receive from God anything we ask. Note: A believer will not ask anything other than what pleases God.
c. God’s Spirit Abides in Us.
1 John 3:24 The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.
Remember the context here is brother love. The one who has brotherly love lives in God and God in them. The Holy Spirit of God abides in them.
Illustration: Korea was considered to be a part of Japan between 1910 to 1945 . During this period both the countries were arc rivals, and Japan worked to wipe out Korean, culture, language and history. The Japanese destroyed Korean cities and damaged many churches. In a particular poor town in Korea, the Japanese army burnt down a church, as people were worshiping in the church killing many believers. Soon Korea received independence and the Japanese soldiers went back.
After a couple of years the Japanese church sent some delegates to inspect the atrocities of war on Korea. They came to this village and found the memorial stone of the church with the names of the believers. The Japanese delegation decided to raise money from Japan for the church construction. They went back to Japan and sent money for the construction of the church at the same spot.
When it came to the dedication of the church, the Korean church leaders took a shocking decision. They decided to call the church leaders from Japan for the dedication. A good delegation came from Japan for the dedication. The Japanese delegation was sitting on stage. As the songs got over, the head of the Japanese delegation requested for a short speech. The Japanese pastor came to the stage and confessed the crimes their army had done and said, “I ask forgiveness on behalf of my army and people for the crimes we have committed.” What ensured was complete silence in the church. Both the Koreans and the Japanese wept and deep reconciliation happened at the dedication.
There is power in reconciliation. There is power in loving one another. Let’s pray.