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I John 3:11and 14-24

This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.

14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 15 Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him. 16 This 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. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 19 This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence 20 whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22 and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him. 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. 24 Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them.

Silent Prayer

I preached last week about having a dynamic faith from James chapter 2.  I developed the understanding that faith is more than belief or words.  It is the action of faith that proves whether a person really has faith after all.  The same is true with love.  John tells us to make sure we love not with mere words, but with actions and in truth.  Like our faith, the demonstration of our love reveals a lot about our relationship with Jesus.

Our model for what love in action looks like is Jesus.  James tells us Jesus is our model for what love in action looks like.  “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.” In the death of Christ on the cross, we see that true love is willing to sacrifice to the ultimate.  You’ve heard the expression, “Love ‘til it hurts.”  Jesus did just that.

In Mark 12:28-31, we read: “One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Did you catch the intensity of Jesus’ words?  He said there was no greater commandment than the commandments to love.

16 This 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.

There was a young girl, about four years old named Olivia. She had cancer. There had been many doctor appointments and hospitalizations and treatments, but the cancer persisted. One of the doctors told Olivia’s parents that he had been having some success with blood transplants from siblings. He said that he believed that their daughter’s only hope for survival would involve draining the blood from her body and replacing it with some of her brother’s healthy blood, in hopes that it would regenerate in her body as it would in her brother’s, so that she would be as healthy as he was.

The parents talked it over with Olivia’s seven-year-old brother, Jonathan. They explained that the doctors would put his blood into Olivia, that there would be needles and some pain and it would take several hours, but that this might save his sister’s life. Jonathan thought about it for a while, and then he said he would do it if this could save Olivia.

He was awake for the procedure. They wheeled his little sister beside him. The father stood over Olivia’s bed. The mother stayed at Jonathan’s side, offering words of comfort and encouragement. About an hour into it, Jonathan looked up at his mother, blinked back a few tears, and asked, “How soon before I die?”Jonathan has misunderstood all along.  He thought he had been asked to literally give up his life in order to save his sister, and his love for her compelled him to do it.

Just hours before his death, Jesus uttered these words to his disciples, recorded in the fifteenth chapter of the Gospel of John: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”  Jesus never just talked a good talk.  He demonstrated everything he taught.

While most Christians aren’t called to give their lives for the cause of Christ, each of us is called to “lay down our life” daily in order to love God and others.  As Jesus has loved us, we are to love others.

Loving like Jesus means accepting people as He has accepted you.  One thing I commend you on as a church on is the way you take everyone in.  I have been in many churches and talked to many people who talk about how cliquey and hard to break in many churches are.  They may attend for a year or more and still feel like an outsider.  Church ought to be the one place where everyone is accepted and loved unconditionally and feels part of the Family of God.

Loving like Jesus means valuing people as He has valued you.

Jesus had time for people no one else would talk to.  Jesus touched people no one else would touch.  Jesus called and qualified people that no one else would have hired.  He added value to every person He connected with.  He didn’t talk down to them.  Oh He challenged them.  He taught them, but He called them friends.  He treated them with respect.

Loving like Jesus means forgiving people as He has forgiven you.  People who love are willing to free people through forgiveness.  Even while hanging on the cross after being betrayed, beaten, tortured, abused, ridiculed, spat on and crucified, Jesus showed His love by forgiving those who had crucified Him.

Loving like Jesus means serving others like Jesus served. You’ll remember that during the Last Supper, Jesus tried to show the disciples how much He loved them.  In fact, the passage in John 13 where Jesus washed the disciples’ feet says that in doing so He was showing them the “full extent of His love.”  He was teaching them loving is an act of humility because it involves considering others better than ourselves.  Jesus was willing to become their servant in order to lift them up.  No one in this room is too educated to stoop down and wash someone’s feet.  No one in this room is too successful that they can’t wash someone’s windows or pick up someone’s trash.  The greatest people are the people who have mastered the distance from a standing position to the floor.  People who love don’t see any person or any task as being beneath them.

Loving like Jesus means loving people who aren’t easy to love.  Jesus went after the outcasts.  He spent time with people who were unschooled, uncouth, and unsanctified.  He hung out with hookers, dope addicts, thieves, and the diseased.  He loved people who didn’t love Him back.  Like I said, He loved even those who beat and crucified Him.  He loved those who didn’t understand Him.  He loved those who betrayed Him.  He loved those who would never accept Him as Savior.

Loving like Jesus means going out of your way for people. If loving people meant walking farther out of His way, Jesus did it.  If loving people meant having a long conversation out in the heat of the day, Jesus did it.  If it meant going to their house to heal them or meet a need, He did it.  People who love have a “whatever it takes” mentality.

Yesterday, our community saw the love of Jesus in action.  Snacks handed out, windows washed, gifts given away, cars washed, oil changed, a birthday party thrown—all were done to communicate God’s love.  However, we have to remember that loving like Jesus isn’t an annual event, but a way of life for Christians.  Loving isn’t a church-sponsored activity, but it’s an everyday attempt to be the hands and feet of Jesus to every person we come into contact with.

It wasn’t just about what Jesus did that showed He loved, but it was how He did it.  We’re told in Philippians 2 to have the same “attitude” as Jesus did.  You see, how we do what we do is just as important as the act itself.  Jesus loved and served willingly.  No one made Him do it.  He didn’t complain about doing it.  He never said to the Father, “This is ridiculous.  They aren’t getting it.  It’s a waste of time to deal with such thick-headed people.”  Instead He loved and served enthusiastically, passionately, and with the agenda to dispense God’s grace. Philippians 2:14 says, “Do everything without complaining.”  Whenever you are frustrated or tempted to complain, remind yourself of how far Jesus went to show you God’s love without ever grumbling or complaining.

Jesus never asked, “How little can I do to show I love people?”  “How little can I do and still serve people?”  “How quickly can I get off this cross?”  “How can I cut my mission short in order so that I can get back to heaven as soon as possible?”  He came and He gave and served until the job was done.  Whatever it took to demonstrate the Father’s love, that’s what He did.  That’s what love is. As I said, love has a “whatever it takes” attitude.

How often do we ask ourselves the “how little” questions?  “How little can I give in the offering and still feel like I’m doing my part?”  “How little can I serve or volunteer and still feel like I’m actively involved?”  “How little can I reach out in order to keep my life as uninterrupted as possible?”  “How little can I pray and still feel like God and I are good?”  “How little can I read my Bible and still feel like I could check it off the list as done?”  “How little can I come to church and still feel like I am a member of a local body?”

For those of us who have experienced the incredible and undeserved love of God we shouldn’t be asking “How little,” but “How much!”  “How much can I give?”  “How much can I serve?”  “How much can I share my faith?”

During our service projects yesterday I contemplated what it really means to lay down your life in order to show God’s love.  I came up with the definition that it means doing all I can wherever I can whenever I can to accept, value, encourage and serve others.

Jesus equated loving others with loving God many times. You remember, on the morning of His death and resurrection, how Jesus met the disciples on the Sea of Galilee just as the sun was rising. Jesus had breakfast ready for them. After they had eaten, Jesus took Peter off to the side and asked, “Simon, do you love me?” Peter says, “Lord, you know I love you.” “Then feed my sheep.” A second time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” “Jesus, you know I love you.” “Tend my sheep.” Still a third time, “Do you love me?” Peter is hurt. “You know everything, Lord. You know I love you.” “Feed my sheep.”

Do you love God?  Serve your family.  Do you love God?  Serve your neighbor.  Do you love God?  Serve your community.

Okay, now that the introduction is out of the way, I have a message to preach.   I titled the message “What’s Love Got to Do With It?” because I want us to see from this passage that John says while loving is something we are commanded to do, I also want us to see the by-products of our willingness and obedience to love bring us great benefit.

  • John tells us that loving has everything to do with us having peace with God.

Look at I John 3:19 and 20 again.  This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence 20 whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.

If you are a Christian, you will always be restless in your walk with Christ until you accept your job description to love and serve others.  The Great Commission to “Go and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Spirit” and the Great Commandment to love-they were not suggestions.  It doesn’t get any more basic than obedience to those two commands.

James says if you love with actions and with truth, you will have peace with God.  You won’t wonder what He thinks about you.  You won’t feel awkward in His presence.  You won’t have to rustle up excuses as to why you can’t love and serve others.  Your heart will be at peace because you will be doing what you were made to do and what God has called you to do.  The converse is true.  If you aren’t loving and serving others, your heart won’t be at peace with God.

  • John also tells us that loving has everything to do with us having our prayers answered.

Look at verses 21 and 22.  “Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22 and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him.”

When you love God and others and your heart is at peace, you have confidence towards God when you pray.  That will make you bold in asking for what you need.  It’s not that you earn something from God by loving Him and others, but it means the fact that you are living a life of love proves you are doing God’s will.  When we are doing God’s will, we will pray for God’s will.  And when we pray according to God’s will, we will have what we ask for.

Your relationship to other people can’t be divorced from your prayer life.  Just as I Peter 3:7 says that if husbands and wives aren’t relating properly to one another and their prayer lives will be hindered, you can expect that if you aren’t living out God’s commands to love Him and others, your prayer life will suffer.

  • John also tells us that loving has everything to do with us abiding with Christ and

He with us.  Look at verse 24.  “Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them.”

Just think of people you know who seem to be super close to Jesus.  I guarantee you they are people who love others deeply.

We’re told in John 15 that Christ is the Vine and we are the branches.  We are supposed to abide in Him and that when we do, we will bear much fruit.  The closer our union to the Vine, the more fruit we will bear.  Not only the more souls we’ll see won for the Kingdom, but also the more personal fruit we will enjoy.

We all will agree that prayer, Bible reading, worship, and attending church are key ways to help us abide with Christ, but perhaps we have overlooked the main way which is simply loving others.

In John 14:23 Jesus said, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. When we walk in love we find it easy to obey God because love is the language of heaven.  When we walk in love we therefore maintain a close communion with God.  It is the close communion with God that will give us abundant life.  The kind that spills out and overflows.  The kind that other people desire when they see it.  The kind that leaves a lasting legacy and a trail of fruit.

What’s love got to do with it?  Everything.  How you love is tied to your love for and obedience of God.  How you love will impact your inner life-whether you are at peace with God and yourself.  It will impact your prayer life-whether you are praying according to the will of God and seeing your prayers answered.  And it will impact the quality of your life.  Will you have the life of abundance God desires for you to possess?  Live a life of love and find out.

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