Love For Each Other
Paul spends a lot of time in Galatians explaining that following Jesus isn’t about law keeping, but about faith working through love (5:6). But he also explains that it’s not about living however you want because you have grace, but it’s about loving your neighbor as yourself (5:13). And then, when Paul begins to list the fruit that the Holy Spirit will produce in the lives of Jesus’ disciples, the first he lists is love (5:22). It’s safe to say that to be a disciple of Jesus means that God is going to produce a new kind of love is us. What kind of love will it be?
A LOVE THAT GIVES
First, look at what 1 John 3:16 says: This is how we have come to know love: He laid down his life for us. We should also lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. We know what love is based on what Jesus did: He laid down his life for his disciples. So first, The Holy Spirit will produce in us a love that gives. What does that mean? Well, how did we see the love of Jesus giving? What did Jesus give? We see that he literally gave his entire life. He gave up his life so that we could have life. He sacrificed his life to give us life. So God’s going to produce in us a love that sacrificially gives to others. Now, I know what you’re thinking, “Oh great, now I’ve got to act like I love these people and sacrifice for them.” That’s what we all tend to think when we hear something like this. “Ok I need to figure out a way that I can sacrifice my time, my money, my energy, whatever and now I’ve gotta act like I like it.” No, no. That’s the rule keeping thing.
What I’m saying is that The Holy Spirit is gonna produce in us a love that wants to sacrificially give to others. It will actually bring us joy; even if it costs us greatly. Guys I’ve been seeing this in our church, and I’m love it. I’ve seen the Holy Spirit move in people’s hearts in our church to care for other people in our church by helping them financially, even at great cost to the giver. I’ve seen people sacrificially give time and energy to help each other. I’ve been seeing God do this at Harbor West, but we want more. We want to keep growing in this.
If you’re in community with our church, journeying with the rest of us, God is going to give you opportunities left and right to sacrificially love other people in this community, and God’s going to give us the opportunity to sacrificially love you. We each need to be willing to give, and to receive. But here’s the key to that; you need to be invested deeply enough in this community where you’re honest about your needs. Some people are tempted to be great givers, but they don’t want to inconvenience anyone else with their own needs, so they never share them. That may seem like the loving thing to do, but that’s actually robbing your church community of the opportunity to sacrificially love you.
So commit to a community group. Invest in relationships with those 10-12 people. Let God use you to sacrificially love them. And let God use them to sacrificially love you.
And as God produces a love that gives…
A LOVE THAT FORGIVES
Look at this later in 1 John: “God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his one and only Son into the world so that we might live through him. Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another.” God sent his Son, Jesus, so that we can have life though Jesus, who was an atoning sacrifice for our sins. His sacrifice of his life atoned for our sins. It paid for our sins. So God showed his love for us by forgiving our sins. If God loved us in this way, we can also love each other like that.
As we journey with Jesus, God’s gonna produce in us a love that forgives those who wrong us. God’s producing a beautiful community of eager forgivers in the church. Usually, we’re eager for justice when we’re wronged, right? Someone cuts you off on the freeway, then need to know how they wronged you! And we want it to our liking. They didn’t seem sorry enough, so I’m not gonna forgive them. But let’s walk through Ephesians 2 and ask the question: When did God forgive us? When did God forgive us? “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins in which you previously lived according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit now working in the disobedient. We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love that he had for us, made us alive with Christ even though we were dead in trespasses.”
When did God forgive us? When we were sorry enough? When we had repaid him enough? When we had made things right ourselves? No, it says when we were dead. When we were still in sin. When we were still under wrath. God didn’t wait for us to come to him with penance, he rescued us with forgiveness, even when we weren’t asking for it. And now God’s producing that kind of love in us. Not a reluctant forgiveness; like a little kid. But a joyful forgiveness. A desire to forgive, because we have been forgiven and we want to share it with each other.
And as we’re sacrificially giving, and as we’re aggressively forgiving, God will produce a third kind of love in us…
A LOVE THAT DISPLAYS JESUS
Look at the next verse in 1 John: “No one has ever seen God. If we love one another, God remains in us and his love is made complete in us.” No one can see God in his full glory and live. No sinner can look on the holy God and continue existing; BUT God made a way for us to interact with him, and we see that fully with Jesus, who became a man; the God-man. But, we can’t see Jesus now. People could, who lived at his time. They could see how he lived and how he loved, but people can’t see that now. Right? Not exactly. It says that if we love each other with this Holy Spirit produced love, God’s love is made complete in us. God’s love is made complete. Well, what was lacking about God’s love? The only thing that was lacking was that not everyone was there to see Jesus. But now, by the way we love each other, we can complete the love of God by displaying it to everyone around us.
So the Holy Spirit’s producing in us a love that displays Jesus. We’re gonna journey together and love each other in such a way that people will look at us interacting with each other and only be able to say one thing: God did something to these people! They’re totally different. They’re radical. They love each other more than my book club. They love each other more than my Cross Fit homies love each other. This isn’t just a group of people who put up with each other for a few hours a week this is God at work! Man that’s what we’re praying God would grow in us at Harbor West. That’s what we want people to see. We don’t want people to be impressed with us as individuals, we want people to see that there’s no way that this diverse and weird and unique of a group of people could come together and treat each other the way we are unless it’s God that’s done it.
That’s the family God’s calling you to journey with. A church that people look at and can only explain by saying it’s Jesus. It’s not their fog machines and laser lights, it’s not their cold, air conditioned meeting space, it’s not their amazing cold brew coffee, it’s Jesus that’s bringing these people together. The invisible God makes himself visible as disciples of Jesus love each other.
These three things sound awesome! Can you imagine being on a journey in life with people who are loving each other like this?
So, what if you know you’re not engaged like this? What if you know, down inside, that you don’t really love people this way…you just endure people. Or, worse yet, you love people only for what they can do for you. Well, number 4, look at this next verse in 1 John…
A LOVE THAT OVERFLOWS
“And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us.” We’ve come to know, and believe the love that God has for us. It may be that this has never happened for you. You’ve never really come to know the love that God has for you, so you don’t believe that he really does love you. And guys, if this hasn’t happened, if you don’t know the love of God for you, and believe it, then you’ll never love others in these ways. You can’t. Because it’s God’s Spirit who produces this kind of love. We can’t do it on our own. That’s why, number 4, this is a love that overflows. It has to be something that’s been poured into each of us by God, and then overflows out of us to others. So maybe you need to get to know it, and to believe it.
If you’re a Christian, but you know that this kind of love for your brothers and sisters is dry, there are two things that can reignite an overflow of this love. Know, and Believe. We need to know the love that God has for us, so we need to go to the source of love, God himself. Another verse in 1 John says this: “Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” God’s the source of love, so we need to know him. Dig deep into The Bible. Carve out time to pray and ask God to fill you with his love. Know him…
And believe him. Do you know how knowledge moves to belief? Action. Act on what you know about God. Lay down your life sacrificially for others, because that’s what our God is like. Forgive others, because that’s what our God does. Believe when He says that there’s more joy in following him and loving each other in this way than in just receiving love and holding grudges. Believe him, and drill deep into a community of people where the Holy Spirit is producing this love.