What is your number one goal in life? Would you say, your number one goal in life is to be happy? Or to be loved? Or succeed in your career? However you answer that question is your dominate life value.
Every time you make a decision, every time you have a choice, you decide what you’re going to do based on your dominant life value, the dominant principle of your life.
For instance, if your dominant life value is to have fun, then you’re going to tend to choose the thing that’s the most fun to do. If your most important value is comfort, then you are going to tend to choose the easiest, most convenient thing to do.
God has a lot to say about this and says that LOVE should be your goal.
“Let love be your greatest aim.” 1 Corinthians 14:1 (TLB)
Why? Because God created everything in the universe out of love.
“Do everything with love.” 1 Corinthians 16:14
What does everything include? This includes writing an email, posting on social media, writing a Yelp review, ordering fast food when you can’t understand the speaker, and even finding a parking spot. Everything includes responding to people who attack you for your faith.
Do everything with love. One day Jesus was asked what is the greatest commandment and He answered:
“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.”Mathew 22:37-39 (NIV)
That’s pretty clear. That’s why you are alive. Make love your highest aim. It doesn’t matter how much you acquire, how much you achieve, how many accomplishments you make or how many rewards you earn, or how famous you become.
Love encompasses everything we have discussed during this campaign. If you love God, you’ve taken the responsibility to love him. You’ll trust him. Out of love you’ll have self-control.
If you have love you’ll live a balanced life. It’s out of love you will show respect, offer forgiveness, stay pure, treat people fairly and honestly. This is why Rock Brook Church is built on the Great Commandment and Great Commission, because we please God through those things.
The Fundamentals of Love
- We love because God loves us
If you go to a typical seminar on relationships you will hear that you need to “try to be more loving,” or “try to be more patient,” or “try to be more kind.” But trying on your own doesn’t work. It’s not a matter of trying; it’s a matter if trusting.
The key to love is not you trying harder to be more loving. The key to love is letting Jesus Christ love through you.
It is experiencing the love of God in your life and letting Jesus Christ love through you. So it starts with receiving his love. You can’t love like he did by just trying.
“Let us love one another, for love comes from God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”1 John 4:7-8 (NIV)
If God wasn’t loving there would be no love in the universe. All love comes from God. God is love.
“We love because God first loved us.” 1 John 4:19
God is always first in everything. He takes the initiative. The only reason you can love God or love anybody else is because God first loved you. He showed that love by creating you. God created you to love you. And he showed that love by sending Jesus Christ to Earth to die for you. He showed that love by everything you have in life; it’s a gift of God’s love.
If you’re struggling to love it’s not that you don’t love God enough. Your problem is you don’t realize how much He loves you. If you realized how much God loves you – extravagant, irresistible, unconditional love – you would have to love him back.
You could not, not love God if you understood how much he loves you. If we’re going to talk about learning to love God and others you’ve got to first understand and feel how much God loves you. The day you finally, fully understand how God loves you completely, unconditionally, you can’t make God stop loving you. You can try but you will fail.
When you feel that unconditional love you’re going to start cutting people a lot of slack. You’re not going to be as angry as you’ve been. You’re going to be more patient. You’re going to be more forgiving. More merciful.
The reason why you see people who are judgmental, sarcastic, mean spirited, angry, self righteous, always putting other people down is because they’re putting themselves down. They don’t feel good about themselves. They don’t feel loved. They don’t feel forgiven. They don’t feel grace. They feel guilty. They feel bad about themselves. And if they feel bad about themselves they certainly don’t want you feeling good about yourself.
You’re going to have to do some healing in your heart because you have been hurt in life. You’ve been hurt by parents or peers in school or by professionals or by partners. Maybe some of you have been abused or misused or rejected or abandoned or betrayed.
You have to let God do some gentle surgery on your heart because you can’t love others until you feel loved.
“We know and rely on the love God has for us.” 1 John 4:16 (NIV)
Do you know the love of God? Do you rely on the love of God for you?
- Love is a choice and a commitment.
There is a myth that love is uncontrollable. That you really can’t control it. That love just kind of happens to you. You can’t force somebody to fall in love with you. And you can’t force them to stay in love with you. Why? Because love is a choice.
“You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying, and committing yourself firmly to him.”Deuteronomy 30:20 (NLT)
You must choose to love God. God isn’t going to force you to love him. Because love can’t be forced. Love is a choice.
You can choose to love anybody and you can choose not to love anybody. So when you say, “I don’t love him or her anymore,” don’t blame it on the circumstances. You are choosing not to love. It’s in the moments when the loving feeling is gone that you find out what you’re made of.
- Love is an action, not just emotion
Love can produce emotion, but love is not an emotion.
In the Bible, over and over, we are commanded by God to love each other. If love were just an emotion then God couldn’t command it. But love is something you do.
“The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” Galatians 5:6 (NIV)
Acting in love when you don’t feel it is the highest form of love. When you get up in the middle of the night with a child, or when you take care of an aging parent, or you’ve held a sick pan for a loved one who was nauseated, you didn’t feel like doing that. You did it out of love. That is the ultimate form of love.
When you are patient with somebody who’s irritable. When you do the loving thing and you come home at night and you’re as tired as everybody else is but you do the loving thing not because you feel like doing it but you do it out of love.
You can learn about the concept of love in a sermon, in a book, in a small group, or in a video, but you actually learn to love by practicing it. By doing it.
- The best expression of love is time
We’re all different, but we all have the exact same amount of time: 24 Hours a day; 168 hours a week. What are you going to do with that time?
“We must show love through actions that are sincere, not through empty words.” 1 John 3:18 (GWT)
Our families need more time together. Time working hard together. Playing together. Enjoying each other. Showing love.
Love means giving up. Giving up your agenda for someone else’s agenda. Giving up your time for someone else’s time. Giving up your preferences for someone else’s preferences.
“Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.”Ephesians 5:2 (NLT)
Jesus is the model of perfection in relationships. He was the Son of God. He was perfect. He was the only one who knew how to handle relationships perfectly.
- Love is a skill
Did you know that love could be learned? You can get good at it and you can get better at it. We want our church to be most known for being a loving church.
Not just the church with small groups or great music or great coffee or a great children’s ministry. We want people to say, “That’s the church where they love. They love God. They love God’s word. They don’t care who you are or what you look like or where you’ve been or what you’ve done or where you’re from, they love you there. And not only do they love you there, they teach you how to love.”
“Practice these things and devote yourself to them, in order that your progress may be seen by all.”1 Timothy 4:15 (GNT)
This is where love can get difficult. Because love doesn’t mean I just let people do whatever they want. God wants us to help each other grow. Love can mean discipline. Love can mean hard conversations.
Just because someone doesn’t let you get their way, doesn’t mean they don’t love you. It may mean they’re the only one who really loves you. They are doing what’s best for you. They don’t want to see that area of your life destroyed.So they’ll tell you the truth in love.
- Love is a habit
You can’t claim to be a loving person unless you are attempting to love everyone. You may think you are a loving person, but love happens when you love the unlovely.
“If you only love those who love you what credit is that to you?”Luke 6:32
Being a loving person is when you love the unlovely. Love has to become a lifestyle.
“Keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters.”Hebrews 13:1 (NLT)
“Keep on” means make a habit of it. Do it all the time. In some of Jesus’ last words to his disciples right before he went to the cross, he’s giving them the last minute instructions before he dies and resurrects and goes back to heaven.
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35 (NIV)
The mark of a true believer is love. The symbol of a follower of Jesus is not a cross, it’s not a fish, it’s not a dove, it’s not a crown. The symbol of a genuine follower of Jesus is love.
Do people know you’re a follower of Jesus because you’re the most loving person they know?
Check back on your discussion from last week about honesty. How has that message and discussion impacted the way you have communicated this week?
Hear the Word
Life is all about learning how to love. It’s the most important value we can build into our lives. Why? God created everything in the universe because of his love. He made you because he wants to love you and he wants us to learn to love like he loves.
“Let love be your greatest aim.” 1 Corinthians 14:1 (TLB)
The fundamentals of love: We love because God loves us. Love is a choice and commitment. Love is an action, not just an emotion. The best expression of love is time. Love is a skill. Love is a habit.
- We love Because God loves us. What would make someone doubt God’s love?
- Love is an action not an emotion. Think of a time you chose to love someone when you didn’t “feel” like it, but you knew it was the right thing to do. What did you learn?
- The best expression of love is time. Which of your relationships need more of your time? How would time spent together improve those relationships?
- Love is a skill. What aspects of love (e.g., patience, kindness, humility, hope, grace) do you have the hardest time extending to others?
Tell Someone Else
Is there someone God is bringing to your mind that you could text or call and tell them you love them right now? Who could you invite to come with you for Celebration Weekend?
Have you taken the step of baptism in following Jesus Christ? We’ll be doing baptisms this weekend at Rock Brook. For more information visit rockbrook.org/connect/baptism
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