This is What We Do – Love Others as Jesus Loved.
This is the first week in a new series entitled, “This is what we do.” In this message, we look at loving others as Jesus loved us. To love others was not a new commandment: Leviticus 19:19 says, “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against a fellow Israelite, but love your neighbor as yourself…” But loving others as Christ loved others was revolutionary. The Bible tells us that we are to love others based on Jesus’ sacrificial love for us. Jesus was a living example of God’s love, as we are to be living examples of Jesus’ love. John 13:35 says, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
Bottom Line: Real love is not self-serving, it is self-sacrificing.
Something To Talk About:
Here are five key points to consider:
- Accept others as Jesus accepts me: We have only two choices, accept people, or reject them. When you realize this, it certainly narrows down the choice for those who are followers of Jesus. When we gossip, criticize, ostracize or condemn people we are rejecting them. And when we reject them it suggests that they are no good and have no value to us. Basically we are judging them, and only God is qualified to do that. God accepts people as they are. So should we. Accept people as they are instead of trying to change them. You can’t change people anyway. Only God can really change people. Our job is to accept, love and help them.
- Value others as Jesus values me: The Bible speaks very clearly on how much Jesus values you, me, everybody. Matthew 6:26 says, “Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?” Matthew 10:29-31 says, “What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.” Then there are the parables of the lost coin, the lost sheep and the lost son just as valuable as the one sheep, coin and son are. If people are that valuable and important to God, should they not be valuable and important to us?
- Forgive others as Jesus forgives me: Forgiving others may seem to be a choice, but is it? God has given us specific direction in numerous Scriptures that gives us no wiggle room. We are to forgive. The Bible says, “But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.” (Mark 11:25). Luke 3:37 adds, “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven.” God is saying that it is in our own best interest to forgive because we are the ones who receive the most benefit from forgiveness, not the other person. We need to forgive as God forgave us.
- Believe in others as Jesus believes in me: There are people with low self-esteem. There are people with insecurities. If you study the Bible you will see that Jesus affirmed people. He didn’t see what they were. He saw what they could become. He saw their potential. He saw their growth. He saw what God intended for them to be. He brought out the best in people, not by labeling them, but saying, I believe you can do it. Remember Jesus trusted the future of the entire world to twelve fishermen, and then 11. He spends three years with them and then asks them to take the good news of the gospel to everybody else and to share it around the whole world. To Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and the whole world. You have to wonder if the angels were asking about a plan B. God believed in the disciples and He believes in us. And when God is in our corner, we can help the whole world find and follow Jesus. Do we have that type of belief in others?
- What does the Bible say is the true definition of love?
- What people are easy for you to love? What people are hard for you to love? Do you think it’s easy or hard for the world to see Jesus’ love when they see how you interact with others?
- How does the love one another command (John 13:34) relate to the other “one another” commands?
- What is the difference between saying you love someone and actually doing it?
- Can you love one another without a heart for God? Why or why not?
- Have you experienced a betrayal, departure or other kind of loss that makes it difficult to forgive someone? What do you do about that situation?
- What does it mean to value someone in practical terms? What does it mean to believe in someone in practical terms?
- In terms of loving the surrounding world, what are some practical ways this small group can go from talking about it to doing it?
Take one thing home with you:
God tells us in Mark 12:3 to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” But what does that mean? Is it even possible given my neighbors? It is easier to not open the door when my neighbor knocks because I would never get back to what I was doing. My neighbor’s dog ruined my flowers.
It’s not unusual to wonder how to love one another, but that doesn’t change the fact that God calls us to to truly love one another. And that includes neighbors.
This week, step out of your comfort zone. Make the connection, offer encouragement, and share His love with someone you might normally overlook or avoid altogether. After all, if we are called to truly love one another – that means we must accept, value, forgive, believe in others as God accepts, values, forgives and believes in us.