Life’s Greater Aim 1
If you have been a Christian for any time, then you have heard that the entire law in the Bible can be summed up in these two commands: love God and love others. If you want to grow deeper with God, get on mission with Jesus, do more than just go to Bible studies, read books, or listen to podcasts. Apply what you’re learning about God by loving Him and loving other people.
Something To Talk About:
Love must be our greatest priority. It is amazing how empty and insufficient everything is if you don’t have love. Remember that:
- Love is a choice and a commitment: “Love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” (Deuteronomy 30:20 NIV). Too many people have bought into the myth that love is uncontrollable, that it’s something that just happens to us. But that’s not love. Love doesn’t just happen to you. Love is a choice, and it represents a commitment. You must choose to love God; He won’t force you to love Him. You can thumb your nose at God and go a totally different way if you choose to do that. God still won’t force you to love Him, because He knows love can’t be forced. This same principle is true about your relationships: You can choose to love others, but God won’t force you to love anyone. “You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him…” (Deuteronomy 30:20)
- Love is an action, not just emotion: “Dear children, let us stop just saying we love each other; let us really show it by our actions.” (1 John 3:18) Love is more than sentimentality or emotion. Love is an action; love is a behavior. Over and over again in the Bible, God commands us to love each other. And you can’t command an emotion. The Bible says, “Let us stop just saying we love each other; let us really show it by our actions.” We can talk a good act and say “I love people.” But do we really love them? Our love is revealed in how we act toward them.
- Love is a skill I can learn: “Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God.” (1 John 4:7) Love is a skill that can be learned. In other words, it’s something you can get good at, and that means you get better at love by practicing love. You may think you’re a good lover, but God wants you to become a great lover, a skilled lover, a master lover. You can become an expert at relationships. The only way you get skilled at something is to practice. You do it over and over. The first time you do it, it feels awkward, but the more you do it, the better you become. The Bible says, “Practice these things; be committed to them, so that your progress may be evident to all” (1 Timothy 4:15 HCSB).
- Love is a habit: The distinguishing mark of a Christian is not a cross, a crucifix, a dove, or a fish on a bumper sticker. The sign of a Christian is love. We sing about love, talk about love, pray about love, and study love. But do we do it? To develop love as your life principle and make it your greatest aim, you have to take some action. Make things right with your kids, your spouse, your boyfriend or girlfriend, your parents, or someone at school or work. Then, start increasing the number of relationships you have. If the most important aim in life is to love, we need to build as many relationships as possible. Why? Because the world will know about God’s love by the way we love each other—and especially by the way they are loved by Christians. People are attracted to Christ more than they are persuaded to Him. They’re attracted by the love of God shown through the people who claim to follow Him. And they won’t care what we know until they first know that we care.
- Talk about a time when you really experienced love. What happened?
- How important is love to human beings? Why do you think it is so important?
- How would you explain the difference between love that is from God and love that is based on human understanding?
- What people in your life have demonstrated the truth that love is a choice and a commitment?
- Are we a “display window” for the supernatural love of Christ? In what ways do your actions reveal the depth of your love for people?
- In what specific ways can you practice loving others well this week?
- Think of a very close relationship you have with someone else (spouse, sibling, parent, child, or friend). How did that relationship begin? How did it build and over what time period? What caused your relationship to become intimate and personal?
- What can you learn from Jesus about how to love others?
- Love must become your lifestyle, the habit of your life. But it starts with a decision. What decision can we make this week to make love a habit?
Take One Thing Home with You:
Can anyone really love like Jesus? Really? That is an extraordinarily high bar. Love your enemies? Walk the extra mile? Turn the other cheek? Can we bring perfect love into our imperfect lives? Yes, the bar is high, but if you are seeking a reasonable level of love, you’ll miss out on extraordinary love. If you want to love like Jesus you have to be more approachable and less detached. You need to be more patient and less in a hurry. You will need to exhibit more grace and be less judgmental. You have to be more bold and less hesitant or fearful.
If you’re thinking that is a pretty tall order you are right. It is impossible for us. Our human nature gets in the way. We judge others’ faults and can act selfishly and spitefully. We store our hurts away until those hurts lead to resentment. Even with our best efforts to love like Jesus, we fail. Jesus knew this, and He generously provides us the key to our problem and some encouragement: “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.” (Mark 10:27