Love is Loving Difficult People

Pastor Isaac Butterworth tells of a man in his church, the owner of a local imagesbusiness.

“His wife was the most annoying woman I have ever known. She was chronically ill, and her sickness had embittered her spirit. She demanded almost all of this man’s time and energy, and she was never grateful for a single thing he did for her. She complained about life, and she complained about him.

“For his part — I don’t know how he did it — but he remained gentle and serene, and he had the utmost patience with this woman. He never spoke ill of her. He never sighed under the burden of her criticism. . . . If life had not rewarded him with outward happiness, he was deeply and inwardly joyful.”[1]

Brethren, that man has experienced the love of God. Because of that, he laid down his life for his difficult wife. If you have experienced the love of God in your heart, you will also begin to love difficult people with the same love.

Right now, ask God to search your heart. Are there people you dislike? Is there someone you hate? Are there people who do not like you? Know love as you have never known before.

Give yourself. Give yourself for the good of people. In the name of Jesus, give yourself for the good of people who don’t love you.

[1] Isaac Butterworth, “The Mark of Jesus.” Cited February 14, 2015. Online: http://www.sermoncentral.com/illustrations/ sermon-illustration-isaac-butterworth-stories-sanctification-80909.asp

Love is Giving of Yourself for the Good of Those Who Don’t Love You

imagesWe ask the third question—Who do you show love? “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). Notice that love is not that we have loved God. Our love for God does not define this love. Rather, God’s love for us defines this love. The definition of this love is that God loved us. The evidence of this love is that God sent his Son as a sacrifice.

But God loved us though we do not love God. John wrote in 1 John 4:19, “We love because he first loved us.” Listen! God first loved us, not us who first loved God. We love because God first loved us. Conversely, we did not love God before God first loved us. The amazing thing about God’s love is that God loved sinners who don’t love Him. God sent his Son to sinners who are not interested in him. God sent his Son to sinners who reject him.

We go back to our third question. Who then do we show love? We show love to people who don’t love us. Love is a giving of yourself for the good of people who don’t love you.

Remember how Adam and Eve? Like Adam and Eve, we turned their backs on God. Like Adam and Eve, we disobeyed God. We chose to live our own lives, rejecting the rule of God.

Like Adam and Eve, we did not go searching for God. Rather, God came searching for us. When God found us, he sent his Son. While we were yet sinning, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8).

Thus, we now understand the third definition of love. Love is giving yourself for the good of people who don’t love you.

God did not get to choose who he loves. John said God so loved the world. God did not get to choose those who love him. John said God loved us, before we loved God. God did not get to choose those who are like him. We are not like God. God is holy and we are sinners. God did not get to choose those who are like him.[1]

But that is the point of God’s love for us; and our love for others. God has not called us to choose those who love us. God has called us to love those who hate us. We are not called to love only those who are like us. We are called to love those who are unlike us. We are not called to love only those who agree with us. We are called to love those who disagree with us. We are not called to love only those who are for us. We are called to love even those who are against us.

[1] Wilkerson, “Deep Love.” Online: http://www.preachingtoday.com.

Love is Giving of Yourself for the Good of Others

The second question is—What do you seek to accomplish in love? John adds,   images“so that we might live through him” (1 John 4:9). The plan of God is to send his Son as a sin offering on the cross. The purpose of God is that we might live through him. To live through Christ is to pass from death to life. John wrote, “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death” (1 John 3:14). To live is to receive eternal life in Christ.

Thus, love is giving of yourself for the good of people. God sent Jesus not for what it would do for him, but for what it would do for us. In love, you seek to meet the need of someone else.

Now God did not send his Son to give what you want. God did not send his Son to give what you deserve. God sent his Son to give what you need. You are a sinner. The penalty of sin is death. You need a Savior to save you from sin and death. God sent his Son to give what you need. God sent a Savior, his Son Jesus Christ.

We need money. We need education. We need housing. But more than anything else, we need forgiveness from God. We need redemption. We need to be saved from our sins. We need to be reconciled to God. When we begin with God, all the other needs will follow. Our starting point is God. Then the rest will follow. We need a Savior. We need Christ.

Love is seeking the good of others by meeting their needs. If I bring a street kid to Jollibee to erase my guilt, that is not love. If I help the poor just to seek tax exemption, that is not love. If I feed the hungry to make my life interesting, that is not love.

Love is not about you. Love is about loving another person in the name of Jesus. Love is giving yourself for the good of others in Jesus’ name.

1 John 3:16-18 says,
16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay
down our lives for the brothers.
17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?
18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

Love is laying down your life for your brother in Christ. Love is sharing your goods with a brother in need. Love is opening your heart to him. Love is doing it, and not just talking about it.

I read about a man who was preaching a series of stewardship sermons. After one sermon a man walked out of the church who really loved his money. He really didn’t care about God or the church.

He said to the pastor, “All I ever hear out of you is give, give, give, give.”

The preacher looked at him and said, “Sir, thank you for the best definition of Christianity I’ve ever heard.”

As someone once said, you can give without loving, but you cannot
love without giving. The man who does not give of himself for the good of others does not know about the love of Christ. He does not understand the cross. He does not understand the gospel.

Love is Taking the Risk to Give of Yourself

Picture1Love is God giving His Son to die on the cross for our sins. “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). The word “propitiation” (hilasmos) means “sin offering.” (Gingrich) Let us try to understand John according to John, not according to Paul. John writes in 1 John 1:7, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” The blood of Christ is the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. In this context, a sin offering takes away sin. Jesus is the propitiation, the sin offering to God. His offering of himself on the cross removes our sin. Jesus’ sin offering, His propitiation, takes away the offense of our sin against the holiness of God.

Thus, love is giving of yourself. God gave his Son. His Son gave his life on the cross.

If I see a street kid and give him money that is kindness. But if I see a street kid and invite him to Jollibee, and we eat together, that is not just kindness. That is love.

One day we were eating on a roadside restaurant in Mandaue. About three street kids were watching us. We let them sit with us. We let them eat our food. Then we taught them to spend their limited money for food only, not on cigarettes, or rugby, or useless things.

After the kids finished eating, they hugged my companion, Pastor Gerry Rizon. Surprised, I asked him, “Do you know these kids?”

“Yes,” he answered, “they eat with us every time we come here.”

If you open your home to suffering people, you take a risk. If you take a risk, you give something of yourself. Love is giving of yourself.

Love is Giving of Yourself

What is love? Love is giving of yourself.2 “In this the love of God wasimages
made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world” (1 John 4:9). John wrote that love is manifested when God sent his only Son into the world. God gave His only Son. His only Son gave Himself on the cross for our sins. The cross then is the definitive demonstration of the love of God. But the cross is not only the demonstration of love. The cross is also the definition of love.

You have to give something in order to love. Love has a price tag; and the price tag is high.

One day Mylene asked me, “Hen, if I’d die ahead of you, would you marry somebody again?”
Without hesitation, I answered, “No!”
She said, “Why not?”
I said, “It’s expensive to love again! I’m tired of spending to love again.”

Brethren, there is a price to love. If it is free, it is not love; if it is love,
it is not free. Love costs a lot. It cost God his only Son to love this world. “For God so loved the world He gave His only Son.” It cost Jesus his life to love the church. Paul wrote, “Husbands love your wives even as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it” (Eph. 5:25).

2 Bryan Wilkerson, “Deep Love.” Cited February 14, 2015. Online: http:// http://www.preachingtoday.com/ sermons/sermons/2011/may/deeplove.html? start=4

Knowing Love

imagesMark Buchanan writes of a group of children who were asked what love means.

“What does ‘love’ mean?’. . .
Rebekah, 8, said, ‘When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over
and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time—even when his hands got arthritis, too. That’s love.’
Nikka, 6, says, ‘If you want to learn to love better, you should start with
someone you hate.’
Tommy, 6, says, ‘Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well.’”1

If people would ask you, “What are you doing at GGCF?” Well, you could tell them that GGCF is discipling people. You could tell them that GGCF is planting churches. You could tell them that GGCF is loving people. We love people—rich or poor, sick or healthy, and smart or not.

But how do we love people? Do we love them when it’s convenient? Or do we love them when it’s inconvenient?

Today, I’m going to preach about knowing love. The apostle John tells us about knowing love.

1 John 4:7-11 (ESV):
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.
8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.
10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

As we study this text, we shall answer three important questions. The first question is, “What is love?” The second question, “What do you seek to accomplish in love? The third question is, “Who do you show love?”

1 Mark Buchanan, “The Greatest of These.” Cited February 14, 2015. Online: http://www.preachingtoday.com/sermons/ sermons/2010/september/greatestofthese.html.

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 33,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 12 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.