Week 1…Okay 2 weeks ago, we talked about how to be a Godly Parent….Parenting is tough…we love our children and when they leave it is even tougher…how do you want them to leave…Living Out their lives for Jesus?
Week 2…We looked at Building Fruitful Relationships. Out of a study of the Fruits of the Spirit from Galatians 5:16-25…take the time to look at the Fruit the Spirit produces in our lives in our lives and see what ares you need to ‘let’ the Spirit takeover!!!
Week 3….Okay to, Part 3 of ATM, Loving Your Neighbors. A study of how we can have an Impact on our Neighbors for Christ. Not easy…it is hard to be loving in a pretty unloving world, but maybe we can change it!!! Maybe the Beatles figured it out for us…
I. “All you need is love.” – The Beatles
So said the Beatles. If they’d been singing about God’s love, the statement would have a grain of truth in it.
But what usually goes by the name love in popular culture is not authentic love at all; it’s a deadly fraud. Some of us…if not most of us has experienced this fraud…that seems to me happening in our culture at present…it is sad to watch… Far from being “all you need,” it’s something you desperately need to avoid. So…let’s…
2. Live a Life Filled with Love
First…The apostle Paul makes that very point in Ephesians 5:1-2. He writes, 1 Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children.
We are God’s Children…let’s live like our heavenly Father
Second…The simple command of verse: 2 “Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ“ sums up the whole moral obligation of the Christian. After all, God’s love is the single, central principle that defines the Christian’s entire duty.
This kind of love is really “all you need.” (Sorry Beatles Fans)
Romans 13:8-10 says the same thing…
8 Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. (Underline that in your outline) If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law. 9 For the commandments say, “You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not covet.” These—and other such commandments—are summed up in this one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law.
Galatians 5:14 echoes that self same truth:
14 For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Jesus likewise taught that all the law and the prophets hang on two simple principles about love—the First and Second Great Commandments:
37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments. Matthew 22:37-40
In other words,
14 “love…binds us all together in perfect harmony” from Colossians 3:14
Walk in this love
- When Paul commands us to walk in love, the context reveals that in positive terms, he is talking about being kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving to one another. (Which is Ephesians 4:32).
- Christ modeled Loving Our Neighbors in His Selfless Love,
13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13
11 Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. 1 John 4:11.
In other words, true love is always sacrificial, self-giving, merciful, compassionate, sympathetic, kind, generous, and patient. These and many other positive, benevolent qualities (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8) are what Scripture associates with divine love.
II. When Love Goes Bad: Not Loving our Neighbor
- Counterfeit Love…The Love We Don’t Need!
There is a negative side to this conversation as well…also seen in the context of…
Ephesians 5. v3…3 Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you.
The person who truly loves others as Christ loves us, must refuse every kind of counterfeit love.
The apostle Paul names some of these satanic forgeries. They include immorality, impurity, and covetousness. The passage continues:
4 Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God. 5 You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. 6 Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey him. 7 Don’t participate in the things these people do. Ephesians 5:4-7
Immoral is perhaps our generation’s favorite substitute for love. Paul uses the Greek word porneia, which includes every kind of sexual sin. Popular culture desperately tries to blur the line between genuine love and immoral passion. But all such immorality is a total perversion of genuine love, because it seeks self-gratification rather than the good of another.
Impure is another devilish perversion of love. Here Paul employs the Greek term akatharsia, which refers to every kind of filth and impurity. Specifically, Paul has in mind “filthiness,” “foolish talk,” and “crude joking,” which are the peculiar characteristics of evil companionship. That kind of camaraderie has nothing to do with true love, and the apostle plainly says it has no place in the Christian’s walk.
Greedy is yet another corruption of love that stems from a narcissistic desire for self-gratification. It’s the exact opposite of the example Christ set when He “offered himself as a sacrifice for us” (Ephesians 5:2). In verse 5, Paul equates covetousness with idolatry. Again, this has no place in the Christian walk, and according to verse 5, “no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ”
Such sins, Paul says, 3 … Such sins have no place among God’s people. Ephesians 5:3.
- In other words, we are not showing authentic love unless we are intolerant of all the popular perversions of love.
- Most of the talk about love these days ignores this principle. “Love” has been redefined as a broad tolerance that overlooks sin and embraces good and evil alike. That’s not love; it’s apathy.
- We have to turn away from the perverse and harmful false love, and turn to the Love of God if we want to love our Neighbors!!!
- B. Solution to the Counterfeit…The Love we Do Need!
Remember, the supreme manifestation of God’s love is the cross, where Christ…
2 …He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God. Ephesians 5:2
1. Be Thankful for God’s Sacrifice and sacrifice yourself for others… As He loved us, so we love our Neighbors.
Thus Scripture explains the love of God in terms of sacrifice, atonement for sin, and propitiation:
10 This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. 1 John 4:10.
In other words Christ made Himself a sacrifice to turn away the wrath of an offended deity. Far from dismissing our sins with a benign tolerance, God gave His Son as an offering for sin, to satisfy His own wrath and justice in the salvation of sinners.
- That is the very heart of the gospel. God manifest his love in a way that upheld His holiness, justice, and righteousness without compromise. True love “…does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.” (1 Corinthians 13:6).
- This is the love that we take to our Neighbors. This is the love that we take to those who are yet to know Jessu…
That’s the kind of love we are called to walk in. It’s a love that is…
17 It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds… James 3:17
Okay so now let’s get very practical…how can we love our neighbors?
7 Ways to Love Your Neighbor
- Be Organic
Organic food is all the rage right now, and for good reason. For years, consumers have been exposed to pesticides, antibiotics, and genetically modified foods, and as they became more aware of this, cries for chemical-free food arose, and the organic food industry boomed as a result. People love things that are natural. Share your faith naturally!!! Not a program or fake or forced, but a believer sharing their faith out of love, in their personality and in care for their neighbor!!
2. Be Generous
How can we help our neighbor? Is there something they need or some way we can commit our time or money to help? What if we were like this person the Psalmist wrote about:
9 They share freely and give generously to those in need. Their good deeds will be remembered forever. They will have influence and honor. Psalm 112:9
3. Be Known
Show love to those we do not know. Go out of your way to know them and be known by them. Maybe you can do an event together in your neighborhood…Progressive Dinner, BBQ, Halloween, etc.
15 And then he told them, “Go into all the world…” Mark 16:15
4. Be Open
Be Open…Neighbors don’t want to meet the perfect ‘Christian’ down the street and then be told by them how imperfect they are!! Share life, share a meal and be real.
5. Pray for Them
Prayer is good for them and those who do the praying. Ask God for specific things to pray for.
29 The Lord is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayers of the righteous. Proverbs 15:29
6. Be a Good Listener
We all know what it is like when we try to talk with someone and they interrupt us or ask, “What did you say again?” It feels like they don’t even care and they honestly may not.
You will always feel like someone cares for you when they genuinely listen to you. Listening is a conscious choice we make. Don’t go to your Neighbor just to Speak!! James 1:19 says,”You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” Following this model, we will show our neighbor love even if they don’t recognize it.
- Be Christ-Like…We know we will never be perfect, but do what you can to be like Jesus! 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. Philippians 2:4
Sharing the reality of God is one of the most loving acts you can make, but is only possible after a good relationship has been established. After all, few people will listen to the message of a stranger. But a friend? They’ll open up to that. Let’s seek to love our Neighbors, and let’s start by being their friends!!