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Scripture: Colossians 3:14; 1 John 4:20-21; 1 Peter...
Track 10 of in the series
When Paul lists all the fruits of the Spirit he places Love at the very beginning. But in my lesson today, love is placed last. Paul listed it first because it is the most important of all the characteristics of God and it should be the most important character quality of us as well. Todays lesson basically is saving the best for last. Why, according to Paul, the glue that holds all the other characteristics of God together is LOVE.

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Mike Nobis Speaker: Mike Nobis
Sunday School Teacher, Former Elder at Madison Park Christian Church. Mike is President of JK Creative Printers & Mailing in Quincy, IL. He is married to Pam and has three children, Tom, Tyler and Jennifer. Mike has three grandchildren: Ryne, Ivy and Alicia.

View all sermons by this speaker.

The Practice of Godliness

Colossians 3:14 (NIV) And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

When Paul lists all the fruits of the Spirit he places Love at the very beginning. But in my lesson today, love is placed last. Paul listed it first because it is the most important of all the characteristics of God and it should be the most important character quality of us as well. Today’s lesson basically is saving the best for last. Why, according to Paul, the glue that holds all the other characteristics of God together is LOVE.

There are so many examples in the Bible on what loves is and what love looks like. In our English language, the word “LOVE” covers a lot of different meanings. However, in other languages what we consider as love has many other names and many different meanings. But in Hebrew and Greek, the writers used very specific words to describe what Christian love is.

What are the many definitions of love? What can love mean when used in certain situations?

But what is Christian love? What is this “LOVE” that Paul wrote about in Colossians that holds all the other Godly characteristics together? How does it look and how do we know if it is the right “LOVE” or not?

1 John 4:20-21 (NIV) If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.

This is a very tough scripture for many Christians. We love to talk about God’s love for us and we take great comfort in knowing how deep God’s love goes. We sing about it, we study it and we have thousands of devotions helping us better understand what it is. But the love of God has a qualifier, it is only as good as what we show to others. True Godly Love is an active thing, not just something we feel. John describes it plainly to us, Godly love has everything to do with what we do with it towards others.

What does it mean to give our hearts to God? How does a person really do that? How can someone tell if they live that reality daily in your life? It is all measured by how much you love and honor others.

Based on 1 Corinthians 13, we are going to take a True or False test measuring our Godly character of Love.

True or False: I am patient with you because I love you and want to forgive you.
True or False: I am kind to you because I love you and want to help you.
True or False: I do not envy your possessions or your gifts because I love you and want you to have the best.
True or False: I do not boast about my attainments because I love you and want to hear about yours.
True or False: I am not proud because I love you and want to esteem you before myself.
True or False: I am not rude because I love you and care about your feelings.
True or False: I do not hold your sins against you because I love you and my love overlooks your mistakes.

So how did you do? How many wrote “True” on every point? How many of you have some issues where the answer was “False”?

So, based on what we have talked about so far, what would you say “Love” is?

Love is a holy, abiding and vigorous spirit, which rules the whole of man, ever directing him to the humble and loving fulfillment of all of his duties to God and to man.

Christian love always results in action on our part. It inclines us and directs us to be king, to forgive, to give of ourselves to one another.

1 Peter 4:8 (NIV) Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

God is Love

We see this statement a lot but do we really know or understand what it really means? When we make this statement or see it in scripture, what does it mean and how can we display that truth to others around us?

Basically, the best definition of love is “Jesus”. What he lived, how he lived and what he saw as priorities best defines the Godly character of love. Several times in the Old Testament scripture equates God’s Glory with his Goodness.

Right before God replaces the 10 commandments that Moses destroyed.

Exodus 33:18-20 (NIV) Then Moses said, "Now show me your glory." And the LORD said, "I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But," he said, "you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live."

Another example when God’s Glory was shown was when the Temple Solomon built was dedicated.

2 Chronicles 7:1-3 (NIV) When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. The priests could not enter the temple of the LORD because the glory of the LORD filled it. When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of the LORD above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, "He is good; his love endures forever."

If we desire to be Godlike and to glorify God in our lives, what must be evident, what has to be our first priority? To cultivate the character of love and to pass it along to others. How does love express itself? 1 Corinthians 13. In light of what we just discussed, what does the following verse mean?

Romans 15:17 (NIV) Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God.

Love Gives, Whatever the Cost

Does anyone know what John 3:16 says and is all about? But there is a second side of that statement made by Jesus. It can be found in 1 John 3:16.

1 John 3:16-17 (NIV) This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?

The last portion of this passage deals with a question that needs to be considered. If a person doesn’t show love for others, the obvious question to ask is, “what is wrong with this picture”? If there are Christians in a community and they profess to love God, what should we expect? What happens if our expectations are totally different?

In Jerusalem, due to the rapid rise of Christianity, there were retaliations by the Jews and Romans to stomp out this new group. Many Christians were persecuted causing many to flee for their lives. Those that remained endured many hardships, even starvation. Paul went and asked the churches he established to help by taking up a love offering to give to the church in Jerusalem.

2 Corinthians 8:1-4 (NIV) And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints.

How far do you think MPCC is willing to go to meet the physical need of those in Quincy?
What are we willing to give up so others have their basic needs?

Love Sacrifices to Forgive

1 John 4:9-11 (NIV) This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

All throughout scripture there are words that are always attached to the concept of Godly Love; those two words are sacrifice and forgiveness. In fact, both words are used together in many different situations. To display the love that is Godliness, sacrifice and forgiveness are included and they work to complement each other.

God gave in order that He might forgive. If we are to be like Jesus, we use the same phrase, I give in order to forgive. The Apostle John used that same thought when he wrote:

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

So how does this work at MPCC? What reality does John expect to see if he would visit us for a period of time? What sacrifices does John expect us to make so forgiveness is a reality?

True or False: Love does not demand justice or even changed behavior from its brother.

Love Reaches Out

True or False: Christian love is not an impulse from the feelings; it is a matter of action than emotion. It is entirely from an act of the will.

True or False: I can love him but I don’t have to like him.

What is fascinating, the Biblical does not support such an unbalanced concept of love. In describing Christian love we see expressions such as “love one another deeply, from the heart”. We also see words like fervently, fondly, and affectionately. In most cases the love relationship between Christians is described as the affection family members have for one another. All of these phrase and words indicate that emotions are also included in Christian love.

The two churches that Paul had the most trouble with were the church at Corinth and Galatia. But when he writes to them, one can hear the emotion Paul has for them.

2 Corinthians 2:4 (NIV) For I wrote you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you.

Galatians 4:19-20 (NIV) My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, how I wish I could be with you now and change my tone, because I am perplexed about you!

For Paul, their actions made it hard for Paul to love them their disobedience intensified that love relationship Paul had for them. He didn’t run from them or give up; he didn’t leave them to be harmed by their own sinful actions. His deep love for them reached out to bring them back even if their rejection at times hurt him. His love was not just an impersonal act of writing to them, he reached out and embraced them even while he rebuked them.

True or False: We should do more than just decide to do acts of love, we should desire to do them.

To possess the Godlike quality of love has a cost attributed to it. In many cases, the cost is very great. It requires that we give up ourselves totally so the glory of God can be on display and experienced by those around us.