Monday, February 20, 2017

Spiritual Wellness Part 5 - How Well Do You Love? - Matthew 22:34-40

This is the fifth in a series of posts I’m sharing with you entitled Spiritual Wellness. So far in our spiritual wellness checkup, I’ve challenged you to check your hearing, your reading, your praying and your giving. Today…I’m going to challenge you to check your loving. Jesus said that the greatest of all the commandments was to love God and to love others. The New Testament is full of verses telling us that as Christians, the most important thing for us to do is love.

Remember Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13 that if he had every gift that God gave but didn’t have love it meant nothing. He finished the love chapter by saying, “And now these three remain: faith, hop and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

So today…to help us answer the question, How Well Do You Love?... We’ll use the same format we’ve used for all the other posts in this series. Let’s look first at the…

DIFFERENT TYPES OF LOVERS

THOSE WHO ARE LOVED FIRST...

In other words, these are people who love only in response to love that is show to them. They will love but others must take the initiative. There are many, many people who base their relationships on this kind of love.

THOSE WHO ARE LOVED IN RETURN...

There are some people who take the initiative…who reach out to show love but will only continue in their love when it is reciprocated. Many people will only show love if it is a two-way street. Listen to what Jesus said about being this type of lover… Luke 6:32, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.”

THOSE WHO LOVE REGARDLESS...

These are people who take initiative to love and persist in love even when it’s not reciprocated. This kind of love is extremely rare but is the kind of love that Jesus demands of His disciples. Scripture commands us to love others unconditionally…even those who are our enemies.

Luke 6:35, “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.”

1 John 4:8, “Whoever does not love…does not know God, because God is love.”

Jesus, of course, set the perfect example… John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Now that we’ve looked at the DIFFERENT TYPES OF LOVERS, let’s talk about the…

IMPORTANCE OF PROPER LOVING

IT IS THE GREATEST OF COMMANDMENTS...

We saw this in our verses we read from Matthew 22. Jesus Himself said that love was the greatest of all the commandments. Paul and James both wrote about how love fulfills the Law of God.

Romans 13:8, “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.”

Galatians 5:14, “For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: Love your neighbor as yourself.”

James 2:8, “If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, love your neighbor as yourself, you are doing right.”

Listen folks…as a Christian, NOTHING is greater than love when it comes to obeying and serving God.

IT IS THE MARK OF TRUE SPIRITUALITY...

Love is proof that we have passed from death to life. Love is proof that we’ve been born again…proof that we’re really, truly saved. Love is proof that we are His disciples.

1 John 3:14, “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death.”

1 John 4:7-8, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

John 13:34-35, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

We have to understand that NOTHING is greater than love to prove to others that we belong to God.

IT IS THE GLUE FOR ALL RELATIONSHIPS...

All relationships…if they are healthy that is…depend on love. Our friendships, our families, our churches ALL depend on love.

1 Samuel 18:1, “Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself.”

Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”

Colossians 3:13-14, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

So we’ve talked about the DIFFERENT TYPES OF LOVERS and the IMPORTANCE OF PROPER LOVING. Let’s finish today by looking at…

STEPS TO BETTER LOVING

FOLLOW THE EXAMPLE OF GOD...

Scripture says that we are taught by God the Father and God the Son to love each other and that we should follow their example and love others how God loves us.

1 Thessalonians 4:9-10, “Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. And in fact, you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more.”

1 John 4:9-10, “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.”

John 13:34, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

Ephesians 5:1-2, “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

FOLLOW THE EXAMPLE OF OTHERS...

Paul…through the leading of the Holy Spirit…gave us one of the greatest chapters in all of the Bible talking about love. 1 Corinthians 13 teaches us the necessity and true meaning of love. It teaches us the permanence and preeminence of love. Let me give you just a few of the phrases from this great chapter…

Verse 2, “If I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.”
Verse 4, “Love is patient, love is kind…”
Verse 8, “Love never fails.”
Verse 13, “Now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

Folks…I think it’s clear that we can’t deny the importance of love to our spiritual well-being. Love is evidence that we’ve been saved and it’s necessary if we’re going to have spiritual peace and joy. The best way to make sure the love in our lives is true, is to love like Jesus loves. I’ve given you these verses already, but let me leave them with you today…

Ephesians 5:1-2, “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

How well do you love?

Last in our Spiritual Wellness check-up, we will ask, “How Well Do You Hope?”