Adapted from a Jeff Strite sermonhttp://www.sermoncentral.com/sermons/th e-power-of-love--316-and-us-jeff-strite- sermon-on-jesus-teachings-81389.asp
1 John 3:11 NET For this is the gospel message that you have heard from the beginning: that we should love oneanother, 12 not like Cain who was of the evil one and brutally murdered his brother. Andwhy did he murder him? Because his deeds were evil, but his brothers were righteous. 13 Therefore do not be surprised, brothers and sisters, if the world hates you.
14 We know that we have crossed over from death to life because we love our fellow Christians. The one who does not love remains in death. 15 Everyone whohates his fellow Christian is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him. 16 We have come to knowlove by this: that Jesus laid down his life for us; thus we ought to lay down our lives for our fellow Christians.
17 But whoever has the worldspossessions and sees his fellow Christian in need and shuts off his compassion againsthim, how can the love of God reside in such a person? 18 Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue but in deed and truth. 19 And by this we will know that we are of the truth and will convince our conscience in his presence, 20 that if our conscience condemns us, that God is greater than our conscience and knows all things.
21 Dear friends, if our conscience does not condemn us, we have confidence in the presence of God, 22 and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do the things that are pleasing to him. 23 Now this is hiscommandment: that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he gave us the commandment.
24 And the person who keeps hiscommandments resides in God, and God inhim. Now by this we know that God resides in us: by the Spirit he has given us.
In a ―Peanuts" comic strips Lucy says to Shroeder (the boy she‘s hopelessly in love with) "Guess what...If you don‘t tell me that you love me, you know what I‘m going to do?I‘m going to hold my breath until I pass out!― Looking up from his piano, Shroeder says, "Breath-holding in children is an interesting phenomenon. It could indicate a metabolic disorder.
A forty-milligram dose of Vitamin B6 twice aday might be helpful. I think that‘s probably it... You need Vitamin B6. You might also consider eating more bananas, avocados, and beef liver..."As he goes back to his piano, Lucy sighs, "I ask for love, and all I get is beef liver!"
Love is a powerful need in people‘s lives Back in the 70‘s one psychiatrist wrote:―In my practice at the Atlanta Psychiatric Clinic, people sometimes ask me what psychiatry is all about.
To me, the answer is increasingly clear. Almost every emotional problem can besummed up in one particular bit of behavior: It‘s a person walking around screaming, ‗For pity‘s sake, love me.‘ Love me, that‘s all. He goes through a million different manipulations to get somebody to love him.‖
That was the very need that motivated God to send His son to the cross: John 3:16 NET For this is the way Godloved the world: He gave his one and onlySon, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God knew we needed someone to say ―I love you‖
―Jesus said ‗I loved you this much.‘ Andthen He stretched out His arms and died.‖
The books in our Bibles haven‘t always had chapter and verse divisions. Somewhereduring the middle ages, someone realized it would be easier to study the Bible if it was divided in a way that people could locate specific section of any book. So, I‘m not sure if it‘s a quirk of Scripture or if God deliberately led the people who originally put chapter and verse divisions into the Bible… But, 1 John 3:16 is almost a mirror image of our beloved John 3:16.
1 John 3:16 NET We have come to knowlove by this: that Jesus laid down his life for us; thus we ought to lay down our lives for our fellow Christians. Remember – For God so LOVED the world… Well, We have come to know love by this: that Jesus laid down his life for us; But then John adds: ―thus we ought to lay down our lives for our fellow Christians.‖
Why should we lay down our lives for our brothers? BECAUSE Jesus laid down His life for us! Now, this is obviously animportant point for John because he dwellson this subject for several verses – but why is it so important?
1st – It’s important to John becausethat’s not how you and I used to live1 John 3:12 NET not like Cain who was of the evil one and brutally murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his deeds were evil, but his brothers were righteous.Now why would John warn us NOT to be like Cain???
Because… we used to be like Cain. That‘s the type of world we grew up in.That‘s the kind of example that others set for us.That was the kind of response that would have come naturally to us.
Paul wrote Titus: Titus 3:3 NET For we too were once foolish, disobedient, misled, enslaved tovarious passions and desires, spending our lives in evil and envy, hateful and hating one another. 4 But "when the kindness of God our Savior and his love for mankind appeared, 5 he saved us not by works ofrighteousness that we have done but on the basis of his mercy, through the washing of the new birth and the renewing of the Holy Spirit,
When you read verse 3 just now did you visualize a Jerry Springer kind of person. The type of person who‘s always screaming, always accusing, always concerned only about themselves, alwayseager to get into a brawl in front of God and everybody.
But you folks aren‘t like that. I have yet tosee any of you behave like that on Sundaymornings or any other time. In fact, when Igo to Wal-mart or the grocery store, I never see anyone yelling and screaming in the aisles.
So most people aren‘t like the goofballs they parade before us on Springer typeshows. However, we do have a tendency to be like Cain. As the passage out of Titus says: 3:3 For we too were once foolish, disobedient, misled, enslaved tovarious passions and desires, spending our lives in evil and envy, hateful and hatingone another. That means this is a common experience for ALL of us.
John uses the example of Cain becauseCain was a ―slow burn‖ type of a guy. Then the LORD said to Cain, ―Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? Genesis 4:6 NIV Cain hadn‘t said ANYTHING, as far as we know, but you could tell how Cain felt byjust looking at him. Cain didn‘t say much… but eventually his anger built… until he killed his brother.
Most of us are ―slow burners‖ like Cain was. If we allow ourselves to think like Cain do we get angry about how people have treated us. We replay the incident in our minds (over and over and over again.) In fact, if we think someone will listen we‘llreplay incident for them. BUT we‘re not just retelling the story, we‘re RELIVING thestory, we‘re re-FEELING the emotions – the pain and hurt and the rage.
There was a teacher once who wasknown for his elaborate object lessons. One day, when his students came toclass, they saw a big target hanging on the wall, and a number of darts on a nearby table. The teacher told thestudents to draw a picture of someonethat they disliked or someone who hadmade them angry...and he would allow them to throw darts at the person’s picture.
One girl drew a picture of a girl who had stolen her boyfriend. Another student drew a picture of his little brother. Still another drew a picture of theteacher, putting a great deal of detail into her drawing. When they were all finished, the teacher hung their pictures one at a time over the target and the class lined up andbegan to laugh and enjoy themselves as they threw their darts at their particular picture.
Some of the students threw their darts with such force that their targets were ripping apart. At last, as the class was nearing its end, the teacher had the students take their seats… and then he began to remove the underlying target from the wall. The one over which thestudents had hung the pictures they had drawn.
And underneath that target…was a picture of Jesus.... A complete hush fell over the room as each student viewed the mangled picture of Jesus; holes and jagged marks covered His face and His eyes were pierced out. Matthew 25:40 NET And the king willanswer them, I tell you the truth, just as you did it for one of the least of thesebrothers or sisters of mine, you did it for me.
The Bible tells us that, because you and Iare Christians, we must love as Jesus loved us. We must forgive as Jesus forgave us. SO… 1st John reminds us about how we should love, because that‘s NOT how we used to live.
2nd – John reminds about how weshould love, because this IS how we’re supposed to live In fact, the more we love, the more of God we have in our life. 1 John 3:23 NET Now this is hiscommandment: that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he gave us the commandment.
24 And the person who keeps hiscommandments resides in God, and God inhim. Now by this we know that God resides in us: by the Spirit he has given us. You see, if – as Christians - we love one another then God LIVES IN US. AND His Spirit controls us.
Paul says about the same thing in Galatians 5, when he tells us the fruit of the Spirit is: ―Love…joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness… ‖ and so on. If we have God‘s love dwelling within us, that is a mark that we are anointed byGod. We are indwelt with His Spirit. Love is the marker that tells us we belong to Him.
Have you ever seen an annoyingcommercial with a preacher yelling ―IF YOU WANT TO HEAR ANOINTED PREACHING, AND HEAR ANOINTED SINGING….‖ you should come to his church. Now, all due respect to that preacher and his church… he‘s got it all wrong. He‘s trying to say that his preaching and the singing of their church have a special―anointing‖ from God‘s Spirit. But, that‘s not how it works.
How much we love is the yardstick Godgives us to measure how much of His Spirit dwells within us. The Christians John was writing to werebeing challenged by certain individuals who had told them they didn‘t have the ―anointing‖ because they lacked some special knowledge or experience.
John wrote: These things I have written toyou about those who are trying to deceiveyou. Now as for you, the anointing that youreceived from him resides in you, and youhave no need for anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things, it is true and is not a lie. Just as it has taught you, you reside in him. 1 John 2:26- 27 NET
John is not ruling out human teachers. At the time when he wrote, however, Gnosticteachers were insisting that the teaching of the apostles was to be supplemented with the higher knowledge that they (the Gnostics) claimed to possess. (NIVSB)
Have you ever talked with a person who ―prays in tongues?‖ Often is the case, they began to say you need to ―open yourself up‖ to the possibility that God would allow you to have this same experience in your life as well. It becomes obvious that they believe how much a person prayed intongues was the ―gage‖ of how much of the Spirit a person had within them.
The Bible never used ―tongues‖ (or any other spiritual gift) as a measuring stick of spirituality even when tongues existed in the early church. The ―measuring stick‖ of how much of God‘s Spirit we have in ourlives is LOVE… nothing more, nothing less. Jesus said, Everyone will know by this that you are my disciples — if you have love for one another.― John 13:35 NET
Love indicates being born again.1 John 3:14 We know that we have crossedover from death to life because we love our fellow Christians. The one who does not love remains in death. Proof of lineage. 1 John 4:7 NET Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loveshas been fathered by God and knows God. 8 The person who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
So, how can I tell how much I love???Look again with me at 1 John 3:16 NET Wehave come to know love by this: (this is our example) that Jesus laid down his life for us; (so, we ought to follow His example)thus we ought to lay down our lives for our fellow Christians.
How do we do that? 17 But whoever hasthe worlds possessions and sees his fellow Christian in need and shuts off his compassion against him, how can the love of God reside in such a person? 18 Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue but in deed and truth.
That is what Christ taught. But, by contrast, RELIGION teaches that doctrine and worship are the highest priorities. Anything that interferes withdoctrine or worship for ―religious people‖ is set aside. Diet Eman (author of Things We Couldn‘tSay) told the story about a rail line that ran nearby and was used by the Nazis to transport boxcars jammed with Jews and other ―undesirables.‖
They were on their way to the death camps in the east. Many times, the trains were sidetracked for hours while the miserable people begged pitifully for food, water andmercy. There were no bathroom facilities for the journey, which could last four days or longer.
Nearby, I‘m told, was a small church located close enough to the rail line to hear the cries coming from within the boxcars. The church people attending services were deeply disturbed by these mournful ―distractions,‖ and so, they began singing more loudly so they wouldn‘t have to hear them. These were ―religious‖ people.
By contrast, JESUS taught us that ourHIGHEST priority should be to show love to others. Luke 6:6 NET On another Sabbath, Jesus entered the synagogue and was teaching. Now a man was there whose right hand was withered. 7 The experts in the law andthe Pharisees watched Jesus closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath, so that they could find a reason to accuse him.
8 But he knew their thoughts, and said to the man who had the withered hand, "Get up and stand here." So he rose and stood there. 9 Then Jesus said to them, "I ask you, is it lawful to do good on the Sabbathor to do evil, to save a life or to destroy it?"10 After looking around at them all, he said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." Theman did so, and his hand was restored. 11But they were filled with mindless rage andbegan debating with one another what they would do to Jesus.
Now, I don‘t mean that we shouldn‘t keepour doctrine pure (in fact, Scripture is quite clear that we MUST do that).Or that we shouldn‘t strive to give God our best worship. What I‘m saying is this– We can be DEEPLY religious. We can be ABSOLUTELY pure in our doctrine. We can be RIGHT ON TARGET with our Sunday morning worship.
But, if we fail to love others…if we fail to love others whose lives are less than perfect who have failed and who‘ve fallen Then we‘ve failed. We have fallen.
Because, you see ultimately, the reason we are to love others as Jesus loved us - isbecause they need Jesus too. They‘re just like we were when we first came to Jesus. They are crying out ―for pity‘ssake, somebody love me‖ Our objective, as Christian‘s, is to give them our love… because Jesus gave His love to us.
Commenting on John‘s writing about love Thomas a‘ Kempis summed it all up in these words: "Whoever loves much, does much." An evangelist once told how much he‘d admired his mother because of how she loved. He told of the time, as a boy, when he found her sitting at the table with an old tramp. Apparently she had goneshopping, met the tramp along the way, and invited him home for a warm meal.
During the conversation the tramp said, ―Iwish there were more people like you in the world.‖ Whereupon his mother replied, ―Oh, there are. But you must look for them.‖The old man simply shook his head, saying.―But, lady, I didn‘t need to look for you. You looked for me.‖
Commenting on his mother‘s kindness toward the tramp, the evangelist reflected that she did something more than simply offer him welfare. He said ―It was acompassion that went out of its way to love the unlovely. And that‘s the story of our Savior‘s life, death and resurrection.
He came looking for us in the sick, themaimed, the lame, the bruised, the brokenhearted…the wretched wanderer, the poorand forgotten, the prisoner, and the lonely. Then the evangelist closed with this question: ―Has he found you?‖