Christian Love (Part 2): Definition and Principles

(I Corinthians 13:4-7 and Ephesians 4:2-3 Pas. Baines, Jr. 3/2018)

Introduction: The greatest measure of being disciples of Christ is our loving people. There are some people who are difficult to love. But this series will give us some principles to practice in this area. This discussion centers around how “We should be mindful of the definition and principles regarding Christian love.”

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Key Points:

1. Kindness. Notice in I Corinthians 13:4a and I John 3:18 that love includes being kind. Kindness may start with a smile, hello, and hand shake or embrace. But it can move on to include not only a listening ear for a troubled spirit, but it can include funds for those who are in need.

Kindness responds to needs, not necessarily wants. In John 3:16, the Father gave His Son, not because they wanted Him (remember they crucified Him) but because they needed Him (the spotless Lamb). We are called to be kind to our church family, biological family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors.

We have to seek God’s wisdom (see Jm. 1:5) about when and how much kindness to give. Jesus did not say yes to every request or opportunity (see Mt. 12:38-39). Jesus healed some but not everybody. Let’s work on being kind.

2. Longsuffering. Notice in I Corinthians 13:4 that love is longsuffering or patient. We need longsuffering because some people only want you to help them with their symptoms, not their really needs. Think about the person who wants junk food or a loan, not a sermon about healthy eating or financial management.

We need longsuffering because we want to be loved, as we strive to love others. Some people are so egocentric/self-centered that they make it challenging to love them. We need longsuffering because the devil makes us see the sins of others as so large and our sins as so small. Let’s work on being longsuffering.

3. God’s glory. Notice in I Corinthians 10:31b and Matthew 5:16 that we should do what we do, so God can get the glory out of our lives. When we really try this longsuffering kindness stuff, we will quickly come to the question of “Why.” Why am I being kind to those who are not kind to me? - to those who are being hateful to me? - when I don’t feel like being kind?

The answer is, “I am doing it so God can get the glory out of my life.” This is not hypocrisy, it is maturity. After all that God has done for us, we should be quick to do whatever gives Him glory. Loving people gives God glory. Let’s work on living so God can get the glory out of our lives.

4. Start with yourself. Notice in Ephesians 4:2-3 and I Peter 3:8-9 that we are called to start with ourselves. Christian love starts with you being a real Christian. Make sure you have a faith-based salvation (see Jn. 3:16). Make sure you are deciding to deny and dedicate yourself to divine directions (see Lk. 9:23).

Discipleship includes moving past a spirit of entitlement and pride to a spirit of humility, gentleness, and patience. Let’s make sure that we are saved and working on our discipleship.

5. Repentance. Notice in I John 1:9 that we can confess our sins, receive God’s forgiveness, and move forward with our lives. If you have problems with Christian love, you don’t have to be spiritually depressed, angry, or a perpetrator of something that you are not.

You can come clean with God, receive His forgiveness, and stumble forward from here. You can do it! But will you do it? Let’s repent of our sins and stumble in the right direction.

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