Sunday School Material 9-30-12: Faith Instills Love

(Hebrews 13:1-3, 6; I Corinthians 13:1-13; 9/30/12)

Introduction: A key idea in today’s Sunday School material is God’s people are to be known for their loving behavior. Prayerfully, we will be challenged to work on our loving behavior.

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Read Hebrews 13:1-3, 6

I. Love As Action. In the Sunday School material the writer urges the readers to love one another and others. He mentions those who are in prison and those being mistreated. He then reminds them of confidence available to those whose help is in the Lord.

Applications –

- Sibling love. Notice in vs. 1 of our Sunday School material that believers are reminded to keep on loving one another as siblings. First, we are to love one another as siblings.

We are not to simply come to the same church building, have individual worship experiences, and leave with barely a hello. We are to love one another as siblings. Sibling love should be known for unconditional kindness.

Second, we don’t stop loving one another. We never get to a point, where we say, “we used to be into all of that loving stuff.” We don’t put ourselves above God’s will.

When a person says, “I am not into all of that smiling, greeting, and being nice stuff” and then refrains from such behaviors, that person is putting his/her own preferences about God’s will. We are commanded to love one another whether we prefer to or not.

Let’s work on sibling love among believers. We can start with learning how to greet one another with a smile, learning the names of those in your church family, and responding to needs with what God has given you.

- Loving the less fortunate. Notice in vss. 2-3 of our Sunday School material that believers are called to love those outside the fellowship as well, namely the strangers, prisoners, and mistreated. The church is to be a community of people who are so moved by the love that God has for them that they love both one another and those outside their fellowship.

Churches ought to have a long track record of being kind to people both inside and outside their church buildings. In order for this to be the case, the members who make up the church must give themselves to community ministry, especially ministry with the less fortunate.

Let’s work on being a church known for loving the less fortunate. The commentator should be commended for mentioning the need for prison ministry to be more than singing songs, telling Bible stories, and smiling at prisoners. Those coming out of prison need help getting jobs, finding affordable housing, and being given a chance to rebuild their lives.

- Trusting God, as we do right for the right reason. Notice in vs. 6 of the Sunday School material that our confidence in loving others is to be in the Lord. When people oppose the love agenda of believers, we should remind ourselves that we have nothing to fear, since the Lord is our helper.

This statement supposes that we are doing God’s work for God’s purposes. We are not calling God to help us with our own agenda. Nor are we calling on God to help us with His agenda but for our hidden motives (e.g., bragging rights, etc.).

It is possible to do the right thing for the wrong reason. Let’s trust God to take care of us, as we do His will with a pure heart.

Read I Corinthians 13:1-13

II. Love As Life. In this section of our Sunday School material Paul talks about the value of love. Essentially, whatever else a person has, if the person doesn't have love, it is worthless. Love is described. And then love is said to be the greatest among faith, hope, and love.

Applications –

- Without love it doesn’t count. Notice in vss. 1-3 that without love, so many wonderful and spectacular things become worthless. For example, sounding good, being very intelligent, and even given large sums of money are worthless, if there is no love. Let’s work on making sure that our level of love is right.

It would be tragic to do the hard work of going through the motions of serving the Lord but receive no credit because we did not serve the Lord with love. This application underscores the dysfunction of people sitting in church for over 20 years and still talking about they are not into all of this love stuff.

After 20 years, you should not be known for being grumpy and anti-social. A reputation for loving people is a greater reputation than that of being a great singer, dresser, preacher, giver, or even faithful in attendance.

- Longsuffering kindness. Notice in vss. 4-8 of our Sunday School material that one way to summarize the many descriptions of love is to say that love is longsuffering kindness.

Because it is kind, it cannot be uninvolved and non-responsive to needs. When a person says “I love people, but I love them in my own way” as their commentary on why they don’t intentionally smile, don’t help those outside of their little circle, and don’t care about their reputation for arrogance, this is not kindness.

Because it is a longsuffering kindness, it presses through distractions and stumbling blocks like being misunderstood, being taken advantage of, and being taken for granted. Let’s work on exercising longsuffering kindness towards others.

- Growing past childhood. Notice in vs. 11 that growth is natural and expected. There are too many who have been in church for too long to have such a low level of growth. The longer you hear the word of God, the more mature you should become in living by the Word.

Let’s work on growing in the word of the Lord. As an adult grows beyond childishness, we should grow beyond spiritual childishness. Division in the body, lack of participation, lack of proportionate giving (i.e., at least 10% of one’s income), and lack of regular prayerful study are examples of spiritual childishness.

On the contrary, we should be known for our learning and living by the Word, which places a high priority on loving people.

- The high priority of love. Notice in vss. 9-13 of the Sunday School material that the greatest virtue that one can have, as a mature Christian, is love. Too many behave as if wardrobe, knowledge, and attendance are higher priorities.

We are not who we “say” we are, we are what we “do.” The tree is known by its fruit, not its sign. Let’s live like we really believe that love is a high priority. This kind of living includes using our God given abilities in Christian service.

Love is more concerned with the need of others than that which is convenient for one’s self. For example, a man with a college education and who has raised a couple of sons may be needed in a mentoring program more than simply in the Male Chorus, especially, if he cannot sing.

Conclusion: Let’s work on our loving behavior. God has much for those who obey His will.

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