The Seventh Sunday of Easter May 8, 2005
1 Corinthians 13:1-7
1 John 3:1-2,10-23; 4:7-19
188, 245, 464, 625
Hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) unless otherwise noted
[Jesus said], “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
In Christ Jesus who shows us His love by laying down His life for our sins and by His daily pleading on our behalf before the Father’s throne, dear fellow-redeemed:
This is a weekend of love, but perhaps not only in the way that first comes to mind. Today is Mother’s Day. There will be many ways and words used today as expressions of love and rightly so. Mothers are one of God’s greatest gifts and they play an influential role in the lives of their children. But that love of a mother, deep as it may be, is imperfect and can even fail. God says though a mother may forget, He never will forget; and though a mother’s love may die, His love will never fail. (cf. Isaiah 49:15).
So today as we remember and honor a mother’s love, there is a greater love to remember. There is a greater love being demonstrated to you right now. God’s greater love—His love for all sinners and to each one of you—is being expressed as He brings His Word to you, as He blesses you in worship, and as we celebrate and remember all that Christ our Savior has done for our salvation.
There is a love that is relatively easy. It is the love between friends. It is the love of companionship and the getting along with one another—the kind of love you experience when you are with the people with whom you spend time. They are the people you go out with on Friday nights and the people with whom you spend time chatting on the phone. This friendship love is easy because we find a camaraderie, a companionship, a unity of thought or purpose or interest. In general, we have some common ground for which we love one another.
There is a greater love. It is a love with more purpose. Friendship love can fade. Friendship love can be dismissed when something better comes along or the common ground is lost. But the greater love, the purposeful love, the deeper love, extends on and on and is constant. That deeper love of purpose doesn’t seek its own interest. Instead, it seeks the best possible blessing for the one who is loved and it can even love the unlovable. That kind of love is the love that Christ commands and desires us to have for one another. LOVE ONE ANOTHER I. Use Christ’s love as an example II. Show your love as a testimony.
The purposeful, amazing, constant, deep love is the love with which God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son (cf. John 3:16). That saving love could be no other type of love because when God loved us and sent Jesus to be our Savior there was no common ground of friendship. Sin had destroyed all common ground between God and man. God had created Adam and Eve with common ground by creating them in His image. He created them in His likeness—holy and pure—with a perfect knowledge of God. That image was lost and ruined by sin and thus the common ground was lost. However, as soon as sin entered the world, God was there with His grace and He promised a Savior. God loved the unlovable. He loved those with whom He had no common ground and promised to send sinners a Savior to restore the common ground and make them His children once again. While we were still sinners God demonstrated His love for us by sending Jesus to be our Savior (cf. Romans 5:8).
Jesus demonstrated that same amazing, purposeful, unselfish love. He had every reason to stay in heaven. He had full honor and glory as the eternal Son of God, but out of love—self-sacrificing, purposeful love (the purpose being your redemption)—He came. He took on the form of a servant and laid down His life for your sins, and then took it again in the resurrection for your justification. The model of Christ’s love is a love that loved you before time began and gave Himself for you so that you might live with Him in glory forever.
When we consider the description of perfect love that Paul gives in Corinthians (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:1-7), we see how it completely fits Christ’s love.
Love is patient.Our Savior has been, is, and always will be incredibly patient. Jesus was patient with His disciples on earth when they just didn’t seem to “get it.” Jesus would speak to them, preach to them, and teach them but they still misunderstood. The people of Jesus’ day were dull of heart and understanding, but patiently, day by day, Christ brought the Gospel to those people. Day by day He instructed them. Day by day He did miracles and spoke to them to confirm for them who He was and what He came to do. Jesus had the purpose of bringing salvation to lost mankind and He patiently stayed the course to reach that goal.
In the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus began to feel the pangs of the death that was to come, when He began to taste that bitter cup of suffering for which He had come to earth, He prayed: “Father, if it is possible, take this cup from Me, nevertheless not My will but Yours be done” (Matthew 26:39, et. al). Yes, Jesus yearned for a way out of the suffering, but His love was a purposeful patient love that made Him willing to lay down His life if there was no other way to save sinners. Your Savior was patient when He laid down His life for you and He remains patient as He ministers to you through His Word even as He did with His disciples while He was on the earth.
“Love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking”—Jesus sought our blessing, not His. “Love is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (1 Corinthians 13:1-7). Our Savior continually fulfills all of these characteristics of genuine love. He protects us with His love. He guides the affairs of this world for us. He ministers to us through His Word with His purposeful love. He again and again and again forgives our sins and preserves us in our faith all the way to life everlasting. That constant, purposeful, self-sacrificing, patient love is the model for which Christ says, “Love one another as I have loved you.” [v.34]
We certainly cannot demonstrate love to one another in the same way that Jesus demonstrated it to us. We cannot lay down our lives for one another, nor do we need to try because Jesus has accomplished our full redemption. So how then do we demonstrate a Christ-like love to one another?
We demonstrate Christ-like love to one another by exercising love in relation to God’s commands. In his letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul writes: “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’ ‘You shall not covet,’ and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” (Romans 13:8-10).
Every time we sin against God or against one another, we are demonstrating a lack of love. Love fulfills, completes, keeps the Law. Every sin of thought, word, and deed is the opposite of what Christ wants us to practice with one another. Love is the fulfillment of the Law. Murder or even just harming your neighbor is not love. Committing adultery and compromising God’s will for marriage shows no love to God who designed and created marriage; nor does it show love to those who are in a marriage. Anything that is spoken or done to diminish someone else’s good name and reputation is not love. So too, coveting, stealing, and all other manner of sin is a lack of love.
As we consider our lives in view of God’s law and how love fulfills the Law, the mirror of the Law shows that our lives are terribly love-less and sinful.
Permit me to again go through Paul’s description of love in 1 Corinthians, but this time also with some snapshots from daily life. The snapshots I offer may not be what you find in your own life, but I think you will find some similarity between what you experience and what we all practice in our lives. Perhaps you will also see some of your own thoughts and actions:
“I am impatient—I mean, can’t you move things along a little bit! C’mon I haven’t got all day! Hurry it up! You people are so slow! So ignorant! Am I the only one who sees what’s happening here!?! Am I the only one who understands?!” Love is patient.
“Well, ok, I was mean to her but she embarrassed me in front of my friends first! She did it! It’s not my fault. I was just getting even!” Love is kind
“I’m a pretty amazing person, you could all follow me and you’d do well. I’m miles ahead of everyone in everything. You should be more like me. … It looks like you’re struggling. I’ve never have a problem with that.” Love does not boast.
Let me sit down and tell you all the things you’re doing wrong because I know more than you do…I want to do this myself! I don’t need your help!!… If you don’t know what I mean and you can’t figure it out then I’m not going to tell you!” Love is not proud.
“Get out of my way! … Oh, I’m not talking to him, no way!” Love is not rude.
“We’re going to go to the mall so I can get the things I need. What? You need to go to the other side of town? Well, we just won’t have time because by the time we do my errands and everything I want to do, it’ll be time to go home. You’ll have to figure something else out. We’re doing this my way! … There’s only one of these left, and it’s MINE!! You can’t have that, it’s MINE! Me first! Me first!” Love is not self-seeking.
“What do you mean you didn’t do that!? I told you to do it yesterday! … Well, don’t boss me around so much! Arrgh! I can’t believe you! You always do that! Don’t you know what I want?” Love is not easily angered.
“OK, so I made a mistake and hurt you, but do you know how many times you’ve hurt me? … You have talked behind my back for the very last time…do you remember that time when we were Sophomores, and you told her what I said? Do you remember the time about a year ago? You have hurt me for the last time!” Love keeps no record of wrongs.
“Did you hear that he got in trouble! … She’s in jail I don’t know what she did, but it must have been really bad. I don’t know what she was thinking…Tsk! Its amazing they can accomplish anything, their lives are in such a mess…did you hear what happened to that family? Oh, it’s disgusting! I hope she gets what she deserves!” Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth.
“You’re on your own in this one. I’m done! … You just said all that about him, well, that’s nothing, just let me tell you what I heard!” Love always protects.
“Where were you, what did you do, and why did you do it!? Any explanation won’t be good enough, so you may as well not even try. You have had it!” Love always trusts.
“It’s no use, I can’t make this work. My life’s a mess, nothing goes right, I can’t do anything, I’m tired, and I’m going to just quit!” Love always hopes, always perseveres.
When we consider God’s expectations, we find that our lives have an amazing lack of love as we deal with one another and with our own perspectives on life. But, remember, the amazing love of Christ is our model. The amazing love with which He first loved us forgives those sins and all lack of love. We love now because He first loved us (cf. 1 John 4:19).
Jesus says that as we demonstrate this love to one another we are witnessing that we are His disciples. What a marvelous opportunity we have with one another and with the world to demonstrate something so different from what we have just heard. It is an opportunity to demonstrate a Christ-like love by being patient with one another and showing love in purposeful, thoughtful ways.
Love is not just about getting all the things we want, buying and receiving gifts, and piling up earthly possessions. In some cases, giving material things could be one of the best ways to demonstrate a lack of love—particularly as a parent seeks to show love to a child.
Children of all ages who are today celebrating your mothers and expressing your love to them, do you love your mothers because of all they have given you in material things and money? Or do you love your mothers with a purposeful love because of the purposeful love with which they love you—love which goes beyond clothes, possessions, or anything else you could ever buy?
A purposeful love has at its heart the best interest and the blessing of the one who is being loved. There is no greater love that we can show one another than to demonstrate Christ-like love in our day to day activities and to convey to one another the love of Christ which forgives our sins. Parents can provide for the earthly needs of their children, but when they convey that love of Christ, when they convey that Gospel message, then they are giving the greatest possible gift and showing the most meaningful kind of love. That purposeful love looks beyond today, tonight, next week, and even next year. That purposeful love looks on to the next generation—the grandchildren and the great grandchildren, and then it looks even beyond that to eternity. When we convey the love of Christ to each new generation, that heritage of Christ’s love and truth is passed on and it grows in the hearts of each new generation of believers until it comes to its goal in eternal life.
Paul wrote to the Ephesians and said, “…speaking the truth in love…grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ” (Ephesians 4:15). Certainly, as we deal with one another and show love to one another we seek to speak the truth. That is really the only way to show genuine love. Lying, falsehoods, and bending the truth are not love in any form. But there is also a need to speak the truth in connection with Christ-like love. It is speaking the truth in a purposeful, kind, and patient way that seeks the blessing of the one to whom we are speaking.
In many ways the Pharisees of Jesus’ day spoke the truth, but they were that clanging symbol and sounding brass of which Paul speaks to the Corinthians. For all that they did that was right and all the noteworthy things they presented to the people, it was all without love for Christ and their fellowmen. It was, therefore, nothing.
When we deal with one another in love, it is a purposeful love that speaks the truth, that seeks the best for one another, that doesn’t gossip, that doesn’t cut down, that doesn’t leave someone else to do all the work and fend for themselves. Rather, it is a love that works together to declare to the world the wonderful love of Christ with which He first loved us.
Jesus said, Love one another; as I have loved you…by this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” Amen.
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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.