This is the third sermon on this subject that I’m preaching from in the church I pastor. I will preach this, Sunday, October 21st. I got the idea from three of my Dad’s sermons he preached. I already posted his version of love earlier, and as you can see, though I have the same Scripture passages, I went a completely different route.
DISCOURAGEMENT, EXCITEMENT, AND LOVE
1 Peter 1:20-25; 1 Peter 2:1-3.
1 Peter 1:21-25 ESV – who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. (22) Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, (23) since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; (24) for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, (25) but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.
1 Peter 2:1-3 ESV – So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. (2) Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation– (3) if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.
INTRO: This is the third and final sermon in our 3 part series entitled, “Discouragement, Excitement, and Love. In part one we dealt with discouragement. We looked at 3 ways that discouragement can come upon us: (1) When we feel the opposition of others; (2) when we grow tired and fatigued; (3) when we lose our vision. In part 2 we dealt with excitement. We saw that excitement is not something that is hyped or fleshly, but should come from God. We also saw that we should not despise the small things that God is doing, He is in the small things, and we should rejoice in them, not looking toward the bigger things.
This week we are going to be dealing with the subject of, “Love.” There are a lot of people with different opinions about love and what it really means to love others, or to love their neighbors, especially in churches. And like the old saying goes, “opinions are a lot like noses, everyone has one, and they all smell!”
Having said that, I am going to give you a few statements concerning love. The first one is anonymous: What is love? It’s silence when your words would hurt. It’s patience when your neighbor’s curt. It’s deafness when the scandal flows. It’s thoughtfulness for another’s woes. It’s promptness when stern duty calls. It’s courage when misfortune falls.
Someone once asked Susanna Wesley which one of her 11 children she loved the most. She wisely replied, “I love the one who’s sick until he’s well, and the one who’s away until he comes home.”
Mother Teresa said once, “I have found a paradox that if I love until it hurts, then there is no more hurt, only more love.”
Here is a story that shows what love isn’t. There was a woman in a horrific car accident. She suffered several broken bones, as well as severe burns over two thirds of her body, because the car she was driving exploding in flames on impact. She was scarred over much of her body. Before the accident, she was a very beautiful woman. He husband used to love the looks that she would get when they were about town. He was proud that he married such a lovely person. But while she was in the hospital recovering from this accident, the husband walked out on her. He walked into the room, took one look at her and said, “Your not the woman I married.” He left, divorced her, and found another young beautiful woman that would stroke his ego. You see, that was not love he had for her, but it was good old-fashion pride.
Well, what is the definition of love. First we need to understand that according to 1 John 4:8,16, “God is Love.” And if God is love, then we need his definition of love. Well we have it.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8a ESV – 4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8Love never ends.
Doing a quick glance at this verse, I can tell you all something, we all fall short of this definition. None of us can live this out perfectly. That is why we must submit to the cross and keep our life hidden in Christ. It can only be lived out through Him, not through works on our part.
Now you are going to hear me use the word Christ-follower this morning as opposed to Christian, because the name “Christian” has become a word that really doesn’t mean much in our society. But the word “Christ-follower” means much, it means that we follow after Christ, and what He said in His Word, not bringing our pre-conceived notions of what His Word says.
So let’s getting into the meat of this sermon by asking this question: How do we truly love one another?
1. It starts for us by understanding what first makes us a Christ-follower.
1 Peter 1:20-21 ESV – He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you (21) who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
The first thing in the passage I want us to notice is that God’s plan for Jesus to come and be the perfect Sacrifice was always known. It was not an afterthought, nor was it plan B, nor was it because God Himself lost all hope and that the world was spinning out of control that He decided to send Jesus. This plan was set in motion by God before the world began.
The Next thing I want you to notice is what it says in verse 20, “for the sake of you.” In the NLT it says, “He did this for you.” This sacrifice while it was a universal call to all, it was also personal. He did it for our sake, each one of us personally. What love the Father shows us that the Cross that Christ Jesus bore He did it for each one of us personally. That is why we can say that God wants a personal relationship with each and every one of us.
In v. 21 it states that we are believers in God through Him (Christ). It is not that we are believers in Him through actions on our part, nor is it because we made a decision. It is because it was God’s decision (election), God’s calling us. You see, man does not search out for the one true God, they search out for things that will benefit them or even make them appear right. Like David, all of us was born, or brought forth in iniquity.
Psalm 51:5 ESV – Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.
That word, Iniquity, means, “sin, wickedness, and evil.” That is the condition of everyone’s heart without Christ. But thanks be to God, we have received our faith in Hope not in the natural state of our hearts, but in the Cross of Christ and His resurrection (v. 21).
So what makes us a Christ-follower is not our decisions, or works, but His decision and works. And when we surrender our wills, our pride, and our sins to Him, then He not only imputes His righteousness, but also His works to us. And as we grow in Him and His Word, we will find more and more of our wills and desires becoming His.
2. As Christ-followers we were purified for one specific purpose – to love one another as family.
1 Peter 1:22 ESV – Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart.
Phillips – Now that you have, by obeying the truth, made your souls clean enough for a genuine love for your fellows, see that you do love each other, fervently and from the heart.
Since our souls have been purified by Christ, and we are continuing to purify our souls be being obedient to His Word, it will produce something in us – a deep, family-like love for one another. Now I know this can be hard for some to take or understand because some people’s families don’t have this family type love. God doesn’t want us to fuss and fight like some families, but to truly love each other out of a deep devotion to one another.
In fact, this passage virtually says that brotherly love is the goal of our conversion. The affect of the Holy Spirit in the lives of Christ-followers is deep hearted love for one another.
Love is the ultimate commandment. Don’t take my word for it, but the Bible’s word on it. Scripture says, “Out of the mouth of two or three witnesses a thing shall be established.” Let me give you some of these witnesses.
John 13:34-35 ESV – A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
1 Thessalonians 4:9 Phillips NT – 9-10 Next, as regards brotherly love, you don’t need any written instructions. God himself is teaching you to love each other, and you are already extending your love to all the Macedonians. Yet we urge you to have more and more of this love, and to make it your ambition to have no ambition!
1 John 3:14-18 ESV – 14We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. 16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
3. As Christ-followers, we have a seed implanted in us.
1 Peter 1:23-25 ESV – since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; (24) for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, (25) but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.
We have another reason that Peter gives to love one another as family – we have a common ground in Christ Jesus. That common ground is that we have been born again.
It is not some earthly perishable seed that we are born-again by, but it is imperishable. It is the Word of God itself. Let’s be honest for a moment. The devil knows how to twist Scripture, he not only is good at it, but he can plant that seed into our hearts and we start taking Scriptures out of context and adding our own beliefs to Scripture. We should never use Scripture to back up our beliefs; we should back up our beliefs with Scripture.
Things that are not of God will perish. But things that are of God, like our love for one another will remain and is eternal. Why? Because the Word of God, which sows seeds of love for one another in our hearts is eternal.
1 Corinthians 13:7-8a Phillips NT – Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything. It is, in fact, the one thing that still stands when all else has fallen.
1 Corinthians 13:13 Phillips NT – In this life we have three great lasting qualities – faith, hope and love. But the greatest of them is love.
4. As Christ-followers, we should put away the deeds of the flesh.
1 Peter 2:1 ESV – So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.
As Christ followers we need to get rid of any attitude or hindrance that could threaten our love for each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. That word, “put way,” literally means, “get rid of.”
Let’s quickly look at the list of sins that Peter ways to get rid of: (1) Malice – the definition of this word is, “doing evil despite the good that you have received.” It is the desire within someone’s heart to hurt the feelings or bring harm to the person, even if they have or have not wronged you. Malice can sometimes be hidden behind perceived good actions, or even words. But you may say, “Pastor, what must I do to the person who has wronged me?” Well, don’t make faces at them or even act like you are upset, but love them, and forgive them. Even if they feel that haven’t done anything wrong. (2) Deceit – Means to deliberately trick or mislead through lies. (3) Hypocrisy – Means to say one thing but actually do another. This is play acting – presenting good motives that mask selfish desire. (4) Envy – Means desiring something possessed by someone else. This causes discontent and resentment as believers start making unhealthy comparisons with one another. (5) Slander – Means backstabbing. Trying to destroy another’s good reputation by lies, gossip, rumor-speaking and spreading.
Now in another passage Peter says how we should live and treat each other as believers.
1 Peter 3:8-12 ESV – 8Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. 9 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. 10For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; 11 let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
5. As Christ-followers, let’s become babies again.
1 Peter 2:2-3 ESV – Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation– (3) if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.
Phillips – You are babies, new born in God’s family, and you should be crying out for unadulterated spiritual milk to make you grow up to salvation! And so you will, if you have already tasted the goodness of the Lord.
This desire and longing is so much more than what we think the word means. It means in the Greek, “to long for something with all one’s being.” You see, we should be like new born babies are. When they are hungry, they let you know about it by crying out. We should be so hungry not only for the Word of God but the ways of God, that we begin to cry out to Him for Him to feed us with His Word and with His presence.
Babies don’t hold grudges, and we shouldn’t either. If you hold a grudge, you have bitterness within your heart.
CONCL: A bitter person truly doesn’t know how to love. They must get rid of this bitterness. If you have bitterness in your heart with someone, and you are able to go and make it right, then go and make it right, if they refuse to accept it, you have done your part, now seek the Lord like a baby longs for food, and begin truly loving one another with the love of God – which is unconditional.