Loving Brothers and Sisters

Scripture: 1 John 3:11-24, 1 John 4:7-21, 1 John 5:1-4
Date: 08/22/2009 
Lesson: 8
John explores what it means to love our brother in practical terms.
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Good morning and welcome to Sacramento central Seventh-day Adventist Church study hour. We're so glad to have you joining us, those of you here in our audience, those of you joining us around the world, across the country. We're so glad that you're part of our family. And this morning, as our tradition is, we like to start by praising our Lord with singing. Come into his courts with thanksgiving, enter his sanctuary with praise.

And we want to start our songs this morning with hymn number 318, "whiter than snow." This is a request from dr. Melvin, John and Marko from australia, rheya from bahamas, lola from florida, jim, dianne, jamie and buffy from florida, surriya from Illinois, alick from india, and anita from zambia. We're so glad you're watching. And let's sing, "whiter than snow," , verses 1, 2 and 4. [Music] Amen.

Is that your prayer this morning? Is that your prayer? 'Cause it says here: "to those who have sought thee thou never say no." That's our prayer this morning. He never says no. If you have a song request, I want to invite you to go to our website at saccentral.org. Look around the website. You'll find a "contact" link.

Go through there and you'll find a way that you can make a request. If it's in the hymnal, we'll try very hard to sing that on an up and coming Sabbath. Now we have "he leadeth me." "He leadeth me" is a request from anna and stewart from australia. Pedro from barbados, barbara from California, mary ching from Canada, sam and rodolfo from england, Karen from florida, sampson from germany, bob, Paula from Idaho, onyi from Maryland, Karen from Missouri, kivens from New Jersey, okal from oman, aaron from papua new guinea, alex from the Philippines, evelyn from the Philippines, renata from st. Lucia, henry from saudi arabia, eric from south africa, and vincent from zimbabwe.

Isn't that neat just to see the requests coming in from all over the world? And if we all sing really loud when we're watching this, maybe you'll be able--maybe the whole world will be able to hear this song about "he leadeth me." Where all who's watching, sing really loud. And I know we're not all at the same time, but a lot of us are at the same time. So let's just blow the roofs out with praise to our Lord. Let's sing 537, stanzas 1, 2 and 4. [Music] Amen.

What a beautiful song. And maybe as we were singing, blowing the roofs off wherever we are, people are hearing and they're seeing something in us. And they're gonna want to follow also where he leads us. Praise the Lord. Let's bow our heads.

Our dearest Heavenly Father, we thank you so much for loving us. We invite your presence to be here. Fill this room with your presence, with your spirit. I pray that anyone who's listening, anyone watching, that your Holy Spirit would be guiding and teaching. Lord, thank you for being such a wonderful leader.

And Lord, we just ask you to lead us this morning through your Scriptures. Please be with Pastor Doug as he presents this message to us. And Lord, may we all receive a blessing and be a blessing to others. We thank you so much. In Jesus' Name, amen.

Now Pastor Doug will give us the message this morning. Thank you, jenny and jessica, mike, sherry, our musicians. We sure appreciate that. And morning to our class here at central church, our friends who are watching, our extended class and some of the central church members that are scattered around the world that are part of our extended family. I want to welcome you to Sacramento central.

And we are continuing our study dealing with "loved and loving: John's epistles." We have a free offer for anybody who asks today. And it's offer number 720 on "friendship." And we'll send you that cd just for asking. Call the number, 866-788-3966. We'll send you the cd on "friendship." I've got a lot to cover in the lesson today. And so I'm not gonna gobble up our time with some of the preliminaries I sometimes insert.

I really want you to be able to catch this. You know, there are some things that are more important than others. Doing public evangelism, you always do everything you can to encourage people to come to the next meeting. And evangelists are a little bit notorious for saying, "now, no matter what you've heard before, you don't want to miss tomorrow. Tomorrow's one of the most important things.

" And just one meeting at a time, you try to encourage a crowd to keep on coming. And so evangelists can sometimes wax eloquent talking about what's really important. So I don't know if you'll believe me if I tell you now. This is the most important thing. Because it really is.

The lesson today, "loving brothers and sisters," is of supreme importance. Because what we're really talking about is love. And I've got good Bible authority for saying that it's of the greatest importance. Now before I get to that though we have our memory verse. Memory verse is 1 John 4.

We're going through the 1st, nd and 3rd letters of John. John 4:21, 1 John 4:21, here in the lesson it comes from the new king James version. I'd encourage you to say it with me. Are you ready? "And this commandment we have from him, that he who loves God must love his brother also." One of the first things you notice in the Bible is after the fall, the most obvious difference was the character of man was marred. How was it changed? Before sin, man loved naturally.

After sin, man became naturally selfish. First thing that happens when God says to adam, "what have you done?" He points to the woman. Well, he had loved her before that. Now he's blaming her. And the woman points to the snake.

And of course at that point the snake doesn't have a leg to stand on. He has no one to point to. Did you get that? They begin to blame. And there's shame. But the most devastating thing that happened is man ceased to love naturally.

When God created man in his own image--what is God? How do you define God in one word? In our lesson today, you'll hear it several times. God is love. Man made in God's image loved. After sin, love sort of became foreign. In its place was the character of the enemy, selfishness.

The devil is completely driven by pride and selfishness. Man then began to take on the image of another master. And so the purpose of the plan of salvation is to restore in man the character and the image of God, which is love. Now I don't know about you, but I'm naturally selfish. I love to be loved.

I love myself. That's why in the commandments, God tells us, "love your neighbor as you love yourself." Because he doesn't have to command us to love ourselves, does he? We do it pretty naturally. And so it's almost unnatural for us to love others more than ourselves, or even as ourselves. But no greater love has someone than to lay down their life and love someone more than themselves. And to love an enemy, wow, that's--i was talking to someone about that on the phone yesterday.

They said, "that's crazy. I just can't accept that. That's so unnatural." I said, "that's right. You can't do it without God's Spirit." So when we talk about loving the brothers and the sisters, the first woman, first sister in the Bible was also a wife. Adam and eve had essentially the same parents, right? So the first example that adam had of loving a sister was his wife.

By the way, if you've read The Song of Solomon, says-- talks about "loving my sister, my spouse." My sister, my spouse: first example of that is adam and eve. And of course cain and abel, not abel so much, he died probably before he had wife, but seth and the other early patriarchs, who did they marry? Their sisters. And so this concept of loving the brothers and the sisters goes back to the very beginning. And it wasn't natural. They had lost that.

They became--man became selfish. And you look at the brothers in the Bible. Whenever you name two brothers in the Bible, cain and abel, did they love each other? Well abel did. Cain had a problem. Jacob and esau, did they have love problems? Joseph and his brothers, did they have love problems? Jesus and his brothers? David and his brothers? Isaac and ishmael? Matter of fact, virtually any siblings that you could name in the Bible, when they're recorded in the Bible, what you see is they had problems loving each other.

Now we're talking about Israel. That's God's people. Has spiritual Israel a different history? Or is the history of the church also one where we have trouble loving others? And yet, why is this important? The most powerful witness that we have as Christians-- "all men," Jesus said, "will know that you're my disciples by your love for one another." I hope I'm not stealing somebody's Scripture here that I was gonna give 'em. Ah, I don't remember. Yeah, I did.

John 13:35, I gave that to somebody. Who has that? "By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." You know why this verse is so important? Did the devil take notes of everything Jesus said? Does the devil read the Bible? Does he quote the Bible? Does he misquote the Bible? If all men will know that we are Christ's disciples by our love for each other, the devil probably made a note of that and he underlined it. And he said, "if it's true that people will be brought to Christ by evidence of the love they have for one another, then it should be true that people will be driven from Christ if there is hatred or antagonism among believers." And so the devil made it his task, his focus purpose, to continually encourage animosity among Christians for one another that they might destroy their witness. Has he done a pretty good job? I hate to give him credit. But "all men should know that we are his disciples by our love for each other.

" First thing I did was I crossed Christianity off the list when I started thinking there was a God. I thought, "wonder what the true religion is." Christianity was crossed off right away. You know why? "Well, they're all hypocrites. It says, 'love your neighbor. Love each other.

' And here the catholics and the protestants are blowing each other up in ireland. All the denominations are at each other's throats. Even within the churches, husbands and wives can't love each other. And they're telling us to love our enemies? Who are they kidding?" And so people throw out-- I remember my brother saying that to me. "You want to be a Christian? Some of the Christians I met are some of the meanest people in the world.

" And praise the Lord, they're not all that way. But you've all heard this before. The devil points at the witness of the church and says, "do they love each other?" How we love each other will be the ultimate test. Now I'm gonna talk a lot today later in the sermon about Joseph. But this also fits in with the lesson today.

Why did Joseph's brothers sell him--they wanted to kill him--'cause they loved him, right? Or was there a lack of love? When he finally sees his brothers, he knows them; they don't know him. He tests them before he reveals himself to them. What does he test? To see if they love each other. He's eavesdropping on their conversations. He puts simeon in jail and says, "I wonder if they'll come back for him?" And they do.

Then he gives Benjamin five times more food than he gives the others. He says, "I wonder if they're gonna be jealous and selfish? Then he keeps one of them and says, "I wonder if they'll just shrug their shoulders and let him stay in prison, or will they intercede for their brother?" He continually tests to see: have they learned to love each other? After he is finally convinced, and Judas says, "look, put me in jail, but let Benjamin go." After he tests him like that, then he reveals, when they show selfless love for their brother, love for their father, then he reveals himself to them. If you want Jesus to reveal himself to you, you will be tested first, have you learned to love each other. If you want to see him someday face-to-face, Joseph revealed himself face-to-face to his brothers, you must learn to love each other. In the great judgment, where Jesus separates the sheep from the goats, what does he say? "Did you keep the Ten Commandments? Did you observe the Sabbath properly?" Now these are all important; it's not what he said.

"Did you steal? Did you commit adultery? Did you lie?" It's not what he says. The big test in the sheep and the goats, he says, and this is in Matthew 25, "did you feed me when I was hungry? Did you clothe me when I was naked? Did you come to me when I was in prison or when I was sick, when I was a stranger?" And he says, "in as much as you did it to one of the least of these, you did it to me." Did you learn to love each other? Did you show your love for your brother? That's the big test. Remember it's all about loving God and loving your neighbor. Now let me talk about that for a minute. How do I ever learn to love you? You are so ornery.

Why some of you are even more selfish than I am. How can you love people like that, that are so unlovable? Some of you are more lovable than others. Let me see your hands. How many of you are lovable? Let me--how many of you think you're lovable? I think I'm lovable. It's hard.

You know how we learn to love each other? First of all, it is the love of God for us. It's a Revelation of how much he loves us that makes us love him. And it is also recognizing how much he loves us that makes it possible for us to love each other. Isn't it true, the parable of Matthew 18, when we see how much God has forgiven us, doesn't that make it easier for us to forgive each other? And so as we behold his love for us, and as we behold his forgiveness for us, we are transformed by beholding. It makes it a lot easier for us to love each other.

As we look at his patience for us, it humbles us and it makes it easier for me to be patient with you. And so it's by looking at Christ we begin to love like him. Did the disciples have love problems with each other? But did they improve? Did they learn? Where did they learn the most about loving each other? Well, before pentecost and in the upper room, when he washed their feet, didn't it kind of melt their hearts? And even Peter said, "even though they might all forsake you, you know, they're kind of-- you can't trust them, Jesus. I'll never forsake you." But then he did it. And then Christ forgave Peter.

And when Peter saw how much Jesus loved him, and he asked him later, "Peter, do you love me? More than these?" Peter said, "Lord, I'm not gonna compare myself to them anymore, but I love you." His whole heart had been changed somewhere between the upper room and the shore where they went fishing. And ultimately in the upper room at pentecost, when they spent days praying, confessing their sins and faults to one another, their hearts were all welded together, they became of one accord. Holy Spirit fell on them. But you notice, Holy Spirit didn't fall on them and give them love. They learned to love each other before the Holy Spirit fell on them.

So, if we want to receive the pentecostal outpouring of the Holy Spirit, we need to learn love in the school of Christ on a day-to-day basis. Some of you say, "Lord, I don't think I'm ever gonna love them, let alone my enemy. 'Til I get the Holy Spirit, then I'll love." No, you need to learn to love now. This is something that he wants us to learn now. It's in the day-to-day bumping and friction of relationships that we learn to love each other now.

And it's in the little things. So John is the apostle of love. And he's talking about these most important things. Now there's a couple of passages we're gonna talk about in particular. John 3, 1 John 3, please turn, verse 11, "for this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, not as cain who was of that evil one and he slew his brother.

And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil and his brother's were righteous. Do not marvel, brethren, if the world hates you." The world is evil, the same way that cain hated his just brother abel; the world's gonna hate you if you follow the Lord. Now notice in the very beginning, it had to do with worship. They were both told to bring an offering. Abel worshipped the way that God had commanded.

Cain modified worship, said, "I'm gonna do it the way I feel like doing it, 'cause I don't love God supremely." When God accepted abel, but he didn't accept cain, cain got angry and he killed his brother. In the last days, one group worships the beast. They worship the way they want. God's remnant church, they worship the way God says, the way and the day he says. Those that worship the beast will kill their brethren, 'cause they're gonna all claim to be Christians, that worship according to Scripture.

It's gonna be playing out in the end just the way it has all through history. And so he takes us all the way back to the beginning where he just did not have that love. Don't be surprised if the world hates you. Deuteronomy 10:12, Moses summed up the commandments here. Who did I give that to? Deuteronomy 10--right over here.

"And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways and to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul." Can you command love? I mean we always think of love as an emotion. Can I command you to feel mushy feelings towards somebody? It's kind of hard to do that, and matter of fact, especially if someone's commanding you to love them. I mean how do you feel about somebody that flexes their muscles and says, "look here, I've got a 12-gauge shotgun. You better love me." Do you love that person? "Love me or I'm gonna put you in hell fire." You know what? That's how some people interpret that. Why does God command us to love him? How many of you are parents? Have you ever commanded your children to love each other? "You better love your little brother.

" Now what are you saying when you say that to them? You're saying, "share." You're saying, "be kind. Don't bully. Be patient." So you can't command them necessarily to have those sentimental feelings. But when you're commanding your children to love their siblings, you're saying, "be kind in the nice things. Choose to do the right thing.

Treat them fairly. Don't irritate them. I mean all the things that parents area always shouting at their kids when it comes to how they treat their siblings. That's really what we're talking about. When God said, "I command you to love the Lord," we demonstrate that by obeying him.

We demonstrate that by doing the right thing and being kind to each other. And you know what happens? The feelings of love often follow the choice to act loving. You get that? This is very important. We often say, "well, when I feel like it, I'll start acting that way." What God is saying is you start acting that way and you might find you feel it. That's true in marriages.

You have made a decision. You have made a vow to love. Sometimes you may not feel a lot of love. In the heat of an argument with a spouse, if the husband shakes his finger at his wife and says, "now you better love me right now!" How does that work? Try it, let me know. You gonna get a card in the mail within 5 minutes, a love card? No.

But you can choose to act loving. We all know how that acts. Choose to act loving. And you know what? When you choose it, then the Spirit follows. And you start to feel it.

Corinthians 13. Matter of fact, I'm gonna turn to that in my Bible. You may turn to it in yours, because this is the greatest soliloquy of love you're going to find in Scripture. And it's more scriptural evidence for it being the most important thing. "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and don't have love, I'm become as a sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.

" No matter what you say, if you don't love, it won't cut it. The noise you make, that's not love, is what he's saying. "And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and have all knowledge, and although I have all faith, so I can remove mountains, and have not love, I'm nothing." You might have a photographic memory and have all knowledge in your head, but if you don't have that coupled with love: worthless. You might have faith so you can move mountains. How important is the word, the knowledge, the faith in the Christian religion? Where are you if you don't have the Word of God, the spoken word, if you don't have knowledge, if you don't have faith.

Those things are important. But without love, how important are they? Will there be people that make it to the Kingdom of heaven that had minimal knowledge of truth? You know I've been in some parts of the world where I just had to cut whole sermons out, because I thought, you know, as I talk about the seven trumpets, these folks are not gonna have any idea what I'm dealing with. I'm out here in some remote island out in the middle of the pacific ocean talking to them about these battles that took place europe. And they just have no idea what I'm talking about. And I thought will that be an obstacle to their salvation? Not at all.

But if they don't learn to love each other--and believe me, no matter where you go in the world, you know what their problems are? Love problems. They--it's not knowledge problems typically. It's love problems. And he goes on. Oh wait, I want to finish my thought.

Will there be people in heaven that ate pork chops? Might have been their last supper. Will there be people in heaven that smoked cigarettes or drank alcohol? Yeah, martin luther loved his beer. I expect to see him in the Kingdom. John newton wrote "amazing grace," and he smoked 'til the day he died. Of course they didn't know better back then.

And I could go down. Will there be people in heaven that had too many wives at the same time? Yes. And you could name just about any sin. Will there be people in heaven that were guilty of murder? What about some that maybe killed their children? Manasseh repented. God heard him.

Maybe he'll be in the Kingdom. Or a playboy like Samson. So there's gonna be--all kinds of sorted people are gonna be in the Kingdom because they found forgiveness, right? With just a whole kaleidoscope of different sins. But here's a question: will there be anybody in heaven that doesn't love? No. Heaven would be torture, because love is the--it is the driving motivator in heaven.

Everyone in heaven's got the new heart. And if you get to heaven, you got the old heart. the Spirit of love there would be so uncomfortable for you. The selflessness and the love is so foreign that it'd be torment. God in refusing to allow unconverted people into heaven, it's actually an act of love for him, because they would never be comfortable there.

And so the one thing we've gotta learn above all others is love. Everything you look for, if you're looking for love, that's the most important thing. When you say today, "looking for love," what do people automatically think of? Looking for romance, right? But as a Christian, when you say, "looking for love," it's much bigger than romance. When you talk about "looking for love," it's talking about the mind of Christ, 'cause God is love. Loving like he loved.

And I'm gonna go on here with 1 Corinthians 13. "And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor," that's good sacrifice, "and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing." Now he just--he defines this kind of love. And maybe I ought to stop here real quick. The next section we're dealing with is talking about the definition of love in your lesson. I'm gonna stop here and have someone read for me John 14:21.

Who did I give that to? Right up front here, mike. "He who has my commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him." Look at that. He says, "he that keeps my commandments." Now can you keep God's commandments the way you should without love? Or does love come first? What comes first: obedience or love? Oh, you gotta get this right, friends. What comes first: obedience or love? Love has to come first.

Now let me prove it to you. The children of Israel, when God saved them from Egypt, did he give them the Ten Commandments and then save them? Or did he save them and then give them the Ten Commandments? He saved them. In the first of the Ten Commandments, it says, "I am the Lord your God that saved you out of Egypt." Basically he's saying, "I've shown my love for you. If you love me, keep my commandments." "We love him because he first loved us." Why do we obey him? Because he loves us first. And only if we love him can we really obey him right.

So sometimes we focus on the obedience problem, where if we focused on the love problem, the obedience would be a lot easier. Isn't that right? Uh, where I am? Oh, just going back to the verse in John 14:21. Notice the parties involved here. "You," it says, "he who has my commandments and keeps them, loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.

" This is talking about love for us for God, love for God for us, love for God for Christ, love for Christ for us. It's this triune circle of love that's happening here. John 4:18-20, this is in your lesson. "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear has torment." Any of you live with fear? Perfect love will have perfect trust. Perfect love will have perfect obedience.

If you've got perfect trust and perfect surrender, you will not fear anything. You know what that's called? Fearing God. Perfectly loving God is fearing God. Perfectly trusting God is to be a God-fearing person. If you fear God, you won't fear anything else.

If you don't fear God, you'll fear everything else. We love him because he first loved us. "If someone says, 'I love God,' and he hates his brother, he is a liar." You know, it's always been very interesting to me. In pastoring you run into all kinds of different human dynamics. And I've met some folks along the way who have held position in the church and been in the church for years.

And then I later discover they've got this seething anger, hatred, bitterness for someone else in the church. And they won't let it go. And they don't understand how absolutely terminal that is to their spirit. It is incurable, unless they let it go. They're doomed.

And they somehow think that they can marry the two, of having hatred for their brother and still saying, "well, I'm a good Christian. I've got a right to hate them. Look at what they did." And you can't go on that way. You gotta forgive 'em. And even beyond that, you may not have to spend time with them, but you gotta love 'em.

You need to be able to pray for them. Oh, that's hard. Pray that God'll bless 'em. If you want to get the victory over problems with your brothers and sisters and enemies, pray that God'll bless them. That's hard to do.

Some things, some people, the way they treated us to ask for God to bless 'em, but you have to. In the Lord's prayer, "forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors." At the end of Matthew 18 in that parable, it says because that unmerciful debtor would not forgive the man that owed him a pittance, he was delivered to the tormentors where he should pay all that he owed the King. And Jesus closes by saying, "so shall my Heavenly Father do also to you, unless you, from your hearts learn to forgive every man their trespasses." That's pretty heavy. We've gotta learn to love one another. And it's hard to do without the Holy Spirit.

We're talking now about the definitions of love. Now there are four words that you're gonna find. I just looked in my Bible and I've got it in my Bible notes right across from Corinthians 13. I was gonna read it out of my other notes. I didn't know I had it in both places.

Here are some of the words that you're gonna find: the word in Greek--now these are just the Greek words we're looking at--eros, 'cause of course we're studying the new testament books right now. Eros. And that has to do really with a physical love. And by the way, that's where you get the word, "erotic." But eros is not always that kind of love. It can talk about the love between a husband and wife.

It can talk about a romantic love that maybe has no physical contact. It's also used in that context as well. And so you've got eros here. Let me just see if I can spell it out. It's a passionate love with a sensual desire and longing.

The modern Greek word, erotis, means romantic love. That doesn't always have to be sexual in nature, but that's where that word comes from, "erotic" if you're wondering. Eros can be interpreted as a love for someone who you love more than the phileo love, or brotherly love, we're gonna talk about in just a minute. It can apply to a dating relationship without the physical part, a courtship, eros. Then you've got storge, which is another kind of love.

Storge is actually the way you say it. It means affection. In ancient and modern Greek, it is a natural affection like that felt by parents for their offspring rarely used in ancient works. It's almost exclusively used as a describer of relationships within the family. Then you've got the other kind of love, phileo.

And this is where you get the word, philadelphia. It means brotherly love. You've probably heard of a place called the city of brotherly love. That's philadelphia. And so phileo means love for a friend or an individual, having affection, denoting a personal attachment, a matter of sentiment.

Now I saved the best for last. And that's--we say agape love. I believe in the Greek--i actually called pastor contus, who speaks Greek. And I said, "I want to say this right." He said, "you know, it's a little bit like the spanish." You know, sometimes we--in english we say san jose, because that's the spanish pronunciation. We would say jose if you said it like we do in english or American.

He said it's more like "a'ape" is how you would say it. We say agape. And it's from the Greek word agan, or it means much, much love. It's love in a social or moral sense. It's a totally different kind of love like phileo or storge or eros.

It's the love, agape love transcends all human understanding. It reaches out to people we don't even know, even to our enemies. Agapeo can be equated to such expressions as unconditional love, self-sacrificing and divine love. Now, just to give you an example. Where you find the word agape is, "God so agape the world.

" So it's a love that God uses, this unconditional, vast, infinite, selfless love. "God so," agape, "he so loved the world that he gave his only son." Now going back to Corinthians 13, the definitions for love here. He spells it out. I'm starting at verse 4, Corinthians 13:4. "Love," how does love act? "Love suffers long.

" Well, what does that mean now? Does that mean that you have a toothache, you wait as long as you can 'til you go to the dentist because you want to suffer long. We're not talking about that kind of physical suffering. It's saying that you endure for years, maybe unlovely treatment because you love. Parents, some of you have adult children. Have you stopped praying for 'em? They've given you all kinds of grief and trouble.

And you suffer long. Why? Because you love 'em. Love suffers long. "It is kind." Love is kind. Little kids come knocking on the door.

And you're tired and the phone's ringing and you're busy, but they want some attention. And you want to be a witness to the kids in your neighborhood. So you could say, "don't bother me; I'm busy!" But you open the door, and there's a child. And Jesus said, "if you offend one of these little ones, better to have a millstone tied around your neck." Be kind. And you say, "hi," for the thousandth time they've knocked on your door that day.

And the doorbell's rung. How can I help you today? And you love them. And you show them. And they ask you questions. And you try to help them.

Love is kind. "Love does not envy." When you've got contemporary or sibling or somebody, and all of a sudden they've had some incredible good fortune, and you're thinking, "why'd that have to happen to him or them? Why didn't it happen to me?" Why not think instead, "praise the Lord. You know what, I'm so happy for them. They must be really rejoicing right now. I'm gonna rejoice with them.

" Don't envy. That's not love. That's selfishness when you think, "me, me, me, me. Why not me?" That's the Spirit of the enemy. "It does not parade itself.

" Real love is not about pointing to self. Real love is humble, as Christ. There's a meekness there. "It's not puffed up; it does not behave rudely." Now I want to pause right there. Some people think that in the name of honesty, they can be crude.

"I'm just myself." You know, "take it or leave it." And you know, sometimes you'll meet people and they say, "oh I'm just real. I'm just honest." And they're rough. And they're crude. And they're rough around the edges. And they think there's some virtue in that.

I think that one of the ways you show the love of God is by refinement. I learned this since becoming a Christian. I was one of those Christians that were sort of rude and rough and uncultured and crude and in your face, because I thought that was being natural. That was being real. And over time I've come to learn I was wrong.

Christians are refined. Christians have manners. Christians practice courtesy. God is dignified. And if we love each other, you don't want to do anything to offend by being rough or uncultured, or crude.

I think it's the loving thing to do to show grace. You ever heard a person say they're graceful? Does that mean they're crude, or does it mean they've got a dignity about them? And so it says that here as well. "It does not behave rudely. It does not seek its own. It's not provoked.

" Patience. When others are prodded and they say, "ah, I've had enough." And they lose their temper. They're patient. They're not easily provoked. Or somebody says something and they take it the wrong way, be loving.

Give people the benefit of the doubt. "It thinks no evil." So often we're suspicious. We're all automatically inclined to think evil about what person's motives are. Love them. Take a risk.

Now, wait, I just said something really important there and I don't want to miss that thought. A lot of us have love problems because we don't want to get hurt. I'm that way. Karen has to point it out sometimes. When you grow up in a situation--and I'm not trying to be--I'm not milking for sympathy right now, just lay it out for ya.

But your parents get married and divorce a lot and you get sent around to boarding schools, -years-old, summer camps. And you just--you always feel kind of rejected. And you move from place to place. You just start to develop relationships. And then you have to say goodbye.

And you get to the place where you say, "you know, it hurts too much to love, because all these relationships start falling apart." And you lose your loved ones. They die. They get sick. And you start withdrawing, you know, I'm not gonna lay my heart out on the road and have it get run over, because you risk, whenever you love, getting hurt. It hurts a lot less when you lose somebody if you don't love 'em.

But when you invest in loving a person, and then you're rejected, or you're hurt, or you lose 'em, it hurts a lot more. You know what I'm saying? Jesus loves us in spite of the fact that he exposes himself to rejection. Does he just love the ones that love him back, or does he love the ones that reject him? Who likes being rejected? Let me see your hands. Anyone here like rejection? Does it hurt? And yet God loves the whole world, knowing that he's gonna experience a lot of rejection. Does it hurt him too? How do you think Jesus felt when Judas betrayed him? Deeply hurt him.

When Peter denied him, broke his heart. And so love takes a risk of pain. And God tells us to love each other anyway. "What if I love my brother and my sister, doug, and they don't love me back? That hurts." Yep, love 'em anyway. That's right.

That's 'cause we're commanded to love 'em. And you know what? If you keep doing it, you might wear 'em down eventually. You kill 'em by kindness, 'cause you don't overcome evil with evil. If someone's selfish, you don't make 'em loving by your being selfish. You get that? If others are selfish, they don't become loving by your mirroring their selfishness.

If others are selfish, then you love them. And little by little as they behold the love of God in you, it can begin to transform them. We overcome evil with good. You overcome selfishness with what? You overcome selfishness with love. So you've gotta choose to love.

I'm still here on our definition. "Love does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth," 'cause God is love and God is truth. They go like this...love and truth go together. Sometimes if you really love a person, you gotta tell 'em the truth, even though it may hurt, because you love 'em. "Love bears all things," I'm in verse 7, "believes all things, hopes all things," bearing all things means that you bear all that God sends into your life because you love him and he loves you.

You're gonna bear whatever he gives you. You believe all things that God says, because you love him and you trust him. "You endure all things." You're patient. "Love never fails," talking about the kind of divine agape love that God has. "But where there are prophecies, they'll fail.

" He goes back to where he started now. "Where there are tongues, they will cease; where there is knowledge, it'll vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come," love is perfect, "then that which is in part will be done away with. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

" You ever have anybody say to you, "grow up, come on, grow up?" I was talking to somebody not too long ago and they were bemoaning how someone else talked about them and spoke ill of them. And they're mad at this person. And I said, "grow up. Aren't you a believer? Let it go. Come on.

You're too old for that. I can see if you're 8 years old, but grow up now. Be big. Let it go." You know, one of the signs of maturity is you're not offended by trifles. And God has called us to love each other.

Some of us are just like babies. And we cling to things and we've been hurt and slight offenses and we nurse them. And we're afraid if we forgive them then who's gonna be mad at them? Someone's gotta be mad at them. Otherwise it'll be forgotten. We can't forget it.

Let it go. Grow up. Love each other. And that's what he's saying. And he's talking by the way to the corinthian church.

And they acted like a bunch of babies. You read about it. "When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things." Sometimes we get preoccupied with things of less significance. "Now we see through," a glass darkly, "a mirror, dimly, but then face-to-face. Now I know in part, but then I'll know even as I am known.

And now abide," some things endure, they abide, "faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these--" so when I told you earlier this is the most important thing, is that Pastor Doug's opinion? Or is that what the Bible says? "The greatest of these is love." Because God is defined by love. So that's your definition for love is to just put God and others first. "Love the Lord with all your heart and mind, soul and strength." "Love your neighbor as you love yourself." You've heard me say before that's acronym for happiness, joy is j-o-y: Jesus, others, you. But you gotta get it in the right sequence. We often go: me, others and Jesus.

Ask the Holy Spirit to help you notice, put a gauge in your heart, how often you automatically that compass needle turns to self. All of your decisions through the day, just notice how often the first thing you think of is what will that mean for me? Whether where you are in the potluck line to, you know, how you manage to get out of the parking lot. I mean, it just all through our day it's like me, me, me, me, me, me, me. And it takes a miracle of God's grace for God all of a sudden to get us to think, "I don't have to be first. I don't have to be best.

I can have God be first. I can have others be first. And I can be last." That's when you've got the Spirit of heaven at that point. Now I've only got minutes left. I've only gotten through days in our lesson.

Luke 7:41, I want to read something to you real quick. Jesus tells a parable when mary washed his feet here in the house of Simon the leper. He says, "there was a certain creditor that had two debtors. One owed 500 denarii, the other owed 50. And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both.

Tell me, therefore, which of them do you think will love him more? Simon answered and said, 'I suppose the one whom he forgave more.' Jesus said, 'you have judged rightly.'" Who loves God more? The ones who sin the most and are forgiven or the ones who are the most aware of how much they've been forgiven? Those who stay at the foot of the cross, that are aware of how much they've been forgiven, "he who is forgiven much loves much." Instead of thinking about the offenses of others to you, remember your offenses to God. Think about his grace and love towards you. He who has forgiven much loves much. Would you like to love more? How many would like to love more? Than think about how much God has forgiven you. Not only count your blessings, count the blessing of how much you've been forgiven.

Count the blessing of how much grace and patience God has had with you. Dwell on those things instead of the faults and offenses of others and you'll love more. "We loved him because he first loved us." Alright, let me see here. I've got 1 minute left. I want to read something from the book "spiritual unity," page 24.

"If we would humble ourselves before God and be kind and courteous and tender-hearted and pitiful, there would be conversions to the truth where now there is only 1." If we would love each other more," is really what it says, "if we love each other more, there would be 100 conversions to the truth where now there's only 1." You know, so when we're thinking about public evangelism and what's gonna be effective and all the different machinery and methods and programs and psychology of evangelism, what is really the most powerful thing we can do evangelistically? "All men will know you are my disciples by your love for one another." If we'd really learn to love the brothers and sisters and forgive each other and be kind to one another and patient, you'd see people come pouring into the church, 'cause everybody wants love. Alright, we're out of time, friends. I want to tell you before we say good-bye to our viewing audience, don't forget if you missed at the beginning, free offer today. All you've got to do, call the number on the screen. For those who are listening on radio, that number is -788-3966, ask for 720.

It's the message on "friendship," how to love each other. God bless you, 'til next Sabbath.

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