Living in Love

Bible Book: Matthew  22 : 36-40
Subject: Love; Valentine's Day; Love for God
Introduction

Today our subject is love, and how fitting since we are a few days away from Valentine’s Day. Someone has said, “Never fall in love with a tennis player. To him, love means nothing.” When it comes to our walk with God, however, love means everything! For this reason, I want us to look at the subject of spiritual love and not romantic love.

Now, to be sure, romantic love between a husband and wife is very important. Frankly, many people today do not understand marital love at all. I want to address that subject at a later date because the lack of knowledge in this area is creating many problems in our homes and families.

A wife said to her husband the other day, “You remind me of Don Juan.”

He was flattered and asked, “Oh, yes, how?”

She replied, “Well, for one thing, he has been dead for years.”

And a lot of couples live like love is dead.

One girl asked her boy friend, “Do you really love me?” He answered that he did. She then asked, “Would you die for me?”

He answered, “No, my love is an undying love!”

We need an undying love between husbands and wives. Someone has said that the honeymoon is the period between the time the husband says I do and the wife starts saying you’d better. But I must tell you that it is even more important that we have an undying love for the Lord. So, I want to address the subject today of living a life of love for Him.

Look with me at our text, found in Matthew 22:36-40,

Our text today is Matthew 22:36-40. This is a familiar text to readers of the Bible, but there may be some subtleties in the passage which have escaped your notice. I know as I looked at these verses I saw at least one point or truth which I had not noticed before. So, let’s look closely at what it means to live a life of love.

I. The Command To Love

Jesus was asked about the greatest commandment. He proceeded to talk about the command to love God and others. Interestingly, love for God and others is a command. We do not think of love as a command, a law within itself, yet that is what we see here. To understand this, we need to see three important things.

A. For us, Love is Esteem

We think of love in terms of the things which we like. We love certain cars, certain clothes, certain sports teams, etc. We esteem them, they are important to us and so we use the term love when we speak of them. We might say something like this: I love potato chips. Simply put, it means we count them worthy of our attention and use. Someone else may hate potato chips. In fact, we may love potato chips one day and hate the next day.

Several years ago I had a family in my church that had a young son who loved vanilla wafers. He ate a box a week of the things! One day the husband and father in the family opened the cabinet and saw about five unopened boxes of vanilla wafers. He turned to his wife and said, “What are we doing with five boxes of vanilla wafers in the cabinet?” She answered, “Rodney turned on them!” She meant that their son, Rodney, had gone from love to hate when it came to vanilla wafers. That is the way we are with some things in our lives. We think of love in terms of how much we esteem a certain person, place or thing. Most of us in this service loved something at one time and then changed to indifference toward it later on.

I was in a revival one week and I used an illustration about playing golf. After the service, a man came up to me and said, "Let me tell you about my experience with golf. I was playing one day with my regular group of partners. We played at least once a week together for years. Well, on that day I hit a ball in the water. I took out another ball and I hit it in the water. By this time, I was absolutely frustrated. I told my group that if I hit one more ball in the water I was going to quit golf forever. I hit the third ball in the water. I picked my bag, walked down to the pond, and tossed the bag and all my clubs into the water. I tramped off toward my car. Then, I turned around, walked back down to the pond, waded out into the water, pick up my bag, reach in one of the pockets and got my car keys. I quit that day and I never want to see a golf course again."

He fell out of love with golf! We can love a game, good, television program but leave it behind as time passes. For us, love is esteem and it can change.

B. For us, Love is Emotion

We also think of love as emotion. In other words, our love depends on how we feel. Since we are very fickle as human beings, we often have changing emotions. We may feel one way one day and feel another way another day. That makes human love a very dangerous thing. Our emotions tend to run upward and downward. We are on fire one day and then grow cold toward it later on.

C. For God, Love is Essential

To God, love is essential. That is, it is His nature. He loves because He is love. For us to love the way God commands us to love, we must have supernatural help. And to every child of God this help is given. Look at Romans 5:5, “And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” Since His love has been poured into our hearts, should we not express this love the way we think and act? Surely we should!

This is a little strange to us. We normally do not link love and law together. For example, the government can make you pay your taxes, but they cannot create a law that makes you love doing it. With God it is different. Love must be at the root of obeying all other laws. If this is not true, then we are failing to meet the standard which He has set for us.

II. The Conduct Of Love

When we are saved, God puts His love in us. We are to love as He loves. He even went so far as to say to us, “As I have loved you, you should love one another” (John 13:34). Note three things about the conduct of the love he commands and provides.

A. The Recognition it Prompts

Note that we are told to love the Lord, our God. He is Lord. True love for God and for others begins with understanding who is in charge! When we fail to love God and others as we should, we are actually trying to unseat the Lord from His rightful throne. If He is the Lord, your God, then you are to have the mind of Christ in you (Philippians 2:5).

B. The Results it Produces

When we love as we should, it is not just a feeling, nor is it merely expressed with words; rather, true love for God results in obedience to His Word. Look at I John 5:2-3, “This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.”

Loving God means that we obey Him and that the obedience we give to Him is not burdensome. That is, we obey with a spirit of joy and readiness, not begrudging what He asks us to do. We love others, not because they deserve it or meet our approval, but because we are loved by God and we count it a joy to love others for His sake. In John we read, “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me.”(John 14:21) We read in 2 John 1:6 “And this is love, that we walk after his commandments.”

Of course we fail in this matter, and God has a provision for that. When we realize that our love has grown cold toward the Lord, we are to repent and return. We read that about the Church at Ephesus in the book of Revelation.

C. The Rest it Provides

To allow the love of God to flow through you back to Him and to others, is to abide in a place of peace and rest. Look at John 15:10, “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.”

Abiding in His love means to rest in Him. This means assurance of salvation. This means assurance of His leadership in your life.

A song writer some years ago penned the romantic words as stated from a girl toward her boyfriend, “To know, know, know him, is to love, love, love him and I do.”[i] We can say of Christ, “To love, love, love Him, is to obey, obey, obey Him, and I do!”

III. The Consequences of Love

His love produces rest, but it produces more than that. Let’s look at two great results of abiding in His love!

A. The Presence of the Lord

The Lord reveals Himself to those who love Him. This is to know from experience. The more I love Him and love others, the more real He is to me. Some people want God to be real to them, but they do not have a love for Him that involves obedience and a love for others that is equal to self-love. Look at John 14:21, “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” He will show Himself to those who love Him, and those who love Him are those who obey Him. We know God has a corporate love for the whole world. But Jesus is talking about something else. He's saying the Father love which involves a unique revealing of Himself for those who truly love Him.

B. The Power of the Lord

The Lord anoints those who love Him with Spiritual power for knowledge of His Word. Read 1 John 2:14 ff. You will find there that those who do not love the world, but love the Lord, have an anointing so that they will understand the voice and word of the Lord. Oh, for the heavenly anointing! Someone has said that the Christian cannot function without unction. How true that is. We need the infilling and power of the Holy Spirit in order to know and do the will of God.

Selfish desires have a way of cutting off the voice of God so that we cannot hear. In John 8:43-45Jesus said, “Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! Jesus was saying to them, I speak to you clearly, but you do not hear what I say. Why? Because your heart is filled with lust and desires of the devil; therefore, you cannot hear the truth!”

Do you want to hear from God? Then get honest with Him about your sin! Let His love, fear and obedience fill your heart and His Word will fill your ears.

IV. The Cultivation of Love

Our time is running out for this message. Let me hasten to the final and perhaps most important words. How do we obtain this love? Is it possible for a Christian to cultivate a greater love for the Lord and others? Yes, yes indeed!

A. Look at our Sins

When we think upon the sins which He has forgiven, we are moved to reveal a deep love for God and others. We love Him, for He has forgiven. We love others more, because we understand that we all need God’s grace. Look at the Luke 7:42-50, Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?" Simon replied, "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled." "You have judged correctly," Jesus said. Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven-- for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little." Then Jesus said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." The other guests began to say among themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?" Jesus said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."

The woman who knew she had been forgiven much, loved much. Those of us who can remember that from which we have been rescued will be all the more loving toward Christ.

B. Look at His Sacrifice

It is not enough just to remember that from which we have been saved, we must remember the manner in which we were saved. Look to the cross, Christian. Remember the suffering servant. Think upon His sacrifice. We you are called on to love and labor, think of what He did for you. 2 Corinthians 5:14 states that the love of Christ constrains us, meaning that His love for us urges us to act in a loving manner toward Him and others! It means that His love for us motivates us to honorable, loyal, obedient acts of service and duty.

C. Look at the Service of Others

Lastly, think upon the service of other faithful Christians. Let their example compel us to service. Lest you think that this is not worthy of your consideration, I call 2 Corinthians 8:8 to your attention. Paul called upon the Corinthians to look at some other believers who were giving loving service to the Lord and asked them to test their love for Christ against that of these other Christians. It reads, “I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others.” How fitting it would be for all of us to test the sincerity of our love against that of others.

Conclusion

There is a story I heard somewhere concerning the days when North Korea fell to the communists. The Christians in a small village were ordered to go at once to their church. The building was plain and simple, and the people had placed a picture of Christ on the wall. When the soldiers walked in, they took down the picture of Jesus and put it on the floor. All who did not wish to be shot had to come forward and spit on the picture. Four people did what was asked of them and were set free. A young girl was called forward, and instead of obeying the soldiers, she bent down and wiped the spittle from the picture. Then she embraced it tenderly and said, "Jesus, I love You!" She was taken outside, and executed. You see, the issue for that girl was not the desecration of a sacred object; it was her love for the Person it represented.

Do you love Jesus? Then show it! Our time here on earth is short, but our eternity with Him will be wonderful.

“One little hour of watching for the Master,

Eternal years to walk with Him in white;

One little hour to bravely meet life's duties,

Eternal years to reign with Him in light.

One little hour for weary toils and trials,

Eternal years for calm and peaceful rest;

One little hour for patient self-denials,

Eternal years of life where life is best.”

[i] Phil Specter, 1958.