Sermon No: 177528-LOVE - THE CHIEF OF VIRTUES - Part 2



SERMON TOPIC: LOVE - THE CHIEF OF VIRTUES - Part 2

Speaker: Gavin Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 28 August 2022

Topic Groups: LOVE, LOVE OF GOD, CHRISTIAN LIVING

Sermon synopsis: John 13:35 (NIV) “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Let us note that our Lord does not name gifts or miracles or intellectual attainments as the evidence of discipleship, but love, the simple grace of love, a grace within reach of the poorest, lowliest believer, as the evidence of discipleship. If we have no love, we have no grace, no regeneration, no true Christianity! – J.C. Ryle

And so, LOVE IS THE CHIEF OF VIRTUES

GOD’S LOVE FOR US

John 3:16 is probably the most well-known and widely quoted verse in the Bible. It has rightfully been called THE GOSPEL IN A NUTSHELL

GOD’S LOVE FOR US

JOHN 3:16

For God SO LOVED the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

JOHN 3:16

SO LOVED

GOD’S LOVE FOR US

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?... No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,  neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

(Rom 8:35-39, NIV)

1 John 2:2 (NIV) He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole (holos) world (kosmos).

THE WHOLE WORLD (HOLOS KOSMOS)

God does not rejoice when sinners die in an unrepentant state and face eternal punishment.

Ezekiel 33:11 (NIV) Say to them, “As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?”

This is why Jonah was angry. He wanted God to punish the Ninevites, but knew that God would willingly forgive them if they repented.

GOD LOVES SINNERS

Jonah 4:1-2 (NLT) This change of plans greatly upset Jonah, and he became very angry. So he complained to the LORD about it: “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, LORD? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people. Just kill me now, LORD! I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen.”

LOVE PEOPLE – NOT THINGS

We must love people and use things – don’t use people and love things.

LOVE PEOPLE – NOT THINGS

Jonah loved things more than people.

To teach him an object lesson God allows him to find relief from the intense heat in the shade of a plant - which subsequently dies. Jonah is very upset about this.

Jonah 4:10-11 (NLT) Then the LORD said, “You feel sorry about the plant … But Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness... Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?”

LOVE GOD - NOT THINGS

The last days are marked by people loving 3 things above God: (1) Self, (2) money and (3) pleasure

2 Tim 3:1-4 (NIV) But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money … not lovers of the good … lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—

Sadly many churches also propagate:

the love of money (prosperity gospel)

programs that are targeted at men’s love of pleasure (seeker sensitive churches)

the love of self (self-esteem gospel).

DO NOT LOVE

Those who propagate self-love, distance themselves from the true gospel.

3 John 1:9 (NIV) I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will have nothing to do with us.

DO NOT LOVE:

The world (i.e. the system)

1 John 2:15 (NIV) Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

Falsehood

Rev 22:15 (NIV) Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

The 2 greatest commandments are to love:

God

Your neighbour

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’

WHO MUST WE LOVE?

Our wives

Col 3:19 (NIV)Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.

Our husbands and children

Titus 2:4 (NIV) Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children

WHO MUST WE LOVE?

WHO MUST WE LOVE?

Our spiritual leaders

1 Thess 5:12-13 (NIV) Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work.

Foreigners:

Deut 10:19 (NIV) And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.

WHO MUST WE LOVE?

Your servants (or employees):

Job 31:13-15 (NIV) “If I have denied justice to any of my servants, whether male or female, when they had a grievance against me, what will I do when God confronts me? What will I answer when called to account? Did not he who made me in the womb make them? Did not the same one form us both within our mothers?”

WHO MUST WE LOVE?

Strangers:

Rom 12:13 (NIV) … Practice hospitality (Greek: philoxenia - the Greek word literally means “love to strangers”).

In the context of being told to “let brotherly love continue” (Heb 13:1, KJV) we are given a practical example – be hospitable:

Heb 13:1-2 (NIV) Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.

LOVE: THE CHIEF OF VIRTUES

John 13:35 (NIV) “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Let us note that our Lord does not name gifts or miracles or intellectual attainments as the evidence of discipleship, but love, the simple grace of love, a grace within reach of the poorest, lowliest believer, as the evidence of discipleship. If we have no love, we have no grace, no regeneration, no true Christianity! – J.C. Ryle

And so, LOVE IS THE CHIEF OF VIRTUES

THE CHIEF OF VIRTUES

Gal 5:6 (NIV) For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

Col 3:14 (NIV) And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

1 Cor 16:14 (NIV) Do everything in love.

1 Cor 13:8 (NIV) Love never fails.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. (1 Cor 13:1-3, NIV)

THE CHIEF OF VIRTUES

But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away…

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

(1 Cor 13:8-13, NIV)

THE CHIEF OF VIRTUES

THE CHIEF OF VIRTUES

Love must be pursued:

1 Tim 6:11 (NIV) But you, man of God … pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.

2 Tim 2:22 (NIV) … pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

Love must be without limit:

Rom 13:8 (NIV) Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.

Love forgives and forgets:

1 Cor 13:5 (NIV) (Love) keeps no record of wrongs.

1 Pet 4:8 (NIV) Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

Prov 17:9 (NIV) He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.

FORGIVE & FORGET

Love is generous:

2 Cor 8:7-11 (NIV) But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you —see that you also excel in this grace of giving. I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.

LOVE IS GIVING

LOVE IS GIVING

For God so loved… that he gave.. (John 3:16)

1 John 3:16-17 (NIV) This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?

“Christian love is never theoretical or abstract; it is always practical.” ~ Alexander Strauch

“What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has the eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.”~ Augustine

LOVE IS UNSELFISH

1 Cor 13:5 (NIV) (Love) is not self-seeking …

Selfishness seeks its own private happiness at the expense of others. Love seeks its happiness in the happiness of the beloved. It will even suffer and die for the beloved in order that its joy might be full in the life and purity of the beloved. ~ John Piper

LOVE PUTS OTHERS FIRST

Rom 12:9-10 (NIV) Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honour one another above yourselves.

LOVE PUTS OTHERS FIRST

Phil 2:2-4 (NIV) then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

PUTS OTHERS FIRST

Love is considerate about the weak conscience of others:

Rom 14:15 (NIV) If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died.

1 Cor 8:1-3 (NIV) Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that we all possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. But the man who loves God is known by God.

LOVE IS WILLING TO SERVE

Gal 5:13 (NIV) You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.

John 13:1 (NIV) Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.

LOVE IS HOSPITABLE

Alexander Strauch writes, “Hospitality fleshes out love in a uniquely personal and sacrificial way. Through the ministry of hospitality, we share our most prized possessions. We share our family, home, finances, food, privacy and time. Indeed, we share our very lives. So, hospitality is always costly. Through the ministry of hospitality, we provide friendship, acceptance, fellowship, refreshment, comfort, and love in one of the richest and deepest ways possible for humans to understand. Unless we open the doors of our homes to one another, the reality of the local church as a close-knit family of loving brothers and sisters is only a theory.”

PATIENT & PEACE-LOVING

Love is humble, gentle and patient:

Eph 4:2-4 (NIV) Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

Love is peace-loving and strives to keep unity:

Col 2:2 (NIV) My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love

LOVE DOES NO HARM

Rom 13:9-10 (NIV) The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” Love does no harm to its neighbour. Therefore love is the fulfilment of the law.

ENDURING

True love doesn’t disappear in difficult times:

Prov 17:17 (NIV) A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

BELIEVES THE BEST

Love protects and believes the best of people:

1 Cor 13:7 (NIV) (Love) always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

When Noah got drunk and was naked (Gen 9), his son Ham exposed his nakedness and ridiculed him. In contrast Shem and Japheth would not look on his nakedness, but walking in backwards, covered him. Do we try to expose each others nakedness (weaknesses or sin) or to cover them?

Gal 6:1 (NIV) … if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently…

BELIEVES THE BEST

Amy Carmichael (1867-1951) wrote this for some of her closest co-workers.

We are trusted to spread the spirit of love. Tenderness in judgment, the habit of thinking the best of one another, unwillingness to believe evil, grief if we are forced to do so, eagerness to believe good, joy over one recovered from any slip or fall, unselfish gladness in another’s joys, sorrow in another’s sorrow, readiness to do anything to help another entirely irrespective of self – all this and much more is included in that wonderful word love. 

If love weakens among us, if it ever becomes possible to tolerate the least shadow of an unloving thought, our Fellowship will begin to perish.

Unlove is deadly. It is a cancer. It may kill slowly but it always kills in the end. Let us fear it, fear to give room to it as we should fear to nurse a cobra. It is deadlier than any cobra.

And just as one minute drop of the almost invisible cobra venom spreads swiftly all over the body of one into whom it has been injected, so one drop of the gall of unlove in my heart or yours, however unseen, has a terrible power of spreading all through our Family, for we are one body – we are parts of one another. If one member suffers loss, all suffer loss.

THE GAUGE OF LOVE

GAUGE OF LOVE

In an engine-room it is impossible to look into the great boiler and see how much water it contains. But running up beside it is a tiny glass tube, which serves as a gauge … When the tube is half full, the boiler is half full; when the tube is empty, the boiler is empty. Do you ask, “How do I know I love God?...” Look at the gauge. Your love for your brother is the measure of your love for God.—S. S. Chronicle.

GAUGE OF LOVE

1 John 4:20 (NIV) If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.

1 John 4:21 (NIV) And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.

GAUGE OF LOVE

Our love for God is shown by how we treat his children:

John 21:15-16 (NIV) When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

A TRUE CHRISTIAN

Loving one another is the sign of a true Christian:

1 John 2:9-11 (NIV) Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him.

1 John 4:7-8 (NIV) Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

A TRUE CHRISTIAN

A true Christian will obey Jesus’ commands:

John 14:15 (NIV) “If you love me, you will obey what I command.”

John 14:23-24 (NIV) Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching … He who does not love me will not obey my teaching.”

1 John 5:3 (NIV) This is love for God: to obey his commands…

His command is to love others:

2 John 1:6 (NIV) I ask that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.

GAUGE OF LOVE

Tertullian, in his defence of Christianity, noted how Christian love attracted pagan attention in the 2nd century AD:

It is our care for the helpless, our practice of lovingkindness, that brands us in the eyes of many of our opponents. “Only look,” they say, “look how they love one another” (they themselves being given over to mutual hatred). “Look how they are prepared to die for one another” (they themselves being readier to kill each other). Thus had this saying become a fact, “Hereby shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another.” - Apology 39

Hatred embodies the spirit of Cain, who hated his brother because he was more righteous than himself.

1 John 3:11-15 (NIV) This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother.

And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous … We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers.

Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.

THE SPIRIT OF CAIN

THE FOUR LOVES

The Four Loves is a book by C. S. Lewis which takes it’s name from the four Koine Greek words for love which roughly equate to the following in English: romance, affection, charity and friendship.

Eros (erōs) is romantic or erotic love based on a physical sexual attraction.

Storge (storgē) is fondness through familiarity especially between family members or people who have found themselves together by chance e.g. the type of love between a parent and child.

BROTHERLY LOVE

Charity (agápē) is love which expects nothing in return. It cares regardless of the circumstance and is the greatest of loves as it is the love that God himself demonstrates to sinful man.

Philia (philía) is the ‘friendship’ love that exists between people who share common interests and is epitomised in the Biblical characters David and Jonathan. In the form ‘philadelphia’ it refers to brotherly love.

BROTHERLY LOVE

Some feel that we should just ‘tolerate’ other Christians. In other words we should love with the unconditional ‘agape’ love, but we don’t have to be friends (i.e. actually like other Christians).

Other professing Christians even use this as an excuse to not fellowship. They say they love God, but don’t like his children.

But we are instructed to have both kinds of love for our Christian brothers and sisters:

1 Thess 4:9 (ESV) Now concerning brotherly love (philadelphias) you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love (agapan) one another

BROTHERLY LOVE

1 Pet 1:22 (ESV) Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love (philadelphian), love (agapēsate) one another earnestly from a pure heart

Heb 13:1 (NIV) Keep on loving each other as brothers (philadelphia).

1 Pet 3:8-9 (NIV) Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers (philadelphoi), be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.

BROTHERLY LOVE

Do you want to be effective and productive for God?

2 Pet 1:5-9 (NIV) For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness (philadelphian); and to brotherly kindness (philadelphia), love (agapēn). For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.

FAMILY AFFECTION

The Greek word ‘storge’ is the love and affection that naturally occurs between parents and children and between siblings. It occurs once in Romans 12:10 in the compound word ‘philostorgoi’ (comprised of philos and storge).

Rom 12:10 (NASB) Be devoted (philostorgoi) to one another in brotherly love (philadelphia); give preference to one another in honour.

Rom 12:10 (Holman Christian Standard Bible) Show family affection to one another with brotherly love. Outdo one another in showing honour.

So Christians are instructed to love one another with agape, philadelphia and storge love. We don’t just ‘tolerate’ each other out of a higher sense of Godlike love – we should have a genuine brotherly friendship and affection.

We see a similar thought expressed here:

1 Tim 5:1-2 (NIV) Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.

FAMILY AFFECTION

THE RESULT OF LOVE

It was James and John who suggested that Jesus destroy a Samaritan village that wouldn’t grant him passage through it (Luke 9 NASB).

LOVE CHANGES PEOPLE

You do not know what kind of spirit you are of, for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.

Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?

THE APOSTLE OF LOVE

Formerly nicknamed by Jesus a “Son of Thunder”, John later became known as “the apostle of love”. In his commentary on Galatians 6:10, Jerome tells a famous story of John in his extreme old age at Ephesus. He eventually had to be carried into the congregation by his disciples and would say nothing except, “Little children, love one another.” At last, wearied that he always spoke the same words, they asked: “Master, why do you always say this?” He replied, “Because it is the Lord’s command, and if this only is done, it is enough.”

John was referring to these words of Jesus.

John 13:34 (NIV) A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

Our love is prompted by God’s love

1 John 4:19 (NIV) We love because he first loved us.

According to the world, we love in order to be loved. According to the Word, we love because God first loved us. Whereas the world falls in love, God’s people are established in love. The love that we possess, however, is not a fleeting whim that comes and goes with every mood and circumstance; rather, it is a love that is beyond ourselves. Our love, true love, has meaning, meaning that cannot be stripped away by any thing, any one, or any feeling. Our love cannot be shaken because it is grounded not in self but in sacrifice. ~ Burk Parsons

PROMPTED BY GOD’S LOVE

PROMPTED BY GOD’S LOVE

Our love for one another is prompted by Jesus’ love for us:

Eph 5:1-2 (NIV) Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

And how did Jesus show his love for us?

John 15:9-13 (NIV) “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”

EMBODY GOD’S NATURE

If we love, we embody the nature of God:

1 John 4:9-12 (NIV) This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

CASTS OUT FEAR

Then we will have no fear of God’s judgement:

1 John 4:16-18 (NIV) Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

ASSURANCE OF SALVATION

Then we will have assurance of salvation:

1 John 3:18-20 (NIV) Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us …

CONCLUSION

Do you love others like this?

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it 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. Love never fails. (1 Cor 13:4-8, NIV)

CONCLUSION

But you say, “If I love like that, I might get hurt.”

C.S. Lewis writes in “The Four Loves”: To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken.

If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness.

But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.




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