Just as people in offices, factories, government, and military, wear badges to show that they belong there we as Christians have a badge too. Our badge is love. Wear the badge of love proudly so that the world can see that you belong to Christ.
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. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."
This was a new commandment in that the love was not because they all belonged to the same nation or all looked like each other, but because they belonged to Christ. This love was to be the expression of the love of Christ, which the disciples had seen in His life and would see also in death.
To hear the audio click on the YouTube image at the end of the manuscript.
Today's message is “The Command To Love”
Matthew 5:43-45 ESV "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
Our text today is taken from the portion of scripture that we know as the Sermon on the Mount which is in Matthew chapters 5-7. The verses that I just read are right after the section known as the Beatitudes
Matthew 5:2-12 ESV And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. "Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
Then He said that His disciples should be salt and light to the world: Matthew 5:13:15; after that He tells His disciples that He came to fulfill not abolish Law and that the law would remain;
Matthew 5:18-19 ESV For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
But Jesus said that His disciples had to do a better job at obeying it than the Scribes and Pharisees, who were the experts in the Law which included the 10 Commandments and the more than 600 other commandments that's in Matthew 5:16-42.
Everything that Jesus said up to this point shows that His disciples should be different from those who were not His disciples but that they should be people that lead others to Him they were to be salt and light.
Now Jesus told the people something that rocked their world and the that of the religious leaders, the Scribes and Pharisees. He told them that His disciples, those who follow Him had to love everybody even their enemies.
The religious people said love your neighbor but hate your enemies but Jesus was now saying that His disciples had to do better than that, they had to love everybody.
Matthew 5:45 ESV so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
1 John 4:7-12 ESV Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
Jesus Christ came to earth as the supreme expression of God’s love for humankind.
John 3:16 ESV "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
The Jewish religious leaders had gone to great lengths in their attempts to detail the requirements of God. They had developed 248 affirmative precepts and 365 negative precepts, in addition to the more than 600 commandments, that a person must keep to be in proper relationship with God and our people.
Jesus condensed and concentrated all of the real requirements of God into one great requirement —love.
Matthew 22:34-40 ESV But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets."
To love God with your whole being means that we are to relate ourselves totally to God for his glory. The first and greatest commandment says that we are to love God supremely. We are to love God more than our home, our business, our church, or our work.
To relate all of that newly created renewed person we talked about for the last month totally to God's glory.
Then that newly created renewed person is to love our neighbors as ourselves. That means we are to love everybody as we love ourselves.
One of the reasons why we don't love our neighbors more is because we do not love ourselves properly. We do not love ourselves properly because we have neglected to love God supremely.
Here's an important question.
Can love really be commanded?
To answer this question, we need to ask another one;
“What kind of love is Jesus talking about when he commanded that we love everybody including our enemies, even those who hate us and have done things to harm us, those who “revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely”?
What kind of love is He talking about? Let's see if we can find out.
We are most familiar with eros love, or romantic love.
As its name indicates, eros is passionate or sexual love (eros is the source of the English word erotic). While eros is important within a marriage relationship and is created by God, it can also be abused. God created our sexuality which makes it a good thing, but we need to recognize that Jesus was commanding something other than this particular form of love.
The second major kind of love is phileo the Greek word for friendship love.
Philia refers to brotherly love and is most often exhibited in a close friendship. Best friends will display this generous and affectionate love for each other as each seeks to make the other happy.
The Scriptural account of David and Jonathan is an excellent illustration of phileo love:
1 Samuel 18:1-3 ESV As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. And Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father's house. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul.
Proverbs 18:24 ESV A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
This is love based on the worth of the one loved. It is a proper and valuable kind of love. Since phileo love involves feelings of warmth and affection toward another person, we do not have phileo love toward our enemies.
This wasn't the kind of love that Jesus was commanding either.
The third major kind of love is agape. Agape is a self-denying love.
Agape is the most powerful, noblest type of love: sacrificial love. Agape love is more than a feeling—it is an act of the will. This is the kind of love that can be commanded and controlled or directed by the mind and will of the person who chooses to love.
This is the love that God has for His people and that prompted the sacrifice of His only Son, Jesus, for our sins.
This is the kind of love that Jesus said that His disciples should have.
Since phileo love involves feelings of warmth and affection toward another person, we do not have phileo love toward our enemies. However, God commands us to have agape love toward everyone. This includes those whose personalities clash with ours, those who hurt us and treat us badly, and even those who are hostile toward our faith. In time, as we follow God’s example of agape love for our enemies, we may even begin to experience phileo love for some of them as we start to see them through God’s eyes.
The scope of the commandment to love.
In order to have agape love we must have a proper love for God. Only when we dedicate ourselves to God and give ourselves to his glory can we possibly have the capacity to properly love ourselves and others.
We must have a proper love for ourselves.
As we read earlier, Jesus said, “You shall love your neighbor as you love yourself.” The love we have for ourselves is the measure by which we are to indicate love for others. If for some reason we hate ourselves, we will not be able to love others the way that Jesus commanded us to.
Do you hate yourself? Are you guilty of punishing yourself for past failures and for bad decisions over which you now have no control? Do you dislike the person whose reflection you see most in a mirror? If so, you are depriving yourself of the capacity to truly love your neighbor, because you don't love yourself.
Your greatest need is to accept yourself as God’s creation and as the object of his love.
Psalms 139:14-18 ESV I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.
Accept God's grace and forgiveness, and then forgive yourself of past failures and shortcomings.
Ephesians 2:4-10 ESV But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Begin to demonstrate some agape love toward yourself, and you will discover that the Holy Spirit is enlarging your capacity to love others.
Galatians 5:22-24 ESV But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
We are commanded to love everybody with agape love.
We are to love one another because each of us is an object of divine love; we have experienced the love of Jesus Christ. We are to love one another that we might demonstrate the reality of Christ’s presence in our lives. Agape is the way we are identified as Jesus’s disciples.
Without love nothing else really matters
1 Corinthians 13:1-2 ESV If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
The kind of love that Jesus is commanding us to put into practice, in His Sermon on the Mount, is not instinctual romantic love. It's not a friendship or social kind of love. We are encouraged to love as the Father God loves, agape.
Romans 5:6-8 ESV For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
1 John 4:9-10 ESVIn this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
God’s love does not discriminate but pours itself out on friends and enemies alike. God’s love is not motivated by human merit.
Romans 5:8, 10 ESV but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.
God’s love is self-giving and self-denying.
1 John 4:8 ESV Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
God is love. God has loved each of us in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He ) continues to love us in the here and now. God will continue to love us with an eternal love.
Respond sincerely and steadfastly by faith in God’s love as it is revealed in Jesus Christ. Live a life of faithfulness that expresses itself in following him.
Above All, Before All, And Through It All—Love One Another. It seems obvious and sounds trite, but it is true: love is the answer to nearly any question. In all things, err on the side of love. By doing so, you’ll brighten the life of anyone you’re involved with, and as you practice living the way Jesus taught, you’ll see more of him in your friends, and they’ll see more of him in you.
Dear Lord, Teach Me To Love Others The Way You First Loved Me. As I Build Relationships With Others, Let Them See You In The Extent Of My Generosity, The Authenticity Of My Kindness, And The Depths Of My Love. All Of Those Things Are Only Possible Through You, The God Who Abides With Me And Calls Me Friend. Amen.