Lesson 1 - A Loving People

Philippians 1:9-10
And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, 10 that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ.

Love is easy right?  If love is so easy, why are there so many passages of scripture that teach it's perfection?  This lesson will focus on Christian (agape) love.  This love is defined as "unconditional love."  This definition is used so often that maybe it has lost some of its meaning.  Let's restate it as "love I show to you regardless what you think, do and your mind-set (attention, action and attitude)."  Of course love will only reach it's fullest potential when God's will is considered, obeyed, and takes root in our hearts (again attention, action and attitude).  We must love others enough to be truthful with them just like God is truthful with each of us.  The fullness of God's love cannot be experienced unless we are His children as defined in His will to us. 

All of a sudden love doesn't seem so easy anymore.  Loving someone who has wronged you is hard, but loving someone you have never met is even harder.  To be brush strokes of the Master we must love with the love of Christ.  Lets spend some time discussing how we can truly show this love.

Eros (romantic) love and Philo (brotherly) love have their foundations in emotion.  Theses kinds of love are best decided and defined by the way we feel.  Many times you don't choose to fall into these kinds of love (although careful attention must be paid to those with whom you associate so your relationship with God has priority in your life). We "fall" in love with the person we are seeing romantically.  Often we don't sit down and calculate this "falling in love," it just happens.  This is eros love and it is based in our "heart."  Philo love is the brotherly love we share with people with whom we feel a kindred bond.  This type of love develops between co-workers (especially in a dangerous job), classmates and others with whom we spend a lot of time.  Again, we don't decided to develop this kind of love, it just happens.  It is important to know that since these types of love are based in our emotion they are frail.  Emotions change and so can our love for those in these categories.

Agape love is different.  Agape love is a purposeful decision!  It is a decision is rooted in what we THINK about and HOW we think about it.  Negative thoughts will harm the growth of agape love.  Push them out!  We should fill our minds, instead, with thoughts about how to make the gospel as appealing and welcoming to others as possible.  This is a purest love and the purest thought that exist!

Our minds allow us the love The Lord to the fullest (Luke 10:27).  Without giving God our attention we can never show Him the love He desires and deserves.  Our attention must be given to our fellow Christians.  The love we show our brothers and sisters will effect the church in the eyes of the world, both good and bad (John 13:35).  We also must love the lost.  Not a love that supports of justifies their lives outside the Body, but a love that show them the way to the saving blood of the Lamb (Romans 5:8)

Love is not love unless there is action to reveal it.  It can not be invisible!  This action is more than a quick hug between Bible class and worship on Sunday mornings.  It is more than signing visitation cards.  It is more than taking a meal to someone who is sick.  It is more than these and it IS these!  In a religious world that seeks to minimize actions as part of Christian love we must remain firm that this love requires a level of effort from us.

The single greatest love you can show is telling someone about the Master!  Let's hear what Penn Jillette, renowned atheist, has to say about love and sharing your faith.  Pay close attention to the 3:00 - 4:00 minute mark!

This video says so much!  How much do we have to hate someone to allow them to go to hell!  If you want to be the best brush stroke for the Master share His Will, Word and Wonder!  Find a way and do it!  Imagine a world one year from today after a concerted and purposeful effort by every Christian to preach the Word.  Action!  In the video Penn says he still knows "there is no God."  However do you think the actions of this one man brought him closer to, or took him further from the Master?  Maybe the next person to speak to him will bring him closer to God (1 Corinthians 3:6).  Many of us studying this course are Christians today because someone took action with us.  Who is waiting on you to take action with them?  Lets praise God for them, then be one of them.

Agape love also applies to how we treat one another in the church.  Our love for one another show the world just how deeply our faith extends (John 13:34-35).  If we cannot show love for our fellow Christians while we sojourn on the earth, how can we expect to share an external home with them?  When we have issues with each other work it out (Matthew 18:15-19).  This passage is not a suggestion, it is a command.

Try this exercise.  If there is someone with whom you struggle feeling agape love, write down 3 things about that person at you appreciate and do one thing positive for them.  Show love for them regardless of how they think, what they do and their mind-set!

Scripture tells us to do good for our enemies because when we do we are heaping coals of fire on them (Romans 12:20; Proverbs 25:21-11).  We can have many attitude behind our showing love to others:

1.  Desire to be seen by other people.
2.  Wanting to ensure others "owe" us.
3.  Loving out of a feeling of obligation.

So the question is, what motivates your love?  Mark 12:30 tells us that love is indeed a matter of the heart.  It is rooted in our attitude.  When we have Christian love built on the foundation of a God centered heart we will best represent the gospel and live in harmony within the church. 

Without agape love we will never be the brush strokes of the Master we might otherwise be.  Our relationships with the world and within the church must begin with love, dwell in love and end in love.  Our love for a fellow man reflects our love toward Jesus.  His love is the ultimate blessing (1 John 4:19).

Luke 10:27
So he answered and said, " 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.

John 13:35
By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.

Romans 5:8
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

1 Corinthians 3:6
I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.

John 13:34-35
34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

Matthew 18:15-19
15 "Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that 'by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.'[a] 17 And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.
18 "Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
19 "Again I say[b] to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.

Romans 12:20
20 Therefore
"If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.

Proverbs 25:21-22
21 If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat;
And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink;
22 For so you will heap coals of fire on his head,
And the Lord will reward you.

Mark 12:30
30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This is the first commandment.

1 John 4:19
We love Him because He first loved us.