Sunday 4th November, 2018 [Communion Service]
Hymn of meditation: PH 596
If God the Lord is with me,
No foe can stand my way.
When I on Him depending,
All foes shall flee away.
With Christ as Head in battle,
The Friend who loves me well!
Assailed by evil forces,
Victorious, I shall be.
We are once again grateful to God for this opportunity to come before His presence not only to worship Him, but also to fellowship with fellow brethren and to hear His word. The theme for our deliberation today is “Love God and neighbour”.
The word ‘love’ is a common word used and misused over and over again. For some of us, we are often told of how much we are loved and others have also told many how much they love them. Listening around, one may come across various definitions and interpretations from various people depending on how they understand love. Having been blessed with this opportunity to discuss it today, may we look at the word love from a Biblical perspective. Even the Greek has four expressions of love based on the different interpretations by many people.
DEFINITION OF LOVE
- The high esteem which God has for His human children and the high regard which they, in turn, should have for Him and other people (Nelson Bible Dictionary)
- An inner quality expressed outwardly as a commitment to seek the well-being of the other through concrete acts of service. (Dictionary of the Bible)
The second definition stated above gives a clearer meaning of love; it is not about what you say to someone but what you actually mean on the inside. It is also not only about seeking the well-being of another person but to be committed to it such that no matter what happens, you do not run to leave the person alone.
Love therefore becomes a concrete thing that can be felt and seen; not just the expression “I love you”. Love should be demonstrated.
CHARACTERISTICS OF LOVE
- It is an inner quality
- It is a commitment to seek the well-being of the object of this love
- It shows or it is demonstrated in concrete acts of service that calls for giving and sacrifice
1 John 4:8
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
Right from the point when man first fell, God started immediately to reconcile and bring him back to Himself, providing the cover that man needed. God remained committed to His cause to bring the Israelites to Himself up to the time when He decided to come down in human form to perish in our stead and make us His own. This is the deepest demonstration of the love of God to us.
The Israelites and Pharisees for many years, struggled to keep all the commandments the Lord has given, but Jesus made it clear when He responded to the question from the Pharisees about the greatest of all the commandments that “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind and all your strength”.
It is that passage we are being called on to practice. What does it mean to love the Lord in that way? It simply means…
- loving Him with complete sincerity
- giving Him your undivided affection and complete attention
- letting nothing come between you and the Lord
There are many things in this world that we have placed between ourselves and God that come before we consider God.
If we truly desire to love God with all our hearts, we must place Him first in all our activities with no pretence and giving Him His due.
Loving Him with all your soul: emotionally, let God be first.
Loving Him with all your mind: focus on him in what you think about
The totality of this love is demonstrated by a complete obedience to God. It is about living for God and walking according to His statutes.
LOVING YOUR NEIGHBOUR
Love him/her as yourself: Do unto others as you wish to be done to you. If you do not want people to gossip about you, why then, do you gossip about others? Do not cheat on your partner if you do not want it to be done against you. Do not take bribes if you criticise those who are corrupt. If you desire to be praised or apologised to when offended, do same for others.
Loving your neighbour is actually loving God: “if anyone says: I love God and yet hates his brother or sister; for how can you love God whom you have not seen and hate the brother who you have seen” Whoever loves God must also love his brother or sister.
Our love should be in action: It should be demonstrated for the person to see and testify; just as we can all testify of Christ’s death for us sinners.
1 John 3:16-19
“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? 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”
Show concern to that brother in need even if you do not have the resources to support him. Let your concern and true desire to help be felt by all.
WHY THE NEED TO LOVE GOD AND NEIGHBOUR
If we could love God and love our neighbour genuinely, my brothers and sisters, we would have fulfilled the entire Old Testament laws (613 laws).
- The entire Old Testament hangs on these two laws and they are the greatest of all the commandments (Matthew 22:40, Mark 12)
- It is what God stands for; remember God is love
- It is a show of our appreciation for what the Lord has done for us.
- It attracts the blessings of the Lord and long life (Deut. 6:1-9)
- It is more important than any other thing we do for God
Love has a way of coming back to us:
I am reminded of a story about a father who once saw a riped mango on a farm one day and knowing how much his wife loves mangoes, decided to give it to her as a gift. The wife appreciated it and also decided after a while to give it to their son when he returns from school since he will be tired and need it to freshen up. After receiving it, the son also thought of how much his father has catered for him and resolved to give it to the father too as a gift. At the long run, the love the father showed has come back to him again at the dinner table and decided to share the fruit among the three of them.
Beloved in the Lord, the summary of today’s sermon is found in 1 John 4:7-12:
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. 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.
On that note, I want to say: Let us love one another, know always that when you love, it comes from God; God first demonstrated his love through Jesus Christ. We also must show that love to one another. Loving one another reveals God’s presence and it is made complete in us.
It is all about love. It is God’s way, it is His nature and we are included in that love; love can change everything. As we respond to His love, learn to love Him, learn to love ourselves better and begin to love everyone we come into contact with.
Concluding hymn: PH 602
“Love one another”, said the Lord,
“Love others, as I have loved you”,
Love one another, with pure love,
O Jesus, give me this pure love.