How can God command us to love? Who are we supposed to love? Grab your family and join AMBrewster as he answers these questions and more from God’s Word. Your family will be better because of it!
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I am overjoyed and thrilled to announce that Truth.Love.Parent. is now #1 in iTunes for Christian parents! Isn’t that awesome?
Thank you everyone for subscribing and rating and reviewing and sharing.
We definitely couldn't have done it without you. And today we start a study that I hope will be so helpful that it will be shared far and wide. Because we all need this.
Welcome to Part 1 of The Four Family Loves.
To be completely honest, we’re not just talking about Family Love; this love is for everyone. We’re commanded to show this love to people we don’t even know.
That’s why the subtitle to today’s show is “it’s something we have to do.”
Now, in our culture, the whole idea of love is totally messed up.
Not only is love incorrectly attached to ideas of affection and romance.
Not only do we have two gigantic and irreconcilable philosophies of love.
But despite all of that, we also frequently reduce the concept of love to hardly anything at all.
My friend, Mark Massey says, “I love pizza, but unfortunately it doesn’t end very well for the pizza.”
We toss around the word love like it doesn’t mean anything, and most of the time . . . it doesn’t.
But we serve a God who is decent and orderly. We serve a God who doesn’t change. We serve a God who has clearly communicated everything we need to know about a concept He created.
In fact, He didn’t just create love . . . God is love. Who better to inform our families understanding of love than God himself.
Now, before we continue, I want to invite you share this episode not only with your friends, but with your family.
This is one of those episodes that it will be super helpful for the whole family to hear. Obviously, you can internalize and digest this information and then share it with your children, but I believe you’ll find these Truths from Scripture to be so powerful and efficacious that you’ll want to share it with them as soon as possible.
And since we’ll be studying this topic for the next two and a half weeks, it will give you prepackaged opportunities for the next half a month to schedule a time for your family to come together and study God’s Word.
So, assuming the fam is all there, let me explain a few things that will help this process be the most productive it can for everyone.
Alright, so let’s start this amazing study of biblical love by realizing that we don’t really have a choice when it comes to what love is and whom we’re to love.
Now, I know that sounds super unAmerican.
How many movies have been made and how many songs have been sung that tell us that love is something you fall into. It’s something that happens to you, not something you choose to do.
Well, instead of discussing all the silly Failure Philosophies our culture has dreamed up concerning love, let’s figure out what God has to say.
So, number one we need to realize that God commands us to love. It’s something we have to do. And He tells us exactly whom we’re supposed to love. Generally speaking, I Corinthians 16:13-14 spells it out very simply. It says, "Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.”
Well, under the gigantic umbrella of loving God in all we do, we’re going to see that there are three groups we’re to love. So, we’re going to discuss those three groups, but first I think some of us need to answer the question, “How can God command us to love?”
Seriously, how can God expect you to love another person, especially if you don’t love that person?
Here are four solid reasons it makes perfect sense for God to command us to love:
1. God can command us to love because of the nature of love.
I’m not going to talk about this in too much detail. We need to take the next two weeks just to scratch the surface of truly understanding the nature of love.
But I will say this. God created love. He created humans to love. God knows how it’s supposed to work.
If you’re feeling like it’s weird or impossible to command someone to love someone else, please understand that it probably means you don’t really know what love is.
And that’s okay. That’s why we’re here. At one point or another in all of our lives, we’ve been confused about love. It’s possible even mom and dad, right now, don’t have a biblical understanding of love.
So, for now, please accept that God can command us to love each other simply because He knows that’s how it’s supposed to work.
2. God can command us to love because He is love.
This point ties into the first in that one of the biggest characteristics of love is that God Himself is love. I John 4:8 says, “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” Now, the passage doesn’t give us too much clarification about the implications of this claim.
We all accept that God is holy, and that doesn’t mess with our heads because the word “holy” is a predicate adjective. It’s being used to describe who God is. But we don’t use the word love as an adjective. For us, it’s a noun or a verb. Other than saying “God is God,” this is one of the only descriptions of God in English language that uses a predicate nominative.
We’re okay saying that God is God because that sums up the totality of all that He is. That’s why saying that God is love sounds strange in our ears, because we think of love as a part of God, not all that He is.
And that’s why a better understanding of love will make it easier for us to love others.
Also, because God is love, He can give us everything we need to do it well. And that leads to the third point.
3. God can command us to love because He’s powerful.
It’s one thing for me to say, “Go build a skyscraper.” Sure, I can say the words. I can command you to do it, but I can’t help you be successful in doing it.
But God is powerful enough to make us successful.
Job 42:2 says, “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” And that’s why Paul can say in Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
A good example of this Truth is Romans 5:3-5: "We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
Do you see how it’s possible for endurance and character and hope can all grow in us through our sufferings? It’s only possible by God’s love that has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.
God knows everything about love, He knows everything about the person He wants you to love. He has given you everything you need to know about love, and He wants to give you the spiritual ability to love.
And that leads to number 4.
4. God can command us to love because we’re forgiven . . . or at least, we should be.
Listen carefully to Luke 7:41-50: “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
Those who have submitted to Christ and are following Him find it easier to love than those who reject His love.
Those of us who understand the disgusting nature of our sin and rejoice in the forgiveness of God can’t help but want to show the same love to others.
Luke 16:13 says, "No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
I mention this as an example of the fact that we will naturally love whatever we value. If we value God for His awesomeness, we will find it easy to love.
Jesus also said, in John 8:42, "Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here.’”
Again, God can command us to love because He knows that being born again will make it possible for us to love.
But before we go on, I have to mention that a person who doesn’t have a relationship with God, a person who isn’t born again, cannot truly love.
Following Christ is the first and necessary step to fulfilling the command to love.
Romans 8:7-8 says, “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” No one who lives according to the flesh — that is as an unbeliever — can do anything that pleases God, including genuinely loving people.
And — on the flip side of this Truth — not being able to truly love people is an evidence of not being born again. I John 4:7 says, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.” And — as we saw earlier — the very next verse tells us, “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
If you’re even partially uncertain whether you’re a born again Christian, I would love to take the time right not to show you how you can become a true follower of Christ. But, we still have a lot of material to cover, and I’ve already shared a number of resources on this podcast to help answer that question. So I strongly encourage you to check those out.
So now, we need to understand that God can command us to love because of the very nature of love, because He is love, because He’s powerful enough to do it, and because everyone who’s been born again should naturally desire to show love to all people.
With that foundation laid, we can now look at the three groups of people God commands us to love.
1. The first group really isn’t a group. As some of you can probably guess, the first person we’re commanded to love is God Himself.
Matthew 22:37-38 tells us, ”And [Jesus] 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.”
The following verses also command us to love God or assumes that we should:
Now, again, for the sake of time, I can’t develop any of those passages or any of what follows with the kind of detail I’d like . . . but what I will do is this: I’m going to include all of this in our show notes. By the way, these notes may be a wonderful way to deepen your family’s time with God.
You can find our Episode Notes at TruthLoveParent.com where we post them in our blog called Taking Back the Family. Today’s notes are going to be filled with tons of Scripture so you can study each of these points for yourself.
And just think, all of the Scriptures I’m about to share are only the tip of the iceberg.
Alright, how do we know if we’re loving God the way we should.
If it weren’t clear before, hopefully now you understand how important it is for us to love God and see the significant change it will have in our lives when we do.
Imagine a household filled with people who’s lives were defined by that list. Wow.
Now, onto the second group of people we’re to love.
2. God commands us to love our neighbors.
Matthew 22:39-40 says, ". . . And [the second commandment] is like [the first]: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
If we love God, this group of people will be easy to love. And, by implication, if we don’t love this group of people, we don’t love God.
But who is our neighbor?
A man once asked Jesus the exact same question. In Luke 10:25-37, Jesus answers his question by telling a parable that we refer to as The Good Samaritan. I encourage you to read the whole thing, but I will sum it up for you . . . everyone is your neighbor. It’s not just the people who live around you or go to your church or school or work where you work. It’s everyone.
“So, if I don’t consistently love my neighbor, I don’t love God.”
I’ll let God answer that from I John 4:20: “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.”
That makes it pretty clear. We can’t call ourselves Christians. We can’t call ourselves followers of Christ if we don’t love our neighbors.
John 13:34-35 gives us the positive side of this command: "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.”
It’s our Christ-like love for others that will be the main thing that proves we’re children of God.
And that makes a lot of sense. If God is love, then His children would have to be of love, and therefore, loving.
Romans 12:9-10 also tells us to "Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”
I quote that verse quite a bit in my house. That’s a great one to add to your parenting Bible.
And Romans 13:8-10 says, ”Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”
My friends, moms, dads, brothers, sisters . . . God commands you to love Him. God commands you to love your neighbors.
But you may be thinking, “What if a person is really mean to me? What if they hate me? What if they want to kill me? Do I still have to love them? They’re not my neighbor, right?”
Well, that leads us to the last group of people we’re to love. And this flows really well from the parable of The Good Samaritan.
3. God commands us to love our enemies.
In Jesus’ most famous sermon, in Matthew 5:43-48, Jesus says, "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. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
In Luke 6:27-36, Jesus also says, "But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”
Then, as the perfect example for us, Jesus did exactly what He commanded us to do. He asked God the Father to forgive the people who had just beat Him and nailed Him to the cross.
And as amazing as that was, that wasn’t even the most loving thing Jesus did for His enemies. The most amazing thing He did for the worst enemy He had was to die on the cross in the first place.
And you know who His worst enemy is? All mankind, you, your other family members, and me.
Unsaved humanity is God’s greatest enemy, and yet He had a plan from day one to sacrifice Himself for us.
I John 4:19 tells us, “We love because he first loved us.”
I John 4:10 tells us, “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.”
Ephesians 2:4-5 says, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.“
Even though Romans 8 tells us that unbelievers are enemies of God — they’re hostile to God — God still loves them and died to provide a way for them to have a relationship with Him.
How on earth could we ever try to justify not loving anyone?!
So, look around.
You see those people sitting around you. God commands you to love them.
You must love them.
You cannot excuse your hatred for them. You can’t justify your unkindness. You can’t smooth over your mean words, disobedience, or other hateful behavior.
If you’re confused what I mean about “other hateful behavior,” feel free to listen to the two episodes before this one.
Alright, so we’ve come to understand that God commands us to love.
He has all the right in the world to do so because He perfectly understands the nature of love, He is love, He is powerful enough to do it, and He knows that all believers will want to do it.
So He commands us to love Him, our neighbors, and even our enemies.
But what is love?
Have you noticed that we haven’t really answered that question yet?
Well, that’s what we’ll be discussing the next four episodes. We’ll look at four types of family love, discuss the pros and cons, learn how to love, and receive practical advice for putting that love to use in our families.
I hope all of you are as excited as I am!
And if you know anyone else who can benefit from this study, share this episode with them. And let me help you out just a bit . . . everyone needs this Truth.
And don’t forget about the very full and totally robust episode notes. You can click on the link below to be taken right to them.
On our next episode we’re going to discuss a fake love. It’s called “a love that takes.”
And, please don’t forget that Truth.Love.Parent is a listener supported ministry. If you benefited from this episode or any of our other episodes, will you please consider saying thank you with a monetary gift?
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And, just in case you don’t know, we offer another free service to everyone who listens to this show. Anyone and everyone can send an email to Counselor@TruthLoveParent.com and receive the best answers God’s Word has to give.
We love because God first loved us.
What better reason is there to love your family?
See you next time.
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