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I’m your host, AMBrewster, for those of you tuning in the day this episode was published, I welcome you to the New Year.
I love how the New Year — for many people — have us focusing on the parts of our lives that we can better. Maybe we’re trying to get physically healthier in the New Year. Perhaps we’re seeing a need for increased spiritual health this year.
Well, I hope that today’s series is going to increase not only your spiritual health, but also your family’s spiritual health this year.
And even if you’re not joining us in January, this short series is just what we all need all the time.
But before I dive into the material, I want to make you aware of an opportunity you may not have realized that you had.
I speak often of churches and camps, schools and ministries who invite me to speak at their event. But I recognize that many — if not most — of our listeners aren’t in charge of churches, camps, and schools. But perhaps you’ve thought it would be cool to attend one of those conferences or workshops at which I’m speaking.
Well, did you know that you have the opportunity to host and participate in your own personal conference?
We call them TLP Meetups, and they can be done in-person, but they can also be done virtually.
TLP Meetups are great because they’re very inexpensive, so it’s very easy for you to grab a few of your friends who are parents and they can meetup at your house for light refreshments. And then whether I show up in person or on the big screen, I will spend the next two hours teaching, praying with you, and answering your personal parenting questions.
That’s a $200 value, but we only charge $50 because we want opportunities like these to be accessible to everyone. And you can schedule as many TLP Meetups as you like.
Now, here’s the really cool thing, and I’ll be done. If you were to join the TLP Family, you would automatically have access to one free TLP Meetup.
That’s a $200 value absolutely free where you and your friends get to personally interact with me for 2 hours.
So, I hope that’s news to some of you, and I hope that you’re now considering hosting your own — or multiple — TLP Meetups this year.
Lastly, if you become a TLP Friend, you have access to multiple free TLP Meetups.
I know . . . pretty cool.
Just check out TruthLoveParent.com or send an email to TeamTLP@TruthLoveParent.com for more information. I’ll even throw a link in the description for you to check out.
Okay, so welcome to Part 1 of a really important topic.
I know for certain that if you sat back and thought about all of the strife and discord and selfishness and disobedience in your home, you would quickly realize that there’s a love problem in your home.
But the moment we start talking about love we have to acknowledge that in most cultures in the world, the whole idea of love is totally messed up.
Not only is love mostly attached to ideas of affection and romance, and not only are there two gigantic and irreconcilable philosophies of love at work in the world, but we also frequently reduce the concept of love to hardly anything at all.
We and our kids frequently speak of loving the dog or loving a movie or loving pizza. Yeah, I hope that’s a different love than the love you have for each other.
And you know as well as I do that we toss around the word love like it doesn’t mean anything at all, 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 — an amazing and infinite and powerful and deep and living and active concept called love.
In fact, God didn’t just create love . . . God is love. Who better to inform our family’s 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 a few weeks, it will give you prepackaged opportunities 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 in the room.
And speaking of notes, you can download our free episodes notes and access our free transcripts by following the link in the description of this episode.
Alright, so let’s start this amazing study by realizing that if there is a lack of love in your family, that is a much bigger problem than you realize.
And we want to discover just how big it is.
How many movies have been made and how many songs have been sung that tell us that love is something into which you fall? 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 just figure out what God has to say on the subject.
And what we’re going to find is that a lack of love in the home is a huge problem because . . .
1. God commands us to love.
You absolutely have to be a loving person, and God tells us exactly whom we’re supposed to love.
Generally speaking, I Corinthians 16:13-14 spells it out very simply. The second half of the verse says, "Let all that you do be done in love.”
Therefore, if I’m not being loving — if you’re not being loving — there is a huge problem because we’re disobeying our Creator — the God of the universe.
And disobeying God always has consequences.
Moving on, we’re going to see that there are three groups of people God commands us to love.
But before we talk about those three groups, 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 already 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’re going to talk a lot about 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.
So, 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 understand what love is. You think you do, but you don’t.
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 that even your 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.”
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. We use it as noun or a verb. We say that love is beautiful or we tell people love each other.
But in I John the word “love” is being used as a predicate nominative. It’s like saying that God is God. And 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 love 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 to 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 forgiven.
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 Him and the people He commands us to love.
Jesus also said, in John 8:42, "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 a born again follower of Christ 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.
Becoming a genuine Christian 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. 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 throughly enjoy taking the time right now 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 people/groups of people God commands us to love.
1. God commands us to love Him.
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.”
In today’s show notes which you can download from TakingBackTheFamily.com, I’ll include six additional passages that command us to love God or assume that we should (Psalm 31:23, 91:14-15; Proverbs 8:17; Mark 12:28-30; John 14:23, 16:27). 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, you’re saying that 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 legitimately call ourselves Christians — we can’t legitimately 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 . . . you can’t escape the fact that God commands you to love Him, and 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 I.
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.
The title of today’s episode is “An Unloving Family is a Bigger Problem than You Realize.” When hatred and disdain and disgust and unkindness and impatience and the like are the norm in your home, your family problems are significantly bigger than you think they are.
You’re not merely creating an atmosphere of antagonism and tension on one end and relational carnage on the other . . . more importantly, you’re disobeying God.
God has all the right in the world to expect you to love the other members of your household because He perfectly understands the nature of love, He is love, He is powerful enough to command it, and He knows that all believers will want to love the people in their lives.
So He commands us to love Him, our neighbors, and even our enemies.
But now we must ask another question. What is love?
Have you noticed that we haven’t really answered that question yet?
Well, that’s what we’ll be discussing on the next five episodes. We’re going to look at four types of family love, discuss the pros and cons of each, learn how to love the way God commands, 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’s be honest, that’s just about everyone.
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.
I hope you’ll join us next time as we once again open God’s Word to discover how to parent our children for life and godliness.
To that end, we’ll be discussing a fake family love.
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