Thursday, March 12, 2015

Love In Action

In this study, we explore what actions and behaviors the bible uses to illustrate our love to others.

Series: Love Your Neighbor

Review of Last Week (Loving Your Enemies)

  • The Jews believed that you should love your neighbors and hate your enemies

  • Jesus redefined the meaning of neighbor to include Jews and non-Jews alike (including your enemies)

  • To love someone is to act in their best interest regardless of your feelings or affection towards them

  • Although we should be kind and loving, that’s not what earns us our salvation

  • The goal is that our hearts are changed, so we desire to be kind to others

  • You should love the person even if you don’t love their actions

Love In Action

How Do Christians Act?

What characteristics do the world expect from a “Christian”?
What behavior do Christians consider Christian-like?

Romans 12: 9-21
9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.[c] Do not be conceited.17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[d] says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
  if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”[e]
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
  • Paul says “share with the Lord’s people who are in need”?  Who is he talking about?
    • fellow Christians
  • How is rejoicing with those who rejoice part of love in action?
  • Are you willing to associate with people of low positions?
    • Do you know the janitor’s name in your office?

In Romans, Paul gives us a practical picture of what love is.  Love is to be sincere (v.9), there is nothing fake about it.  It genuinely seeks the good and betterment of others.  It calls us to hate evil (v.9), to hate the systems that oppress and the sin patterns that prevail in our society and even our families.  We are to fight for justice, for the good of others and to see each other as brothers and sisters (v.10).  Love is expressed in service to God, it does not come from a place of guilt or obligation, but with excitement and anticipation for the things God will do (v.11).  Love does not give up when things or people get challenging, instead it calls us to be joyful knowing that God is with us, working in and through us, to be patient, and always prayerful (v.12).  Love is expressed in recognizing the needs of others and seeking to meet them, and welcoming them into your life (v.13).  Love meets persecution with blessing, not retaliation or hard feelings (v.14).  Love calls us to identify with one another in their seasons of joy and mourning (v.15).  It seeks to work through issues that divide so we value the marginalized, walk in humility, and live in harmony with each other (v. 16).  Instead of repaying evil for evil we are to offer forgiveness and treat others with kindness, trusting that God will make things right (vv.17-21).  Rather than seek revenge we are to do our best to seek peace.  Loving others takes effort and is always outwardly focused as a result of God’s inward working

2 Cor 9:1-11
There is no need for me to write to you about this service to the Lord’s people. 2 For I know your eagerness to help, and I have been boasting about it to the Macedonians, telling them that since last year you in Achaia were ready to give; and your enthusiasm has stirred most of them to action. 3 But I am sending the brothers in order that our boasting about you in this matter should not prove hollow, but that you may be ready, as I said you would be. 4 For if any Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we—not to say anything about you—would be ashamed of having been so confident. 5 So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to visit you in advance and finish the arrangements for the generous gift you had promised. Then it will be ready as a generous gift, not as one grudgingly given..6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 9 As it is written:
They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor;
their righteousness endures forever. [Psalm 112:9]
10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
  • Why did Paul say that giving to the Macedonians was sowing into “the Lord’s work”.
  • Is all sowing money into the Lord’s work counted as part of your tithes?
  • What does “whoever sows generously will also reap generously” means?
  • What does Paul mean that the result will be thanksgiving to God?
  • Should “glory to God” be the goal of all good works?
    • It’s great if it gives glory to God but you should also be motivated to do the acts out of love for the other person.

Romans 13: 8- 10
8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, "You shall not commit adultery," "You shall not murder," "You shall not steal," "You shall not covet,"and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: "Love your neighbor as yourself."10 Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
  • What does it mean that we have a debt of love?
    • It’s not a performance obligation, but a moral obligation
  • What does it mean "love is the fulfillment of the law"?
  • Is it a sin not to love your neighbor?
    • no, it’s sort of the corollary of “In your anger do not sin”
    • it's not a sin not to love, but love will prevent you from sinning

Hebrews 13:1-5
Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. 2 Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. 3 Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.
4 Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. 5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,
“Never will I leave you;
  never will I forsake you
  • Who does it say to show hospitality towards?
    • strangers
  • What’s the difference between not loving money or being content with what you have?
  • Is it wrong to desire personal success?
    • It focuses you on yourself and your needs and desires versus serving others.  
    • It has to be kept in the correct priority.
    • Can’t be at the expense of others.
    • “The love of money” isn’t a sin, but it can easily cause you to sin

The author of Hebrews also reminds us that biblical love extends beyond those we consider brothers and sisters, but also to strangers (v. 2), those in prison and the mistreated (v. 3).  Biblical love is expressed in the honoring of one’s marriage vows (v. 4).  It is not expressed in the accumulation of wealth but is content in what one already has.  Biblical love results in actions, it is made manifest in how we relate to each other as we become people known for our forgiveness, empathy, compassion, fidelity, and contentment.

1 John 3: 16-24
16 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 and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
19 This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: 20 If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22 and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. 24 The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.
  • What does it say about a person who feels no pity on a brother or sister in need?
    • The love of God isn’t in them.
  • How can they get the love of God in them?
    • Pray for the Holy Spirit to come into them.
  • Paul says that God’s command is to:
    • believe in the name of His Son
    • love one another as Jesus commanded
  • What does he say happens to the one who keeps these commands?
    • He lives in God and God lives in them.

1 John speaks again of loving one another.  Like Jesus (Mt. 5:21-26), 1 John likens hatred for a brother with murder (v.15).  We look to Jesus to define what love is, who laid down His life for those in opposition to Him (v.16).  The parable of the Good Samaritan shows teaches us to meet the needs of others, to have pity and to show compassion (v. 17).  Jesus continually loved people not only with words but with actions and in truth as evidenced in the many healings, the casting out of demons, the care He showed to the poor and marginalized (e.g. women and children) (v.18).  Jesus’ love is genuine, it is without pretense and given without any expectation.  God knows our motives and our expectations.  He does not simply want us to please people and tell them what they want to hear, He wants us to love with actions and in truth.  Our actions are to back up our words and sometimes stand in place of our words.              
  • Should whether or not there is a benefit to us influence our kindness?
  • Should whether we approve of what the other people are doing influence our kindness?
    • Unless you’re directly enabling bad behavior.  e.g. not working

We should do the acts of love and kindness out of obedience, but the goal is that our hearts change and we desire to do what is good for others.


  • Kind and loving works are extra special when God is glorified through them.
  • The motivation of these works should be to meet the need of the other person out of love..
  • Our desire for personal success will take our focus off of others.
  • Our kind and loving acts aren’t what save us; it’s God’s mercy.
  • We should show love and kindness to Christians and non-Christians but we have an extra debt to go out of our way for Christians

Acts of Love

  • pay someone's toll
  • pay for the coffee of the person behind you in the coffee line
  • pay for a strangers lunch
  • give money/food/clothes to a homeless person
  • help someone in a store reach something on the shelf

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