Introduction: We just finished our series of lessons on the gift of
prophecy. 1 Corinthians 13:2 tells us that if we have the gift of
prophecy, but do not love, we are nothing! How appropriate it is to
start our new series of lessons on the Christian Life by studying
love. Let’s dive into the Bible and see how we can go from nothing
to something by being loving!
- Hanging With Love
- Read Matthew 22:34-36. If you were asked this question,
what would you answer? Would you assert that they were
all equally important?
- How do you think the Pharisees would have answered
their own question?
- Read Matthew 22:37-40. Did Jesus give them one or two
- Can Jesus answer be further boiled down to “love
everyone?” Or, is there a serious difference between
loving with all your heart, soul and mind, and loving
as you love yourself?
- Does this strike you as a curious command – how can
you command someone to love?
- Think about the Ten Commandments. They are divided
between our obligations to God and our obligations to
humans. Is this how we obey this curious command to
love, by obeying these “You shall not” requirements?
- For example, if I am set on my mission of loving
my hairy, sweaty, lazy neighbor, I determine not
to covet his dog, wife or house, right?
- And when he reciprocates by not coveting my dog,
wife or house, we are in perfect accord with the
commandments and we “love” each other?
- Read 1 John 2:3-6. What does this text teach us about
obedience and love? (It says that if we obey, then
God’s love is made complete in us.)
- Read Mark 7:21-22. Wait a minute, I thought we just
learned that if we keep the commandments, then love
follows? How can this text say that all of these bad
things come from our thoughts? Does love come from
the outside in, or from the inside out?
- If you answered “from the inside out,” (as I
suspect most of you will) how, then, do I love
my hairy, sweaty, lazy neighbor? Keeping my
hands off his stuff was pretty straightforward,
showing him affection is something quite
- Read 1 Peter 1:22. This text tells us to love “one another
deeply, from the heart.” That should be challenging! How
does this text suggest that we should prepare for this
challenge? (It says “now that you have purified yourselves
by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for
- How do my works prepare me to love? (This is a most
interesting and counter-intuitive idea: obedience to
God prepares us to be able to love our hairy, sweaty,
- Read 1 Peter 1:23. Why does this sentence follow the
command to love deeply? (The idea is that the new life,
walking in God’s way, gives us the ability to love our
- This must mean that God has done something for us to
cause this change of attitude. Let’s look at that
- God So Loved
- Read Genesis 2:18-22. Reading these verses, what would you
say God’s attitude was towards Adam? (God creates
perfection for him. God lets him name the animals. God is
concerned about Adam being lonely.)
- Read Exodus 20:8-11. What does this reveal about God’s
attitude towards us? (God provides for our rest – even
those of us who are servants and strangers.)
- Read John 3:16-18. What is God’s greatest showing of love
towards us? (He gave up His glory and His life to allow us
the gift of glory and life. He was condemned rather than
coming to condemn us.)
- As you consider what God did for humans, did these works
create His love or did His love create these works?
- What about us? Do the works of God for us create love
- If so, can we say that when our neighbor starts
being loving towards us we will love our
- Read Deuteronomy 6:4-7. When God says His commandments
are to “be upon [our] hearts, what does He mean? (We
cannot truly obey God unless we love Him.)
- Why? Why cannot we just obey? (There is this idea in
1 Peter 1:22 that obedience helps us to love.
However, Jesus’ teaching in Mark 7:20 is that our
actions reflect our attitude. If we have a heart of
love towards God, then we will obey Him. That is why
the Law ( Matthew 22:36-38)”hangs” on love to God.)
- Be honest, do you feel that you truly love God? For
decades I had a problem in this area. I knew what it
meant to love when I was a child because of my family and
when I was an adult I knew because of my wife and
children. What I felt for God was more akin to respect –
not the feeling I had for my family. Things began to
change for me when I realized how I had been fooling
myself about my sinful nature. When I came face to face
with my sinful self, when I realized how God still loved
me and forgave me, that gave me a heart of gratitude. When
I realized God’s great kindness to me in the details of my
life, that changed me. My heart of stone became a heart
of gratitude and love!
- Loving Our Neighbor?
- Read Matthew 5:43-48. Now Jesus is getting ridiculous,
right? We have to go beyond loving our hairy, sweaty,
lazy neighbor to loving those who persecute us. Assuming
we are not masochists, how can we love someone who is
- Look again at Matthew 5:45 because it gives us an
example of how God “loves” the evil. As you consider
this example, is God requiring us to show affection
to our enemies? (Two things. First, the Greek word
used for love in regard to our enemies is one which
means “social” or “moral” love rather than affection.
Second, God’s example of “love” is to treat His
enemies like everyone else.)
- Read Romans 12:17-21. How does this define loving our
- Does it mean that we should put revenge out of our
minds? (If God promises revenge, then the matter is
not taken out of the equation. It is just prohibited
- What does heaping burning coals mean? This does
not sound like affection to me!
- A number of years ago I began to study other religions so
that I could have an educated basis to claim that
Christianity was the one, true religion. That study
included reading the sayings of the Dali Lama. I was
astonished to learn that the Dali Lama has “how to treat
others” teachings which parallel Jesus’ instructions in
Matthew 5. The Dali Lama asked this: How many true enemies
do you have? How many people are really persecuting you?
If you are a normal person, the answer is “very few.”
These few present a great opportunity to improve your
character. Look on them as a blessing.
- Read 2 Corinthians 5:14-16. The Dali Lama, like most all
false religions, promotes a gospel of works. His motive
for you to love your enemies is to improve your character.
What is the Christian’s motive for loving his enemy? (That
God loved us first – He died for us even when we were His
enemy! See Romans 5:10.)
- Friend, if it were not for Jesus you would be dead. You
would have no hope, no future. When your loved ones died,
you would never see them again. You know what a bad person
you really are (and if you don’t know this, you are
kidding yourself), and you know how Jesus forgave you and
took away your sins. In light of all of this, how can you
help but love God? How can you be anything but fair and
just to those around you – including those who want to
harm you? If you don’t feel love for God, I invite you to
repent right now and ask Jesus to come into your life.
- Next week: Faith.