Introduction: A song says “love is all around.” If true, it sounds
wonderful, right? Imagine a world in which every one showed a loving
attitude to you. Love is a top priority in the Kingdom of God. But,
what it means, and how we show love are difficult issues. Not
difficult because God is less than plain on the subject, but difficult
because of our selfish hearts. Let’s dive into our study of the Bible
and learn more about the connection between the power of the Holy
Spirit in us and love!

  1. Love For God

    1. Read Deuteronomy 6:4-6. Do you love God?

      1. Is this the same as loving your spouse? Your children?
        Your dog? Ice cream?

      2. Notice that the text says to love “with all your
        heart” and “all your soul” and “all your strength.”
        Are these different instructions? If so, what does
        this say about the nature of love? (They are
        different. Barnes’ Notes suggests that “heart” refers
        to our understanding, “soul” refers to our will and
        “strength” refers to our energy.)

        1. Let’s break this down to better understand God’s
          command. What do you think it means, as a
          practical matter, to love God with your
          understanding? (I know that God created me and
          died for me and I have gratitude and affection
          for Him because of that sacrifice.)

          1. Do you have that kind of love towards God?

        2. What does it mean to love God with your energy?
          (It means that I spend my time and effort
          advancing God’s kingdom.)

          1. Do you have that kind of love towards God?

        3. What does it mean, as a practical matter, to love
          God with your will? (It means the natural desire
          of my heart.)

          1. Do you have that kind of love towards God?

            1. Is this the most difficult of these
              three “do you have that kind of love”
              questions? (Yes. You can
              intellectually love, and you can put
              in the time and effort, but desire is
              not something you can control.)

  1. Love for Humans

    1. Read Matthew 22:37-40. Love for God is equated with love for
      those we know (God says,”the second is like it”). How well
      would you do on answering the series of questions I just
      asked you about God, if they applied instead to your

      1. Do you have an intellectual, physical (meaning
        devoting time and effort) and emotional (meaning
        natural desire) love towards those you know?

        1. Now think about the person you know who irritates
          you the most. How about applying these questions
          to that person?

    2. Read Matthew 7:12. If I do this, have I satisfied all three
      levels of my love obligation to others? (If so, I feel a lot
      better because I was struggling with the last question. I
      don’t have to like someone to treat them fairly.)

    3. Re-read Matthew 22:39. Is this different than Matthew 7:12?

      1. Do both of these texts use the standard “What would I
        do for myself?”

  2. Holy Spirit Time

    1. Let’s give this some practical application. Each week I send
      the lesson to a list of over twenty people who agreed to
      translate it into another language. I don’t pay any of them,
      but I don’t get paid for writing this lesson. Can I say that
      I love my translators, as opposed to stealing their time,
      because none of us get paid?

      1. I’ve had some of my translators mention that they
        needed a new (or better) computer. I just bought a new
        computer for my home. I have never bought (or even
        helped to buy) a computer for a translator. Is that
        not proof that I do not love them like I love myself?
        And, the translators are more than just my neighbor,
        they are co-laborers! (It would be hard, every time I
        needed a new computer, to have to buy twenty

      2. Let’s use Bill Gates as a point of comparison. Could
        Bill afford to buy me a new computer? Of course, he
        could afford to buy me a new car, house or airplane.
        Since I love myself, but do not expect Bill to buy me
        anything that I might need, can I now say that I love
        others as much as myself when I fail to buy others
        things they need?

        1. Does the fact that I do not expect anything from
          Bill let me off the hook in terms of others
          expecting things from me?

      3. From the texts we have studied, we know that God
        expects us to love Him as much as we love other
        humans. If the love for God is supposed to be equal
        to our self-love, why does God historically only
        require ( Malachi 3:8-10)ten percent and we get to keep
        ninety percent?

        1. Isn’t an equal split more representative of
          loving God as much as we love ourselves? If we
          throw our neighbors into this equation, would it
          mean we all got a third of my stuff?

    1. When I ask myself the series of questions we just discussed,
      I realize that I have both an attitude problem about love
      and a concern that I don’t even understand exactly what God
      has in mind (even though the “as yourself” rule seems pretty
      clear). Read Galatians 5:22-23. What is the cure for our
      wrong attitudes and understandings about love? (Having the
      Holy Spirit in our life. Love is the first fruit of the

      1. If love is a result of the indwelling of the Holy
        Spirit, does that clear up our concern about not
        having a natural desire to love others, including a
        concern about a natural love for God? (It shows us
        where to go to obtain something that we cannot obtain
        through hard work and determination.)

    2. Read 1 Corinthians 13:1-3. Are Jesus and Paul in agreement
      on the importance of love? (Jesus says everything hangs on
      it and Paul says other good works and spiritual powers do
      not matter without it.)

    3. Read 1 Corinthians 13:4. Consider each of those character
      traits and whether they exist in your life?

      1. Do these exist when you drive your car?

    4. Read 1 Corinthians 13:5. Consider each of those character
      traits and whether they exist in your life? (If you are
      like me, you probably said “mostly no” to the traits in
      verse 4, but did a little better with the traits mentioned
      in verse 5.)

    5. Read 1 Corinthians 13:6-7. I’m an optimist, and my family
      teases me about my frequent use of the phrase “I hope not”
      when someone says something negative. How about you? Are
      you hopeful? (After admitting all of these bad things about
      myself, I’ve got to mention something good!)

      1. What about the issue of “delighting” in evil? There is
        some evil that all of us hate, but is there some evil
        that you like? An evil that takes advantage of
        others? Or, harms others?

    6. This is not “beat yourself up” week, but if you are honest,
      from the very beginning of this study of love we can see
      that when we use God’s definition of love, we fall far short
      of the love standard that God has set for us. Indeed, we are
      not completely clear (or do not want to be clear) on what He

      1. Is the Holy Spirit a complete way out of this?

      2. Or, is this high standard simply the motivation to
        declare “I’m saved by grace alone?” (Read 1
        Corinthians 14:1. Being saved by grace does not give
        us a pass on the obligation to love. Paul is the
        strongest advocate of righteousness by faith alone,
        yet he instructs every one of us to “follow the way of

      3. What does the use of the term “follow” suggest to us
        about the work of the Holy Spirit in our life when it
        comes to love? (That this is a progressive work.
        Attaining the love goal that God has set before us, is
        a process that results from the power of the Holy
        Spirit working out “fruit” in our life.)

    7. Friend, are you a quart low on love? Why not ask the Holy
      Spirit to come into your heart today and give you a mind
      that understand’s God’s love goal for us and a heart that
      reaches towards that goal?

  1. Next week: The Fruit of the Spirit is Joy.