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!

  1. Hanging With Love

    1. Read Matthew 22:34-36. If you were asked this question,
      what would you answer? Would you assert that they were
      all equally important?

      1. How do you think the Pharisees would have answered
        their own question?

    2. Read Matthew 22:37-40. Did Jesus give them one or two

      1. 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?

      2. Does this strike you as a curious command – how can
        you command someone to love?

      3. 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?

        1. 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?

        2. 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?

      4. 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.)

      5. 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?

        1. 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

    3. 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
      your brothers.”)

      1. 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,
        lazy neighbor!)

    4. 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

      1. This must mean that God has done something for us to
        cause this change of attitude. Let’s look at that

  2. God So Loved

    1. 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.)

    2. 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.)

    3. 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.)

    4. As you consider what God did for humans, did these works
      create His love or did His love create these works?

      1. What about us? Do the works of God for us create love
        towards God?

        1. If so, can we say that when our neighbor starts
          being loving towards us we will love our

    5. 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.)

      1. 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.)

    6. 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!

  3. Loving Our Neighbor?

    1. 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
      hurting us?

      1. 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.)

    2. Read Romans 12:17-21. How does this define loving our

      1. 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
        for us.)

        1. What does heaping burning coals mean? This does
          not sound like affection to me!

    3. 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.

    4. 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.)

    5. 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.

  4. Next week: Faith.