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Teddy Bear Hugs from Above, Part 2

From the series He Holds Me Forever

Near the end of His time on earth, Jesus told His disciples, I have a new commandment for you; from this point forward, I want you to love one another, as I have loved you. Which begs the question: How do we do the impossible? Theresa Ingram answers that question by sharing the practicalities of what it looks like to love like Jesus loved.

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Message Transcript

And so, how do we love by our actions? Well, love for others is a choice that we make. It’s not always a feeling. 1 John 3:23 says, “And this is His commandment: we must believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another just as He commanded us.” Because it’s a commandment, then it’s a choice that we have to make.

There’s no condition in this passage of the “who” we are to show love to. It just says, “One another.” It doesn’t say to love those who are always kind to us, and it doesn’t say to love those who you like to be with, or to love those who do things just the way you want them to do it, or to love when that love is reciprocated. But it says, “Love one another.” It’s a command.

And anytime God gives us a command, we always know that He gives us all that we need to be able to obey it. So, if we choose to love then God will help us love other people.

I remember a neighbor that I had once who was very, very hard to love. She just about drove me nuts. And she complained all the time. And she borrowed things all the time. And she would drop by my house just so frequently to use something. And I got so irritated with this lady. And I thought, She is just so robbing me of my privacy. And I didn’t know what to do. She was right next door. I was supposed to be a Christian. Supposed to be loving people!

So, first, I did the spiritual thing. I prayed. I prayed that she would move. I really did. And then I did the human thing. The selfish thing. I planted a great big hedge between my house and her house. And I thought if I couldn’t get rid of her, at least I didn’t have to look at her all the time.

See, Chip really does think I’m nuts sometimes. He sees, he sees the real me. You just see, you see that soft-spoken, you know, those things you say.

Well, but then I did the Christlike thing. And I baked her some cookies and I went to see her, and I took an interest in her kids and I listened to her struggles and there came a time when God gave me the opportunity, in love, to be able to confront her with some of the issues that were causing our relationship to be so hard. And God changed her heart.

And it was amazing to me. We became such good friends. And we are to this day. And so, God will change our hearts when we make that choice to begin to love others the way Christ loves us. And it’s a choice we make to choose to show respect and love for anyone that God brings into our lives, even if we don’t feel a lot of affection for that person.

And God’s desire is so great that we love one another, that He gives us, in 1 Corinthians 13, a very clear definition of what it looks like to be lived out in our lives every day.

1 Corinthians 13 defines divine love, agape love, and how it should be expressed in lives of believers. And so, what we are going to do is I am going to read these passages that you have here and I’m going to define them, and ask you a few questions. And then I’d like you to do just a personal inventory and just open your hearts and ask God to show you how you’re doing in this area. How are you doing? Are we loving others as Christ loves us? Is there a person in your life that God would want you to make the choice to love, even though you don’t feel like loving that person?

Is there any way that you need to put shoe-leather to your words and love other people? Are you living in fellowship with God so His Spirit can freely pour out God’s love through your life so you can love others in the way that He wants you to?

1 Corinthians 13. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience. It’s a fruit of the Holy Spirit. The Greek word for patience in this passage means taking a long time to boil. And so, we need to ask ourselves: are we patient with others when they irritate us? Or do we quickly express our anger to them? Do we quickly express our displeasure? Do we have a short fuse when things don’t go our way?

When a circumstance is out of control, am I impatient with the Lord or do I wait for Him to act? Do I think before I speak and choose words that would build up another, instead of tear them down? Do I patiently endure the faults and weaknesses of others? Do I do that, recognizing God’s sovereignty in my own life and how patient He has been with me in my faults and weaknesses? Am I patient?

Well, God’s love acts kindly. Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ has forgiven you.” Love acts kindly because God has shown His unfailing kindness to us. That’s how He has treated us.

In Nehemiah 9:17 it says, “Thou art a God of forgiveness, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.” He shows His kindness to us. Well, do I graciously reach out to others, even if there is a possibility or I’m afraid that my offer might be rejected? Do I reach out to others? Do I have an eye out for the needs of others? Take the initiative to help them?

Kindness doesn’t rush in front of another car to get the best parking space. Kindness clears another’s plate from the table. Kindness mows the neighbor’s lawn. Kindness looks the checkout person in the eye and says, “Thank you,” and appreciates their service. So, do I treat others in a kind and gracious way, in a way that they would want, uh,

the way that I would want to be treated?

Okay, love does not act jealously. Proverbs 14:30 says, “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” A definition for envy is feelings of discontent and ill will because of another’s advantages or possessions. It’s resentful dislike of another who has something that I desire. Jealousy, envy. It’s a destructive thing. It’s destructive in our lives, because when we are envious of others, it’s showing that we are self-centered, that we are not trusting in God. We are telling Him He’s not good to us, or He would have given us that too.

We are not thankful for what God has given us. When we are envious, we are telling God He has given us a raw deal. We are living for things of this world, and not the things of God.

But love, on the other hand, rejoices when God blesses another person’s life. Can I rejoice at her marriage? Can I rejoice when she has a baby? Can I rejoice with her successful ministry, what God is doing through her life? Can I rejoice at the new home she got to move into? The new house she has? At the career she has? How God has given her so much? You see, love is not envious, but rejoices with the blessings and the successes of other people.

Love does not act boastful or proud. Philippians 2:5 to 8 says, “Your attitude should be the same that Christ Jesus had. Though He was God, He did not demand and cling to His rights as God. He made Himself nothing. He took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form, and in human form He obediently humbled Himself, even further by dying a criminal’s death on the cross.”
You see, love is not focused on making sure that everyone notices how much I know, how spiritual I am, how important I am, and all the sacrifices I made. You see, love is not focused on itself. It doesn’t brag about itself, but it looks to build up others. It looks at others.

Love takes, willingly takes the backseat in the service so someone else can have the front seat. Max Lucado says, “How can I love others if my eyes are only on me? How can I point to God if I am pointing to me? And worse still, how can someone see God if I am fanning my own tail feathers?” You see, love does not act boastful or proud.

Well, love does not act rudely. Matthew 5:16, “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and praise your Father who is in heaven.” To be rude means to tear apart. It means to act discourteously, to act unmannerly. And God says that we should act in such a way that people will see Christ. That they should be drawn to Him through our actions.

Our actions should be courteous, they should be polite, they shouldn’t be improper. Our actions shouldn’t humiliate others. Our actions should treat others with dignity and with respect.

Well, do we treat the Jehovah’s Witness at our door with respect? Or do we rudely get rid of them? Do we just try to get rid of them as fast as we can? Or do we treat them with respect, that they were made in God’s image and He loves them? When you make an appointment with someone, do you try to show up on time? Do you constantly interrupt when others are speaking? Do you respect others’ property? Do you return what you borrowed from your neighbor or your friend?

Do you treat all people, with dignity and respect? Are you gracious and respectful in your own home, with your own family? With your own children? Love does not act rudely.

Love does not demand its own way. Philippians 2:3 and 4, “Don’t be selfish, don’t live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself. Don’t think only about your own affairs, but be interested in others too and what they are doing.”

You see, love doesn’t always look out for number one, but it’s always considering what is best for someone else. Now, as this passage says, we do need to look out, we do need to take care of our own affairs, but it says, “Don’t only look out for yourselves.” But think about what others need. Love means giving up having our own way for the sake of someone else, if that’s what is best for them.

So, do I take time when I am involved in something to think about others’ needs, or am I too busy and focused on myself and making sure that everything works out in a way that is just best for me?

Love is not easily angered. James 1:19, “But let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger.” See, anger, anger is a God-given emotion that we experience when something doesn’t go the way we want it to.

Or someone responds to us in a way that is hurtful, or in a way that makes us feel rejected. And to be angry is not a sin. It’s not sin. But how we respond to that anger can become a sin, and love on the other hand, has a long fuse. It has a long fuse. It’s not irritable. It’s not touchy, especially over little and unimportant things. It’s not touchy.

Love takes the emotion of anger, which is a good thing in some instances but it takes it and instead of flying off the handle with the situation, as we do sometimes, it runs to God to find help. And it runs to God to deal with the situation.

Love forgives over and over and over again and never stops forgiving. Has someone hurt you? Has someone disappointed you? Have you forgiven them? Do you get easily irritated over little things that don’t go your way, and take it out on your family? Do you defend being irritable, because, well, “It’s just the way I am. It’s just my makeup. It’s just the way I am. I’m just that kind of person.”

But love is not easily angered. Love is not irritable. Love keeps no record of when it has been wronged. Isaiah 43:24, “I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake and I will not remember your sins.” Love doesn’t keep a notebook, tallying up the score of people who have disappointed you. It doesn’t keep a notebook. It doesn’t keep a record of the mistakes or sins that others have committed in the past. And it doesn’t keep bringing up other people’s failures.

God doesn’t keep a big scoreboard in heaven on you, and all the things that you have done to mess up. Because He says when we confess our sins, that He forgives us totally. And then He says He remembers them no more. And it’s not because He can’t remember them, it’s because He chooses not to. He doesn’t want to. And so, we need to give people a chance to change and to grow, to overcome and to become victorious. Love keeps no record of wrongs.

Is there any person in your life that you keep reminding them of how they blew it? You just keep bringing it up and you keep reminding them. And you won’t give them the grace to change. Is there anyone you’re doing that to? You keep bringing up their past mistakes and shoving it in their face. Love keeps no record of wrongs.

Love is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Psalm 119:128, “Therefore, I esteem right all thy precepts concerning everything. I hate every false way.”

You see, love never takes pleasure when somebody else falls. Love never asks somebody to do something that’s wrong. Love never causes a brother or sister to stumble. Love always wants others to follow Christ, to follow God’s truth in their life.

And so, are we living in such a way that our life builds up others in God’s truth and influences them to do what is right? Is that how we are living? Am I modeling Christlike behavior to my children? Am I walking my talk?

Mother Teresa says, “Where does love begin? It begins at home. Let us learn to love in our family, in our own family, we may have very poor people and we do not notice them. We have no time to smile, no time to talk to each other. Let us bring that love, that tenderness into our home and you will see the difference.” You see, we need to start practicing this, first of all, in our homes, and then spread out to every person that we meet.

Love never gives up. “We urge you brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with all men.” Love never gives up on people. God never gives up on us. And He never will. Love keeps on praying. It keeps on encouraging. It keeps on sharing the truth. It keeps on doing whatever is necessary to help others come to know the Lord. To help others want to be like Christ. Love enables a person to grow. It doesn’t disable a person.

And love doesn’t do for someone what they can do for themselves. You see, it’s not love when we enable a person to continue in a lifestyle that’s harmful, or doing things for them that they need to learn to do themselves. Love doesn’t disable. Love enables.

Love encourages the fainthearted to be strong and to walk by faith. And love doesn’t condone unruly behavior, but it brings about discipline in a person’s life, so that Christlikeness would be produced. Love never gives up. Love never gives up.

Love never loses faith in others. “Do not judge, lest you be judged yourself. For in the way you judge, you will be judged and by your standard of measure, it shall be measured to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own.” You see, love thinks the best of others. It gives them the benefit of the doubt. It doesn’t judge other people’s motives. It doesn’t speak in a judgmental way about other people.

Am I quick to judge others? And think about things that are doing wrong or make a judgment of them when I don’t even have all the facts? Love does not judge others. Love says, “I believe in you. I know you can do it.” Love never loses faith.

And love is always hopeful. 2 Corinthians 1:2 and 3 said, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort who comforts us in all our affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

You see, love instills hope into other people’s lives. Hope for the future. Hope in whatever circumstance that they may find themselves, that God will be their helper, that God will be their comforter, their deliverer.

Have you experienced difficulty in your life in some area and God has helped you through that? Well, love will take that comfort that you have received from God and instill hope in someone else’s life who is going through the same thing.

Maybe there’s a young mom who is struggling with caring for a new baby, and you have been there, and you could encourage her. You can give her hope. Or maybe there’s a teenage daughter who needs to hear about the struggles her mom went through when she was her age and she can say, “Yeah, her mom made it through. I can do that too.” You see, love instills hope into people’s lives. We all need to see that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

And the last thing here in 1 Corinthians 13:7, “Love endures through every circumstance.” Hebrews 10:36, “For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.” Love endures and it holds on, no matter what difficult circumstances it faces, because of our faith in God and His promises for our life. It holds on. It endures through every circumstance.

It remains steadfast. It remains steadfast. Is there someone in your life that you are just at the end of your rope with, and you have just about had it? You can’t take it anymore with them, with their problems, but God says, “Be patient.” He says, “Persevere and endure,” because nothing is impossible with Him. So, do you have a love that is made in heaven? I hope we are all growing in that way.