We are in a series of lessons called Body Language where we are examining the “one another” statements in the Bible. Throughout the Bible you find several statements like… encourage one another, forgive one another, serve one another, restore one another and the like. Today we are focusing on the Biblical concept of loving one another.
Everyone of you have those people in your life you love and you thank God for them, but you also have those difficult people in your life who are a challenge to love. Everyone of us have those people in our lives that we struggle to love (if we love them at all). Over the next few minutes we are going to be talking about what real love is and what it looks like. As we go through this, think of someone who needs you to love them or someone who your love needs to grow toward.
To help us grow in our understanding of loving one another we are going to focus on one statement in the Bible. It’s found in 1 Thessalonians 3:12. Here is what God’s Word says, “And may the Lord make your love for one another and for all people grow and overflow, just as our love for you overflows” (NLT).
Let’s chew on this piece of Biblical meat and try to swallow one concept at a time.
Loving one another is being committed to others
Number one, loving one another is being committed to others. At the end of 1 Thessalonians 3, Paul is telling some believers how he thanks God for them and gives them some insight into how he prays for them. Part of what he prays for them is seen in verse 12 where he says, “And may the Lord make your love for one another and for all people grow and overflow, just as our love for you overflows” (1 Thess. 3:12, NLT). Highlight the word “love” in that verse.
The New Testament beginning with Matthew through the end of the Bible was written in Greek. The Greek language has several words for love. One of them is agape. The word “love” (agape) in verse 12 is this word agape. Agape love refers to a love that is committed and dedicated regardless of the behavior of the other person. You can agape love someone even if you don’t like them or agree with them. You can agape love someone even if they are your enemy. You can agape love someone even if they are trying to ruin your life. It does not mean you like them or agree with them, but you do love them and are committed to their spiritual growth and maturity. Loving others means you are committed to them for their spiritual growth and maturity.
- This is why God’s Word can say things like this in John 3:16, “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” (NLT). God was so committed and dedicated to the world that He gave His one and only Son on the cross so that people like you and me could have eternal life.
- Agape love is why God’s Word can say things like Romans 5:8, “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners” (NLT). Even though you, me, and humanity was rebelling against God, turning our backs to God, ignoring God, belittling God, making fun of God, not believing in God, or worshiping other gods… the one true God demonstrated his agape love for and his commitment to us by sending Christ to die for us. Agape love has nothing to do with what the other person does or doesn’t do. You are simply committed and dedicated to their spiritual growth and maturity.
- Agape love is why Jesus can say something like this in Luke 6:35, “Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward in heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High….” (NLT).
So when the Bible says to love your husband, love your wife, love your children, love your parents, love your neighbor, or to love each other it’s talking about this agape love that is committed and dedicated to the other person’s welfare, spiritual growth and walk with God.
Loving one another is spiritually produced
Number two, loving one another is spiritually produced. Let me explain what this means. Look closely at verse 12, “And may the Lord make your love for one another and for all people grow and overflow, just as our love for you overflows” (1 Thess. 3:12, NLT). Notice who is making or causing your love to grow and overflow. It is the Lord Himself. This phrase “may the Lord make” has two significant implications.
- First, you are inspired to love others because of the Lord’s love for you. This is not making you love against your will, as in “if you don’t, I will make you.” What God’s Word is saying is, due to the fact that Jesus loves you so much and He has poured His love into your heart and life, you are so overwhelmed by this love that it causes you, makes you, motivates you, and inspires you to love others.
It’s like a having a long lost relative die and his lawyers contact you to let you know you have inherited $100 million dollars. You are so overwhelmed with this wealth that you decided to bless those in your life. You pay for your kinds college, you buy your mom her dream home, you help pay for your coworkers surgery, you buy a brand new car for that single mom at your church, you donate 10 million to Genesis Church to help with an awesome building. No body made you give to others, no one forced you to give away that money, but you were so overwhelmed and blessed and had extra to give away you were inspired and motivated to bless others with what was given to you.
The phrase “may the Lord make your love grow and overflow” is of that nature. You are so blessed by His love you want to share with others by loving them. His loving you has made you a more loving person.
- But there is a second implications regarding this phrase, this phrase “may the Lord make” your love grow and overflow points to the true source of true love. It is only the Lord who can make you truly love others and grow in true love. Jesus is the foundation of all true love. This is the reason why we ask God to make our love increase and overflow. It is impossible for you or me to work up the kind of love that reaches out and overflows to everyone. A love that loves those who ignore us, neglect us, abuse us, and shamefully treat us could only come from a God whose love is perfect. If we are to grow in our love that love growth will have to come from God. So we ask Him to help make our love for others to grow and increase. The Bible says that God is love and He is the only source that can provide the real thing.
This is a supernatural kind of love. This is a spiritual and divine type of love that only God has and only He can give.
Loving one another is loving other believers
Number three, loving one another is loving other believers. Look at verse 12, “And may the Lord make your love for one another and for all people grow and overflow, just as our love for you overflows” (1 Thess. 3:12, NLT). Notice God’s Word identifies two groups of people we are to love and be committed too. The first group is called “one another.” In this context Paul is talking about the believers specifically. He is writing to the church and he is saying learn to love one another. Be committed to each other’s spiritual growth and walk with God.
This may sound simple, but it’s more difficult that it first appears. Think about it.
- Think about how many Christians argue over theology. Things like spiritual gifting, prayer, evangelism, and worship.
- They divide over methodology. They argue over the style of music, how to budget the church’s finances, how to reach the lost, and what the building should look like.
- They divide over politics. You can have one Christian get made with another simply because they are voting for one party and not the other.
- They divide over social issues. You have people who love Jesus arguing over race related issues, patriotic issues, gender issues, and other issues.
Regardless of the theological issues, methodological issues, political issues, or social issues the bottom line is we are to love one another. If you declare that Jesus is the Lord of your life and you are a follower of Him, then I am to be committed and dedicated to your spiritual welfare and growth. I am to love you with the love God gives me.
I am not to pick and choose which Christian I am to love. God wants you to love them all.
Loving one another is loving seekers
Number four, loving one another is loving seekers. “And may the Lord make your love for one another and for all people grow and overflow, just as our love for you overflows” (1 Thess. 3:12, NLT). The phrase “one another” emphasizes all believers, the phrase “all people” refer to everyone else who don’t believe in God or believes in some other god. Here at Genesis we call that group Seekers.
A Seeker can be anyone ranging from a person who doesn’t believe in God, but goes to church to someone who believes in a completely different god and hates those who call themselves Christians. Regardless of where this person is on the lostness scale the Bible is clear we are to love them.
- You are to love that person at school or work that makes fun of your faith in God.
- You are to love that person who lives like the devil and treats people like they are worthless.
- You are to love the Hindu, the Muslim, and the atheist.
That lost person who needs Jesus, you are to love. You are to be committed and dedicated to reaching them, praying for them, and seeing them come to know Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. It doesn’t matter how lost they are, evil they are, mean they are, and antagonistic they are toward you and your God, you are to love them. The only way that kind of love is going to happen is if the Lord himself makes and causes you to love them.
Loving one another is deep and wide
Number five, loving one another is deep and wide. “And may the Lord make your love for one another and for all people grow and overflow, just as our love for you overflows” (1 Thess. 3:12, NLT). Notice the two words, “grow” and “overflow.”
- The word “grow” (pleonasai) means to multiply over and over, to become rich, to become stronger and deeper. To increase in depth and meaning. The ocean of love in your heart is becoming deeper. Your love has an increasing quality about it.
Love is described in 1 Corinthians 13. Signs of a growing and deepening love is when you are more patient with others, less boastful and arrogant toward others, less prideful, less rude, less self-seeking, and not easily angered toward others. You think about how to serve and bless others.
Growing in love means you are becoming more patient with your kids, more kind to your spouse, more humble toward the people in your life, more servant oriented toward others, and it takes more and more for you to be offended by others. Your love for others is growing.
- The word “overflow” (perisseusai) refers to the scope of love. While a love that “grows” goes deeper, a love that “overflows” goes wider. A growing love develops quality love, an “overflowing” love develops quantity
Have you ever filled something with water? As it’s filling up the water gets deeper, but once it’s full and the water starts overflowing and going everywhere. This is what takes place has God pours His love into you. The love you have becomes deeper and wider, it grows and overflows.
You are loving people with a deeper love, but you are also finding yourself loving more and more people who you used to ignore, despise, or even hate. Your love is growing and overflowing.
Loving one another is to be both deep and wide.
Loving one another is letting others love you
Number six, loving one another is letting others love you. “And may the Lord make your love for one another and for all people grow and overflow, just as our love for you overflows” (1 Thess. 3:12, NLT). It’s a great thing to know you are loved by others. That others care about you. They pray for you. They want you to experience spiritual growth, contentment, and the abundant life that God offers.
When people want to love you… let them. Let them bless you. Let them give you advice. Let them encourage you. Let them pray for you. Let them serve you. Let them love you.
This one another goes both ways. You loving others and others loving you. Two things to think about as you leave today.
- Who does God want you to express love to this week? How can you do that? What tangible way can you demonstrate your love toward someone who needs to know you or somebody loves them?
- Who has been loving you? Who has sacrificed for you? Who has served you? Blessed you? Prayed for you? Tell them thanks for loving you and being a friend.
- There was a Welcome Card on the seat when you came in. If you want to know more about Jesus, about growing spiritually, need advice, or just want to know more about Genesis Church I want to encourage you to fill it out and drop it in the Offering Box on your way out. Someone will get in contact with you.
- Let’s pray.