The Secret To Loving Your Neighbor

Introduction

If I asked you to come up here and define love, could you do it? Think about it, what is your definition of love? Why do people have such a hard time defining love?

What is Love?

The Greeks have four words that represent different types of love. The two found in the Bible are;

1. PHILEO:  This type of love is an affectionate love often found between friends. It seeks to make the other person happy however, It says, “I will give as long as I receive.

2. AGAPE: This is sacrificial love. This is the most noble and powerful type of love because it is an act of the will. Christ showed us agape love when he died on the cross, sacrificing Himself so that we can know eternal life and salvation. Agape love says, I will give, requiring nothing in return.

Scripture teaches us that;

  • Love is patient
  • Love is Kind
  • Love never gives up; and its faith, hope, and patience never fail.
  • Love is eternal

What Love is Not

  • Love it is not jealous or conceited or proud; 
  • Love is not ill-mannered
  • Love is not selfish
  • Love is not irritable
  • Love does not keep a record of wrongs 
  • Love is not happy with evil, but is happy with the truth. 

Love is probably one of the most misunderstood words in our vocabulary. Today we’ll examine love, what God has to say about it and how we are to live it out as Christians.

Scripture: Mark 12:28-31

28 Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, “Which is the first commandment of all?”

29 Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. 31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Loving God

As we begin our 40 Days of Love it’s only fitting we start with what God’s calls the greatest commandment of all. Everything about our existence should surround this command. Our question today is how do we love our neighbor? Before we can answer that question you need to understand that loving God is the prerequisite to loving our neighbor. 1 John 4:7 says “Lets us love one another, for love comes from God.”

You may ask, are you telling me I can’t love anyone without God? Absolutely! Love comes from God. So what about those people who don’t believe in God, don’t they love people? Sure they do but only because the God of all creation is love and put love into His creation.  However the further away from God a person is the further you are from God’s perfect love.

A good illustration of the correlation of God’s love to man is found in nature. The sun shines and lights everything. The moon seems to radiate light itself, but is merely reflecting the light of the sun. Without the sun the moon remains dark. The world radiates God’s love and without Him there is no AGAPE love because God is Love.

So the key to loving our neighbors is to develop your relationship and love for God. Out of that relationship God’s love will overflow.

If I asked you how do you love God, you may respond with scriptures such as John 14:15 that says, If you love me you will keep my commandments or the many other scriptures that tell us to obeying God demonstrates proof of loving God. However, the problem is that we often teach that you need to obey God to love Him without teaching people how to love God and why He is so worthy of our love.

So what I’m saying is, if all we are teaching people is that to love God you must be obedient you are not being honest with them. Parents, if you are teaching your children that above all else you must be obedient to God you are possibly scaring them off from God, because no one can live up to that expectation. However, teach them how to develop a relationship with God and demonstrate to them God’s love and as their love for God grows, obedience will naturally come as a result. You may say, well it’s just a play on words. It’s not! We are confusing people and subjecting them to the law and making the grace of God of no avail.

Now I’m not saying God doesn’t want us to be obedient because He does. What I’m saying is our obedience to God comes through his strength not ours. It comes from developing a relationship with him; it’s the byproduct of that relationship.

It’s like putting the horse before the carriage, it doesn’t work. Love first, then comes obedience.

So what does it take to develop a loving relationship with God?

1. Don’t focus on your behavior, focus on your relationship with God

Don’t focus on all the negative in your life, the relationship issue, sin that has you bottled down. Instead focus on your relationship with God and growing closer to Him. Make it a priority in your life and commit yourself to doing so.

2. Pray everyday

As with any relationship you need to have open honest communication. Commit to daily prayer time and make it a priority just as you would with your spouse, family member or a friend.

3. Study God’s word

All we need to know about God is found in the Bible.

4. Attend and serve at Church regularly

Not out of obligation but out of a desire to worship in the Lord’s house, be fed and encouraged.

5. Spend time with other believers

Conclusion

The Bible teaches us that anyone who seeks God will find Him. Furthermore, God’s desire is to have a relationship with us. However, it takes your commitment to do those things that will help you grow in your walk, your relationship and in love with God.

As your love for God grows the results will be obedience, clarity, peace and an overflow of love for your neighbors.

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