Series Introduction

The Bible teaches us that the things that come out of our mouth are a reflection of what is happening inside of us.  We might think the things that we say don’t really matter, but if we’re honest, they point to what is going on inside.

So we thought it might be a good idea to focus on a few positive four letter words, words that—if they get inside of us—could change the way we react and relate to each other, even the way we see our lives.


Introduction

The Bible says the greatest quality you can possess in life is love.  Jesus taught you are at your very best as a human being when you’re loving God passionately and loving people deeply.

In your life, in your relationships, in your family, in Washington DC, in this broken and divisive world…let love be your highest goal.

  • What is the most loving thing anyone has ever done for you?


Understanding

Have a volunteer read 1 Corinthians 13:1-3.

The Apostle Paul—who wrote this passage—is saying that you can have the eloquence of an orator; the knowledge of a genius; the faith of a miracle worker; the generosity of a philanthropist; and the dedication of a martyr burned at the stake for telling people about Jesus, but if you don’t love… it’s all worthless.

  • What do you think about the idea that all of your actions are worthless without love?

Have a volunteer read Philippians 2:3.

You might call this verse, “The Love Meter Test.”  Depending on your translation of the Bible this verse might read:

  • Consider others better than yourselves.

  • In humility count others more significant than yourselves.

  • In humility value others above yourselves.

If you value other people more than yourself, then you’re probably a pretty loving person. (Jesus also talks about loving yourself, so this doesn’t mean you should have low self-esteem.  Rather, you should love yourself well and then consider others more valuable.)

This is what Jesus did. He was the King of kings and Lord of lords, the only perfect person to ever live, yet He humbled himself, taking the position of a servant every day of His life and treating everybody as better than Himself.

He was always in trouble with the religious leaders of his day because he hung out with and loved notorious sinners. He would show respect and love for prostitutes, who only knew what it was like to be wanted for a few moments in the night, but cast away for the rest of the day. In the midst of a busy day he would say to His disciples, “Let the little children come to me. They aren’t interruptions, but opportunities to love.”

Every day of His life Jesus considered everybody as better than Himself.

Pastor Mark Batterson wrote, "In my experience, it's much easier to act like a Christian than it is to react like one. Anyone can put on an act. But your reactions reveal what is really in your heart."

  • What do your reactions reveal about what is really in your heart?

  • How would your life be different if you valued others more than you valued yourself?

There are a few things that often keep us from loving others well:

Running Too Fast

Often, the thing that keeps us from loving our friends, our roommates, our kids, our spouses, our coworkers, or the people in the car in front of us that are doing 63 in the left lane… is that we’re running too fast.  We’re overbooked and overcommitted.  We can’t slow down long enough to think about anyone else, and we certainly don’t have the energy to do anything for anyone else.

The truth is, loving others drains energy.  That’s why Jesus had regular times of rest and replenishment.

He would sail to the other side of the lake to escape from the crush of the crowds and activity, and along the way he would fall asleep in the boat.

God knows we all need regular times of replenishment in our lives and that’s why He built it in from the very being. During the week of creation God worked hard for six days.  And after six days of work, God created a day of rest, a holy day to restore and renew and reflect.

Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is, like Jesus did throughout his ministry, rest and replenish your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual tanks.

  • Go to bed earlier, eat healthier, stay in shape.

  • Put some breaks in your schedule, take at least one day of rest each week.

  • Use every single day of your vacation time.

  • Get in environments like church and small group on a weekly basis where your empty spiritual tanks gets refilled, because we leak.

It takes every ounce of energy you can find to love deeply.

  • What are some changes you need to make to help make sure you have the time and energy to love others well?

Holding On To The Past

It’s hard to love someone in the present when you’ve been hurt by them in the past.

You have 1 of 2 options with that person you struggle to forgive:

  • You can let it tear you up and rip you apart and be destroyed by your own bitterness, resentment and hatred.

  • Or because of the forgiveness you have received through Jesus, you can let it go.

There are 12 words that can heal any relationship: “I was wrong. I am sorry.  Please forgive me.  I love you.”

  • What keeps you from letting go of past hurts?

Using The Wrong Fuel

The Bible is clear that there are two different kinds of love at work in this world. There is an ordinary, generic, brand-X, kind of love. And there is an extraordinary love—the supernatural kind of love like God has for us that is fueled by a supernatural power.

Have a volunteer read Galatians 5:22-23.

Note that phrase, “fruit of the Spirit.” The Holy Spirit is the fuel source for this love of another kind.

A lot of people think there’s a verse in the Bible that says, “God helps those who help themselves.  There’s no such verse in the Bible.  God helps those who admit they’re helpless and say, “God, I can’t do this on my own.  I need Your power. I need Your Spirit to enable me to do what I can’t do.”

When you become a follower of Jesus, God puts His Spirit in you and He is with you wherever you go.  And He works 24 hours a day to nudge you, to lead you to act and react to people with the love of another kind.

It is the kind of love that sacrifices for someone else, even though they will never know what you’ve done; the kind of love that compels you to forgive the person who hurt you; that causes you to help out the co-worker who’s always trying to one-up you.  It’s the kind of love that cares for a child with a developmental disability day in and day out year in and year out at great personal, emotional, and financial cost.  It’s the kind of love that puts you before me no matter what.

That’s the kind of love that the Holy Spirit empowers us to have.

  • What are some of the times you’ve been able to express this kind of extraordinary love to others?

  • How can you allow the Holy Spirit to work through you to express this kind of love in more situations?