Love – Life’s Driving Priority
June 29, 2020

Love – Life’s Driving Priority

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For centuries, if not millenniums people have been looking for love. And if I could borrow the lyrics and title from an old country western song, they’ve been looking for love in all the wrong places. How else can we explain the record setting number of divorces, the increase in pornography, and a society that has replaced the traditional definition of marriage with alternative lifestyles.

So where can we go? Where can we find a love that truly works in a world determined to redefine the word itself? We can’t go to society, because it hasn’t got a clue. We can’t go to religion, because they abuse and misinterpret love with rules and regulations. We can’t go to Hollywood, because they’ve misrepresented it. We can’t go to authors; because they have as much trouble as everyone else defining love (it’s one of the longest entries in Webster’s Dictionary, and the Greek language has 8 separate words to define love).

But people need something that they can hang their hats upon, something that everyone can understand and put into practice in their everyday lives.

So where do we go? Maybe it’s time we go to the source of all love, and that is the Lord God. Maybe it’s time to go back to the One who created us and made within our DNA the need for love. Therefore, it’s time to go back to the Bible, God’s word for His creation, that is, for you and me, and it’s time to get back to its basics by which life gets and receives its meaning.

And what we’ll see is that love is life’s driving priority, or you might say is that it’s our job description.

The reason I say it like this is because Jesus gave it as a commandment, which we will look at more fully in a moment. But as a job description, Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” (John 13:34 NKJV)

But I also said that love is life’s driving priority. So, where do I come up with this idea? Well, I believe that the Lord Jesus gives it, not only as a command, but also as life’s defining principle. And He does so in several ways.

1. Love is the Great Commandment

“‘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. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31 NKJV)

Some have shortened this to “Love God and love people.” But I think this is too simplistic and doesn’t accurately convey what Jesus means by placing these together as first and second.

By saying that the second is like the first, what Jesus was saying is that if you want to love God with the whole of who you are, heart, soul, mind, and strength, then you show Him this love by loving others as yourself.

And as awesome as that revelation is, it doesn’t do justice to what Jesus said to end it. This is found in Matthew’s gospel. Jesus said, “On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:40).

Imagine that! The whole of the law and all the writings of the prophets, all 39 books of the Old Testament, literally hundreds of thousands of words that were inspired by God and written down about how to live life, on God and His relationship with humanity, and on family and human relationships are contained in these two commandments. Also, what we find within these two commandments are God’s instructions for a joy filled and prosperous life.

And this is just the start of what Jesus has to tell us about why love is so important, and what inspired Paul to write at such great length the greatest definition of love, as found in his first letter to the Corinthian church. But, Jesus continues by saying that our love of God defines who we are, which is seen in the second principle.

2. Love is the Great Authenticator

Love authenticates God’s call upon our lives. In other words, love is what demonstrates to the world our faith in Jesus Christ, and that our faith is real.

Jesus said, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35 NKJV)

In today’s marketplace there are a lot of knockoffs, that is, cut rate manufacturers who make a living on replicating and duplicating original products lines and even duplicating their logo in an attempt to make them look just like the original. You see this especially in clothing lines and ladies purses. You have ladies who carry on their arm Gucci knockoffs. They look like Gucci purses, but there are differences in the design that allows them to continue this deception.

I remember a trip I made to South Korea with some pastors to share the gospel. While we were there, we took a day off, and as part of our journeys around Seoul we stopped at an outdoor market. There were several shops that would sell you the piece of clothing along with the original manufacturers tag that you could iron on yourself. So you could have the look without paying the price.

The same is true when it comes to faith in Jesus. There are many who look like Christians, but without paying the price. They belong to this or that religion, this or that denomination, but have not love. In other words they haven’t accepted Jesus as their Savior and Lord, and they don’t have that love for God by loving one another. They look good on the outside, but are still filled with dead men’s bones and all sort of corruption on the inside as Jesus points out in Matthew 23:27.

What separates the knockoffs from the real thing? When God looks for the true mark of a Christian, and when the world looks for the mark of a true Christian, that mark is love.

3. Love is The Great Apologetic

Whenever we hear the word “apology” we think of its more common usage, “an admission of error, the acknowledging of a fault.” But the term “apologetics” comes from the Greek language and literally means to speak in defense of something. Early writers who defended the faith were called “apologists.”

What this is saying is that love is the greatest defense of the gospel message.

“And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides (in) God, and God in him (1 John 4:16 NKJV)

God is love, and God is truth. “He is the Rock, His work is perfect; for all His ways are justice, a God of truth and without injustice; righteous and upright is He” (Deuteronomy 32:4 NKJV)

Jesus, in His prayer to the Father for His disciples prayed:

“Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth … that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.” (John 17:17, 21 NKJV)

Sanctify means to set apart, to make us holy. And so Jesus is asking the Father to set us apart by the truth of His word, and thus by His love, and by this love that we have for one another the world will know that Jesus is truly sent by the Father, and that He is the way, the truth, and the life, and that no one can come to the Father except through Him (John 14:6).

4. Love is the Great Essential

What is an essential? In life it is water, food, and air. In school it is reading, writing, and arithmetic. In baseball it is hitting, pitching, and fielding. In basketball it is offense, defense, and will you please make your foul shots.

Webster’s defines essentials as relating to or constituting the essence of something. It is something that is of the upmost importance, basic and indispensable, an absolute necessity. It is one of the “I got to have it or die” requirements.

When it comes to living and being a disciple of Jesus, the big three are faith, hope, and love, but love is the greatest.

Paul said, “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13 NKJV)

Love, therefore, is the great essential of life, or to say it another way, it’s the stuff that life is made of. If we lack this quality of love, then nothing that we do will impress God. Not even faith is as great as love.

And, Paul makes it clear when, with no hesitation, he says in 1 Corinthians 13 that without love we are nothing. And he makes sure that there is no confusion when it comes to this truth. He says that we can have all the faith in the world, or even sacrifice our lives, but without love, God considers them as without value, that is, without meaning.

And Paul does this through the literary tool of the hyperbole. A hyperbole is an extreme exaggeration in order to make a point. Now, it’s not meant to distort the truth, but to deliver the truth with a bang.

Now, last week we hit on these things in 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 in our message on Love of Another Kind. But today, I’d like to expand on them, because I think it’s valuable in our understanding of just how essential love.

a. Without Love Our Words Have No Value

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.” (1 Corinthians 13:1 NKJV)

Even if we could speak every language on earth, and even could speak in angelic, if what we say lacks love then we might as well save our breath. We are told that even when we speak the truth we are to do so in love (Ephesian 4:15).

When we confront others, if there is no love, if all we are doing is criticizing, condemning, and complaining, and our words become hurtful. And so even if we could speak every language on the earth and could gab with the angel Gabriel himself, without love it’s useless and worth nothing.

b. Without Love Our Knowledge Is Lacking

“And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge … but have not love, I am nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:2 NKJV)

Even possessing the supernatural knowledge of God, or having the gift of foreknowledge, without love it is nothing and lacks credibility.

While learning itself is essential for success, especially in the ministry, as Paul says to Timothy to study to show himself approved as a workman needing not to be ashamed (2 Timothy 2:15), what Paul says here is that if we don’t have love, then all the studying and degrees in the world will not help.

c. Without Love Our Faith Is Useless

“And though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:2b NKJV)

If we think that our faith in God, belonging to this or that religion, or our membership in a church or denomination is going to help us in this life, and then in the life to come, then we are sadly mistaken.

In fact, Paul goes so far as saying that even if we had miracle working faith and could move Aspen ski resort or Malibu beach to Mesquite Nevada, it would be of no value in the eyes of God.

In fact, Jesus said that in the last days there will be those who will say, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?” And Jesus will say to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness” (Matthew 7:22-23).

And so without love, the Apostle Paul said that all the miracles in the world are useless.

d. Without Love Our Sacrifices Have No Benefit

“And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:3 NKJV)

This is where many fail in their understanding of God. They think that if they do good works like feeding the poor and needy, like Jesus tells us, then they’re okay.

Jesus said, “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me” (Matthew 25:34-36).

And when they asked when did they see Him like this and perform these deeds, Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me” (Matthew 25:40).

But, what Paul is saying in 1 Corinthians 13:3 is that without love this sort of giving has no value. Even if we make the ultimate sacrifice, dying for what we say they believe in, or martyrdom, Paul says is not enough, that is, not without love.

King David reveals this in Psalm 51 when he was asking for God’s forgiveness in what He did with his sin with Bathsheba. He said, “For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart– These, O God, You will not despise” (Psalm 51:16-17).

Now, while this speaks to our need to be truly repentant for our sins, the point is that sacrifices do not make things right between ourselves and God.

Jesus said it this way to the Pharisees, “But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice” (Matthew 9:13). Now the word for mercy is God not punishing us as our sins deserve. It is deliverance from God’s judgment.

Now, Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice, and He did so out of love, pure love for you and for me, and in that He gave to us an example of sacrificial love, and how we are to live our lives.

Hopefully we can now see why love is life’s driving priority, and just how essential it is, how it exceeds everything else we can do as believers.

And so, are we willing to love in this way, that is, to love God with the whole of who we are, body, soul, mind, and strength, and are we then willing to love others in same way?

This is love and what the Lord is looking for from all those who are His. Love then truly is then life’s driving priority, and it truly is our job description.

This is what the world needs to see in the lives of God’s people if we ever want to, not only make a difference in this world, but to bring peoples’ lives back from the brink of despair, and the world back from the utter insanity that we are seeing today, and that is love, our love for God and for one another.

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