Subscribe Now

No Greater Love

By Dr. Charles Stanley

Most people would define love as an emotion--affection, passion, or tenderness. The Bible, however, describes love in terms of sacrificial actions. Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). While it’s rarely necessary to die for the sake of another, genuine love usually involves some level of sacrifice. As Christians, we are to show unconditional, selfless love to others --just as Jesus did for us.

The Pattern Christ Set

Jesus gave His followers a new challenge to love--one based on obedience to Him and commitment to fellow believers: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you” (John 13:34).

In Leviticus 19:18, Jews were commanded to “love your neighbor as yourself.” So how was Jesus’ command new? The people of God understood the word “neighbor” to mean a fellow Israelite or Gentile who had converted to Judaism. Jesus’ command has no such limitations.

To answer the question, “Who is my neighbor?” Christ told the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). In Jesus’ day, relations between Jews and Samaritans were quite tense. Samaritans were despised for having intermarried with Gentiles and having adopted heretical religious beliefs.

  • According to the Good Samaritan story, who is your neighbor?

Jesus’ instruction is also new because it raises the standard. Loving others as ourselves means following the pattern He set for us, and putting the needs of others above our own.

How does Jesus love us? He offers Himself freely to all who call on Him, whether rich or poor, good-looking or unattractive, charming or irritating. He loves needy, immature, disobedient believers just as much as He does stronger, more mature, and faithful believers.

  • Meditate on the paragraph above. How does it make you feel?

Jesus intended love to be the defining characteristic of Christians: “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:35).

  • Why would our love for other believers demonstrate that we are Christ’s disciples?

The Father and the Son loved us unconditionally, while we were unworthy of love. Read Romans 5:6-10 and answer the following:

  • How are people without Christ described in verse 6?
  • Why do you think the Bible describes unbelievers as “enemies” of God (v. 10)? (See Colossians 1:21 and Romans 8:7 if necessary.)
  • In what way were you an enemy of the Lord before you accepted His gift of salvation?
  • Contrast man’s love (v. 7) with God’s (v. 8).
  • Why do you think the passage mentions our need to be saved from the Lord’s wrath (v. 9)? (See Ephesians 2:1-5 if necessary.)

To “justify” (v. 9) means to be regarded and treated as if innocent; or acquitted from the consequences of guilt from God’s perspective. “Reconcile” (v. 10) means to restore harmony between two persons at variance, by the removal of existing obstacles.

  • How do these terms apply to our relationship with God?
  • The Lord has justified and reconciled us, but not on the basis of anything we have done. How, then, should we treat people who have wronged us, or those who are otherwise difficult to love?

The Power of the Pattern

Read 1 John 4:7-12, 19-21.

John writes that “Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God” (v. 7). This verse doesn’t mean that everyone who experiences human affection has a personal relationship with the Father. The word John uses for “love” in this passage is agapeo, the Greek term used in the New Testament to indicate selfless, sacrificial love. In the Bible, it is never used to refer to sexual, romantic, brotherly, or familial relationships. Agape love is of God. Only through His power can we agapeo each other.

  • Given that the word for love in this passage is agapeo, explain the meaning of verse 7.
  • Explain the difference between the phrases “God is love” (v.8) and “God is loving.”
  • Why do you think a lack of love for others indicates a problem in our relationship with the Father (v. 8)?
  • Explain verse 11.
  • What does John imply about the power of genuine love in a Christian community (v. 12)?
  • Do you agree that someone “who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen” (v. 20)? Explain your answer.
  • What do you find difficult about loving others, especially fellow believers?

First John 3:16 says, “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”

  • How could you “lay down your life” for someone else this coming week?

Prayer: Father, thank You for the mercy You’ve shown us by sending Christ to lay down His life on our behalf. We frequently fall short of the kind of sacrificial love He commanded us to have. By Your Spirit, help us share Your unconditional love with others. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

 

Related Resources

Related Video

No Greater Love

Unless you experience genuine affection, you will never know true joy and contentment in life. To love and be loved—that is God's best for us. (Watch No Greater Love.)

Copyright 2014 In Touch Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org. In Touch grants permission to print for personal use only.


Print Page
8 comments
Add A Comment\(Log in or create an account\)
  • April 14, 2011 05:27 PM

    by SuperUser Account

    Someone wrote in: "Dr Stanley, I saw this bible study on God`s love, I keep seeking God`s love....to know the Father`s love.....I know and believe how much He loved us that He sent His one and only Son to die for our sins. So when we accept Him as our personal Saviour, He comes to dwell in us. If God`s love is now within us, we are to love others, love our brother. Does brother mean, those of us in Christ or all people?
    I want to love, but don`t feel His love.....I never felt love from an earthly father who didn`t want me and a first stepfather who abused me and a second step father who never showed his love."

    From the In Touch staff: We'd like to help, but this is not something we can answer quickly in this format. Please write to us using the "contact us" form, and we will be pleased to offer some help to you by letter or email.

    Sincerely, the In Touch Team

    Whwn I say I love you Lord, my words feel empty and thus I feel He`s not in me. I have accepted Him in my heart, and that He died for me and rose from the dead and is coming back. i have forgiven all those who hurt me, why can`t I feel my heavenly Father`s love?
  • April 02, 2011 09:47 AM

    by

    Dear Dr. Stanley, I used this leason in a small dinner & Bible study I am having in my home during the lenten season. We found it to be challenging and inspiring. Thank you for sharing with us.
  • March 04, 2011 02:47 PM

    by

    i live away from home 4 days out of the week do to my job, and started a bible study. it seems that having 40 men together all the time makes it hard to get along. so i wanted to explain to everyone that comes why we should forgive and love others even tho they make it hard. these lessons have made it easier for me to break down just what it is i wanted to convey in my message. thanks. and God bless.
  • March 03, 2011 12:11 PM

    by

    DEAR DR.STANTLY ,you have been in insparation to me I love all your daily sermons on the radio and I"m alway's reading your devoional's,.may the LORD OUR GOD BLESS YOU ALWAY"S.LOVE JUAN P
  • February 18, 2011 02:24 AM

    by

    Thank you Pastor Stanley for a very wonderful bible study.. God bless you always and your ministry!
  • February 17, 2011 12:40 AM

    by

    It is really very hard to express your love to people who are unlovable but thru Christ I was able to love and reconcile with him and can talk nicely and be calm and at peace and act natural without hipocracy. thanks to the power of the Holy Spirit who works in me. vir
  • February 14, 2011 09:35 PM

    by

    I am not too familiar with computers this is my first time trying to really get in and really enjoy I always read my bibble but I really enjoy the study tonight God Bless.
  • February 13, 2011 10:12 AM

    by

    DEAR DR. STANLEY THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS WEEKS SERMON THE WORD LOVE IS SAID SO MUCH AND YOUR ARE SO RIGHT TO MANY PEOPLE SAY I LOVE YOU TO GET THERE OWN WAY OR TO MAKE THEMSELVES FEEL BETTER I CAN RELATE TO THE WOMEN WHO IS HAVING TROUBLE WITH HER DAUGHTER MY OWN DAUGHTER IS GOING THRU SOME UGLY TIMES RIGHT NOW I PRAY FOR HER ALL THE TIME I KNOW GOD IS LISTENING TO ME AND IN HIS TIME SHE WILL BE OK SO FOR NOW I WILL LOVE HER AS I'VE ALWAYS LOVED HER MAY GOD CONTIUE TO BLESS YOU AND ALL YOUR LOVING WORK LOVE TERRY

Add a comment

Log in or create an account to post a comment

Rate It:

Comment: 2000 characters remaining

Submit Comment