No Greater Love
Charles F. Stanley
John 13:34-35; 15:12-13
I. Introduction: Jesus defined love in terms of sacrificial actions rather than words or emotions. He said, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). The way we treat other people demonstrates to the world that we are followers of Christ. Because He first loved us, we can show love to the undeserving.
II. Four Different Loves
1. Eros includes passion or infatuation as well as sexual or romantic love.
2. Storge refers to the natural affection between a parent and child.
3. Phileo refers to the intimacy that good friends share.
4. Agape is sacrificial love--a commitment that motivates us to deny ourselves on behalf of another. This is the type of love the Lord had in mind when He commanded His followers to love one another.
III. Jesus’ Command to Love
A. This was a new commandment: Christ’s instructions to the disciples raised the standard for how we treat others--thinking of their needs before our own.
B. Jesus told us to love our enemies: That doesn’t mean we have to like how they act or think. However, we are called to love even those who oppose us. Jesus hated the hypocrisy of the temple money changers (Matt. 21:12-13) but still had compassion on them, just as He did on all of Jerusalem (Matt. 23:37-38).
C. The distinguishing characteristic of a believer should be love (John 13:34-35). First Corinthians 13:1 says that if we don’t have love, we are like a noisy gong--loud, unpleasant, and meaningless.
D. We are to walk in sacrificial love. More than our words, our deeds should convey God’s love (Eph. 5:2).
IV. Loving as Jesus Did
A. Selflessly: Jesus “did not come to be served, but to serve” (Matt. 20:28). Our love should not be centered on what someone can do for us, but how we can bless him or her.
B. Understandingly: Jesus knew the limitations of His followers, which is one reason He was able to have compassion on their failings. We should show the same consideration for those who mistreat us or live sinfully. There is always a reason why people rebel against God. Trying to understand doesn’t change their guilt before Him, but it can help you love more freely. Following the Lord’s example means learning to see people as they are and caring for them anyway.
C. Forgivingly: There are countless ways we can take offense at what others do or say. Forgiveness isn’t usually easy, but someone who genuinely loves will also be forgiving. At the next opportunity to extend mercy, we should remember that Jesus was willing to cleanse us of all our sins. Also, hanging on to bitterness and resentment will negatively affect our health, not just our relationships with God and the offender.
D. Sacrificially: In Mark 8:43, Jesus said, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” The highest form of love is to lay your life down for another. Genuine love almost always involves some level of sacrifice. That doesn’t mean we must give in to all the demands of others; instead, we should seek to give them what will ultimately be most beneficial.
V. Sacrificial love takes many forms:
1. Husbands or wives might win their spouse for Christ through selfless affection.
2. One particular friend went out of his way to demonstrate God’s sacrificial love to me when I was in college.
3. Godly mothers lay down their life for a season to care for their infants and small children.
4. Servicemen and women risk their life for our country.
VI. Conclusion: Unless you experience genuine affection, you will never know true joy and contentment in life. To love as Christ does and be loved in return is God’s best for us.
At times you might feel left out or all alone. Remember, the Father’s love is always available if you have accepted His offer of a saving relationship with His Son. There is nothing more fulfilling or meaningful than experiencing His divine affection. Draw near to God, and let Him fill your heart with His perfect love.