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The Marks of a Christian - Love

In this series, we are going to be looking at what are the marks of a Christian. That is, what should a true follower of Jesus look like? How should they live? How should you live if you claim to be a follower of Christ, if you claim to be saved?

Today, we are starting with love. Now this is a concept that is very confusing because so many people define love as something that it is not. Especially today, if you talk to almost anyone outside of the church they will tell you that love means to affirm someone’s choice and to support them and enable them without disagreement. So, when they claim that someone does not love them, what they are really saying is that someone does not agree with them.

This love is not what the Bible talks about, nor is it a love that will bring any kind of lasting relationship or security. True love, is laying down your life for someone else. It is being willing to disagree with someone for their own good. It is self-sacrificing, others-focused, truth-bringing action that originates from God who is love Himself.

1 John 4:10-13 - 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.

We just wrapped up our Easter series and saw how God’s love was displayed through Christ coming on the cross. Hopefully you got a good picture of what kind of love God showed us. John’s argument here is that if we have been shown such an amazing display of love, we should show that kind of love to others.

John actually says that this kind of love for others is what characterizes and proves someone to be a follower of Jesus. That is what he is talking about when he says that God abides in us. When we allow God to take over our lives, we surrender our lives to him, not only are we saved and have an eternal home in heaven, but God through his Holy Spirit begins to change who we are. This is evidence for us both of the life change that comes with knowing Christ as your Savior and it also serves as proof for us of the reality of God’s existence (“no one has ever seen God”).

1 John 4:19-21 - 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot[a] love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

The only reason you and I are able to love others is because we have been loved by God first. He showed us how to truly love others in a selfless, life-giving way.

But here comes a problem. There are a lot of people who claim to love God. They say that they follow Him. But when it comes down to it, they are living a lie. They are in this for what they can get out of it, and as a result will live their life angry at God when things don’t go their way. They will be rude and unloving toward others, they will be self-focused not selfless. By their very actions, they will prove to others that they do not actually love God.

God says that those who actually love him and actually follow him will be characterized by their love for others. Those who claim to love him but have no love, care or compassion for their brothers, neighbors, family, and friends do not know God and are not saved, despite their claims.

1 John 5:1-3 – 1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.

Verse 1 has some confusing wording so let me simply break down what John is telling us here. If you have accepted Jesus as your Savior, you are part of God’s family. If you love God, then you love his family. Therefore, for those of us who are believers, we truly should be characterized by our love for fellow believers especially.

But how are we supposed to know that we are actually loving others the way God wants? Well it’s simple, we show that we love God by following what He says. Now this can seem oppressive at first. We get saved and now we have to do all of these things and follow all of these rules. But that’s not the case! Verse 3 says that the commandments of God are not burdensome. These commandments are not a set of rules that will make your life unpleasant. They are, in fact, the very thing that gives life and joy to you! God created life itself and therefore knows the very best way to enjoy it. And if we follow his commands and love him and love others, it is worth it!

God showed us his love by sending Jesus to die for us, so that we could have life in Him and so that we could know how to love others. So my question for you is, do you love others like Jesus? Or do you just claim to love God but you don’t love those around you?

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