Love: It’s who I AM (Week 5)

“The Sincere Love of Jesus!”

1 Peter 1:22-25; Luke 22:31-34 & John 21:15-17

From which of these cups would you prefer to drink a glass of water?
 
 
[With 2 cups on a stand (one clean and one visibly dirty) pour water from a newly opened water bottle into each.]

 

Why? Because one cup is clean and one is dirty—the delivery system matters! You could have the best product in the world, but if it’s not delivered properly, then the message is lost…

 

You could have the best of intentions in how you are going to demonstrate love to another person, but if you aren’t a clean vessel you could end up hurting someone or pushing someone away. Love is like preaching: Great content is not enough, delivery matters.

 

What dirties our cups when it comes to love? Children raised in a deeply dysfunctional family find it difficult to navigate conflict or to believe yelling (or physical hitting) are acceptable ways to deal with anger. People who have found success in life by stepping on others find it nearly impossible to empathize with other people’s needs. Flatterers flatter. Gossips gossip. Neither sees what they are doing is unloving and hurtful. A person who has been deeply betrayed by a parent, boss, coworker, pastor, friend, spouse, or family member finds it difficult to trust again and interpret other people’s actions through their own wounds. The deeper our hurts, the deeper our fears, the more difficult it is to be a clean vessel of love, even as Christians. We all know it is true: hurt people, hurt people!

 

We see what dirties our cup, so now let’s turn to how our cups are cleaned so that we can love with a sincere love. The Apostle Peter teaches,

 

Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God. For, “All flesh is like grass, And all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, And the flower falls off, But the word of the Lord endures forever.” And this is the word which was preached to you.[1] (italics added for emphasis; all caps are part of the formatting of NASB to show an OT quote)

 

While yes, this passage does say that we are to fervently love one another, in other words love one another from the heart with our whole being, the emphasis is not how passionately you love, but with what you are loving— a sincere love for the other! According to the BDAG Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament sincere means, “without pretense, genuine, literally ‘without play-acting.’”[2]  It’s got to be the real deal, pure as if from the Source!

We are to have an overflowing love that flows from the Source and out of a cleaned cup. A cup that is purified through “obedience to the truth.” A cleansed vessel comes first through the forgiveness of God in Jesus Christ and then through our forgiveness of others, firsts through the receiving of grace and then through the giving of grace to others. Apart from Jesus, out of His yoke and out of the Father’s will, none of us can love with a genuine love that comes from God. This is the ongoing work of His Holy Spirit in and through us to obey the teachings of Jesus.

 

You have heard me say: “Hurt people, hurt people. Forgiven people, forgive people!”

 

How do we love with a sincere love? How can we do any of this since we are all affected by the dirt of our families of origin, the brokenness of our own choices, the woundedness of other people’s choices, and the general hot mess that is our culture and world that we live in? 

 

Jesus gave us the answer to this by not only His example, but by His very commands to us: “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”[3] A sincere love must be purified of all boasting, arrogance, vanity, and selfish gain by following Jesus’ example and putting aside yourself for the other. You cannot love others sincerely when self-interests dominate your life!

 

When you want to hold a grudge against someone, obey Jesus and forgive. When you want to make yourself look better by talking about another person, obey Jesus and keep your mouth shut. When you want to lie, steal, or cheat to get ahead, obey Jesus and be content. When you want to disrespect someone under your authority or disobey someone in authority over you, submit to Jesus! This is the only way for your love to become sincere! By obeying Jesus in every area of your life, you will be forced to die to self, to your own pride and reputation, you will be forced out of your comfort zone and into God’s care for you. This is where your cup is cleaned.

 

This kind of love doesn’t come naturally for any of Jesus’ original followers. Let’s look at the story of Peter who taught us this command. Peter was a proud and boastful man. Jesus said to Peter after one such episode in Luke 22:31-34, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” But he said to Him, “Lord, with You I am ready to go both to prison and to death!” And He said, “I say to you, Peter, the rooster will not crow today until you have denied three times that you know Me.”[4]

 

Peter had expressed a boastful love that we all know led him to betray Jesus when in the crucible of circumstances. Peter had to be broken before he could be used. He was chosen of God, personally trained by Jesus, but still not ready for the social responsibilities of leading the early church, We too, just like Peter and the original apostles and every disciple since to this day, must go through the crucible of circumstances to learn what a sincere love truly is. The world teaches us a political love, but Jesus must purify us to love not as the world does, but as He does!
 
Watch how Jesus cleans the cup of Peter for a life of ministry service. Listen to John 21:15-17,
 

So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.” He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep.[5]

 

A sincere love is a purified love, one that has been stripped of our desire to use other people, to flatter people for our gain and not their good, to talk about people for our gain and not with their permission, to take from others instead of giving. Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians 13:3-8a,

 

And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.[6]

 

God’s love is a cleansing power at work in us and God desires for it be a powerful force in the world through us. When we fall short of giving the kind of love that God first gave us, we then go to root of the issue so that He can cleanse our cup. We want to be clean vessels of God’s sincere love. Jesus Christ loves us with this kind of perfect love and though we fall short, it is God’s will that we love His way, to be like the great I AM, to love sincerely.

 

Throughout this sermon, I have been using the imagery of a clean versus dirty cup. I didn’t come up with the imagery on my own. I borrowed it from the master teacher. Jesus once said to a very religious and moral audience in Matthew 23:25-28,

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.[7]

 

Jesus is asking us to be sincerely in love with Him and in turn sincerely love others! Do you know what Jesus Christ has done for you to show you love and forgiveness? Have you experienced the grace of God at the Cross? When you encounter this love, you are transformed!

Our theme verse for this sermon series is 1 John 4:19, “We love, because He first loved us.”[8] This is why for the last 5 weeks we have asked you to wear a red bracelet that proclaims, “Loving others as God first loved us.” Wear this, remember it, memorize it, and most importantly, live it! This is what God is working in you. Are your daily decisions working in agreement with God’s goal for you to be a clean cup of His sincere love?

 

We ask that you put this value into action through the “7:1 Initiative”. It’s a practical application to following Jesus! Are we loving well in relationships –who are your 7 people that you are learning to love with a sincere love? Are we serving others well in our communities—where is your 1 place of service that you are giving yourself to others in the name of Jesus?

 

We have a whole community that needs to know the doors have been opened and they are safe to come be family with us. They will feel invited and welcomed into the church if they already have been welcomed and invited into your family by you loving them with a sincere love.
 
Listen to it here
 
 

FOOTNOTES:

 

[1] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update, 1 Pe 1:22–25.

[2] BDAG states, “ἀνυπόκριτος, ον (s. ὑποκρίτης; school. on Aristoph., Av. 798; Iambl., Vi. Pyth. §69, 188 αἰδώς; Ps.-Demetr., De Eloc. 194; Wsd 5:18; 18:15) pert. to being without pretense, genuine, sincere, lit. ‘without play-acting’ ἀγάπη (ApcSed 1:4) Ro 12:9; 2 Cor 6:6. φιλαδελφία 1 Pt 1:22. πίστις 1 Ti 1:5; 2 Ti 1:5. σοφία Js 3:17.—DELG s.v. κρίνω. M-M. TW. Spicq” (William Arndt, Frederick W. Danker, et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000], 91). The Apostle Paul about love states in Romans 12:9, “Let love be without hypocrisy”[2] and in 2 Corinthians 6:6 calls it “genuine love”; about faith in 1 Timothy 1:5, “But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith”; and about wisdom by James in James 3:17, “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.”

[3] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update, Jn 14:15.

[4] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update, Lk 22:31–34.

[5] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update, Jn 21:15–17.

[6] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update, 1 Co 13:3–8.

[7] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update, Mt 23:25–28.

[8] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update, 1 Jn 4:19.


^