LOVE BEYOND YOURSELF
Above all else, we are to love one another, but this turns out to be a lot more difficult than it sounds. Everyone nods in agreement that they want to love one another, until it gets difficult. How do we practice love that is other-centered and not self-centered?
Work through the following Scriptures and questions on your own, and get together with your running partner, Life Group, or friends and family to talk through what you are learning!
1. Our desire to be loved influences so many of our choices and decisions. What would experiencing perfect love feel like for you?
2. We learned that eros love is love that looks for someone or something of great worth to increase our security or worth. Have you ever pursued anything – a person, a job, a possession – primarily to satisfy a need that God is intended to fulfill?
3. Read Romans 12:10-16. How do you know when you’re sincerely loving others with genuine affection and taking delight in honoring them?
4. Phileo love is all about friendship, fellowship, and community. When have you experienced selfless love from someone who expected nothing in return?
5. Read 1 John 4:7-20. God is love, and because He loved us, we have the capacity to love others. What do you imagine the full expression of God’s love is like?
6. Agape love makes it possible to do something that we could never do by ourselves – love our enemies. Our world desperately needs more agape love; what are some practical ways that you can share the radical love of Jesus with people who need it most?
Romans 12:10-16 – Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!
1 John 4:7-20 – Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us. And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us. Furthermore, we have seen with our own eyes and now testify that the Father sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. All who declare that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. We love each other because he loved us first. If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see?
The message of loving beyond ourselves may sound simple, but it’s sometimes difficult to make practical. Here’s an excerpt from an article in Charisma Magazine called “5 Ways to Love Like Jesus,” by Brooke Lynn, that offers some great tips.
1. Forgive: Forgiveness is a choice and not a feeling, which takes time and prayer. One of the hardest people to forgive is ourselves. When the wrongs we committed can’t be justified in our minds, our hearts hold us accountable. But Jesus has already forgiven us after we ask. If He forgives us for every sin, we need to forgive ourselves… (Ephesians 4:32)
2. Sacrifice: Putting our own needs, desires and wants aside to focus on other people’s needs and wants. This can be as simple as allowing someone to go ahead of us in line, choosing not to argue with someone’s opinion or spending time helping someone in need. Sacrifice requires a positive attitude and an obedient heart…(Romans 12:1)
3. Pray: Praying for people is an act of unconditional love. Especially when we pray for our enemies. This allows us to lift others up to God in a positive manner, asking God to bless people and work in their hearts and lives according to His plan and purposes…(Matthew 5:44-45)
4. Tell others about God:…We were never told to keep God a secret; but to go and tell the world about Jesus! It’s not always in the perfect place, time or at our convenience. We won’t always feel comfortable or accepted; but it’s about sharing the message and hope of Jesus…(Mark 16:15)
5. Be Humble: Living with a humble opinion of ourselves takes us off our own minds and from holding a first place position. Humility teaches us that God created us for His purposes and not our own. We become peacemakers, recognizing every person has a purpose and needs to be treated with dignity and respect…
To read the article in its entirety, go to charismamag.com/life/women/23626-5-ways-to-love-like-jesus