This week in our third message in our series titled Be Imitators of God from Ephesians 5 we will continue our examination of what it means to imitate God as dear children. We have learned thus far that if we are to imitate God then we must emulate His highest and most noble character quality, that is His absolute holiness. As we strive to be holy as He is holy we also imitate God by hating what He hates. This means of course that we must understand what hate is and how we can hate without sinful actions, words, or motives. Indeed, as we learned last week, if God hates then hate in itself is not a sin for we know that God cannot sin.
This week we will learn that if we are to imitate God we must love what He loves.
Love is not an emotion or even a state of mind. Love, Biblically defined, is a decision of the will that we make as we determine how to view, treat, and interact with others. The result of love can be emotional, but those emotions are not to be confused with the fruit of the Spirit produces in us as we abide in Christ.
Here then is the outline of the message that will be posted online later today:
Defining Love - 1 Corinthians 13:4-8; 1 John 4:8, 16
We Are to Love:
1. Salvation – Ps. 40:16; 70:4 2. Mercy and Righteousness – Micah 6:8; Is. 61:8; Jer. 31:3 3. Truth (the Word of God) – Zech. 8:19; Ps. 119:97,113, 119, 127, 159 4. Husbands and Wives – Col. 3:19; Eph. 5:25, 28, 33; Titus 2:4 5. One Another – 1 Peter 1:22-23; Prov. 8:17; John 13:34; 1 John 4:7 6. Our Neighbor – Ps. 3:23; 69:36; Mt. 19:19; 22:37 7. Our Enemies – Mt. 5:43-48; Lk. 6:27-35; Rom. 5:8; John 3:16.
Above All Else We Must Love God – Deut. 6:5; 11:1, 13, 22; 19:9; 30:6, 16; Joshua 22:5; 23:11; Matthew 22:37-38
What Does Loving God Look Like? - John 14:15, 21; 1 John 5:2-3
Conclusion: Do we love what God loves? Do we delight in the things that please Him? Do we imitate God in the things we approve of or only in the things we disapprove of? This is an interesting question because too often we in the church are known for what we stand against instead of what we stand for! And if we are to imitate God (as God is love) then we should be known for our love. Indeed, Jesus has told us that it is by our love that the world will know we are His disciples. Too often today the opposite is true. The world thinks, however wrongly, that disciples of Christ are those nuts out there, those hateful, vengeful, harsh, false teachers who are the most vocal and the most visible and who most often prove exactly what being a Christian ISN'T!!
If we really want to be radical we should learn to love what God loves, without shame. And to take it a step further, as we will learn next week from Ephesians 5:2, when we love what God loves we will also learn to love as Christ has loved! But let's not get ahead of ourselves. For this week, may God give us the grace to love what He loves.