Loving someone else can be really hard.
That is why we are looking at the way Paul motivates us to love others in Ephesians 5:1 and 2.
We have already seen two of his motivations, now for a third.
We love others because we are loved.
In other words, loved people love people.
Be loved. Be loving.
I think you are getting the idea here, but the way Paul motivates us to love others is by bringing us back to the way in which God loves us.
There are two ways he shows us the great love God has for us.
First, you see he reminds us of God the Father’s love for us.
As we look at the text, we see that he doesn’t simply call us children. He instead says we are dearly loved children. It is not just that we are children in a very technical legal sense; but we are beloved by God the Father, dear children to Him.
I wonder if you know that?
Do you know, are you convinced that you are loved by God?
This is so important, you just do not know really anything about Christianity and what it is about, unless your heart as be stunned by the great love God the Father has for you.
He loves you as His child.
MLJ once put it like this, “God’s interest and concern for His children is infinitely greater than the greatest and noblest natural parent’s interest in his or her child. God is lovingly concerned about us. He watches just as the natural parent watches his little child beginning to walk for the first time or as the child goes out to school for the first time. He stands at the gate and watches him as he goes around the corner and out of sight; that is an expression of a loving interest. It is not a mechanical relationship; children are dear, children are beloved. And says Paul, that is God’s relationship with us. He has looked down upon us and He loves us. He is interested in us. We are dear to his heart. He is taking an intense personal interest in us.”
And as we relate to each other this should be our starting position. In fact we might as ourselves as we look at our actions, would I do this, would I say this, if I really was convinced that I was loved by God the Father?
And not just God the Father, Paul also stresses the love of God the Son in verse 2, when he says, “And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us…”
Now of course the love God the Son has shown us, that is a whole separate sermon, but the big reality that I want you to embrace with everything you are is that HE DOES!
And you as a believer, need to become an expert in that love, thinking about and knowing God the Father’s love for you and Christ’s love for you, this is not just something that is out there to be admired in theory, it is something that has to grip you in the deepest part of your heart.
The problem with many of us is that we are infected with the disease of desiring useless knowledge. Any silly piece of trivia, we are fascinated with. We need not only to be told to know, we need to be told what to know. And this is what we need to know, the love of God.
This is the subject which should fill our minds, grab hold of our thoughts, if we have this, if we know this, it is more than enough. There’s not a knowledge out there that is more solid or useful, nothing you can study which could of be greater benefit.
To help you better understand the great love Jesus has for you, you might just think about what Paul says here. That Christ loved us and gave himself up for us. Gave. Himself. Up. For. Us. Those have to be some of the most amazing words in all of Scripture.
Meditate on that.
Here we have Jesus and what does he do? He forgets Himself.
It’s like he did not have regard for his own person. He considered our interests above his own. He is the Lord of glory but he submitted himself to insults and slander and reproach. He is the source of eternal life and yet he became mortal. He is the power of God the Father and what did he do, he made himself weak for us. He owned everything and had all things in his hand, and yet he became poor to enrich us. He deserves the praises of angels but received the curses of men.
And when you see that our Lord Jesus Christ humiliated himself in this way and instead of glory He deserved took on shame and instead of righteousness was made sin and instead of life took death and was cursed by God in this world that we might have blessedness by means of him when we really are struck by that, sure of that, and convinced of this, doesn’t it just follow, doesn’t it just make sense that people like us who are loved like that, love people the way we ourselves have been loved.
And when you lack love for others, a great place to go, it is like a warning bell, that you need to go back and ask God to fill you up with a greater sense of His love for you.
That’s how you learn to love people.
You see the love of God for you.
You learn how God took His Son and as Luther says, “sent Him into our mire, sin, and misery and poured forth His mercy that we might boast of all His goods as though they were our own.” And you learn how “God made Himself a beloved Father and He gave us His Son, poured out His great treasure most generously and sank and drowned all our sins and filth in the vast sea of His great goodness.”
You learn to love people when God has truly come and taken hold of your heart and forced you to look at Him.
To really look.
This by the way is one of the big differences between the Christian’s motivation to love and the world’s. You often hear people object to calls to sacrificial and merciful love by saying that even ungodly people sometimes seem loving.
I always think that is such a strange objection. Can you imagine if every time a pastor talks about having a loving marriage if people responded by saying well, unbelievers sometimes stay married for a long time.
The fact that unbelievers do something doesn’t mean that it is not important for us to do. But what’s more important is that the worldly person loves for a different reason than the believer.
He loves to be loved; I love you so you love me.
But the Christian loves because he is loved. I am loved by God so I love you. Beloved always must come before be loving.