Levi Lusko - What To Think About When You Think About Love
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Come on. It's going to be amazing. So if you didn't notice, we've added Brandon Lake to the lineup and we're excited that he'll be with us. And OK, you can be seated. Yeah, come on, Brandon, how good is that guy? He's the best. He's going to bring you joy, I'll tell you that much right now. But if you have a Bible, Proverbs chapter 4 is where we're going to begin. There was a married couple that had been trying to do what all married couples need to do and get their budget in line, right? Make sure every dollar has a name and Dave Ramsey and all the things. And so they were at the grocery store shopping and they were, I think it was at Walmart, as the story goes. And the husband noticed that there was a special on beer. And so he grabbed a 24 pack of Budweiser and went to put it into the grocery cart. And his wife said, hold on, that is not on the list.
They had made a list. They had checked it twice. That is not on the list. He said, but it's on sale. It's only $20. It's not that big of a... She said, it's not on the list. She gave him that look. We husbands called out the wife eye. We know what that's all about, right? Well there's wife eye going on, you got to pay attention. And so he begrudgingly put it back on the shelf and they continued. And he noticed later that, as they were going through the cosmetic aisle, they needed to get some toothpaste. And she grabbed some face cream, some heavy lifting face cream. And he snatched the list from her hand and he says, I don't see face cream anywhere on here. And she said, but I need it. And he said, it's $40. She said, but it'll make me look beautiful. And he said, so will the Budweiser. And it's half the price.
Welcome to "I think I love you" week four. Friends, that is how you get into trouble is what's what. Proverbs 4, verse 23, Solomon says, keep your heart, with all diligence for out of spring the issues of life. We've been talking in this series with deepest appreciation to the Partridge Family for our title about what it means to think about the areas concerning how we approach sex, how we approach dating, how we approach marriage. And today, I want to talk to you about what to think about when you think about love. And here's a true statement from God's word. Your love life is going to impact all of your life. Where it would be tempting to think, I can honor God and love God, but have this over here as well. I can do this over here, it's not going to impact anything over there. I can do this when I'm young, that's a popular line of thinking, and it's not going to affect me later on.
What I do when I'm dating has nothing to do with what I do later on when I get married. Because once I get married, the firewall gets put into place and that's that. But our lives are not able to be segmented like that, bifurcated like that. You can't compartmentalize your life. What you do, this text tells us, comparing the heart to a spring. To a pump that pumps water out. What you do when it comes to your heart is going to impact every part of your body. What goes into your heart gets to your toes. What goes into your heart gets to your head. What goes into your heart goes everywhere. You have to keep your heart with all diligence. Why? Because out of it springs forth the issues of all of your life. And we have to not be so simple as to just take our heart at face value. We can't just take what our heart tells us to do and say to ourselves, well, the heart wants what the heart wants. No. You have a job. And it is to steward your heart, to shepherd your heart.
And as Proverbs 23:19 says, to guide your heart in the way. Be wise. Don't be stupid. Guide your heart. Friends, your heart is your responsibility. And it must not be followed blindly. It must not be given into. It must be forced to submit to God. That's the way. This is the way, Mando said. Well, Jesus said, I am the way. I am the truth. I am the life. So we have to continually keep steering our heart back to through repentance, through wise counsel, through listening to the Holy Spirit as the rumble strip sounds off in our lives to tell us to keep our heart in the way. For as Jeremiah put it, the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked above all things. Who can know it? So your heart can get you into a whole mess of trouble. Anybody want to say Amen on that one in church today?
Warren Rigsby in his commentary on the book of Proverbs says that there are lots of things to watch out for when it comes to the heart, like the double heart, as opposed to the double chin. There's the double heart. There's the hard heart, the proud heart, you can take a photo of it. It's going away soon. The unbelieving heart, the cold heart, as well we have to watch out for what we are one of in Psalm 51 verse 10 which is the unclean heart. Now, you look at all that and you go, dang. That's a lot that can happen, right? And we know coronary disease is one of the most popular ways to die. Of all the ways that people are dying, coronary heart disease is a massive problem. And so how do we, when it comes to our spiritual heart, watch out for these same things?
Well, if you want to audit what's going on in your heart, you don't have to get a blood test. All you have to do is audit the words that are coming out of your mouth. For Jesus said, out of the abundance of the...this is Matthew chapter 12, the mouth speaks. So you can say, no, you don't know my heart. Actually, I do. I know exactly what's in your heart because I follow you on Instagram. As the mouth speaks, so the heart is. So you can't have a better quality of heart than your mouth reveals. For as you speak, you and I get to listen to each other's heart you. You don't have a golden heart if your words are corrupt is the point. So we have to constantly be doing what David did in Psalm 139 in saying, search me, O God, and know my heart. Try me and know my anxieties.
So there are a lot of things that we want to keep out of our hearts. What do we want to keep in our hearts? And that is what we're going to talk about today. We're going to talk about love. We want our hearts to be guarded against all these other corruptions so that they can be a safe space for the love that God wants to live in there. Now, when it comes to that topic, we are at a huge disadvantage in talking about love for a number of reasons. For the simple and obvious reason that we live in a world where lust is more often what is actually meant when the word love is used, right? And we're in a culture that has a love that God gives not want us to adhere to. Do not love the world or the things that are in the world, First John says.
So we're problematic if we're going to try and approach love as God would have us to, but define it the way the world defines love, which is why we keep bringing it back to our thought life. Because the world is trying to squeeze us into its mold Romans 12, and cause us to think its way. But God is always saying like Aerosmith, walk this way, right? So he wants us to renew our minds and be transformed as that happens. Shane Morris put it this way, and I quote, "our culture, now more than ever, has no idea what love means. At times, it treats love as little more than a synonym for genital arousal. At other times, it offers a gnostic ideal in which all love, even the love between husband and wife, is nothing but an intense form of friendship between people who have decided to live and sleep together. We vacillate between Playboy and Hallmark, exalting animal lust at one moment and sentimental schmaltz the next".
So the problem is we live in a world where we've been given images, we've been given pictures, we've been given a tell us, a visual image that a lot of us are running toward that has not been shaped by scripture, but has been shaped by cinema. But the tragedy of basing your real life, romantic and marital decisions, your sexual choices off of what you see in movies and on TV is like expecting watching Yellowstone to cause you to be good at living in Montana, right? And I fly into the Kalispell airport enough to spot the Yellowstone brand on vests and hats and just think to myself, you are in big trouble. I hope you don't end up in the local bars. It's just not going to go well.
I want to sometimes interview the people who are picking the customized license plates to put on, ex-Texan, why would you why would you do that, right? Play it cool. Read the room. It's brutal. So we're at a disadvantage because of the world that we live in when we're trying to define things God's way but using the dictionary of this secular godless mentality of our culture. We're secondarily at a disadvantage because we only in the English language have just the one word for love. So I love sushi, I love the Broncos, I love my mama, and I love Lord Jesus Christ, right? God bless you. We just got the one word love. And it's like, I would expect your love for sushi, your mom, and Jesus are not all exactly the same.
So it's unfortunate we only have the one word to use. The Greek language is far more sophisticated. It's been theorized that this is one of the reasons God chose to give us the New Testament in the language he did. Galatians says that God chose to send his son in the fullness of time. You ever read the Old Testament and feel like you're on the struggle bus? Why can't Jesus just come, right? All these sacrifices, all this stuff, right? For one reason, he was patient. For another reason, he had a lot of prophecies to give so we would know for sure it had happened when Christ came, things to set up. But another reason was God was waiting for the perfect language. God was waiting for the Roman Empire. God was waiting for the Helenization of the world where Alexander the Great, in his love of all things Greek, was just spreading Greek everywhere he possibly could. And the Roman Empire, the same thing. And the Roman roads and the Pax Romana, the Roman enforced peace that would allow Paul the apostle the safety of traveling the known world.
And when he got there on those roads that took him there, he could speak to just about everybody in the whole known world because they all spoke one language that happens to be one of the most precise languages that the world has ever known. A language that has not just one word for love, but four. Four different words for love in Greek. Jot them down, if you will. Two of these show up in the Bible, but all four concepts are all over the scriptures. The first is storge. Storge, my daughter Olivia said, you can remember this one because it's like stork, right? The stork brings a baby. No it doesn't, but let's go with it. And so the storge love is familial love. The love of a mother for a child, the child for his parents, this is Jacob and Abraham's love for Moses. They saw you as no ordinary child. Lois and Eunice's love for Timothy.
This was Jairus's love for his daughter that caused him to seek out audience with Jesus to heal her when she was sick and died. Then there's phileo. Phileo love is like the filet-o-fish sandwich at McDonald's. I'm joking. It is brotherly love. Phileo is city of brotherly love, Philadelphia. So this is a friendship love. A love with two people that's so close it feels that it's thicker than water. It almost feels like blood, right? It's amazing. It's brothers don't shake hands. Phileo, they love, they hug, right? Just all my references. Take them as you will and leave them if you want to. David and Jonathan, Jesus and Lazarus. Laz, as we've been hearing him called lately, we have Paul and Epaphroditus, we have Frodo and Sam. This is a love that feels so thick, Phileo, love. Now, of course, interestingly, this love is easily misunderstood and easily can be perverted.
CS Lewis in his masterpiece, The Four Loves, which if this provokes interest in you, I commend you to read this book, said, those who cannot conceive friendship as a substantive love but only as a disguise or elaboration of eros, which spoiler alert is our next category of erotic love or sexual love, betray the fact that they have never had a friend. The rest of us know that though we can have erotic love and friendship for the same person, yet in some ways, nothing is less like a friendship than a love affair. Lovers are always talking to one another about their love, friends hardly ever about their friendship. Lovers are normally face to face, absorbed in each other, friends stand side by side absorbed in some common interest.
Friendship, he says, is born at the moment when one man says to another, what? You too? I thought that no one but myself. And this is the beauty of the strength of the brotherhood, of the sisterhood, of a deep friendship where you love each other but it's not it's not sexual or perverse in any way. It's a wonderful thing. And then, of course, we continuing on our journey have the eros love, which we get our word erotic, which, of course, is that passionate, sexual, romantic love. You find this in the Bible all through the Book of the Song of Solomon and of course the Proverbs. And the Bible starts out with a big heaping gob of it when Adam and Eve were naked and not ashamed and Adam knew his wife and there was nothing wrong with that. It was erotic love from God.
Then, you have lastly, and most significantly, the agape love, which is used, I will say, interchangeably in scripture at times with phileo because God gives love us with a friendly love. There's no better friend to sinners than Jesus. And God loves us for the love that sticks closer than a brother. But primarily, when we talk about agape, we're talking about sacrificial love. What is agape love? Well, we get a clear picture of it in 1 Corinthians 13 when it says love, agape, suffers long and is kind. Does not envy. Does not parade itself. Is not puffed up. Does not behave rudely. Does not seek its own. Is not provoked. Thinks no evil. Does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth. Bears all things, beliefs all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love, friends, agape never fails. This, by the way, has been called some of the greatest writing in all of literature and certainly has stood the test of time as no work of man. The work of God in giving us this that has the power to cause our hearts to strive for. And a simple test of how you're doing in this department, I was told in Bible college, would be just to put your name in instead of love and see how you do with that, right? See how that goes, right? If you can make it through two sentences without gagging a little bit in the back of your throat, you're doing better than me, right?
Levi suffers long and is kind. Levi does not envy. I'm already done. I can't keep going with that. But there is one name that we can put in here and we will feel just fine. In fact, I bet you half of you will be ready to jump to your feet with praise when you think about Jesus suffers long and is kind. Jesus does not envy. Jesus does not parade itself. Jesus is not puffed up. Jesus does not behave rudely. Jesus does not seek his own. Jesus is not provoke, thinks no evil, does not rejoice to make iniquity. Jesus bears all things, believes all things, Jesus endures all things.
Friends, Jesus never fails. Greater love has no one than this that a man would lay down his life for his friends. There are different types of love. Similarly, there are different levels of love. And I love this thought that we can grow in the love that we have. We can grow and excel in love. In fact, love is something that we are not stuck with. Whatever quantity or quotient we have, when Jennie and I released the marriage devotional, one of the things burning on our hearts as we sent this out into the world was to help couples know that great marriages are built, they're not born. And you are not stuck where you are. And if you are in a floundering marriage, in a difficult marriage right now, God can work. He thrives on taking dead things and bringing life out of them. I believe it with all my heart.
If that wasn't the case, why would Paul tell us in Colossians 3, but above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. If you just had to deal with the love you have. No, he says, you can actually put that on. You can choose to put on love. You can put on Jesus and walk in Jesus. Put on Christ, Paul said, and let no flesh fulfill its lust inside your heart. So we can choose to grow in love. I want to encourage you today that you're not stuck where you are. That God isn't just there pointing at you being like, ha ha. Like Nelson from The Simpsons, right? He wants to encourage you. He offers a helping hand to you and picks you up and says, I don't condemn you, either. But let's go and sin no more. Amen. God's going to grow your love if you're down for it. If you're here for it.
All right, so what are some of the pictures in our minds that we can have? I was asking myself this weekend because it was so helpful all throughout Jesus's ministry to hear him give us pictures. He didn't just tell us about love, he showed us love in action. A father with two sons and a woman who lost one of her 10 coins. And so I want to give you some pictures of love so that you can seek to grow in. And these, especially, when it comes to your romantic life, as you guard your heart, you're trying to guard these sorts of loves in your heart.
The first thing I wrote down is love like a sibling. Love like a sibling. We want to learn to love like siblings. And this especially up until we're married the moment we say I do. Not when we've been successfully engaged. But until the moment of marriage, when we are now one with someone in covenant and about to become one with them in flesh, hello somebody, ain't no party like the honeymoon party. This is how we are to see every other human on the Earth. Every single human on the Earth, besides us, before we're married, is a sibling or one that we want to see become a sibling in Christ. I Timothy 5, we've said it in the series before, but you might have missed it.
So we're going to say it again. Older women, you're to treat them as mothers. Younger women as sisters. 1 Timothy 52 with all purity. God wants you to remember every person that you're dating, every person that you're interested, this is not someone to hook up with. This is someone else's wife, someone else's husband. And we want to date in our church. We want to have a culture of dating in our church that's not weird and taboo. But to where anybody you dated, if it didn't work out and either of you broke it off, you could bump into them in worship and there's no, I can't look. I can't be near them. I've got to change rows. I've got to change campuses. I've got to change my identity and go into the Witness Protection Program because I gave something to that person that was not for them, right? We want to fight to see each other as siblings.
And then, once we are married, everybody in the world remains siblings, right? And nothing to be done that is not something to do with a sibling. Anybody with me on that, right? Abraham said, Sarah is my sister. But then, the King saw him doing something through the window that you wouldn't do with your sister. And so he said, bro, we need to talk. So we're going to love like a sibling. How? With all purity. Their made in the image of God. And we're either helping or hindering their progress at becoming more like Jesus based on what we do with them. We're going to secondly love like a scholar. What do scholars do? Scholars study. Scholars read. Scholars pay attention, they investigate. And we need to do that because marriage is confusing. It is. Hear me say it. Been in it for almost two decades. It's confusing at times.
I came across an article some of the top tweets about marriage. It was clickbait for me. I read it. Here's one. Marriage is two people taking turns mashing down the garbage in hopes that the other person will fold first and empty the bin. Man, that is true. One man said, all the premarital courses I took and counseling we endured and books we read failed to mention that husbands would be expected to know the difference between regular tweezers and the good tweezers, right? I've had my hand slapped more times in my life for using the good scissors. Then I'm like, all scissors are scissors? That's what they do. Good tweezers, good scissors, I don't know. Someone else said, I'm going to say I learned this the hard way. But apparently, when your wife is not talking to you, the best time to ask her what's wrong is not three days later. That's not the best time to actually care and probe. It's like, well, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. You know what I'm saying?
This one, though, is my personal favorite. One man's wife had to unexpectedly stay overnight in the hospital because her mom had been hospitalized. She was going to stay and sleep in the room with her. And so she sent her husband home with a list of things to get for her. And on the list, he was shocked. It said, comfortable underwear. Comfortable underwear. And he didn't want to get this wrong. And so he texted her, how am I going to know when I find your comfortable underwear? She said, simple. Just pick them up, imagine me wearing them, and if you smile, you got the wrong one so put them back and get the other ones. Bless the Lord at all times. Marriage is confusing. And so you got to be a scholar to try and understand what makes this person tick? What are we to study about our spouses? Listen to me, everything. Become an expert in your husband. Keep a note in your phone about your wife.
What's her Myers-Briggs? What's her Enneagram? What's her spiritual gift? What's her fighting style? What makes her smile? What makes her frown? What makes his day? What brings them joy and pleasure? When do you see the light in their eyes? When is it easiest to imagine them as a little girl or as a little boy? Be a full fledged PhD in your spouse. Amen. Study them. Love like a scholar would. What if someone was launching an investigation into your spouse. You have this person. And you know what? We can become blind to things we see every day. We can just take them for granted. What did your spouse wear... what shirt did they wear yesterday? You see what I'm saying? It's like, oh dang. We just sort of become blind and in a routine and in a rut when it comes to home.
So we have to choose to disrupt. Do a staycation. Investigate. Ask questions, what makes them tick? Love, thirdly, like a soldier. Love like a soldier. What do you soldiers do? And you're like, why would I even want that? Hey, love is a battlefield. So there's another song. Soldiers do their duty. II Timothy 2:4. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life. He just wants to please him who enlisted him as a soldier. So soldiers are constantly unconsciously, and I just can't even say that without just taking a second and just saying, I'm super grateful for anybody in our church listening who serves in our nation as a soldier. For anybody who does that or has or has sacrificed in any way or has been married to one.
So Paul's trying to tell Timothy to elevate how seriously we should take our spiritual life. And he chooses to use one of his principal analogies. The two most common analogies are being in warfare for being a Christian, being in the Lord's army, right? Put on the shield of faith. Put on the helmet of salvation. Put on the, put on the, put on. Why should we look at a soldier? Because listen, love is a battlefield. The Christian life is not a playground, honey, it's a battle ground. There's an enemy. This is war. And so we need to take it very seriously. Well, love is as well in our marriages, in our love lives. And we have to remember, soldiers do their duty. They don't just go start playing slot machine and just, I mean, oh, I'm really excited that we're here. I've always wanted to... no, they have a mission. They do their duty. I don't like that job. That's your job. You're in the army now. Hoorah.
You see what I'm saying? Soldiers do their duty regardless of how they feel about it. That has much to inform how you should approach your marriage and love. Why? Because falling in love happens to you. You don't have to work at falling in love. That just happens. And those who study such things say that falling in love phase lasts about two years. And it must be followed by working at love. Where you choose to love. Where you remember like Ephesians 5 that love is a verb. Look at this. Husband's love, actually, it's here. Love your wives. Thinking over there. No, it's over here. Moved and snuck around. Down there. There it is. Husbands, love your wives. People say the dumbest stuff. I just fell out of love with her.
Bro, let me ask you a question, what would you do if I said to you, I couldn't believe it. I just fell out of my truck. Why are you sitting on the ground? I fell out of my truck. Have you thought about getting back in it? You see what I'm saying? It's a verb. Husbands love your wives. You mean you stopped feeling the feeling of infatuation when you were in the falling in love phase. That must be followed by the mature love where it's a decision where you choose to obey regardless of how you feel. And then, as a back end benefit, the feelings follow.
Do we worship God when we feel it? Some of us do. We are only able to really interim, we really sense God there. That takes no faith. Let me tell you, God's blessed by all our praise we give him. But I'm convinced he delights the most and leans in the most when we don't feel like praising and when we feel like our soul is on fire but we praise him anyway. When you feel like your tears are liquid fire but you raise up your hands and exalt the goodness of God, even though you're confused about why he would let you face what you're facing. That's when your worship counts. When it hurts like hell, it heals like heaven. So we have to remember the same is true in our marriages. I don't feel like loving my husband. Do your duty. You're in the army now.
Well, my wife, you don't understand. Do your duty, soldier. Come on, love is a battlefield. Don't entangle yourself with the things of this world. How I feel determines what I do. That's carnality. We are under new management. We got the Holy Spirit in our hearts. We can do what's right, even when we don't feel like it. And this extends to the giving of sexual pleasure. Not depriving your spouse if they have a need seeking their pleasure more than your own, right? Do your duty. Sometimes you need a duty call, even if you don't feel like it. If they do, love like a soldier. Love like a servant.
Number four, love like a servant. Why? For the greatest exemplifying of love takes place in Jesus's words when you choose to serve. He who is greatest among you Matthew, 23:11, shall be your servant. What would happen if you set your spouse down and you asked them, what do you need from me that I'm not giving? Will it help you to do your role as a wife or as a husband better? How can I show up for you? How can I make your life better? When is the last time you asked them, how can I pray for you? What can I be praying for about you?
And then, to sit and to listen and to avoid any instinct and all impulses to be defensive when they tell you, here's how you can improve. And you go, well, you have no idea. It's like, why did you ask if you didn't really actually want to know? It's like when you pull the weeds that sting you back. Like oh gosh, I was trying to get that weed out but it got me. We can at times be like that. And we can't grow when we won't allow others help us to see, holding up the mirror through hope. So even if you have to, ask the question and bite down on your tongue really hard and just smile. Just keep smiling while you swallow the blood and then just keep smiling. Love like a servant.
Love like a sprinter, number five, and we're done with this. Love like a sprinter. Here is a picture to have in mind. I told you a moment ago, there are two most commonly employed metaphors for the Christian life. The first is the battlefield, the second is the athletic competition. Paul seemed to like sports. Paul, if he was alive today, would be watching UFC. Paul would be all about it. He was about the boxing. He was about the running. Paul was here for it, right? And we know that in Hebrews 12 we're told that we are to run this race of faith knowing we're surrounded by (Hebrews 12) a great cloud of witnesses let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. Who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
We want to love like a sprinter. Continually running hard after Jesus. Pursuing Jesus with a single-minded devotion. And here's the beautiful thing. If I'm running after Jesus and my spouse is running hard after Jesus, there might be times when we feel like there is distance between us. But if we're running towards a fixed point, which is our Savior, we are going to automatically end up getting closer to each other. Not as an end into itself, because you make me happy. Sometimes they won't. Whatever is the opposite of happy. They'll make you crazy? Absolutely. Twitchy? Aha, right? So I'm not looking to Jennie to make me happy. Jennie is not looking at me to make her happy. We're running hard after Jesus like sprinters. And by default, we're going to end up closer to each other, even if we don't like each other some days. And that's OK. Because marriage is not an end unto itself. It is a means to an end. And the end is glorifying God.
Marriage is a tool for us to exalt Him. And as we exalt Him, we get the joy that we never will find if we are chasing that joy down, chasing that happiness down, trying to chase that fulfillment down on its own. I have for the past year been experimenting with heart-based training. My wife for my birthday in May got me a watch that tracks my heart and watch. It's like Santa Claus. It watches me while I sleep. It watches me all the time. And it tells me after I work out what I did and how long it's going to take me to recover from it. And I've just decided I'm going to do whatever this thing tells me. And it has completely changed the way I approach exercise. Because normally, I would just exercise because it was convenient for my schedule. But this thing is like, you shouldn't push yourself hard for four days, old man. You did something very bad to yourself yesterday.
And so I'm like, I'm just going to listen. It's keeping track of my heart. And it's watching me breathe and it's calculating the heart rate variability and it's looking at my oxygen. it's basically saying, here's what you need to do to prioritize your heart because your heart is going to lead to everything you want in your life. And it is really impacted my ability to enjoy working out with anybody else. Because there is a little bit of OCD type A in me that makes me want to push myself harder than I would normally if I'm with someone. Because I'll set, basically, my pace at whatever is going to be slightly better or faster than you, right? And that's not necessarily good for me. It pushes me into a debt and to a deficit. And what I love is having something outside of me saying that this is what you're going to submit yourself to. And a lot of times, it makes me want to go slower than I wish I would. And I'm going slower because it's telling me, if I go slow, I'll go fast.
And I just love this picture of us just choosing to say, hey, I'm not going to do what I feel, I'm going to do what's right for my heart, from God's word, regardless of what's going on. And I'm not going to be looking at culture and basing my speed at what, in the movies or in the romance novels or in the rom coms is what love is going to look like. I'm not going to do it based on the latest Netflix series and that's going to be my benchmark. I'm going to choose to keep my heart for out of it springs the issues of life. I'm going to run my race with faith looking onto Jesus. And believing that's the best thing I can do for my spouse. The best thing I can do for my mate is to run hard after my maker. And the same is true for you. The tension, of course, is that as CS Lewis put it, the three human loves are always trying to make themselves the ultimate love. The tendency is going to always be for storge love to be deified. For a mom to put their love for their child above all else.
The temptation is going to be for a husband to put his wife above Jesus. For two friends to put their friendship above walking with Jesus. He said, they are always rivals to the love of God, which is why Jesus called that out, didn't he? Luke 14, if anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. What was he saying? Is he advocating hate? That sounds un-Jesus like. No, he was saying that agape must be so significant and so weighty to you that any other storge, any other phileo, any other eros looks like hate compared to agape because it is so preeminent and so ultimate in your life.
But the irony is, far from it looking like that, agape is going to push away and make the other loves less valuable. It makes them possible. It makes them not less valuable, but actually makes them possible. For only when the agape love in our heart. God is love. Forget, he doesn't just do love, he is love. I John 4 verse 8, so when that love has been shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit it makes us capable of love. Because we always have the reminder that I get to love you as Christ loved me. So our benchmark and our model and our picture is always going to be Jesus on that cross dying for us. For the sins of the world were so great that none of us could on our own righteousness ever get to heaven. Not a single one of us. And did he feel like dying for you?
Friends, he did not. He despised it. He didn't feel like it. But he endured it for the joy set before him. The joy of bringing glory to his Father and the joy of bringing real love, pure love, true love into your heart that you might be opened up to a pure agape, to a true selfless phileo, to an actual eros that's not impure but clear and clean. Satisfying. And the cool thing is, as we've said in the series, the world kind of thinks you've got to have a girlfriend for friendship and this person for, and some other side piece over here and this over there. God says, no, of all those loves can actually be, under agape, it can happen in the same marriage. Your husband can be your friend. Can be your lover. Can and should be your family. Hello.
And then, with agape ruling over it all, the other ones are put into line. But only when we seek first the kingdom of God and then let all these other things get added to us. Sir Walter Raleigh is one of my favorite explorers from the Elizabethan age. He was a discoverer and explorer. Back and forth, South America, looking for mines, looking for gold. And he, for whatever reason, sticks out in my mind as one I learned about in world history. But under her successor, King James I, the same King James whose name is in the Bible, the King James Bible printed in 1611, he despised Sir Walter Raleigh. He had him locked up in the Tower of England. And eventually, some of you might know this, he sentenced him to die by beheading.
At the moment of Sir Walter Raleigh's death, the executioner, who actually didn't feel like Walter deserved this, gave him a tip. He said, when you kneel down at the block and your head's on this thing, he said, orient your head in this special way because it will cause it to be over quicker and you'll feel less pain. And some of his last words before he died were this. It matters not the condition of my head as I die. All that matters is set my heart is right. And there is some truth in that for all of us. And I pray that in your life before you die that would be what you let Jesus sought out for you and in you.
And so, Father, we are grateful. And I pray that the truth and power and weight of this message would sink down deep in our hearts. And perhaps there are some marriages here today where some of the soldierly love or some of the sibling purity, some of the scholarly work, or perhaps, some of the sprinting has slowed. And if that's the case, I pray you'd call us back to true North today, to you today. For some of us, our storge has gotten above our agape. Our eros has become an idol. Our phileo God is out of whack because it's selfish and self-seeking and manipulative. And we thank you for setting us right again today.
If I'm preaching to someone who's been touched and just resonates here and just wants to respond to the Holy Spirit in this moment, could you just raise up a hand? Anybody, all across the church, church online family.
God, stir up a pure and Holy affection. Help the love we have for each other be driven, again, by the love that you have for us. Thank you for shedding that love in our hearts through your spirit. Would you do it again, Father? Would you pour it out, God? We ask for more grace.
You can put your hands down. And if you're here and you've never trusted Jesus as Savior, that's the most important relationship you need to enter into. I can't think of anything on Earth that would be more important than that. The accumulation of money, the accomplishing of goals, the traveling on trips, the status we could get on whatever new platform, all of it pales in comparison to having eternal differences made right inside of our hearts. Going from being God's enemy through sin and wrath to being called his friends. What wonders is this that at the cross Jesus did everything. All we have to do is accept it.
And if you're with me in this moment, all across the church, church online, podcast family, and you've never trusted Jesus, today's the day and now is the time. I'm going to pray a simple prayer. I'm going to ask our church family to say it out loud with you as you pray this. But the important thing is that you speak this with your lips confessing the truth and that it exists in your heart. Believing Jesus died, and rose from the dead, and is Lord and King over your heart because you're making it so today based on his love that he gave you first. Our love is always a response. If that is you I'm describing, pray this with us.
Dear God, I know I'm a sinner. I ask you to forgive me. Come into my heart and make me new. I give my life to you, in Jesus's name.