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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Robert Jeffress » Robert Jeffress - True Love Never Waits - Part 1

Robert Jeffress - True Love Never Waits - Part 1

Robert Jeffress - True Love Never Waits - Part 1
TOPICS: Grace-Powered Living, Love

Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to "Pathway to Victory". In movies and TV shows, the process of falling in love is portrayed as passionate and exciting, like an emotional rollercoaster. So how does Hollywood's depiction of love hold up against God's definition? Today I wanna show you what true love is and what true love does. My message is titled "True Love Never Waits" on today's edition of "Pathway to Victory".

Mike Brian was an agnostic newspaper reporter in the 1990s who decided to do a series of articles on the resurgence of conservative Christianity in our country, what was fueling it? And so as part of his research he thought, "Well, I need to associate with some conservative Christians". So he enrolled as a student at Criswell College. And while he was at Criswell College, he said, "I'm gonna try to learn what is really at the heart of evangelical Christianity". And in the book he wrote later he tells about a weekend that he went with the students on a retreat, and riding back to Dallas late one night on the bus, the students decided to have a testimony time, and student after student would go to the front and take the microphone and share a testimony or a prayer concern, and he said one young lady who stood at the front of the bus, took the microphone, looked at Mike, and started expressing her heartfelt concern for his salvation.

Later in his book "Chapter and Verse" Mike Brian wrote, "If I ever figure out why that girl was crying for me, someone she hardly knew, I will have arrived at the heart of the Christian faith". Love is the heart of the Christian faith. And that's what John said in 1 John 4:19. He said, "We love because God loved us". The whole basis of the Christian faith is God so loving us that he gave his Son. And the Bible says if we have received that love from God, it's only natural that we're going to reflect it to other people as well. Now, Jesus also said that love is the preeminent thing in our Christian life. When someone asked him, "Lord, what is the greatest commandment of all"? He answered in Matthew 22:37, "You shall love the Lord your God with all of your heart, and with all of your soul, and with all of your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment, but the second is like it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commands depend the whole law and prophets".

Henry Drummond in his classic work, "The Greatest Thing in the World," explains how love is really the basis for every other commandment God has given us. For example, take the commandment, "You shall have no other gods before me". If you love God with all of your heart, that's not a problem, is it? Or the command, "Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy". If you love God, you don't have trouble setting aside a day for worship. It's the same way with other people. If you truly love your neighbor as yourself, you don't have to be told not to kill your neighbor or steal from your neighbor or take your neighbor's wife. Love is the basis of everything else. Drummon concludes his essay by saying, "Love is the rule for fulfilling all the other rules".

The apostle Paul also believed in the preeminence of love. 1 Corinthians 13, that great chapter, and you remember how it closes. "And now these three remain; faith, hope, and," Bible study. That's not how it closes, is it? "And now these three remain; faith, hope, and," prayer. No, "And now these three remain; faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love". We find that same theme in the passage we're going to look at today in Romans 12. If you have your Bibles, turn to Romans, let me give you a two minute summary of where we are in the book of Romans. Remember the theme of this letter is the righteousness of God is available to all who trust in Christ. That word righteousness simply means a right standing with God is available to all who trust in Christ.

And the theme verse of this book is found in Romans 1 verses 16 and 17, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God to salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and then the Greek. For in it," that is in the gospel, "Is revealed the righteousness of God from faith to faith. As it is written, 'The righteous person shall live by faith.'" This book is about a right standing with God. Paul talks about the problem of righteousness. That is we don't have it on our own. "We've all sinned and fallen short". Then he talks about the provision of righteousness. God has provided but we can't provide for our self by sending Christ to die for us so that we could have that right standing with God. Then he talks about in chapter 6 to 8 the power of righteousness. You don't have to wait until you get to heaven to experience God's power in your life.

If you're in a right standing with God, you have the power of the Holy Spirit to deliver you from sin in your everyday life. And then in verses 9 to 11, the program of righteousness, how God's plan for righteousness is not just for the Gentile but for the Jew as well. And then we get to chapter 12 where we started last time about the practice of righteousness. Throughout the rest of this letter, there's not a long doctrinal treatise, it is the practical teaching of how a right relationship with God should affect your everyday life. That's the theme of this last section of Romans that we are in today. "How does righteousness affect my life today"?

And Paul says in these final chapters, if you're in a right relationship with God, it has two implications. First of all, there's the vertical implication of your relationship with God. If you're in a right relationship with him, it ought to affect your everyday life with him. Look at verses 1 to 2 of Romans 12. "I urge you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship". That is every day we put ourselves on God's altar, we say, "Not my will, your will be done. I'm giving myself as a living, not a dead sacrifice, a living sacrifice". And how will I know if I've totally given myself to God? He says in verse 2, "You won't be conformed to this world, but you will be transformed by the renewing of your mind".

So verses 1 to 2, a right relationship with God means I'm going to daily, hourly, give myself to serving him. But then beginning in verse 3, he talks about the horizontal implications of righteousness not only affects how we relate to God, but how we relate to one another as well. And that's verse 3 through the rest of the book of Romans. Now, in this remaining section of Romans 12 where we're gonna pick up today in verse 9, Paul talks about our relationship with others is built on the foundation of love. That's what he says throughout the rest of chapter 12. If I were gonna outline the rest of chapter 12, I'd do it this way. You might wanna jot this down on your note. Verses 9 through 13 deal with love that is extended to other people. Love that is extended to other people, then verses 14 to 21 describes love that is offended by our enemies.

Next time we're gonna look about how do we love the unlovable people in our life who wrong us? But today, we're gonna talk about extending love to other people, and that's what Paul talks about. First of all, he's going to describe what love is, and secondly what genuine love does. Now let's look and see how he develops that. First of all, he's gonna talk about what love is, what love is. Beginning in verse 9. I just thought of this. A guy was walking down the street, looked into the window of a used bookstore, and he saw a book with an intriguing title on it, "How to Hug". He thought, "Now I've gotta get that. That looks pretty hot, 'How to Hug.'" He brought the book, opened it up, and to his disappointment, he discovered it was the third volume of the encyclopedia covering the subjects, "How to Hug".

The reason I thought of that is when we think about love, sometimes we like to define it in these cold encyclopedia terms that are sterile. That's not what Paul is doing here. Paul is gonna give us some very practical definitions of what love is and what love does. Now, pardon me for that aside. Look at verse 9. He says, "Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil and cling to what is good". Two characteristics of genuine love. What love is, first of all, he says, "Love is sincere". Let your love be without hypocrisy.

Now that word hypocrisy comes from the Greek word hypocritos. We have our word hypocrite from it. And that Greek word literally means to wear a mask. It refers to a Greek actor who would put on a mask in order to pretend to be somebody that he actually wasn't. That's what a hypocrite is. He is somebody who is masked, somebody who's playing a part different from who he really is. He said, "Let your love be without a mask". Don't be a hypocrite, don't be two-faced. Now the NIV uses the word sincere. "Let your love be sincere". To me, that's an even more interesting word. The word sincere actually comes from two Latin words, sine cera, sine cera. Those two words literally mean without wax. Without wax? What does that mean?

Well, in Paul's day, if you were a potter and you were making a new pot, once you had formed it, you would put it into a firing oven in order to strengthen it. But occasionally the pot wouldn't hold up. It would crack in the oven. Now, if you were an honest potter, you'd throw it away and start over again. But a dishonest potter would take that cracked pot, and he would put wax in the crack and then paint over it to make it look like it was a legitimate pot. And of course it appeared legitimate until the unsuspecting buyer tried to pour a hot liquid into it. The wax would melt, then the pot would collapse. If you were an honest potter and had a good pot, you would stamp the word at the bottom, sine cera, without wax. In other words, this pot is the real thing.

And that's where we get the word sincere. He's saying, "When you love somebody, don't be masked about it". Don't pretend to love 'em and not really love them. Don't have an illegitimate love for them that has wax on it, it appears to be authentic but it isn't. You know, we do that all the time, don't we? I mean, we see somebody, they come toward us and you say to them, "Oh, it is so wonderful to see you. I've missed talking to you," while privately thinking, "When can I get outta here? This is terrible". Or we say to somebody, "Oh, you look gorgeous. You've never looked better". When you secretly think that's the most hideous outfit I've ever seen you've got on. That is hypocritical love, that is insincere love. Christians are not to be that way. True love is sincere.

Secondly, true love is discerning. He says in verse 9, "Abhor what is evil, cling to what is good". You know people who go around saying, "Oh, I just love everybody and everything". That's not true love, that is mushy sentimentality. If you really love somebody, you'll be discriminating. True love discriminates, not against people, but discriminates against what is good and evil. In the 1960s, a man named Joseph Fletcher introduced a concept in ethics called situational ethics. Do you remember that? Situational ethics was a revolutionary thought that there are no moral absolutes. There is nothing that is absolutely right or nothing that is absolutely wrong in every circumstance.

So instead of asking what is right or wrong, what you ought to ask yourself is, what is the loving thing to do in this situation? For example, if two people really love one another and just happen to be married to other people, why it's not wrong to commit adultery because the loving thing is for those two people to be together. Or if a mother finds herself pregnant and the thought of a new baby is stressing her out, why, an abortion isn't always wrong in that situation, the thing she ought to ask herself is, "What is the loving thing to do"? And of course the loving thing to do in that situation she would say is to take care of my own needs first and get rid of this baby. That's situational ethics.

Now, what was a revolutionary concept in the 1960s has become mainstream today, isn't it? I mean, that's the way our culture thinks. There's nothing that is right or wrong in every circumstance. What is important is that you just love people, do the loving thing. But Paul says it's impossible for something to be loving and evil at the same time. It's just absolutely impossible. When we say we love somebody, it doesn't mean we love everything they do or love everything about them, it means we want the very best for them and at the same time hate what is evil. Paul is saying, "True love is both sincere and it's discerning". Now that we've talked about what true love is, Paul is gonna answer the second question, what does true love do? And Paul is going to give us five action steps for what it means to exercise genuine love.

Now let me say at the outset, this is not heavy theology we're getting ready to get into, okay. You don't need a chart to try to figure all of this out, this isn't Bible prophecy. But remember, the test of genuine Christianity is not your ability to chart the end times. Now the test of your Christianity is not being able to support ten reasons for the virgin birth of Christ. All those things are important, but they're not the heart of the Christian faith. You wanna know whether or not you're really a believer? If you're really a believer, your life is going to be marked by a genuine love for God and a genuine love for other people. And here's a checklist to know if you genuinely love God and other people. Here are the five things that true love does.

Number one, love pursues unity instead of division. It pursues unity instead of division. Look at verse 10, "Be devoted to one another in brother love". Now there are two phrases here. "Be devoted" first of all. That's a word that means a commitment that is related to a family member. But then there's a second word, brother love. The word love is philos, we understand that word, but the word brother is the Greek word, adelfus. Philos, love; adelfus, brother. Of course we get our city Philadelphia, the city of brother love. It's the same thing here. He says, "We're to be devoted to one another in brother love". That word "adelfus", brother, is used 230 times in the Greek New Testament. And you know what it literally means? It means from the same womb, that's what a brother is.

Brothers can be completely different in many ways, but what unites them is not how much alike they are, it's the fact that they come from the same womb. And it's the same way with Christians. We are to be devoted to one another, not because we're all alike, but because we come from the same womb, that is, from Jesus Christ. That's what unifies us. Do you remember the old TV show, "Dallas"? Oh, don't act like you're so holy that you don't remember that or that you watched, of course we all watched "Dallas".

Remember one of the continuing themes was the rivalry between the Ewing brothers, JR and Bobby and Ray. And I remember one scene, they were having the annual Ewing barbecue out at South Fork, and they were all standing around the swimming pool, and one of the guests said something that insulted their daddy, Jock. And JR was so infuriated he hauls off and slugs this guy who had insulted his daddy. And then they start beating up on JR, and finally Bobby and Ray jump in to save JR. And after the scuffle was over, JR is brushing himself off and he was kinda surprised that his brothers helped him. And he said to Bobby, "Bob, thanks for the help". And Bobby said, "JR, that's what brothers are for".

Now that's pretty good theology. That's pretty good theology. That's what brothers are for. The reason you and I as Christians are to look out for one another, protect one another, love one another, stand up for one another, is because we're brothers and sisters in Christ, we all come from the same womb. That's the basis of our devotion to one another. Not how much we are alike or different, but we come from the same Father. That's why he says be devoted to one another. That means we pursue unity instead of division. And that leads to a second thought. If that's true, then it means, genuine love will prefer others instead of ourselves. Look again at verse 10, "Give preference to one another in honor". The Greek word translated give preference means to go before, picture somebody who steps out of line and goes to the front of the line.

You say, "Well, that's rude". No, the reason he goes to the front of the line is not what he can get, but what he can give to the rest of those who are in line. That's what he's talking about here, "Give preference to one another". The NIV says, "Honor one another above yourselves". You know what the root cause of every conflict with other people is? I don't care if it's a conflict in a friendship, in a marriage, in a church. The root cause of every conflict is a desire to have it done our way instead of somebody else's way. That's what every common, think about the last argument you had with your mate. You don't have to think that long, do you, about what it was about? It probably had something to do with were you gonna get your way or was he or she gonna have their way?

James said it this way in James 4:1, "What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures," that is your desires, "That wage war in your members," your body? At the heart of every conflict is, "I want it my way". That's especially true in the church. You look at every church division, it all has to do with people who want it done their way, or if they don't start singing the music I like. If a preacher doesn't believe exactly the way I believe. If I don't get to sit where I wanna sit, if the money isn't spent the way I think it ought to be spent, well, I'm picking up my marbles and I'm gonna go play church someplace else. That's the heart of conflict in churches today. Paul says, "Now genuine love will place other people's preferences above our own".

You see, ladies and gentlemen, God has not called us to uniformity, did you know that? To be a Christian, to be a member of First Baptist Dallas doesn't mean you have to believe the same way everybody else believes, like the same things everybody else likes. God has not called us to be cookie cutter Christians that all look like one another, think like one another, behave like one another. He hasn't called us to uniformity, he has called us to unity. And unity means even though we're different, we are melded together by a common love for one another. And the way you maintain that unity as Paul commends us to do is by constantly saying, "Not my will, your will," by giving honor to the preferences of other people. It means when there're people in the church that you disagree with, you have a different opinion about the way things ought to be done, it means first of all, you attribute the highest, not the lowest motives to those people with whom you disagree.

And maybe they actually have a good reason for believing what they do, maybe they have a good reason for having a different priority than you have. It also means allowing for the possibility that just maybe they're right and we're wrong in that situation. Paul was writing to a group of Christians who were experiencing trouble in their church, the church at Philippi, and to solve the problem, look at what he said to those Philippian Christians. Philippians 2 verse 3 and 4, "Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind, to let each one of you regard one another as more important than himself. Do not merely look out for your own personal interest, but also the interest of others". That is a mark of genuine love.
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