LEARNING TO LOVE PROPERLY by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson
My wife’s dad would often say, “The reason many people cannot love properly is because they’ve never been loved properly.” To understand true love you have to first receive it.
Rom. 8:35-39 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” 37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. Here comes Adrian Rogers’ favorite verse in the Bible. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Overall Background: We often hear that we need to love God and that’s true. But the point here is not whether we love God but rather does God love us. Listen to Romans 8:35, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? And, again in Romans 8:39, “nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Do we truly understand that – “God through Jesus Christ loves me unconditionally, in spite of what my physical or spiritual problems might be.” Do you understand this love that God has for you in Jesus Christ? Have you ever received this love in your life?
This question has two very important implications: Unless you receive God’s love properly in your life, you cannot love yourself properly. Unless you love yourself properly, you cannot love others properly. The reason we have trouble accepting our self the way God has made us and the reason we have trouble accepting others the way they are is because we have not accepted God’s love in our hearts. The world’s idea of love is selfish. It is based on what you can do for me. As the girl asked the boy – “Do you love me?” Boy – “Of course!” Girl – “Would you die for me?” Boy – “No – mine is an undying love.”
Let me add this as clearly as possibly – “Only the Holy Spirit can help you receive this love of God through Jesus Christ.” Keep in mind that Romans 8 is the chapter of the Holy Spirit. It mentions the Holy Spirit 19 times—that’s more than any other chapter in the whole Bible. The point is that we cannot understand and experience God’s love for us without the guidance and help of the Holy Spirit. Then we can love our wife, husband, children, church, and the world properly.
First, there are two major things that we need to understand:
I. GOD LOVES US THROUGH JESUS CHRIST IN SPITE OF PHYSICAL PROBLEMS.
People think that problems in life are an indication that God doesn’t love them. Listen again to Rom 8:35, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Now Paul lists 7 physical hazards that appear to separate us from the love of Christ:
#1.Shall tribulation – The word for tribulation means, “strong pressure.” It is the same word that is used for the treading of grapes, when the grapes are pressed down, they burst and juice comes out. In John 16:33, Jesus said, “…In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” What does that mean? Christ’s love for me will overcome any pressure that will come into my life. How do I know that? The first part of verse 33 says, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace.” Even if you are pressed down to the point of being burst, my love for you will keep you intact.
For e.g. The world does not understand that concept of love. Ask someone why they love so and so. The answer is typically – “how they make me feel.” No wonder people walk out when it gets too hard. As someone said, “Love is blind—and marriage is an eye-opener.”
#2.or distress – This word has the meaning of a narrow cramped space. It means when you are in a situation where you can’t go to the right or to the left. You are in a holding pattern. Many of you are in a situation where it seems like there is no answer; God’s love for you has not ended.
#3.or persecution – This is not about being blamed for doing what’s wrong. Getting a ticket for doing a 65 in a 35 is not persecution. It means being mistreated because you believe in Jesus Christ, because you stand for the truth. In John 15:20 Jesus said, “…If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.”
For e.g. There are Christians who are living all over the world facing terrible persecutions. There’s one right now in Iran – Pastor Saeed. He is an American pastor who is serving an 8-year prison sentence in Iran’s toughest prison for sharing his Christian faith. He came to Iran to work with orphans. Click on the picture or link below that will help you sign this petition and send it to the new Iranian President.
#4.or famine – It means hunger.
For e.g. One of our kids sometime back wanted a snack after school and Nicole told them to hold off until they finish their homework. Their reply – “you don’t love me.”
If I may add – there are children all over the world who are hungry for a morsel of food. We have a responsibility to help them.
#5.or nakedness – It means a lack of clothes because there is no means to buy any.
#6.or peril – It means danger. It means risk.
#7.or sword? – It means execution.
There are people all over the world who live in such difficult situations and yet they never doubt that God loves them. The Holy Spirit reminds them that God’s love for them in Jesus Christ is intact, in spite of their circumstances. What’s the result? Rom. 8:37 “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” Many people conquer but they do it without the love of Jesus.
For e.g. There were two Kentucky farmers who owned racing stables and they were always competing with each other. As always they both entered a horse in the local steeplechase. One of them was so bent on winning that he went looking for the best professional rider to outdo his neighbor. The race began and the two horses of those two farmers were neck to neck with a large lead over the rest of the pack. As they were crossing the last fence, both fell off the horses. The professional quickly got up and remounted and finished the race, winning it. As he made it back to the paddock, the farmer was fuming with rage. He asked, “What’s wrong? Didn’t I win?” The farmer replied, “You won all right, but you crossed the finish line on the wrong horse.” In his determination and hurry, he had remounted the wrong horse.
Application: May I ask you – are you facing some difficult times in your life? Do you believe that God is punishing you? Do you believe that right now you are out of favor with God? If so, no wonder you are out of favor with yourself and others are with you. You can be more than a conqueror if you receive the love of Christ in your life.
God loves you through Jesus Christ, in spite of what our physical problems might be.
II. GOD LOVES US THROUGH JESUS CHRIST, IN SPITE OF SPIRITUAL MYSTERIES.
38 For I am persuaded
Background: Paul is saying that he is completely convinced. There is no doubt here. The Holy Spirit has so enlightened his heart that his will has been won over. Once again he lists 10 spiritual hazards that appear to separate us from the love of Christ:
#1. neither death nor life – Meaning: neither the fear of the great beyond or the fear of tomorrow. If I have to die, God loves me. If I have to live, God loves me.
#2. nor angels nor principalities nor powers – Meaning: Good Angels who are perfect or bad angels who are evil or any other power can separate me from the love of God.
#3. nor things present nor things to come – Meaning: Neither the cares of today or the calamities of tomorrow can separate us from the love of God through Jesus Christ.
#4. nor height nor depth – This is somewhat strange. What it means is nothing in the sky above or in the earth beneath can separate us from the love of God in Christ.
#5.nor any other created thing – Meaning: Just in case, somebody comes up and says, “Paul you missed this one thing that has the potential to make God stop loving us,” Paul adds this last item.
Bottom line: Nothing can make God love you less through Jesus Christ.
How did Jesus love you? He went through every one of those hazards for us on the cross – He went through tribulation and distress as they falsely accused Him, spit in His face, tore out His beard, put a crown of thorns on His head. He was nailed to the cross and cried out I’m thirsty. He was naked the whole time. Finally, he gave His life for us. The Holy Spirit helps us see His love for us.
True love requires a source that is deeper and higher than anything we can produce on our own. We have to be plugged into someone who can love us consistently, unconditionally, and satisfyingly. Then only can we love others consistently, unconditionally, and satisfyingly.
For e.g. When I started college, I dropped out of church because when I went to church, I felt unwelcome. Then I met Nicole’s dad and in just one handshake I knew he loved me.
Do you have this love in your hearts?