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THE LOVE IMPERATIVE!

A definition of love: We love someone when we actively seek his or her best, no matter what the circumstances or the cost.

A description of God's love for us:
1. God is love (I John 4:8,16)
2. God is seeking our best no matter what the cost (Jn 3:16; I Pet 1:18,19)
3. God is seeking our best no matter what the circumstances---even though we     have hated Him and rebelled against Him (I Tim 1:13-17; Rom 5:8; I Jn     4:9,10)
        The greatest selfishness is to seek our best no matter what it costs         others.  The greatest love is to seek another's best even if it costs us our         life.  "Greater love has no one that this, that he lay down his life for his         friends." (Jn 15:13)  "I am the good shepherd.  The good shepherd lays         down his life for the sheep." (Jn 10:11)
4. An example of God's love from the Old Testament– Manasseh (II Chron 33:2-    6,10-13)
5. God's continued love toward us (Roman 8:31-39; I Jn 2:1,2; 4:18)
        He is for us and gives us victory over all who oppose us and Him (8:31);         over every need (8:32); over guilt (8:33,34; I Jn 2:1,2); and over fear (I Jn         4:18).  Nothing will separate us from the love of God (8:35-39).

Our imperative to love God (Matt 22:37,38)
1. Love for God will always lead us to obey God (I Jn 2:5-6, 5:3; Jn 14:15)
2. Love for God will lead to a love for His word (Ps 119:10,11,18,20,40, 97-100,     103)
3. Love for God will lead us to love Him above all else (I Jn 2:15-17; Matt 10:37)     (God's jealousy – James 4:4,5)
4. Love for God will lead us to love His people (I Jn 4:20,21)
5. Love for God will lead us to care for the lost (Rom 1:14)

Our imperative to love each other (Matt 22:39,40)
1. Our love for others "completes" God's circle of love: (a) The circle of light (I Jn     1:5, 2:9-11), (b) The circle of love (I Jn 3:16-18, 4:7-12, 19-21)
2. Our love for others will lead us to forgive others as He has forgiven us (Eph     4:31-5:2; Matt 18:21-35)
3. Our love for others will lead us to love the unlovely (Matt 5:43-48; Rom     12:17-21)
4. Our love for others will result in our lives glorifying God (John 13:34; Eph     3:14-21)
5. Our love for others will result in us loving others in the way that is described     in I Cor 13, the LOVE CHAPTER (I Cor 13:4-8a)  We will seek their best no     matter what the circumstances.

        Love: I love you and I want good for you.
        Lust: I want to use you to get what is best for me.
        False love: I love if (love with strings) or I love because (love only the                         lovely).
        True love: I love period (unconditionally). 

    CIRCUMSTANCES          LOVE'S RESPONSE             LUST'S RESPONSE
   Other's slowness         Patient (We want their      Impatient (We want                                      our best, no matter how     our best, NOW!)
                                     long it takes.)     
   Irritations                    Kind (We want their best    Harsh (We return
                                     no matter how unpleasant   irritation with irritation.)
                                     they are to be around.)                                         
   Others' successes        Not envious (We want          Envious (We want to
                                     them to do well.)                be the only one who
                                                                             does well.)
   Our successes              Not boastful (We know       Boastful (We are
                                     that all we do comes from    the greatest!)
                                     God.)
   Social norms                Not rude (We are willing     Rude (We always
                                     to do what is best for all.)   want to be first in
                                                                             line.)
   Worldly pleasures         Not self-seeking (We put    Self-seeking (We put
                                      others' needs first.)            our wants first.)          
   Wrongs                        No record of wrongs (We   Keeps a record of
                                      forgive and forget wrongs.)  wrongs (We will get
                                                                              even and more!)
   Insults                          Not easily angered (We      Easily angered (We
                                      return good for evil.)            return evil for evil.)
   Evil                               Not enjoy (We want no       Enjoys (We enjoy it
                                      bad to happen to anyone.)    as long as it is not
                                                                              happening to me.)
   Lies                                    Rejoices in truth (We            Enjoys lies (We hate
                                      love the light.)                    the light.  It exposes
                                                                               our evil.)
Love never fails to seek another's best:  "It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails."  If we do anything of a Christian nature---such as giving, teaching, serving and even giving our life---without love, our efforts are of no value (I Cor 13:1-3).

Agape and Phileo love: Peter learns the difference (Jn 21:15-19).  Agape: It is a love that is willing to give one's all for the one loved.  Phileo: It is a love that is a "response to the pleasures one takes in a person or object." (Wuest)  Peter first had Phileo love toward Jesus Christ, but later he would have Agape love toward Him.

ASSIGNMENT:
1. Is love a feeling, a commitment or both?
2. Can we love someone if we do not like them?
3. Can we fall in love with someone?

RESOURCES: DIGGING FOR GOD I Corinthians 12-16; CHARITY AND ITS FRUITS by Jonathan Edwards; FORGIVENESS by Charles Stanley