Sunday, March 19, 2023

Love God: Love People 
Week 3 - The Difficulty of Love
Main Scripture - James 4:1-3, 7-10, Genesis 4:1-9, Galatians 5:16-26

We live in a broken world with broken people and broken relationships. Sin has completely permeated every facet of life, making it difficult to love and be loved. We must keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, and be intentional about loving God and loving others. 

Sin has completely permeated every facet of life, making it difficult to love and be loved. The antidote to our problem is to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, and be intentional about loving God and loving others.

This Sunday we are going to take a deeper look today at some of the competing interests and desires that make it so difficult to love others. Thankfully, the Bible addresses all things pertaining to life and faith, including this.

James 4:1-3 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

Competing Desires

“What causes fights and quarrels among you?” As you let that question hang for a moment, think about the things or situations in your life that cause fights, quarrels, and division. What memories come up for you? What situations get you frustrated?

In Genesis chapter 4 we see the very first example of this competitive and divisive desire in the life of Cain and Abel.

Genesis 4:1-9
Adam made love to his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, “With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man.” 2 Later she gave birth to his brother Abel. Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. 3 In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. 4 And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. 6 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” 8 Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. 9 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

Cain was jealous of Abel. He wanted God to look at his offering with the same favor Abel received. His jealousy and anger led him to murder… Sin is always at our proverbial doorstep, and it wants to “have” us… but, we must master it. We must learn to overcome our divisive and destructive desires in order to both love others, and live at peace.

Life in the Spirit

As we learn throughout the Old Testament, the people of God weren’t able to overcome sin on their own. They needed a perfect high priest who could finally and completely offer a sacrifice worthy of total forgiveness. As we now know, this priest was and is Jesus.

Galatians 5:16-17 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.

Galatians 5:19-21 19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

This obviously isn’t an exhaustive list, but it’s a great starting point. The selfish bent of human nature makes it difficult to love each other.

Galatians 5:22-26
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

The fruit of the Spirit can be evident in the life of others. It can also be evident in our lives as well. Take an honest look at your own life, your relationships, and the way you love others. Are you loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled?

Humble Yourselves

It’s a humbling thing to admit you’re difficult to love. It’s equally humbling to admit how you experience great difficulty in loving others.

James 4:7-10
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

We must learn to humble ourselves before God. Submitting ourselves to Him and being obedient are ways we express our love and affection.