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The Three Hardest Words in the World to Use

Dr Alex Tang

Text: 1 John 3:16-18

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.

 Summary

The three hardest words in the world to use are “love one another”. To murder is to take away a life, to hate is to take from a life. To love is to add to a life. John teaches Christians to love one another not with words but with actions and in truth.

 

 

1. Introduction

What do you think the three hardest words in the world to use are?
  • I owe you (Ah Long)
  • Make my day (Clint Eastwood)
  •  Can do lah (Ah Beng)… but never do anything I am sorry
  •  Greatest since creation

 Let me suggest that the three hardest words to use in the word are “love one another”. I am not talking about romantic love here. The type of romantic love promoted by valentine day and Hollywood. Valentine day means red roses and dinner. The price of red roses goes sky high and the restaurants make a killing. Romantic love is mainly infatuation, day-dreaming and lust. Hollywood movies promote romantic love; “Love at first sight.”

Sleepless in Seattle (1993) starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks is a story about a boy calling the psychiatrist host of a radio talk show about his father's prolonged grief over the death of his wife. Hanks, the father, is conned into confessing his grief to the psychiatrist. The father was talking to the psychiatrist over the phone unaware that it is simultaneous being broadcasted by radio all over the States. He shared about how he missed his wife and how he first met her. It was love at first sight. He also shared how he did not think he will love again. The love he had with his wife is only once for each lifetime. The rating for the show shot sky high and the radio station was flooded by thousands of phone calls from women willing to marry him! It also set in motion a series of events by which he met Meg Ryan. And it was love at first sight again! This is the only romantic movie I know that the couple met at the end of the movie.

When I said the three hardest words in the world to use, I am not talking about romantic love. I am talking about Christians loving one another in a congregation. Do you think it is easy to love one another here? In this church? Really? Do you love me? Do you love me enough to give me 10,000 dollars when I ask you to?

John in his pastoral epistle 1, 2 & 3 John is writing to Christians. There was division in his church over some false teaching. In fact, some of the members have already left the church. I John was written as the letter to those who have left to remind them about the key points of being a Christian. One of the key points of being a Christian he wanted them to learn is to love one another. Not superficial, romantic love but really really love one another.

2. Exposition of Text

1 Jn 3:11-15.

John here made it plain that his admonitions were directed to Christians.

This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother's were righteous. Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.

 But before telling his audience precisely what love is, he first told them what it is not. It is most certainly not the kind of action Cain exhibited toward his brother Abel. Cain murdered his brother (Gen. 4:8) and in that action he was influence by evil one. Hatred on the part of one Christian toward another is the first step towards murder. The non-righteous will always hate the righteous. Anyone who hates and murders does not love the one who hates and murder. Howard Marshall, professor of New Testament in the University of Aberdeen, writes, “Hatred is the wish that the other person is not there: it is the refusal to recognize his rights as a person, the longing that he might be dead.”

Love one another is then not murder but the opposite of murder. What is the opposite of murder? Giving or adding to a life. As murder is the taking away of a life from another, Christian love should be giving more of life to another. John explains what Christians loving one another is…

Murder and hatred is taking away a life or minus-ing a life of another. (Life minus)

 Christian love is adding to a life of another (Life plus)

v. 16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.

It is the giving more of life. We know what Christian love for one another is by observing Jesus Christ. Christ gives life. Jn 15:13

v.17 If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?

How does the giving of life happens in Christian love for one another? In our material possessions! God shows His love for us by giving his only Son so that all who believes can have eternal life. Jn 3:16.

v.18 Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.

How then can Christian love for one another be lived out in the church? (a) not with words or tongues (b) with actions (c) in truth

Christians love one another not with words but with actions and in truth

 

3. Applications

 

a. Love one another not with words or tongues

 

James 3:5-6 Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

 i. Saying kind things but is insincere

· “Let’s have a “win-win” situation”
· “Our God is great and He will send someone to help you”…why not you?
· “Brother, I will pray for you”…do you really intent to set time aside and pray?
· “Let us set up a committee to study it”…meaning you do not want to make a decision
· “Our Father is rich, ask Him to bless you”…meaning you will not be the one giving out of your pocket.

ii. Saying ‘kind things’ in an unkind way (gossip)

· “You know Sister so-and-so, she have this problem with her husband. Her husband beats her. I am telling you so that…..”
· “Brother so-and-so lost a few thousands dollars on the stock exchange. Christians should not speculate. I have always believe that. I am telling you so that….”
· “Brother so-and-so lost his job last month. So shameful lah. That’s why we have not seen them around church lately. I am telling you so…”
Meaning: It is good to let other Christians now what is happening to so-and-so.
Deeper meaning: · Thank God it is not me
· Serve them right
· Yum, yum, nice juicy gossip

iii. Promising much but do not deliver

· “Brother, if you need money just let me know. I am always there for you. But at this moment, I have a cash flow problem…”
· “Sister, if you need to talk, call me anytime. Here is my handphone number. At night I switch my handphone off…”
· NATO (No Action Talk Only) It is so easy with words. Many of us hide behind words. Many of us do not say what we think. If we are asked to do something and we do not want to do it, instead of saying no, we say something vague like, “I’ll pray about it” or “I’ll get back to you”. In the Bible, words are not a mark of Christian love. If you say “I love you”, the apostle John says “prove it!”

b. Love one another with actions

 

i. Respect one another
(1) Listen to one another. Wait until the other person stops talking before you open your mouth.
(2) Be punctual. When you are late you are making the other person wait. You are making the other person waste his or her time.
(3) Don’t be rude. Wait until the church service and announcement is over before you leave the hall.
(4) Agree to disagree. You do not need to win every argument. You do not need to have the last words.

ii. Care for one another

(1) Is everyone in your small group okay? Does anyone need help?
(2) Do something nice for someone in the congregation this week.
(3) Offer to baby sit so that young couples with young children can have an evening off for a valentine dinner.
(4) Mothers carpool so that you can have time for yourself.
(5) Hospitality. Open your home to one another. To visitors.
(6) Visit the sick. Bring a small gift. Keep them company.
(7) Offer to help in spring cleaning and painting a church member’s house as Chinese New Year is coming.
(8) Buy your Christian brothers and sisters a dinner.

ii. Give to one another

(1) Is another in financial need? Maybe, if you can afford it, offer an interest free loan.
(2) Give some money without expecting anything in return.
(3) Be a mentor to the younger Christians
(4) Give your old clothes, furniture, books, crockery to the Salvation Army, Old Folks Home, Orphanage
(5) Support financially Malaysian Care

v. Pray for one another c. Love one another in truth

 

i. Be honest with one another
(1) Speak the truth with love
(2) Tell it as it is
(3) Let your yes be yes and no be no

ii. Confess to one another

James 5:16 T

herefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

(1) Confess your sin only to people you trusts.

(2) Confession is good for your soul
(3) Confession is important for spiritual growth

iii. Rebuke and Restore one another

(1) Rebuking and restoring is a sign of love Luke 17:3 So watch yourselves. "If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.
(2) “It’s none of my business” is not love.
(3) Reconcile if anyone has offend you.

Matt 5:22

"Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you; leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.”

4. Conclusion

1JN 3:16

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.

 The three hardest words in the world to use are “love one another”. To murder is to take away a life, to hate is to take from a life. To love is to add to a life. John teaches Christians to love one another not with words but with actions and in truth.

 

Soli Deo Gloria

 

 

|posted 11 February 2007|

               

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 "spiritual forming disciples of Jesus Christ with informed minds, hearts on fire and contemplative in actions"  

 

     
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