Beloved, Be Loving

The Covington News - - RELIGION - JONATHON SCHARF COLUM­NIST Rev. Jonathan Scharf is pas­tor of Abid­ing Grace Lutheran Church in Cov­ing­ton. Wor­ship ev­ery Sun­day is at 8 & 10:30am. Full ser­mons and more in­for­ma­tion can be found at www. abid­ing­

“Dearly Beloved…” That’s the way I started out my last wed­ding ser­mon. I know it’s a lit­tle bit of a throw­back. We don’t call too many peo­ple “beloved” any­more, but I hope you know what I mean. To­day, I want to think about why that’s a per­fect way to greet one another… “beloved.”

The text I want to look at is 1 John 4:7-12 where John says, “Beloved, be loving.” And it’s more than just a great wed­ding text. It’s a sec­tion of Scrip­ture that is im­por­tant for you ev­ery day of your life — that’s if you like be­ing loved, that’s if you ap­pre­ci­ate the chance to love. Be­cause the truth of it is — re­gard­less of how you feel — “Beloved” ap­plies to you. You are loved.

Whether it’s a day that ev­ery­one is telling you that and show­ing that to you or not – you are loved. If by no one else (which I doubt) you are loved by God. So beloved, be loving. And the word that our text uses 15 times for “love” is a pow­er­ful one. It’s the same word God uses for the love with which God so loved the world, the love he com­mands of hus­bands and wives, the love he demon­strated in dy­ing for us while we were still sin­ners. With that word, he says “Beloved, be loving.”

Here is how it is recorded in John’s first let­ter: “7 Dear friends (Loved ones, beloved), let us love one another, for love comes from God. Ev­ery­one who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Who­ever does not love does not know God, be­cause God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.”

Beloved, Be Loving. That sums it up. Now, here I’m go­ing to speak specif­i­cally to cou­ples — but re­al­ize the truths ap­ply beyond just ro­man­tic re­la­tion­ships. You are loved, so love. But don’t mis­un­der­stand. I don’t want you to … God doesn’t want you to love one another be­cause the other loves you. That’s the mis­take all too many cou­ples make. They look at that spe­cial some­one and see how won­der­fully they are treat­ing them and how nice they make them feel and how beau­ti­ful they are and how much ben­e­fit they de­rive from them, and so they love, they give, they sacrifice, they work to make their spouse as happy as that spouse makes them. And it is such a won­der­ful feel­ing and the birds are chirp­ing and the sky is blue and love love love…

But don’t do that. That feel­ing only lasts so long. Guys, don’t try to make her as happy as she makes you — ever. Ladies, same thing. Don’t do it. That’s not love — that’s self­ish­ness. And that fails, be­cause the mo­ment that sin­ner you’re in a re­la­tion­ship with doesn’t live up to one of your ex­pec­ta­tions. The mo­ment his self­ish­ness for­gets about your feel­ings or her pride puts you down — and maybe it hasn’t hap­pened yet — but the mo­ment you see each other in your real birth­day suits – the one we call the Old Adam — the mo­ment you sin against one another — it’s way too easy to stick with the stan­dard and then seek to make your spouse just as happy as they make you — es­pe­cially when that hap­pi­ness mea­sures neg­a­tive on the scale.

That’s what John clears up in verse 10. He says, “This is love: not that we loved God (with our im­per­fect, re­ac­tionary love) but that he loved us.”

Don’t try to make one another as happy as the other makes you. Try to love each other like God loved you — that’s not self­ish­ness — that’s the op­po­site of self­ish­ness. That’s love — real love this time, not just the greed that our world calls love. No­tice how John goes on then — “This is love — that God loved us and sent his Son as an aton­ing sacrifice for our sins.”

So in­stead of loving your guy be­cause he bought you flow­ers or held your hand — set out to love him when he’s a jerk. Same for you guys. Love her the way Je­sus loved you and me. Born re­belling against him, and not re­ally com­ing up for air all that of­ten — ev­ery time we fail, ev­ery weak­ness, ev­ery greedy, pride­ful, lust­ing thought slaps our God in the face — and right then — “while we were sin­ners, Christ died for us.”

That’s love. So now — be­cause you are loved in that way, for­given of all the sins God should never for­get, be­cause he did that — God says, be loving, sac­ri­fic­ing in the same way your Sav­ior gave up what he de­served so that he could make us what we didn’t de­serve. Don’t look at your mar­riage as mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial. It will be if you don’t look at it like that — but if you go into it with the goal of be­ing served as well as serv­ing — self­ish­ness will get in the way and cause prob­lems. You see, real love doesn’t ex­pect com­pro­mise, but of­fers sacrifice. Love doesn’t make de­mands, but gives of it­self. Love doesn’t meet some­one half-way, but goes the ex­tra mile… again.

So guys, Je­sus tells you to be love in the very same way he is — be­com­ing last, not so that she thanks you later or is more in­clined to give you your way, but be­cause that is what love does. Ladies, God’s Word tells you to sub­mit, not be­cause your guy is your king, but your head — a part of you I’m think­ing you re­ally don’t want to be with­out. And for both of you, those will be chal­lenges. Those things will take true love. You’ll have to make your at­ti­tude the “same as that of Christ Je­sus, who be­ing in very na­ture God, did not con­sider equal­ity with God some­thing to be grasped but made him­self noth­ing… for us!”

And then, as John says in verse 12, God’s love will be ful­filled in us. It will be brought to its pur­pose — that the world see what God is like when they see your love. How cool is that! Just by loving the per­son you fell “in love” with ( whom you kind of like any­way) — just by loving one another — you get to show peo­ple God. So do it. Beloved, be loving.

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