The Awesome Power of Love 2/13/00

Matthew 22:34-40

JESUS CHRIST was asked a question that could have impelled him on the horns of a dilemma: “What is the great commandment in the law?” There were 613 commandments, 248 positive and 365 negative. Everybody had a favorite. Large factions defended certain ones as the most important. Jesus reached back into Deut. 6:5 and quoted an obscure one which He knew to be worthy to – Dominate our emotions – Direct our attitudes – Determine our actions.

It was part of the “shema” = the creed of Judaism. Shema means “to hear.” It was the first O.T. Scripture memorized by Jewish children. Their worship services open with the recitation of this text.

Compliance controls our temper, corrects our thinking, keeps us from temptation. It influences all of life. It gives life meaning, direction and purpose.

Love is so strong it drives certain industries in America. The U.S. Census Bureau, in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, shares these insights (1997).

There are 169 businesses in the U.S. that employ a total of over 10,200 people that make chocolate products.

There are 762 companies employing 53,700 people that make candy.

There are 26,400 florists who employ 123,5000 people.

Just one country, Columbia, sold more than $300 million in flowers to the U.S.

The greeting card industry has one of its best seasons at Valentines’s Day.

Christ spoke of love as a driving force for good in all of life. He marked it as a primary attribute of His people.

We have only one word for love in our vocabulary whereas the Greeks had several. Our limited language results in there being a cloudy understanding just what it is. These following explanations by children are no less confusing than some adult comprehension.


A. Mike age 10, “They just tell each other lies, and that usually gets them interested enough to go on a second date.”


A. Lynette age 9, “It’s better for girls to be single but not for boys. Boys need somebody to clean up after them.”


A. Jan age 9, “No one is sure why it happens, but I heard it has something to do with how you smell. That’s why perfume and deodorant are so popular.”

A. Harlen age 8, “I think you’re suppose to get shot with an arrow or something, but the rest of it isn’t supposed to be so painful.”

a. PHILEO = phileal love refers to “tender affection” like a brother for a brother or a parent for a child. We hear it as a root in many words in our language. Philosophy means the love of knowledge. Philadelphia means the city of brotherly love. Philanthropy means the love of man, hence, kindness. Phileo is a beautiful word which means to value and cherish.

b. EROS = erotic is not used in Scripture. It refers to physical love which in the right context is good. Properly expressed in the right context it is of the Lord.

c. AGAPAO = agape love does not refer to our natural impulses or immediate feelings. It is conscious and deliberate, an act of the will. It means to seek God for His own sake, to have pleasure in Him, to strive impulsively after Him.

1. Does it ever seem to you that you just don’t work up an emotional thrill over loving God and your brothers and sisters. The occasional absence of this religious emotion causes some to conclude they aren’t Christians. It helps to find your way out of this dark shadow into the cheerful sunlight when you realize there are two kinds of love. One of FEELING and one of WILL. God never intended you to be a plaything of your emotions.

2. It is hard to rejoice in the Lord when suffering from a case of remoteness.

God loves you. If He had a refrigerator your picture would be on it.

If God had a wallet your photo would be in it.

He sends you sunshine every morning and flowers every spring.

Whenever you want to talk, He’ll listen.

Having the right to live anywhere in the universe He has chosen to live in your heart.

Don’t forget that Christmas present He gave you or that special outing on Easter morning.

Face it! God is crazy about you.

He has drawn near to you. Won’t you draw near to Him?

The Lord said of Israel: “Their heart is far from me.” The words don’t refer to physical distance but to likeness. It is not physical distance but dissimilarity that causes a sense of remoteness. Two creatures may be so close physically that they touch yet so unalike that they are far apart. Man and a gorilla are Exhibit A.

For this moral unlikeness the Bible uses the word, alienation. Look in your inner life for evidence of the dissimilarity. Things such as: WRONG ATTITUDE, EVIL THOUGHTS, DISPOSITIONAL FLAWS.

Sir Edmond Hillery spoke about climbing Everest. His insights regarding such a climb are applicable to the process of scaling our emotions and fixing our will to love others.

“You have to fix your mind before you leave the base camp because it has a tendency to wander in the rarified atmosphere of such heights.” Climb the Everest within you. Fix your will to love.

You can’t love God without loving people. We are exhorted to love our neighbor as we love our self. Don’t try loving your neighbor without loving God. Don’t profess you love God if you don’t love your neighbor. Don’t engage in an exercise of evasion by narrowly defining who your neighbor is. Don’t narrow the definition like the Pharisees tried to do. Pharisees considered only Pharisees as “neighbors.” Jesus explained away this approach:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matthew 5:43, 44).

When we love God we love like God. Who does He love? The “whosoever” of John 3:16 and so should we.

Petty little selfish children and adolescents play games and use their friends as pawns. They play the game of “You can’t be my friend if you are going to be with —–.” They even push it to the point of “you can’t be my friend if you speak to ——.” Unfortunately some adults never grow out of it either.

Youth and adults alike, if you encounter such a person speak to them boldly about changing their attitude and if they don’t they will have identified themselves as person who does not love the Lord properly.

People who play these games are revealing themselves to you. They are showing they feel inferior to the person they are trying to alienate and shut out in that they feel inferior to that person and can’t compete with them. Their solution is to exclude that person from their world and try to get those with whom they want to be friends to do the same. It is a sure sign of inferiority.

We must learn to break down the barrier of evasiveness and stop excusing ourselves. This involves moving beyond theory to practice. Sooner or later we have got to stop quoting Scripture and start practicing it. Don’t just parrot platitudes practice principles. Here is a practical test for this kind of love:

It believes the best about a person until PROVEN wrong.

It wishes the best for others though they might not deserve it.

It refuses to accept all rumors which the bearer will not confirm with —- “Yes, you can quote me.”

It silences all gossip until TRUTH can be seen to be true.

It takes the initiative in giving the fallen repentant person another chance.

Edward Markham, the renown poet, was asked which of his many poems was his favorite. He who wrote the poem “Lincoln,” and the famous “Man with a Hoe,” replied:

“He drew a circle and shut me out,
A heretic, rebel, thing of flout,
Love and I had a will to win,
We drew a circle and took him in.”


A. Heart = KARDIA = The hidden spring of our personal being. It is our entire inner nature. It is a figurative term for our personality. Whole-hearted love is the meaning. It is a reference to being enthusiastic in our love for the Lord.

The measure of loving God is love without measure. Electricity and love have a common characteristic. Electricity can’t get into a body unless it can get out. It must have a ground. Love, the love of God, can’t get in a body unless it can get out. It is to flow though us like sound through an amplifier, like water through a river.

B. Soul = PSYCHE = Seat of purpose and will. It is the vitality of the heart animating the body. It is an act of the WILL. “In all things give thanks.” It does not say “feel thankful.” Giving thanks is an act of will, feeling thankful is an act of the emotions. Willfully give thanks and the feelings will follow.

C. Mind = DIANOIA = our faculty for knowing. This love is a knowledgeable thing. Albert Sweitzer in response to the question, “What is wrong with mankind today?” “He simply does not think.”



Life with Christ offers endless hope. Without Him it has a hopeless end.

Lech Walesa, leader in the Polish labor movement was given offices without furniture. Upon entering the vacant room, he said, “These are empty rooms, but they are full of hope.”

On the night of November 14, 1940, nearly 500 German bombers attacked the English City of Coventry. Over 600 tons of explosives and thousands of incendiaries were dropped. 70,000 homes were ruined, 400 people killed. Their magnificent 14th century cathedral was destroyed.

I have stood amid those ruins. The people have now built beside the ruins a modern new cathedral. The ruins of the old gothic structure still stands. The old walls and the new are architecturally connected. Two crosses stand on soot, blacken stone where the altar stood. One is made of charred beams taken from the ruins. A much smaller one is made from heat twisted spikes used by medieval craftsmen in constructing the roof.

A. It offers forgiveness. There is a sign carved in the wall since the war — “Father forgive.” That’s love

B. It reflects love like that of Christ for us. There is another quotation in front of the altar from Isaiah 6: “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of hosts, heaven and earth are full of thy glory.” That reveals the basis of love.

C. It is the power enabling the ultimate victory in Christ.

The new cathedral at Coventry has much art. None more striking than the life sculpture hanging just outside the main entrance. It depicts Michael, the archangel, spear in hand, poised triumphantly over a prostrated, manacled dragon. It depicts the ultimate victory.

Ultimately God’s love triumphs. Let it do so in your daily life.