“As I have loved you.” John 13:34a
Lesson One: I must accept that I am unconditionally loved and fully accepted by God.
1. We are freed from comparing ourselves to one another.
· Make a true appraisal of self. We identify, accept, and embrace who we are called to be.
· We can be who we are rejecting envy and jealousy of others. Another person’s gifts are then not a threat to us. Others’ gifts don’t diminish or threaten us but complement us.
· Freed from competition. We don’t have to outdo others. We can genuinely celebrate the accomplishments of others without fear of their achievement diminishing us.
· We are freed from the bondage of comparing others to ourselves or using ourselves or our service as a standard of measurement (2 Cor. 10:12).
2. We are freed from artificial standards of excellence.
· We are called to excellence based not on competition but on being true to ourselves and our own potential. Frees us to exercise our gifts and talents without fear of failure. Failure is just part of the learning process; it should not defeat us.
· We are free to accept our limitations. We can accept with grace and humility the things that we do not do well – our areas of non-strength.
· Emotional freedom from two things: an inflated head when praised and a crushed spirit when criticized. (Martin Luther King) We can receive both with grace.
3. We are freed from the burden of pleasing everyone.
· Freed from the burden of needing to be liked by all or trying to please everyone.
· It is not possible. To try to do is unrealistic and creates an integrity problem.
- If we make it our goal to please everyone, we will at some point stop pleasing God (Galations 1:10; Acts 5:29)
4. We are freed from urgency and the tyranny of time.
· Freed from the oppressive burden of trying to get as much done as possible all of the time, from trying to do too much or work merely to try to legitimize ourselves or show or prove our worth.
· We are freed to enjoy times of leisure, play, and worship without worrying that we should be accomplishing something. We can trust God and do the next thing.
· Frees us from the burden of a perpetual sense of the tyranny of the urgent. It frees us to give ourselves regularly to the important things of life – not just the seemingly urgent.
5. We are freed to love others (Ro. 12:3,9).
· We can only love others, without hypocrisy, when we accept and embrace who we are. Any other posture is burdensome; it cannot lead to genuine love.
· Sometimes our generosity is misguided and love for others is offered out of a busy and hectic spirit rather than grace and joy (2 Cor. 9:7).
· Sometimes we are caught up in the desire to be loved, hoping that everyone will like us.
· Joy comes when we are freed from artificiality - the burden of trying to impress others. Embrace authenticity, genuineness, and truthfulness. Freed from the burden of pretense.
We are to work for the purity of the visible church. We must recognize that this is a process and that any church will be somewhat impure in various areas. There were no perfect churches in the NT and there will be no perfect churches until Christ returns. This means that Christians have no obligation to seek the purest church they can find and stay there and then leave when an even purer church comes to their attention. Rather, they should find a true church in which they can have effective ministry and in which they will experience Christian growth as well, and then should stay there and minister, continually working for the purity of that church. God will often bless their prayers and faithful witness and the church will gradually grow in many areas of purity. – Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology
“So "you must love one another.” John 13:34b
Lesson Two: We must love the church.
1. Show practical love to each other.
· Serve one another (Gal. 5:13).
· Love your neighbor as yourself (Gal. 5:14).
· Stop biting and devouring each other (Gal. 5:16).
· Gently restore each other (Gal. 6:1).
· Carry each other’s burdens (Gal. 6:2).
· Do good things to each other (Gal. 6:10).
· Love one another deeply (1 Pe. 1:22).
· Show compassion, sympathy, and humility (1 Pe. 3:8).
· Cover each other’s sins (1 Pe. 4:8).
· Offer hospitality without grumbling (1 Pe. 4:9).
2. Seek peace and unity within the congregation.
· Rejoice and mourn with each other (Ro. 12:16).
· Clothe yourself with love (Col. 3:12-14).
· Bear with each other (Col. 3:13).
· Forgive each other (Col. 3:13).
· Make every effort for peace and mutual edification (Ro. 14:19).
· Don’t quarrel and act in the flesh toward each other (2 Cor. 12:20).
· Become a peacemaker (James 3:18).
· Show respect to each other (1 Pe. 2:17).
· Get over yourself (Philippians 2:3).
· Look to other people’s interests (Ph. 2:4).
· Become an encourager (He. 3:13) and thus build up the church (1 Cor. 14:12).
3. Show respect to the pastor-elders and leaders of the church.
· Regard them as servants of Christ (1 Cor. 4:1).
· They are worthy of double honor, respect, and support (1 Tim. 5:17-18).
· Don’t entertain accusations or slander about them without 2-3 witnesses (1 Tim. 5:19).
· Imitate their life and faith (He. 13:7).
· Receive them with joy as grace-gifts from Jesus to the church (Eph. 4:7-13; Ph. 2:29).
· Pray for them regularly (Eph. 6:18-20; Col. 4:3-4; He. 13:18-19).
· Submit to their shepherd-leadership (He. 13:17).
· Make their work a joy, not a burden, for that would be no advantage to you (He. 13:17).
Source Used: Courage and Calling by Gordon Smith