Read: Revelation 2:19-23
Tolerance is often closely associated with ‘love’. The lines between them are not always clear. Yet here the Lord clearly distinguishes between ‘love’ and ‘tolerance’. He commends their love, but condemns their tolerance.
In today’s world, tolerance is considered to be a noble attribute. To be accused of intolerance is a very serious accusation indeed. As Christians, we are under a lot of pressure to be tolerant, particularly in the area of sexual immorality. Interestingly, the Lord challenged the Thyatira church on this same issue of tolerance toward sexual immorality.
Tolerance seems attractive because it resembles Christian love. It has qualities like: not judging others, forgiveness, patience, kindness, avoiding criticism, not keeping a record of wrongs. But like any good counterfeit, it may look like genuine Christian love, but it’s not. There are a few important ingredients missing, like truth, accountability, concern for others, and putting them before yourself.
Tolerance is all about ‘live and let live’ or ‘do what you will’, it’s a licentious attitude. It’s easy to be tolerant, it makes you look like you care because of your acceptance and approval, but in reality it shows no concern for the person or their soul.
Love has concern for the other person. It knows that sin causes suffering; we reap what we sow and deeds will be repaid. Love responds with the person’s long term well-being in mind; always maintaining the truth and challenging them according to their spiritual maturity. This is how Christ loved sinners. He was often gentle with them while firm with the truth, yet harsh with the ‘spiritually mature’.
- How do you think God views our ‘tolerant’ attitude toward sin?
- What would you think God would want us to do to combat this type of counterfeit love today?
- What do you find yourself being tolerant toward when it comes to sin?
Read: 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
It is said that Cyrus, the founder of the Persian Empire, once had captured a prince and his family. When they came before him, the monarch asked the prisoner, “What will you give me if I release you?” “The half of my wealth,” was his reply. “And if I release your children?” “Everything I possess.” “And if I release your wife?” “Your Majesty, I will give myself.” Cyrus was so moved by his devotion that he freed them all. As they returned home, the prince said to his wife, “Wasn’t Cyrus a handsome man!” With a look of deep love for her husband, she said to him, “I didn’t notice. I could only keep my eyes on you- -the one who was willing to give himself for me.” Can you imagine the impact that we could have on others if our eyes were fixed solely on Jesus, and we understood the sacrifice that was made on our behalf?
Love is the greatest of all gifts. It is the gift that drove God to send His Son to die in our place. Out of God’s love pour blessings like a roof over our head and a meal on the table. And love is at the heart of what it is to be human. Love is the originator of human life. Love is our parents’ sacrifices for us in our childhood. Love is at the core of every friendship. Love is the source of every gift, every encouragement, and every emotion. We have been given faith to believe in God our Creator and Christ our Savior. We have been given hope to persevere through the many trials of our lives. But the “greatest of these is love.” God gives us the love described in this passage and, because of that love we are able to love others in the same way.
- If you could tell anyone one thing about what makes you love Christ, what would it be?
- Would you say that you have a sacrificial love for Christ? How would you explain that to someone?
Read: Luke 9:23-27
So what does it mean to be committed. We live in a society that puts no stock at all into commitment. One way you can express your love for God is by being committed to Him. This is what love is really all about: commitment. You don’t really love somebody unless you’re committed to their best.
Nothing significant ever happens in life without commitment. Your commitments determine your future. You are becoming whatever you are committed to, so choose your commitments carefully. If you’re committed to the wrong thing, you’re going to become the wrong thing.
You can’t lose by being committed to God. The Bible tells us in 2 Chronicles 16:9 that God is looking for people whose hearts are fully committed to Him so that He can bless and use them.
What does it mean to be fully committed to God?
- Giving my life to Jesus Christ.
- Committing my life to His family—the body of Christ, which is the church—and joining a church family.
- Choosing to grow spiritually and become more and more like Jesus Christ everyday in my character.
- Using my talents and gifts to help others.
- Sharing the good news with other people and fulfilling the mission and purpose God put me on this earth to do.
- What would you say your commitment level is to Christ? To the Church? To discipleship?
- What are somethings you can do to increase your commitment?
- Are you easily discouraged when life becomes difficult? How does seeing what commitment means help?
Read: Philippians 4:1-9
Kindness, meekness, patience, and so forth are praiseworthy only if they are not merely outward qualities but are the very disposition of the heart. Anyone can show kindness or patience externally while inwardly hating the object of one’s good will, but it takes love to ensure that the virtues we display outwardly match the thoughts and desires that no one but God can see. John Chrysostom writes, “Whatever good thing it is that you mention, if love be absent, it is nothing, it melts away… . Whatever good our deeds possess will vanish completely if they lack love”
The world does not always understand what is good, and sometimes it even calls good evil and evil good. Still, unbelievers often recognize what is right and true, and they definitely know when we do not practice what we preach. We cannot control the world’s opinion of us, but we can control how consistently we live up to what we say. So that we do not bring reproach on the name of Christ, may we all “practice what we preach” and be quick to repent when we do not.
- How can you share God’s love to those who think evil is good and good is evil?
- What is one way that you can focus in prayer this week as you seek to invest in someone’s life?
Read: 1 John 5:1-15
How do you overcome the world? How can you go on, moment by moment, day after day, year after year, living a life that is absolutely contrary to that, based on totally different standards, totally different objectives, totally different evaluations? And to endure not only for ten years, but for decades, against that kind of moral pressure? How do you keep unmoved in the midst of this and not only remain unmoved yourself, but reach out and win others to your side? John says it is by faith; that is all. Not by the faith that you once exercised when you first became a Christian, but by faith in the life of Jesus present in you now. By faith in Him at work in you, in the midst of the pressure, countering it with the pressure of His own life.
- Sacrificial Love(What does that mean to you?)
- Committed Love(What does that mean to you?)
- Harmonious Love(What does that meant to you?)
- How can you take this weeks sermon and devotion and help in your spiritual growth?
February 19, 2018
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