"And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart,
with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength."
(5/11) Motherís Day Ė Red and White Carnations
Miss Anna Jarvis, the founder of Mother's day, for the first time, sent 500 white carnations to the Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church, in Grafton, West Virginia. She wanted the flowers to be distributed among the mothers. Then onwards, it has become a tradition to gift flowers on the Mother's Day as a token of thanks for all her love and care.
"The white carnation is preferred because it may be thought to typify some of the virtues of motherhood; ... whiteness stands for purity; its lasting qualities, faithfulness; its fragrance, love; its wide field of growth, charity; its form, beauty...," Miss Jarvis said.
Wearing a white carnation is to honor a deceased mother, wearing a red or pink carnation is to honor a living mother.
Mark Lowery - Survivor
Motherís Day 2001 fell on May 13th, I remember because my friend and Pastor Chris Brammer was traveling and asked me to preach on that Sunday at Hampstead Baptist Church where I was for a while the Assoc. Pastor.
He said to me, that although it is Motherís Day, he would like me to preach on forgiveness. I never asked why, and as it was a constant theme of the jail ministry that was I involved in, I agreed. I may have shared this with you before, but the week that I was preparing for this sermon, I picked up the Sunday paper insert called Parade. In it was a
column by a Dr. Marilyn, called Ask Marilyn. This one was about a survey given to parents about this question. Could you love and forgive your grown child, if that child became a mass murderer? They surveyed about 5000 people. Is that a bombshell question or what? Over 90% of the moms said "Yes." They could love and forgive their child even if he or she became a mass
murderer. Only about 50% of the dads said they could. I thought, "Wow!" That reveals the heart of moms. Thatís why from soldiers on the battlefield, to football players on the playing field, the first and primary person they want to give a shout out to is, who? Mom! Even our Savior, as He hung on the cross, in unimaginable pain, made sure His mom was cared for (John 19).
Honor your Moms as Moses instructs us in the 5th commandment (Exodus 20:12), Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you. Ladies, may our Lord bless you for the sacrifices you have made to care for your children and husbands. (Prayer for Moms)
Letís return to our Words in Red series and look at Matthew 22:34-40
I. The Introduction Ė
18-19 years ago, the Menís movement Promise Keepers came to Washington D.C. My wife urged me to go. With a group of men from our church we attended this two day event at RFK stadium. Over 50,000 men filled the stadium. It was awesome, and I donít use that word much. One of the speakers was Jack Hayford. He spoke of Moses and the Burning Bush and God
telling him to take his shoes off, because he was on Holy ground. His shoes that may have had sheep dung, and dirt, and perspiration on them and needed to be removed. Pastor Hayford then had 50,000 men in that stadium take off their shoes and then to kneel and pray by their seats. I will never forget that as long as I live. For years, when we had a building to worship in, I
would go to the front of the sanctuary and remove my shoes before I kneeled to pray. I canít get that image out of my head.
John Piper commenting on Matthew 22:37-40 says, that we should do the same thing here. He says on page 250 of his book, What Jesus Demands From the World, "The focus of the second commandment,-"You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Matt. 22:39) Ė is not on whether the receiver is an enemy or friend, but on whether the one who loves desires the
neighborís good as he desires his own. Its importance is seen by the two stupendous things that lie on either side of it. On the one side is the greatest commandment in the Word of God, - "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind," On the other side is the assertion that everything written in the Law and Prophets hangs
on these two commandments. We are in the company of incomparable superlatives-the two greatest commandments in the entire word of God, and all of that Word hanging on them. We should take off our shoes in reverence here. There are few texts of scripture greater than this."
II. The Question (the Test) vv. 34-36,
"But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, 36 "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?"
III. The Answer (the Texts) v. 37
Jesus said to him, "ĎYou shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.í[a] 38 This is the first and great commandment. Our Lord begins with Deuteronomy 6:5, but our Lord didnít stop with that and immediately connected another verse as He quotes a portion of Leviticus 19:18, "You shall love your neighbor
IV. The Importance (The Testimony)
Notice with me that our Lord said the same thing in a different way back in Matthew 7:12, "Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. These verses tell us how to interact with other people. Not just family members, not just Church members, not just neighbors and friends, but everyone even
enemies and complete strangers.
V. The Meaning -
A. Love Ė The word Love here, is from the Greek agapao and the Hebrew aheb. The meanings are similar. They mean, to make a conscious decision to seek the welfare, or the highest good and the honor of another. It is a commitment to the wellbeing of others without thought of yourself. It is also a command that I am convinced so few really know much
about. How, though, can you command someone to love? Isnít love just something that happens? Maybe something you fall into? Can love be something that you will to do? Especially if it involves emotions? Yes, it is. This love is an act of your will.
B. Your Neighbor Ė The context of Leviticus 19, is obviously talking about the people of your country, fellow Jews, but 19:34, also includes the resident aliens, or people from other countries. Our Lord, however, speaking to a Lawyer in Luke 10, expanded that to anyone, even an enemy. Who is your neighbor? Who is your neighbor? It is anyone created in
the image of God.
C. As Yourself Ė I donít think that this text is promoting self-love, but rather, that loving oneís self is a natural thing we do. Itís why we prefer foods that are pleasant to our taste buds, and go to Doctors, and take medicine and vitamins, and some of you exercise. Itís why we wear our hair the way we do, and pick out the cloths we wear. Itís why
you listen to the music that you do, and watch the TV shows or movies that you do. Because it is what pleases or benefits, or gives joy to you.
Listen even, most sin, is our attempt to please ourselves, and satisfy our appetites apart from the will of God. Sin is about me and what I want. Pride is exalting myself, to make myself look important, or powerful, or as the measure of fulfillment. Itís all about me.
What Jesus our Lord is saying both in the Golden Rule (Matt. 7:12) and in our text in Matt. 22, is that when you see people, whoever and wherever, or when you are in any kind of relationship with people, such as, business, marriage, community, church, school, etc., you should ask these kind of questions, "How would I want to be treated; What would I
need; What would I expect; or questions like that. Or, just as an exercise, take a notebook, napkin, piece of paper, or whatever, and make two columns. Over one column write; Things I want from people, and over the second people write Things I donít want from people. The first column may include things like, Truth, Honesty, Respect, Grace, Mercy, Compassion, Forgiveness,
Benefit of the Doubt, Fidelity, Patience, Love, Understanding, Courtesy, Friendship, Trust, and the list can go on. The second column could include, (what I donít want) Lies, Betrayal, Dishonesty, Negativity, Un-forgiveness, Cheating, Jumping to conclusions, Criticism, Infidelity, Impatience, Disrespect, Jealousy, and so on.
VI. The Context Ė Lev 19.
What our Lord quotes from is a phrase from verse 18 and I believe verse 34, but letís go back to verse 9 and just notice the entire context.
Vv. 9-10. How would you want to be treated if you found yourself in a poverty situation?
V. 11. How about the things you have acquired? Or the supplies for your job?
How about your business dealings or when you want information?
V. 12. How about when someone makes a promise, or tries to verify his or her word?
V. 13. How do you treat your employees, or want your boss or client, or customer, to treat you?
V. 14, How would you want to be treated if you were handicapped, or in a country where you donít know the language?
V. 15, How would you want to be treated if you were poor, or if you were wealthier than most? Would you want people to judge you because of your financial status, or want to be close to you because of your wealth, maybe thinking of how friendship with you might benefit them?
V. 16, How about when you tell someone something in confidence, or know something about someoneís long ago past?
V. 17, Suppose you have apologized for something and tried to make it right? How would you want to be treated?
V. 18, Suppose you did something by accident? Or were promoted above others who thought they should have the job?
Do you see that Love here is not referring to warm fuzzy feelings, but intentional actions, preceded by what you would want if you were in the position, or had the problem of the other guy? You are the guy in the ditch beside the road, having been beaten, robbed, and left for dead? What are you praying for? You are the one without a home because the
tornado just took it down. You are the earthquake, fire, flood, hurricane, or mudslide victim? What are you hoping for from your church, your country, or your friends? You have been let go from your job, or your spouse has left you, or you just found out that you have cancer, what do you want from people? What would you want if you were grieving a loss, or celebrating a
victory? You are going to die, and you arenít ready to meet God, what would you want?
VII. The New Testament Writers
Our Lord said, that hanging with Loving God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, is caring for people created in Godís image. Its thinking, "What if I were that guy, or, what do I want from someone in this moment?" And then, doing that for someone. Listen to what three other guys had to say about this:
A. Paul (1 Cor. 13)
If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but donít love, Iím nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.
2 If I speak Godís Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, "Jump," and it jumps, but I donít love, Iím nothing.
3-7 If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I donít love, Iíve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, Iím bankrupt without love.
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesnít want what it doesnít have.
Love doesnít strut,
Doesnít have a swelled head,
Doesnít force itself on others,
Isnít always "me first,"
Doesnít fly off the handle,
Doesnít keep score of the sins of others,
Doesnít revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end. 8-10 Love never dies. V.13 we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love. (1 Cor. 13, The Message)
B. James says this in Ch. 2 8-11
You do well when you complete the Royal Rule of the Scriptures: "Love others as you love yourself." But if you play up to these so-called important people, you go against the Rule and stand convicted by it. You canít pick and choose in these things, specializing in keeping one or two things in Godís law and ignoring others. The same God who said,
"Donít commit adultery," also said, "Donít murder." If you donít commit adultery but go ahead and murder, do you think your non-adultery will cancel out your murder? No, youíre a murderer, period. 12-13 Talk and act like a person expecting to be judged by the Rule that sets us free. For if you refuse to act kindly, you can hardly expect to be treated kindly. Kind mercy wins
over harsh judgment every time.14-17 Dear friends, do you think youíll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, "Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy
Spirit!" and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soupówhere does that get you? Isnít it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?
C. John says this in I John 3,
14-15 The way we know weíve been transferred from death to life is that we love our brothers and sisters. Anyone who doesnít love is as good as dead. Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know very well that eternal life and murder donít go together.
16-17 This is how weíve come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to Godís
love? It disappears. And you made it disappear. 18-20 My dear children, letís not just talk about love; letís practice real love. This is the only way weíll know weíre living truly, living in Godís reality. John also said this in 1 John 4:9, "He who does not love does not know God, for God is Love."
These guys all tell us what John summarizes for us.
ē If you ainít loving, you ainít living (3:14). Paul said it, John confirms it, if you arenít demonstrating this love, no matter how well you know God talk, or what prayer you prayed, you are still lost, dead, and condemned. The transformed life loves-period, exclamation point!
ē Love is an action (3:16-19). Only offering to pray, and offering only patronizing words of positive thoughts, but not doing anything is not love and, in fact, places you in the hypocrite category. You are just a lot of fluff and talk.
ē If you arenít giving yourself for others, you donít know God (4:9). You may know a lot about God, but you donít know God intimately, or personally. You donít know the heart of God, and your life has never been transformed. You have never truly met Jesus. Jeremiah tells us in Jeremiah 31, that when the New Covenant is ratified, God would write His
laws on His peopleís hearts. Not 613 laws, just two. These two will be what fuels their hearts every day. He also said in Ezekiel 36 under that covenant, He would give His people new hearts, transformed hearts, and He would remove the old calloused, stony hearts. If you donít love like this you still have stony, calloused hearts, and Godís laws arenít part of your life. You
are not part of His forever promise family. You are just religious. That is sobering. It doesnít matter if you prayed a prayer or were baptized, you donít know God.
Our study would be incomplete if we didnít make it just a little more personal. The context of Matthew 22 is Jesus speaking to a nation that was chosen by God to be His voice. They had however, reduced their relationship with God to religious practice without a living relationship with God. Jesus told them to focus on these two commands. Letís go with
Jesus for a moment into a private room and listen in on one of the last things He said to His closest friends and disciples before His arrest and execution. Look at John 13:34-35.
VIII. The Model Ė Jesus Ė John 13:33-34
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." He says it is a New Commandment. The word, New, is a little misleading. The Greek word really means fresh. He is refreshing this same commandment. He is
adding a little more sugar to the same pitcher of sweet tea. He would be our model. Watch and learn, or remember all that He has done for you. There are two primary things about the way Jesus modeled Love for us.
A. He Served- Cp. Mark 10:44-45, "And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." Earlier in John 13, He demonstrated love by washing dirty feet, of men who would dessert, deny, and betray Him to His death. And John made it a point
to tell us that He loved these guys to the end (v.1). Paul speaks of this as our model for love in Phil. 2:1-11 and encourages us to think like this or have the same kind of attititude.
B. He gave Himself Ė When the writers of the New Testament speak of Jesusí love, they usually include the phrase, He gave Himself, or He laid down His life for us, or He became the Propitiation (justice satisfier) for us. He laid down His life for His friends (John 15:15) like His first followers, and for His enemies like Paul-(Romans 5:8-9).
Piper is right, this is Holy Ground. This is awesome stuff. It is deeper than it appears, and you may be thinking, "How is this love possible? I donít have it in me to love like this." And, you would be right. You donít; at least, not by yourself. But the good news is you donít have to. When you come to follow Jesus, He, Himself, gives you the help and
power to do this.
IX. The Ability Ė (The Tools) A New Heart and His Holy Spirit.
Jesus our Lord told us that every one of His followers would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit as a resident helper (John 14:16-17). Paul reminds us in Romans 5:5 and Gal 5:22, that love is a fruit, a product of the Holy Spirit. "Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given
to us." (Rom. 5:5) You have a New Heart in Christ and you have a New Helper-The Holy Spirit.
X. The Results Ė Known as Christ-Followers Ė You will Wow the world.
The world is starving for this kind of authentic action or religion. Will people take advantage of you? Yes! Will they still turn on you? Yes! Will they always be grateful? No! But God will be glorified and honored, and some will want to know your Savior or will listen to your testimony or message. And you will sleep better at nights.
XI. Two Questions
I would like to suggest that you ask yourself two questions every morning and every night. These will totally transform the way you live each day.
A. In the mornings before you start your day, ask this and pray this question, "How can I show God how much I love Him today?"
B. And then, ask and pray, "Whose life can I touch for God today?"
Then before you retire at night answer those questions.
A. How did I show God how much I love Him today?
B. Whose life did I touch for God today?
This is truly Holy Ground. Before we leave it I want to ask you this, "Is this kind of love in your life?" Have you received this kind of Love from Jesus? Would you like to receive it now? Listen, Jesus did not love us with just words. He loved us with action. He humbled Himself and left heaven to become one of us and then to die on a cross, to pay for
our sins while we didnít know Him and didnít care about Him. Charles Wesley, Chris Tomlin, David Crouder and others, have it right, "Oh, How He loves us. And He will pour His love into your heart if you will receive Him as your Savior and Lord today.
Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman