John 13:34-35 ESV
34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
John 15:12-13 ESV
12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
John begins the narrative with the last supper in chapter 13. We know Judas had already committed to betraying Jesus, and yet after the meal Jesus would lay aside his outer garment and wash the disciple’s feet by verse 34 of chapter 13.
Jesus had given them a New Commandment. He was keenly aware of their potential to desire position and authority after he was gone, so He solidifies the motivation for Him coming: Love. If Jesus came to them because of the Father’s love, then the greatest commandment they could keep would be to love each other with the same measure.
By Chapter 15, Jesus is teaching the disciples about their relationship to Him, “I am the vine and you are the branches,” their relationship to each other, “This is my command, that you love one another as I have loved you,” and their relationship to the world, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.” Jesus reminds them again of this new commandment to love one another.
Both times he has made sure the measure of their love should be equal to the measure they had been given from him, and that was the very definition of generosity. Paul in his first letter to the church in Corinth helps us with a mental picture of what real love is. Christ gave us the living example of it and Paul sums it up in a paragraph with a beautifully written masterpiece that would last through the ages.
Paul’s description was the very same love God had shown us through Christ and the exact love Christ was commanding His disciples to have for one another.
1 Corinthians 13:1-8 13 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. 4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends.
Definition: liberal in giving : OPENHANDED : marked by abundance or ample proportions
1. Generosity without the core ingredient of love equals nothing.
Being generous with money will not fix being stingy with love. Money always follows love.
Matt 6:19-21 19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Money doesn’t lead the heart but you will find it behind the money. Love is the most important thing we could ever be generous with. A commitment to loving people will result in a generous overflowing of the characteristics of love toward others.
2. Generosity doesn’t pick and choose.
The characteristics of love are not debatable. These are all found in Christ’s love toward us. The more we have received the generous love of Christ, we can understand how that translates to others.
Christ has been in abundance and ample portions patient with us, kind to us, He was not envious or boastful to us, He’s never been arrogant or rude toward us, He never insisted on His own way, He was never irritable or resentful, He never rejoiced in wrongdoing and always rejoiced in the truth, He bore all things for us, believed in us, hoped for us, and endured all things for us. Christ is love.
Which characteristic of love comes easy to you? Love does not flow generously only focusing on the parts that are easy for us to fulfill while focusing on ourselves. Love also does not pick and choose according to who it is being distributed to.
Jesus gave instructions to love each other and everyone else. He used the same word for love to love the people I like and the people I don’t. Paul gives the definition of that love in 1Corinthians. I don’t get to be impatient with people because I don’t like they way they think. Love them.
3. Loving generously is the only thing that changes people.
Romans 12:9-21 9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Generosity of love changes people, people change families, and families change communities.
1. What stood out to you most from Sunday’s message?
2. Why is it impossible to love people fully without the power of God?
3. Which characteristics of love from 1 Corinthians 13 do you find the most challenging?
4. When was a time someone gave you something but you knew their heart wasn’t in it? When was a time someone gave you something because they cared about you? How was it different?
5. How does your generosity look when you care deeply about something vs. something you don’t?
6. How do you treat people differently when you have been spending time with God vs. when you haven’t spent time with him?
7. How does being a loving person make it easier to be generous to everyone instead of picking and choosing?
8. How did Jesus treat those who persecuted Him?
9. Have you ever followed Jesus’ command to be loving and generous to people who treated you wrongly. How did it change you?
10. What would you like to do differently this week?