Spiritual Growth Series: Sacrificial Love

by Dennis Michelson
(Novelty, Ohio)

John 15:12-14


Joh 15:12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
Joh 15:13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
Joh 15:14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.

This is a special Memorial Day message delivered at the 27th Annual Memorial Day Service at the Western Reserve Memorial Gardens and also at the Faith Baptist Church of Novelty. This constitutes the fourth in a series of messages devoted to the subject of spiritual growth. The first three were as follows: Forgiveness; Grace and Truth; The Word of God; and now Sacrificial Love. First we see a -

1.STRANGE COMMAND (15:12)

We live in a culture that does not understand how love can be commanded. Everything in our society is geared toward a very conditional view of love. We love the lovely and withhold love from those who rarely (or never) reciprocate. Of course the all-important qualifier is "as I have loved you." We love others based upon what God has done for us rather than what others have done to us.

2. SUPREME COMPARISON (15:13)

(a) Selfless Love - "Greater love hath no man than this" There are four possible terms for love in the Greek language -

Storge - Familial love
Eros - Erotic desire
Phileo - Love for friends
Agape - Love for friends who become enemies

The text points out that this fourth type of love is the greatest of all since it most clearly reflects divine love. As we consider Memorial Day we find that a true soldier does not fight and sacrifice because of his hatred for the enemy in front of him as much as for his love for those things (and people) he has left behind him.

(b) Sacrificial Love - "That a man lay down his life for his friends." O beautiful for heroes proved, in liberating strife. Who more than self their country loved, and mercy more than life. Our rights are not really rights if someone can take them away - they are simply priviliges. We actually have a "Bill of Privileges" and if we are not willing to defend them then they can be taken away. Freedom is not free and sacrifice is essential.

3. SPECIAL CONDITION (15:14) "if ye do whatsoever I command you."

Any talk of sacrificial love rings empty when it issues forth from a mouth of rebellion and disobedience.

Note: A full-length audio version of this message is available at FaithBaptistOH.org

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