Leader read: Our spiritual act of worship is doing as Jesus commanded. Our obedience is a direct reflection of what is in our hearts. It shows the world the depth of our love for God and for others.
What did Jesus tell us to do? Love. It is simple … not a bunch of do's and don'ts, just love.
Jesus was asked, "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV)
My biggest question, knowing how unloving I can be sometimes, is this: How do I love?
The apostle Paul has so beautifully told us how to love, how to offer God our worship on a daily basis with those we come in contact with each day.
- If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don't love, I'm nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.
- If I speak God's 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 don't love, I'm nothing.
- If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love.
- Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn't want what it doesn't have. Love doesn't strut, Doesn't have a swelled head,
- Doesn't force itself on others, Isn't always "me first," Doesn't fly off the handle, Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,
- Doesn't 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. 1 Corinthians 13:1-7 (MSG)
Leader: Pass out the following reading based on the love chapter you just read. Have people take turns reading a paragraph until the end. Then, take a few minutes to allow people to offer God their thanks for the kind of love that was shown to them by God.
- We must be patient. We cannot weary of people and their inconsistencies.
- Without complaining we must wait for them to become all that they can become.
- Love is thoughtful. We must be kind, tenderhearted, and always gently compassionate with people's hearts.
- The people in our lives are not objects to be possessed or manipulated. We have no desire to tether them to the mundane or the mediocre. We should enjoy seeing them fly in their faith.
- Love is not arrogant and full of oneself. Our call to love means to pour ourselves out in service to those in our care.
- We are never rude or self-seeking. In love we listen to their thoughts, but see their hearts. We do not demand cooperation or even love in return. We will walk side by side in friendship.
- Love is not easily angered. Even though someone may be thoughtless, we must choose not to keep a list by which to condemn him/her. We cannot say, "Told you so," or hold their failures over their heads.
- As ambassadors of Jesus, we value truth and we will celebrate when our friends and family walk in what they know to be that truth.
- Love always protects. There are times those we care for will be vulnerable, and we must be a place they can run. In the raging storms of life we must be a calm safe harbor.
- We must be people of trust. Even when our loved ones are questioning themselves, we must stand by them and believe in their integrity. They will sense our trust and live up to it.
- Love always hopes for the best. We should anticipate great things from others and expect them to happen. We will hope for their true joy, a peace beyond understanding, love undying. We will hope for all good things for those we love.
- We must always persevere. Even when people do not show up, or tend to complain, or choose to be self centered, we must stay the course, walk the extra mile, and stand by them when everyone else turns and walks away.
- Love never fails. When every worldly philosophy is disfigured by flaws, and grand governments have collapsed, and churches dissolved, and friends, smocked in human frailties, have disappointed us, we must rely on a God, on a Father, who never fails.
- After all is said and done, our greatest accomplishments matter little if we have not loved. For love is the most important thing.