Love One Another Deeply 1 Peter 4:8 By Ben Fronczek
Introduction: Can you remember times in your life when you really felt loved?
– Maybe when your mom and/or dad went to your school concerts, ball games, or other activities you were involved in, and they cheered you on. You could see how proud of you they were and it didn’t matter if you dropped the fly ball hit right to you, or if you messed up as you sang or played an instrument in the school concert, or messed up a little at whatever you were doing. They were just there for you and cheered you on and loved you despite you failings.
– Maybe you felt loved when that certain guy or gal tried to express their love by giving you a gift, and whispered sweet words in your ear. Maybe the first time you kissed and really meant it. Maybe even when they declared that they wanted to go out steady with you or asked you to marry them. You couldn’t help but feel the love. It was like you could do no wrong in the other’s eyes.
– Maybe you felt loved when you children cried when you left them behind, they didn’t want you to leave. Maybe you feel loved when your children or grandchildren kiss, hug and want to snuggle close to you. Likewise in their eyes you are just so very special and can do no wrong.
– Maybe you feel loved when your whole family gathers together just to be with you and celebrate your birthday, anniversary or some special event.
– Maybe you felt loved from a friend because one day when you were sad they came over to your house with a hand full of wild flower to cheer you up.
There are so many times in our life we feel loved by others, even when we don’t feel like we deserve that love.
I don’t know about you but each time I think about what Jesus did for me by going to the cross, and suffering and dying for me, it reminds me how much I am love by Him and by God despite all that I have done and will do wrong in the future. I feel loved by God each time I think about Jesus suffering for me.
What precious times they are – when we feel loved and special even when we don’t feel like we deserve that love.
Last week I presented a lesson from 1 Peter 4:7. We began to look at what Peter had to say and discussed the advice he gave to those early Christians just prior to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman army.
Their way of life was about to be turned upside-down; their city would be destroyed, the Temple and the Jewish Levitical system would be destroyed, and many would lose their life due to persecution in days to follow.
Peter wanted them to be prepared, but not with spears and swords, rather with weapons that would bless them and would prove far more powerful in the long run.
First of all he told that that they needed to be clear minded and be self controlled. Why; so that they could pray. As Christians, we have to be careful not to get caught up in things that distract us from what is really important.
We talked a little about the importance of prayer; how even in the most difficult situations a clear mind, having self control and prayer can strengthen us and our faith, and give us a peace of mind that goes beyond normal understanding.
In the lesson today we will look at more advice Peter gives in this text as he prepares them for the coming events. Read 1 Peter 4:7-8:“7 The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. 8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”
Did you notice the first thing he said there in verse 8? He said, “Above all.” Not just one more things, not just above certain things, but rather, “ABOVE ALL love each other deeply.” In Peter’s mind, as he speaks for the Lord, this is no little matter.
The original Greek word translated, ‘deeply’ here is the word. ‘ek-te-nes.’ It means ‘to stretch out.’ It can also be translated, ‘to love fervently, earnestly with intent.’ It denotes the idea of making an effort, to make an effort to love others deeply, To stretch yourself to do so.
As they enter this period of change, persecution, and hardship if anything is going to define who they are and what they are all about, it should be their love for one another, it should stand out like a beacon.
And it should be the kind of love that “covers over a multitude of sins.”That is you love so much that you have no problem ignoring wrongs done against you and you don’t count sins and error against the person.
Proverbs 10:12 says, “Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs.”
As Christians we have a choice; we can hate those who persecute us and be filled with bitterness, or choose to love these individuals despite their actions. Do you remember, what did Jesus do? We all know the answer to that.
Jesus put it this way in the Sermon on the mount: Matthew 6:38-48 “38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth. ‘ 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
This kind of Love is powerful on two fronts. #1.This kind of love strengthens and protects the Christian’s heart; because bitterness and hatred are like poison or a cancer, they destroy a man from the inside out.
#2 Sometimes, true Love can also change our external circumstances. For the Romans it would be easy to kill or harm someone who hated them, but what about someone who genuinely loved them? Isn’t love and mercy honored and respected by others more than bitterness, cruelty, vengeance and hate? It will have a positive effect somewhere down the road.
Before I even get to the end of this lesson I am sure you already know what I am going to challenge you to do; to develop this kind of love for others.
But contrary to popular opinion, loving like this is not an easy to do. There may be a reason why Peter uses a word that stresses the fact we need to make an effort, or stretch ourselves to love others deeply like this.
Even the best of us are difficult to love sometimes, not to mention those who want to hurt us.
Fredrick the Great said, “The more I get to know people, the more I love my dog.” Although it may be true, God has commanded us to love people, not dogs.
A story is told about two gifted attorneys who had a lot of professional animosity towards one another. Even though they were both distinguished members of the same firm they were constantly criticizing and made life miserable for one another, because they hated one another.
Eventually one of the men became a Christian and later had to talk to the minister for some counsel concerning the relationship he had with this other attorney. He told the minister, “I have hated and criticized my partner for years,” he said, “and he has been equally antagonistic toward me, But now that I am a Christian, I don’t feel right about continuing our warfare. What should I do?”
“Why not ask your partner to forgive you and tell him that you love him?” suggested the minister.
“I could never do that he exclaimed. “That would be hypocritical. I don’t love him. How could I tell him that I love him if I don’t?”
The wise minister explained that God commands His children to love even their enemies and that His agape, supernatural, unconditional love is an expression of our genuine Christianity, if we exercise by faith.
The attorney and the minister knelt down to pray and the attorney asked for God’s forgiveness for his critical attitude towards his partner and then accepted God’s love for him by faith.
Early the next morning, the attorney walked into his partner’s office and told him, “Something wonderful has happened to me. I have become a Christian. And I have come to ask you to forgive me for all that I have done to hurt you in the past, and I just what to tell you that I love you.”
His partner was so surprised and convicted of his own sin that he responded to this amazing confession by asking his partner to forgive him as well. And not only that, to his surprise his partner also told him, “I would like to become a Christian too. Would you show me what I need to do?”
Over the years many of us have heard sermons and lessons telling us that we should love one another. We should treat others the way we want to be treated. We should love because Jesus commanded us to love one another the same way He love us (John 15:12).
But then we go home and bark at one another and do just the opposite when people rub us the wrong way. So what do we need to do to love others like this?
First of all I believe that we need to change some of our attitudes and get down on our knees and ask God to forgive us if we have a hard, unforgiving, unloving and unmerciful heart.
In this story isn’t that what the lawyer had to do; he had to choose to change his attitude, then he took it to the Lord and asked for forgiveness and help. You may need to pray about these and repent of these bad attitudes daily for a while until you allow God to change your heart.
Next, we need to submit to God’s will by faith. If it is His will that we should love one another deeply, then by faith we need to do our best to do just thatbecause of our faith in God. It is that kind of love that will overlook and cover over a multitude of sins.
Can you do that? Will you do that? This day I challenge you to become like Jesus here and choose to love one another to this degree, in this manner, as He did.
In doing so you will be happier because you know that you have done the right thing and you will also bring glory to our Lord when others learn where the source of strength and how you are able to love like this.