LOVE GOD, LOVE PEOPLE
A. Introduction: Two millennia ago, Jesus took on a human nature and was born into this world. He came to
die as a sacrifice for sin, and open the way for human beings to be restored to our created purpose—to
become holy, righteous sons and daughter of God who reflect His glory to the world around us. Eph 1:4-5
1. Jesus not only opened the way to restoration, He is the pattern for God’s family. Jesus, in His humanity,
shows us what sons and daughters of God are like, and how live as they reflect God’s glory. Rom 8:29
a. While Jesus was on earth, He called people to follow Him and to learn from Him. Matt 4:19; Matt
11:28-30; Matt16:24; etc.
1. The Greek word that is translated follow means to be in the same way as—to follow with the
intention of practicing. This word was used to mean become a learner or pupil by imitating or
copying the example of the one you follow.
2. Those who responded to Jesus understood that to follow a teacher like Him meant not only to
follow His instructions, but to seek to be like Him, take Him as a pattern and copy His example.
A. Paul the apostle (an eyewitness of Jesus) wrote fourteen of the New Testament documents.
He urged Christians to imitate Jesus, just he himself did.
B. I Cor 11:1—Copy me, my brothers, as I copy Christ himself (J.B. Phillips); Pattern after
me, follow my example, as I imitate and follow Christ the Messiah (Amp).
b. We are working on a series about becoming increasing like Jesus in our attitudes and action. Our
number one responsibility as Christians is to grow in Christ-likeness: Those who claim to belong
to him must live just as Jesus did (I John 2:6, NIRV).
2. The New Testament repeatedly talks about Christians being perfect (Matt 5:48). Several Greek words
are translated as the English word perfect. All have the idea of setting out for a goal and reaching it.
a. For a Christian, to be perfect means to reach the goal of being fully conformed to the image of Christ
—fully Christ-like in character. It is a process that begins when we decide to follow Jesus, and will
not be fully completed until we see Him face to face. I John 3:2
1. While the process is underway, it is possible to be perfect even though there’s more perfection
to reach. We can be perfect at our state of growth, as we increase in Christ-likeness.
2. Paul the apostle (an imitator of Jesus) urged people whom he called perfect to continue on and
seek perfection—fully conformity to the image of Christ. Phil 3:12-15
b. When we talk about perfection, we immediately think of performance (and there are things we must
do). But the will to be perfect (to be like Jesus in attitudes and actions) precedes performance.
1. That’s how you can be perfect at your stage of growth, even though you are not yet fully Christ-
like in all your attitudes and actions.
A. Your heart (your intent, your motive) must be set on growing in Christ-likeness. But, it
can take a while to recognize and put into action the changes that need to take place in us.
B. Perfect means fully committed to walking in all the light you have. When the light
increases, perfect changes. You must be willing to live up to it, by God’s grace.
2. Jesus was a perfect reflection of God His Father to the world (as we are to be), because He was
fully obedient to His Father. All of God’s commands are summed up in two statements: Love
God with all your heart, mind, and soul and your neighbor as yourself. Matt 22:37-40
A. To be perfect means to love God and your fellow man with all your being. This love is not
an emotion or a feeling. It is an action.
B. To love God means to obey His moral Law (His standard of right and wrong as revealed in
the Bible). To love people means to treat others the way you wanted to be treated.
3. For many if not most of us, the biggest challenge to becoming increasingly Christ-like is other people.
In this lesson we’re going to begin to address how we learn to deal with people in a Christ-like way.
B. We are all born with a bent toward selfishness or focus on self. To be selfish means to put self first—over
and above God and others. Jesus died to turn us away from living for self.
1. II Cor 5:15—He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live to please
themselves. Instead, they will live to please Christ, who died and was raised for them (NLT).
a. Note what Jesus said when He called people to follow Him: Then said Jesus to His disciples if
anyone desires to be My disciple, let him deny himself—that is, disregard, lose sight of and forget
himself and his own interests—and take up his cross and follow Me [cleave steadily to Me, conform
wholly to my example in living and if need be in dying, also] (Matt 16:24, Amp).
1. To deny self doesn’t mean leave your home, job, family, and worldly goods to become a
missionary in another country. It means to turn from serving self to serving God and others.
2. Serve means to aid, assist, or help others and to give obedience and reverent honor to God. For
a Christian, our cross is the place of complete obedience to God’s will in our circumstances.
b. Remember what the will of God is: Love God and love your fellow man. One of the primary
ways we deny self and demonstrate Jesus is through how we treat other people.
2. In the context of how to treat other people Paul wrote: Don’t be selfish. Don’t live to make a good
impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself. Don’t think only about
your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and what they are doing (Phil 2:3-4, NLT).
a. Paul also wrote: For you, dear friends, have been called to live in freedom—not freedom to satisfy
your sinful nature, but freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up
in one command: Love your neighbor as yourself (Gal 5:13-14, NLT).
b. John the apostle (another eyewitness of Jesus wrote: If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his
brother, he is a liar, for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom
he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love
his brother (I John 4:20-21, ESV).
1. The Greek word translated hate has the idea of love less. If you love your brother less than
yourself—if you regard or treat him as less than yourself or in a way that you would not want to
be treated—then you aren’t obeying God (loving God).
2. How you treat people is an expression of your love for God. If you don’t love your brother,
you don’t love God. You don’t have to like everyone, but you must love everyone—treat them
as you want to be treated.
c. The problem with loving other people (besides the fact that we’re all fallen, selfish people) is that
we’re all different—and we don’t necessarily like each other’s differences.
1. We have different personalities, interests, temperaments, mannerism, likes and dislikes. We
do and say things differently. We handle life and human interaction differently, based on our
own personality and our life experiences.
2. And that’s okay, because God made us each unique individuals. But these differences can and
do lead to disagreement and conflict because we all annoy, hurt, and disappoint each other.
A. The Bible gives us instructions on how to respond to these differences. Paul, in the
context of how to treat people, said we should have the same attitude Jesus had—You
should think in the same way Christ Jesus does (Phil 2:5, NIRV).
B. Part of becoming Christ-like is changing your perspective or the way you see things and
think about things, including other people and yourself in relation to them.
C. In Matt 11:28-30 Jesus told His followers to learn from Him (copy His example). The first thing He said
about Himself was: I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly in heart) (Amp). Meekness and humility are
attitudes (ways of thinking or perspectives) that affect how we relate, not only to God, but to other people.
1. Paul, in one of his letters, stated that his purpose in proclaiming Jesus to everyone was to present every
man perfect in Christ. This is another way of saying to help them grow in Christ-likeness. Col 1:28
a. Note what Paul wrote to people he was helping to grow in Christ-likeness: Eph 4:1—Therefore I, a
prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called
by God (NLT).
1. What is our calling? We have been called to conformity to the image of Christ (Rom 8:29)—to
become Christ-like in character (attitudes and actions).
2. To live a life worthy of your calling means that your behavior is appropriate (suitable, fitting,
proper) for a follower of Christ, and your behavior brings credit to that calling.
b. Then Paul tells us what such a life looks like. It is a life of humility, meekness, and patience in
regard to other people: Eph 4:2—Living as becomes you—with complete lowliness of mind
(humility) and meekness (unselfishness, gentleness, mildness), with patience, bearing with one
another and making allowances because you love one another (Amp). Those who are Christ-like:
1. Live with lowliness of mind. Humility begins in your mind—how you see yourself in relation
to God and others. One who is humble recognizes that he is a servant of God and of men.
2. Live with meekness. Meekness is power under control. It is the result of a strong man’s
choice to control his actions in submission to God—especially when he is angry.
3. Live with patience. The Greek word means forbearance and is from a word that means to be
longsuffering. Bear with one another means to hold one’s self back.
c. Note what else Paul wrote about dealing with people: Col 3:13—You must make allowances for
each other’s faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so
you must forgive others (NLT).
1. The phrase “make allowances for each other’s faults” in the Greek language is the same word
that is translated “bear with one another and make allowances” in Eph 4:2.
A. This word (to bear with) has the idea of holding back, restraining, bearing with patience or
enduring, in regard to the errors and weaknesses of others (Strong’s Concordance).
B. Note the synonym for this word—longsuffering). Longsuffering means that quality of
self-restraint in the face of provocation which does not hastily retaliate or promptly punish.
It is the opposite of anger and is associated with mercy (Vine’s Dictionary).
2. In other words, we are to live with humility, meekness, forbearance, self-restraint, and
forgiveness in regard to other people’s faults and flaws—turn from self and hold back that
tendency to go off on them and pay them back.
2. Yes, but this person is an idiot. He may be—according to every standard that you hold dear. But the
only person you have control over is you. And, the Bible wasn’t written to tell other people how to treat
you. It was written to tell you how to treat other people.
a. Remember God’s standard for how we are supposed to treat each other—treat them as you wish to
be treated. How would you want to be treated if you were him and he was you?
b. Do you really think that no one ever looks at you and thinks: He’s an idiot! Do you want people to
regard you as an idiot when you simply made a mistake, or are unaware of what you did, or when
you believe that you have a good reason for what you’re doing?
1. In the famous “love” chapter found (I Cor 13) Paul wrote that: Love bears up under anything
and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person (I Cor 13:7, Amp).
2. Bears up under (beareth) literally means to roof over. It’s used figuratively to mean to cover
with silence and endure patiently (more on this in a moment).
c. You don’t have to like everyone or agree with their opinions, choices, decision making skills, or
behavior. But you do have to believe the best—that they don’t know what they’re doing or that
they think they have a good reason for what they are doing, as opposed to: That’s a stupid idiot.
1. We often assess other people and their actions from a position of superiority instead of as a
servant—I’d never be that stupid. But we need to realize that we are capable of doing just
what they are doing because we both have fallen flesh.
2. In fact, I might not be doing as well as them—or be doing much worse—if I were in their
circumstances. And if I knew all the facts in their situation, I might realize they’ve actually
made a reasonable decision—even if I don’t agree with it.
d. Yes, but didn’t Jesus see peoples’ flaws and correct them? Often our desire to correct comes out of
a self-focused motive (our glory) and a position of superiority (I know better). And, Jesus was
perfect in a way that we are not yet.
3. When someone does something we don’t like, we all start talking to ourselves about them and what
they’ve done. So much of what we talk about is not only unnecessary, it’s unproductive or counter-
productive. It’s worthless talk.
a. Paul wrote: Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word, no unwholesome or worthless talk
[ever] come out of your mouth; but only such [speech] as it is good and beneficial to the spiritual
progress of others (Eph 4:29, Amp).
1. How do you talk to yourself about people who annoy, hurt, or disappoint you? Does it build
you up in Christ-likeness or does it feed your aggravation with the person you’re upset about?
How does your talk affect the people around you who hear you talk like that?
2. This doesn’t mean that we can’t say that we don’t like someone or what they’re doing, but we
need to begin to think in terms of: Would Jesus talk like this? How can I believe the best?
b. James, another eyewitness of Jesus, wrote: Sometimes it (the tongue) praises our Lord and Father,
and sometimes it breaks out into curses against those who have been made in the image of God.
And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters,
this is not right (James 3:9-10, NLT).
1. It’s not what you see, it’s how you see what you see. We need to see people as Jesus sees them
and then talk to ourselves in that way. Men and women still bear the image of God.
2. This person is precious and valuable to God. God loves that person and desires that he or she
be restored to His family through faith in Jesus. Jesus died for that person as much as He died
for me. The Lord wants them to grow in Christ-likeness as much as me.
4. Part of becoming increasingly Christ-like is the will to do so (choosing to move in that direction). And
part of it is developing new thought patterns and habits of response—which takes time and effort. Note
what two eyewitnesses of Jesus wrote. They understood the importance of following His example.
a. James said this about our tongue: We all make many mistakes, but those who control their tongues
can also control themselves in every other way (James 3:2, NLT).
1. We spent much time earlier this year talking about controlling your tongue through praise to
God. It will help you get control of emotions and thoughts that lead to un-Christ-like actions.
2. If, when you feel aggravated, annoyed, or angry at another person, the first words out of your
mouth are “Praise the Lord, thank you Jesus”, you can get control of your emotions and actions.
3. This seems awkward and even ridiculous at first, but when praise becomes a habit of response,
you will be able to demonstrate Christ-like character much more effectively.
b. Then, instead of feeding on that other person’s shortcomings and failures, you can further control
your words, thoughts, and actions by praying for them as Peter suggested: Never return evil for
evil or insult for insult—scolding, tongue-lashing, berating; but on the contrary blessing—praying
for their welfare, happiness, and protection, and truly pitying and loving them (I Pet 3:9, Amp).
D. Conclusion: Lessons like this one can be quite challenging. So, don’t forget that you can be perfect as you
grow in perfection. And, don’t forget that God is in you by His Spirit to help you build new habits. Pray
and ask Him to help you see people as He does and to love people as He does. Much more next week!