A. Introduction: We are working on a series about developing Christ-like character, or becoming increasingly
like Jesus in our attitudes and actions. Jesus is the pattern for God’s family. I John 2:6
1. Rom 8:29—God’s purpose (or will) for our lives is that we become His sons and daughters through faith
in Jesus, and then be conformed (jointly formed or similar) to the image of Jesus (resemble Him).
a. However, sin has damaged God’s family. The first man (Adam) chose independence from God
through sin. Adam’s choice had a profound effect on the human race that was resident in him.
1. Human nature was corrupted or made sinful (Rom 5:19). Our nature includes everything that
makes us human—reason, intelligence, personality, desires, drives; etc.
2. Corrupted humanity desires to please self above all. We are born selfish or self-focused and
put self above God and others. The root of sin is choosing my will over God’s will. Isa 53:6
b. Jesus went to the Cross to open the way for us to be restored to our created purpose in God’s family
When we believe on Jesus (acknowledge Him as Savior and Lord) the process of restoration begins.
1. God purifies us inwardly and indwells us by His Spirit and life. We are born of God, born of
the Spirit, or born again. We become literal sons and daughters of God by second birth. John
1:12-13; John 3:3-5; I John 5:1; Titus 3:5-6
2. As we cooperate with the Holy Spirit, He progressively restores us to Christ-likeness in every
part of our being. This process will be fully completed when we see Jesus face-to-face and our
physical bodies are made like His resurrection body. I John 3:2; Phil 3:20-21
c. Christians are called to turn from serving self to serving God and others, just as Jesus did. Jesus
summed up what this means in two commands: We are to love God with all our heart, mind, and
soul and love our neighbor as ourselves. Matt 22:37-40
1. This love is an action, not a feeling. To love God means to obey His moral Law (His standard
of right and wrong according to His written word, the Bible). To love our neighbor means to
treat people the way we ourselves want to be treated.
2. How you treat people is an expression of your love for God because it is first and foremost an
obedience issue. If you don’t love your brother, you don’t love God. I John 4:20-21
2. When we believe on Jesus and make the decision to follow Him, the aim or goal of our life changes from
living for self (my will, my way) to living to please and glorify God. God by His Spirit comes into us to
help us live a life that is pleasing to Him.
a. However, even though we have becomes sons and daughters of God, we still have all the thought
patterns, attitudes, habits, and behaviors that developed while we were living for ourselves.
b. We have to build new thought patterns, habits, and behaviors. We have to become aware of and
make a conscious decision to say no to the inclinations and desires of our corrupted selfish nature—
with a dependence on and expectation of the Holy Spirit’s help to carry out these decisions.
1. Crucial to this process is changing the way you think about things—your perspective, or the
way you see God, yourself, and other people in relation to Him. Phil 2:5; Rom 12:2
2. For most of us, the biggest challenge to growing in Christ-likeness is dealing with other people.
To help us be successful at loving, in this lesson, we’re going to consider some of the changes
we need to make in how we see or think about other people.
B. The standard for Christian behavior is to love God and love your fellow man (Matt 22:37-40). The Greek
language has several words for love, each with a different shade of meaning. The word used in Matt 22 is
agape, and is used exclusively for the love that God expresses and the love we are to express to each other.
1. This love comes out of the nature and character of the one who is doing the loving. It isn’t dependent
on the character or behavior of the object of that love. Nothing in the object of that love merits or

deserves the love. It is an unconditional love.
a. This love (agape) desires the good, the welfare, of the object of that love. It does not retaliate or
seek revenge. It forgives all for everything. It loves its enemies and those who can’t or won’t
return the love. It treats others the way it wants to be treated.
1. Because we’re born of God (indwelled by His Spirit), His love is in us: God’s love has been
poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us (Rom 5:5, Amp).
2. This means that we have the potential to walk in and demonstrate this kind of love (agape), with
the help of the Holy Spirit in us as we choose to obey God in this area.
b. This love is not a feeling. It has to do with how we treat people, not how we feel about people.
(You can love them without liking them.) This love is a reasoned, intentional action. This is a
love that thinks, how would I want to be treated in this situation—and then acts accordingly.
1. In the context of spiritual gifts (abilities) given to men by God, Paul wrote a lengthy passage on
the greatest gift—love. I Cor 12:31; I Cor 13:13
2. He went on to describe the characteristics of that love in chapter 13. Note the first thing that
Paul wrote: If I can speak in the tongues of men and [even] of angels, but have not love [that
reasoning, intentional, spiritual devotion such as is inspired by God’s love for us and in us], I
am only a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal (I Cor 13:1, Amp).
c. Jesus, the perfect Son, demonstrated what this kind of love looks like when a human expresses it.
Remember, Jesus in His humanity, shows us what sons and daughters of God look like—their
attitudes and actions. He demonstrated a love that serves, gives, and forgives.
2. Jesus was able to treat other people as He did, in part, because He saw their value and worth. Jesus saw
men and women as valuable to God.
a. When the religious leaders (Pharisees and scribes) murmured against Jesus for eating with sinners
and publicans (tax collectors), Jesus responded by telling three parables about lost items to illustrate
the value that men and women have to God. Luke 15:1-2
1. In the first parable, a man lost a sheep, and in the second parable a woman lost a coin. The
sheep owner left ninety-nine sheep to go after the one that was lost. The woman searched her
house diligently until she found the lost coin. Luke 15:3-10
2. Both the sheep owner and the women rejoiced with friends once their lost items were found.
Jesus said that in the same way they rejoiced, Heaven rejoices when a sinner repents.
3. Keep in mind the context in which Jesus told these parables—religious leaders were criticizing
Him for eating with sinful (or lost) men and women.
b. The owners searched for their lost items because they were valuable to them. Neither item lost
their value simply because they were lost. However, the owner could not realize their value.
1. Luke 19:10—Jesus came into this world to seek and save the lost. The Greek word translated
lost means to destroy utterly. The idea is not extinction but ruin, loss of well-being.
2. Men who are cut off from God because of sin are lost to God in the sense that they are lost to
their created purpose—to be holy, righteous sons and daughters of God, like Jesus in character.
3. Note that in the parables, Jesus speaks of sinners who repent. Jesus came to call sinners to
repentance (Luke 5:32). To repent means to change one’s mind. It’s not an emotion (feeling
sorry or sad). It is a decision, an exercise of the will, a change that leads one to change
direction, to change conduct, to change from living for self to living for God.
3. In the third parable, Jesus talked about a lost son. This son took his inheritance from his father. (It was
culturally appropriate to receive an inheritance before the father died). Luke 15:11-32
a. The son left home for another country and spent all the money on wild, sinful living. When he
found himself living in pigpen, the son came to his senses or repented. He made the decision to go
back to Father’s house in repentance—Father, I have sinned against Heaven and you. Luke 15:18

b. The father greeted the returning wayward son with love and compassion, embracing and kissing
the stinky, dirty young man. The father demonstrated an eagerness to restore his son and told the
servants to bring a robe, a ring, and shoes for him. He ordered a joyful celebration to take place.
1. Those who heard Jesus tell this parable that day would have been familiar with a vision given to
the prophet Zechariah where a change of clothing meant removal of sin. Zech 3:3-4
2. Rings were a mark of dignity and honor, and shoes were a symbol of freedom. When prisoners
of war were released from captivity their shoes (which had been removed) were returned.
A. Remember the context in which Jesus told this parable—to express the idea that when
something valuable is lost you seek for it and you rejoice once it is found.
B. Note the last line of this parable—Celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead
and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found (Luke 15:32, NLT).
4. Through these parables, Jesus made it clear that lost men have value to God. God desires to bring back
to their created purpose all who turn to Him in repentance and faith. He cleanses and restores them.
Salvation is the purification and restoration of human nature by God’s power on the basis of the Cross.
a. Part of becoming like Jesus is changing your perspective. Jesus saw men and women as valuable to
God. He recognized that lost men, men bound the guilt and corruption of sin, are lost to their
created purpose—sonship and conformity to the image of Christ.
b. We need to see people as precious and valuable to God. When people annoy us, anger us, hurt us,
we need to remind ourselves that God loves them and desires that they be restored to His family
through faith in Jesus. Jesus died for them as much as for me.
C. Many of our problems with people are made worse because of misperceptions and wrong thinking on our
part. We need to change the way we think about people. Consider these thoughts.
1. The way we treat people is often based not on what they do, but on why we think they did what they did.
But you can’t know why someone did something because you don’t have all the facts. For example:
a. Someone ignores you at church and you conclude that he did it because he doesn’t like you, doesn’t
respect you, or is angry with you. You feel hurt, angry, or rejected and deal with them accordingly.
b. Later, you find out that that person lost their contacts and couldn’t see two feet in front of them.
Your reaction to them wasn’t based on what they did, but on why you thought they did it.
1. We all talk to ourselves about everything (self-talk). We not only talk about what people do,
we speculate about why they did it and what they might do in the future. We replay the event
in our head—what he said, what I should have said, etc.
2. When someone hurts, offends, or angers you, you need to ask yourself: Am I reacting to what
they actually did or to why I think they did it? Then remind yourself that you can’t possibly
know why they did it or what they might do in the future.
2. Identifying what someone did is an observation. Determining why he did it is a judgment. “The tone
of his voice was harsh” is an observation. “He spoke to me that way because he doesn’t like me” is a
judgment. There’s more to the issue of judging than we can deal with now, but here are a few thoughts.
a. To judge means to form an opinion about something. Nowhere does the Bible tell us not to judge.
Rather, it tells us how to judge or how to form our opinions. Matt 7:1-5
1. One aspect of the type of judging that we aren’t to do is to assume we know why someone did
something. Only God has all the facts in any situation. He is the only one who can see hearts
or motives and intents in both you and the one who has wronged you.
2. Based on something we can’t know (why they did it), we make a judgment and declare them
guilty and deserving of punishment for causing our pain.
3. Then we punish them by retaliating. We treat them in a way that we wouldn’t want to be
treated in the same situation. But God is the judge. He determines punishment, not us.

b. We are also not to form our opinions about (judge) others from a position of superiority—I’d never
be that stupid or that rude or that whatever. I’d never do what they did.
1. Just because people don’t do things the way we do things doesn’t make them wrong or make
them stupid idiots who deserve scorn. It makes them different from you.
A. We make ourselves and our personal preferences the standard of right and wrong. Jesus
talked about a Pharisee and a publican who approached God differently. Luke 18:9-14
B. The Pharisee set a standard for himself that he was able to meet. Then he judged himself
superior and others inferior to him for not meeting his standard.
2. It is very difficult to treat people in humility, in a Christ-like way when you declare them stupid
idiots, inferiors who ought to get what they deserve for being such idiots.
3. The other person’s viewpoint, his perception of the situation, is just as real and valid to them as
yours is to you. Love….is ever ready to believe the best of every person (I Cor 13:7, Amp).
A. Suppose a clerk at the store is extremely rude to you. What if, instead of being rude back
to them you told yourself: They must be having a bad day. Maybe they just received
some devastating news. Maybe they’re simply a rude, unkind person.
B. But that doesn’t free me from my obligation to be kind to them, to treat them like Jesus
treated people. People may annoy me, but I can’t treat them as annoyances. They have
value to God. Jesus died for them as much as for me. Remind yourself of this truth.
3. What if Jesus while seated at the table with the publicans and sinners and entertained these thoughts:
Look at how that awful woman is dressed. How could that guy be so stupid as to become a tax collector
for Rome? These people are disgusting. Jesus, in His humanity, was tempted in all points. Heb 4:15
a. Jesus was able to look past the rough edges because He saw men and woman as valuable to God, and
He saw what they could become through the salvation that He was going to provide.
b. He didn’t excuse sin. He came to turn us from living for self (living sinful lives) to living for Him.
When a woman caught in the act of adultery was brought to Him, He did not condemn her. He told
her to go and sin no more. John 8:10-11
c. When Jesus hung on the Cross, unjustly condemned, His view of the ones who rejected Him was:
Father forgive them. They don’t know what they are doing. Luke 23:34
1. What if you followed Jesus’ example when you are wronged in some way (minor or major).
Peter, one of Jesus’ original followers wrote the following words.
2. I Pet 3:9—Don’t retaliate when people say unkind things about you. Instead, pay them back
with a blessing (NLT), praying for their welfare, happiness, and protection, and truly pitying
them and loving them (Amp).

D. Conclusion: One difficulty with a lesson like this is that I can only give general principles. Ask God to
help you specifically apply these principles. Consider these general statements as we close this lesson.
1. I have the right to disagree with peoples’ choices, but I am obligated by love to believe the best. He
thinks he has a good reason for his opinions and actions, and if I were in his shoes, I might not do as well.
2. Even though people annoy us, we can’t treat them as annoyances because none of us like being treated as
an annoyance. Even if you are smarter, you can’t treat them as superior because you are their servant.
3. None of this means that you have to remain in an abusive situation or endanger yourself emotionally or
physically if someone is potentially harmful to you in some way.
4. Don’t listen to these lessons to justify yourself and figure out what’s wrong with other people. Honestly
ask God to show you what needs to change in the way you think about and treat others.
5 Agape love (the love of God) desires the good and the welfare of the object of that love. This love
serves, gives, and forgives. Jesus showed us what this looks like in human interaction. He saw men
and women as valuable to God. We need to be like-minded. Much more next week.