The Best Sermon
The concept of love in our world today has been reduced to sentimental sermons and greeting card text, and that's about it. But according to God's Word, love goes beyond some mushy idea that the world has—even beyond romantic love. Love is a chance to demonstrate your faith, to demonstrate to the world that God is alive and real.
And the world is very interested in a demonstration of our faith. In fact, unbelievers often get their idea of what God is like by watching His kids. Knowing this should give us even more of an incentive to live to a higher standard, to let our love and our light so shine before men that our Father is glorified in heaven.
So what are some practical ways we should demonstrate our love? Allow me to use the opening verses of Hebrews 13 as a guide. Our love should first of all begin in our spiritual family: "Let brotherly love continue" (v. 1). Like Jesus said, "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:35). In spite of your differences, let the love that you have for other believers continue to flow out of you—and not just in words, but in deed and in truth: "Whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?" (1 John 3:17). Christian love is not a sentimental feeling or a superficial hug. It's unselfish; it meets the real needs of brothers and sisters.
Love begins in the church, but it should go beyond that: "Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels" (v. 2). The word entertain means to show favor toward, to show hospitality to, or to minister to in a practical sense. How do you know that the needy person you pass by on the street isn't an angel God placed there just to test you? You don't, so show them love all the same—not out of the motivation that it might be an angel, but out of wanting to reach out to everyone in love. Our love should go beyond the bounds of the likable and the comfortable to the irregular, to the stranger, to people we don't know.
Verse 3 describes another way we're to show love: "Remember the prisoners as if chained with them—those who are mistreated—since you yourselves are in the body also." Don't forget about your brothers and sisters on the other side of the globe who are suffering for the gospel; you can pray for them, write letters, or even go on a mission trip. And what about the "prisoners" in your own town—people in hospitals, nursing homes, widows? They need someone to reach out to them and love them.
Another way to demonstrate your faith is to love your spouse: "Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge" (v. 4). One of the best ways to preach the gospel is to love your spouse. When a husband and wife show mutual honor in their marriage, it pleases the Lord and provides a powerful testimony to the world.
The final way we show our faith is by loving our provision—what God has given us: "Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you'" (v. 5). Covetousness means never being satisfied with what God has given you, and the only way to end it is to learn true contentment in Him. As God promises in these verses, He won't let you down or cease to uphold and sustain you.
When we live out all these things, what a sermon of love it preaches to the world! Love isn't some sentimental, sappy, mushy thing—it can be hard. It starts in the body of believers and in our families and then goes beyond the doors of the church to the unlovable, to the people who really need it. May God give us keen vision to find opportunities to love so we can demonstrate to the world that Jesus is alive and still moving powerfully today.