Going Deeper into Loving Others
We’re glad you’ve joined us today and hope you’ll invite a sister or two along for the next six weeks of study.
Father God, we thank You so much for Your unfailing love for us. Open our hearts to love others as You do.
We’ve been teaching on faith in action for about 17 months now, and today we dive into another year of Going Deeper into the teaching.
In July 2016, we began with five faith actions focused on loving God:
Which prompted us to spend almost a year Going Deeper into what it means to love Him by faith.
This past Fall we spent six weeks studying faith actions connected to loving others:
Which brings us to our current series:
Going Deeper into Loving Others
Five six-week Bible studies, each one going deeper into a faith action of loving those God puts in our path.
The study of faith in action is grounded in James 2:17.
Read James 2:14-17
What example is given regarding faith and action?
What does God say about a faith devoid of actual action?
Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
I came to faith late. Sometimes I feel like Paul, who said he became an apostle as “one abnormally born” (1Corinthians 15:8 NIV). I was not raised in church, but was part of a large extended believing family.
At the age of 33, I was abruptly pulled from my worldly “womb” into His Kingdom. The Greek Paul uses for his conversion or born-again experience, translated as “one abnormally born” or “one untimely born,” can mean an abortive birth (ESL). I’ve felt out of sync with other Believers, like I’ve come late to the party.
Not only did I come late, I came backwards, a breach birth of sorts. It was His work in my mom’s life, which He used to capture my heart. I really didn’t see my own need for Him until years later. It was just not your normal “birth.”
As I began walking with Him, pursuing Him through prayer and His Word, being a member of His church for the first time in my life, I began seeing a huge discrepancy between those in the church and what He taught. I didn’t get it.
The ten words to exercise faith, came out of a “holy discontent,” and have grown into a teaching ministry focused on helping those who say they believe know what He says it means to be His disciple. To live a life of faith.
Living a life of faith, in and of itself, is a challenging endeavor.
Read Hebrews 11:1
What aspect of the definition of faith makes it challenging to live by?
Faith is living life based on unseen principles and promises. The challenge of existing in the middle of all we see, feel, hear, and smell, while really living in the unseen spiritual reality of Christ.
To live a life of faith is a learning process. When we are born in the world we must learn to talk, walk, eat solid food, work, etc. The same process is true for our spiritual birth. We are born spiritual babes who must learn how to speak with God, walk by faith, eat His Word, work out our spiritual gifts and our place in the Kingdom, etc.
Once we find ourselves born into this unseen realm, the process of growing spiritually is done with the conscious choice of our physical self. The faith actions covered by both studies help us to learn and grow.
Our present series on loving others begins with the first step: Respect.
Read Philippians 2:1-4
List the “if” statements:
- If there is any encouragement in Christ
- If there is any comfort from His love
- If there is any participation in the Spirit
- If there is any affection and sympathy
If we experience any of these blessings in Christ, what are we to do in response?
- Do nothing out of selfishness or conceit.
- In humility count others more significant than yourself.
- Look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Consider the response God calls us to in Christ. Is there something on the list particularly hard for you? Why?
What lies at the heart of each response?
Considering others more significant and seeing to their needs as well as we see to our own are actions associated with respect.
respect – noun 1: a relation or reference to a particular thing or situation… 2: an act of giving particular attention: consideration 3 a: high or special regard: esteem b: the quality or state of being esteemed…
─ Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Ed
Think about the last time you were disrespectful to someone in thought, word, or deed. Was your disrespect caused by a bad attitude or did you think yourself better in some way?
In order to wholly love others, we must consider how we relate to one another based on our attitudes and how we see them in relation to ourselves.
Consider two questions as you read these accounts of Jesus loving others:
- How is Jesus showing respect?
- Who am I in the story?
Read John 5:1-10
How did Jesus show respect to the invalid?
Did the religious leaders respect the invalid? What was their focus?
Who do you identify with in these verses? Jesus? the invalid? the religious leaders?
Jesus showed respect for the invalid by asking Him if he wanted to be well. The invalid responded with excuses, Jesus responded by healing him.
The invalid at the pool represents the marginal people in our lives. Those we see in our community who need healing physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually. How do you respond to them? Why?
Read Luke 8:40-56
Identify the main characters in the story.
- Jesus, the respected Teacher.
- Jairus, the ruler of the synagogue.
- The unnamed woman with the discharge of blood, who, according to Jewish law, was unclean.
Why was Jesus going with Jairus?
What interrupted the plan? Why?
When was the woman healed?
How did Jesus respect the main characters in the story?
Jesus revealed a lot about respect by the way he dealt with the interruption. This wasn’t a regular errand. It was an emergency! A little girl was dying and in great need of His touch. He could’ve hurried on without acknowledging the woman. She was healed the moment she touched His garment.
But He wanted her to know He cared. He wanted her to know He was impacted by her faith. He did not want her to remain hidden. His respect and love for her was revealed when He took time to speak to her personally. He wanted her to know she was so much more than an interruption.
Jesus respected the unclean woman, who desired to remain hidden, as well as the honored synagogue ruler. For Jesus there is no partiality when it comes to respecting the needs of others. No interruption a cause for irritation or brushing past.
Think about the times you’ve been interrupted and how you responded. Did it matter who the person was as to whether you responded with respect? or irritation?
Jesus shows respect for the unclean in the world as well as the honorable.
Read John 8:2-11
This woman was caught red-handed. She didn’t need a trial, she was guilty. By Jewish law she was facing death.
How did Jesus’s response to the religious leaders show respect?
Who are you in the story? the guilty woman? or the one eager to see her condemned?
She was guilty and deserved death according to the law. We are all like her. We are all guilty and deserving of death. Jesus’s work on the cross is the only reason we’re saved. He is the only one who has the power to judge, yet He doesn’t. Instead… He saves.
Close your eyes. Imagine yourself at Jesus’s feet. Caught, humiliated, left to answer for your sin. You have no excuse, no way to talk yourself out of this one. There’s no denying your guilt.
Can you see His feet? Listen for the moment He kneels to your level. You know death is coming for what you’ve done, but instead, out of the corner of your downcast eyes, you notice His finger in the sand. What is He doing?
You lift your head a little to see better. There it is. A word in the sand. The Word made flesh writing something for you.
Take a deep breath… What word do you see?
Write your word on a piece of paper. Hold it in your hand while you pray.
Father God, You sent Jesus to save, not condemn. How grateful I am for Your love. Even though I don’t deserve Your respect, You give it to me. Thank You for the word You’ve given me. Thank You for loving me and teaching me to love others. As I go through these weeks of study on respect, help me to see others as You do. Amen.
Jesus respects those caught in sin. Lied to by the world. Looking for love and acceptance in all the wrong places. Father God sent Him to save, not condemn (John 3:16-17).
Our studies of Going Deeper into Loving Others will hopefully help us grow to love others as Jesus does. Our weekly work includes faith actions of prayer, study of His Word, and spiritual disciplines to strengthen our faith muscles.
Each week will include:
- A Reflection Scripture to contemplate. It’s up to you how you consider the passage. You may want to memorize it or simply read it each day. Some of us learn through writing and study.
- A Reflection Thought connected to the Reflection Scripture. The thought section will help you look deeper into the Scripture to consider what He is saying through His Word.
- A Prayer of Praise exercise. Psalm 100:4 tells us we enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. We want to get close to God through our Going Deeper study and praise brings us into His presence. Each week you will write a prayer of praise to our loving God.
- A time to look at His Word five days of the week, Going Deeper into Respect.
We encourage you to dedicate a journal (i.e., a simple spiral notebook) to take notes along the way, so you can share your thoughts with others.
Going Deeper into Respect takes wrestling and hard work. You may find places and things about yourself which are tough to face. These are the times we want you to return to the word He’s given you today. May it be an encouragement to keep going.
Our first week of Respect focuses on the truth that Everyone is Someone for Whom Christ Died.
This is war!
No, I’m serious. Be ready. Don’t take it lightly. Because as we prepared the Going Deeper study when it comes to Respect, I have stood on the front lines and faced disrespect in many areas of my life. I thought I respected others. I thought wrong.
Respect is so much more than biting your tongue when you are frustrated or coming under authority when you don’t want to. I’ve gotten pretty good at those things. I have walked away when things were tense and even kept my emotions in check. At least most of the time.
But this Everyone is Someone for Whom Christ Died thing has me spinning. With every thought, action, word I speak, I wonder: Is it respectful? Not just on the surface, but deeper. Sort of like an understanding that respecting someone else is a holy, sacred act.
Let me tell you, I’ve sat under strong conviction lately. Weirdly enough, I’ve found joy in the wrestling. On the other hand, it’s not easy to look at your own depravity.
This will be a tough battle. Don’t be surprised or caught off guard the moment you look into the eyes of your own disrespect. Stand your ground, repent when He convicts and keep going deeper.
Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; All your waves and breakers have swept over me.
We’ve taken a glimpse today at how He respected those He ministered to. Each one someone He thought worth dying for. The same is true for you and everyone else who ever lived, lives, or will live.
Here’s the link to the homework for Week One: Respect Week 1_ Everyone Is Someone for Whom Christ Died
Have a great week.