Going Deeper into Loving Others
The last three weeks have flown by! But it’s time to get back to Going Deeper into Loving Others.
Gather some sisters to talk with (or brothers, as we have some of those following us too). Don’t forget your Bible, journal, pen, pencil, whatever you want to write with, and a teachable heart.
Father God, we are so thankful for Your faithfulness and patience as we pursue Your path of love. Bless us with all we need to continue on: faith, strength, hope, and ever-increasing love for You and others.
We’ve been on this journey for almost two years now. Talking about what it means to actively live out our faith by loving God and loving others.
Jesus summed up all the law and the prophets into two faith actions.
Read Matthew 22:36-40
What is the first and greatest commandment?
To love God wholeheartedly with all your soul, desire, will, and intelligence.
What is the second? What does Jesus preface the second greatest commandment with?
To love your neighbor as yourself is the second greatest commandment. He says this commandment is “like” the first. Meaning to love others as well as you love yourself is the same or nearly the same as loving God (Merriam-Webster).
Sister Talk: Faith in Action began with faith actions directly associated with loving God: Believe, Pray, Trust, Obey, and Love. All active faith in God culminates in love, because to love God is to love others.
The second part of Sister Talk: Faith in Action focuses on loving others, ultimately and apparently, as a way of loving God. We must never separate the two. Because only in loving God rightly – with all our heart, soul, and mind – can we begin to love others rightly, as He defines and calls us to love others.
Give is the third act of faith we are talking about in our Going Deeper into Loving Others series.
We began with Respect. Respecting everyone as someone for whom Christ died. Learning to respect their freedom to choose and their freedom to walk away. We also talked about the importance of respecting authority and God’s unique love for all people.
Grounded in an attitude of Respect we moved into Share. Sharing is the heart of fellowship. In fellowship we share our stories, gifts, and what we have. In the process, we become less to become more as we share in fellowship with one another.
From Respect and Share, we are now primed to Give.
Sharing is one thing but giving is another.
How would you describe the difference between share and give?
Does all sharing involve giving? Or is some sharing only sharing, nothing completely given up?
Which of these diagrams is true? or truer than the other?
After God captured my heart by giving my mother peace during her critical illness, I gave my life to the pursuit of Him. Because of what He did for my mom, I told Him I was His. I began seeking Him to come to know Him and serve Him as best I could.
I gave my life to Him… or so I thought.
What I really began doing was sharing a part of my day with Him. My daily routine changed. I began my day in prayer and in His Word. But after I said, Amen, closed my Bible, and got up from my chair, I took back over and went about my day without much thought for Him.
He did not allow me to deceive myself for long. He began to let the fear already planted in my life begin to grow and take deep roots. And it was through a long season of fear and anxiety He revealed how much of my life I was holding back from Him. Primarily through unbelief: I didn’t trust Him. The escalating fear finally made the truth quite clear.
Yes, sharing your life with Him is one thing, but giving it to Him is a completely different way to live. It’s not easy, but neither is the other. There are difficulties and pain in the world whether you give Him your life or not. But in the giving of yourself to Him, He leads you to increasing levels of peace, joy, and freedom.
What are different ways we give?
- give as a present or a gift
- give something to someone for their use, no strings attached
- give in the form of making ourselves available, offer (Jesus offers His gift of grace to everyone but not everyone takes it)
- give a share in something
- to give forth as in produce something (i.e., the fruit we bear)
- we give by way of exchange: pay a price
- we give sacrificially through suffering loss
- give according to one’s worth or value
- give freely and abundantly
- give a pledge or promise
- give through contagion, infection, or exposure
- to allow one to have or take
- we give to help others by giving them something for their advantage
- we give necessities
- we give when people ask
- we give something or someone into another’s care: give responsibility
- give what is due or owed in wages or reward
- give our attention or loyalty by following another
[All these types of giving came from the definition of give in Merriam-Webster’s and the definition from the Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon for the Greek word translated as give.]
What did God give to show His love for others?
Read John 3:16-17
How did God give His Son to us? How did He share His Son, before He gave Him?
Father God sent Jesus on a recovery and rescue mission. As Jesus walked among us in ministry He shared God’s love with us and in the process recovered God’s reputation and character. Some of His church leaders had lost the heart of who He was in the law. They only emphasized the legalistic law keeping and not the love on which it was founded. Jesus reveals who God truly is (Hebrews 1:3). A God of love, mercy, and compassion. One who comes to save, not condemn.
God’s great love for us was ultimately revealed when He gave His Son over to sin and death so those who believe do not endure the same fate.
He gave Himself, the Perfect for the imperfect, the Obedient for the rebel, the Clean for the filthy, because He loves those He created.
To love is to give.
What do you give to those you love?
Is what you give always received well? Why or why not?
I’ve gotten some flack from my adult children lately, particularly for the discipline given to them as children.
The way it was delivered, the tone of voice, an attitude of preaching rather than teaching.
It’s an interesting transition, moving from parenting young children to relating to them as adults making their own way who don’t have to listen to a thing you say.
Apparently, the discipline given in the past was not always well received. Which now, at times, makes it difficult for me to give advice. (Even when they ask.)
I’m not making excuses, but I was fighting many of my own battles when they were little. Learning to walk by faith when the oldest of my three was only five years old. I did the best I knew, and as He’s shown me better, hopefully I do better.
I pray for God to redeem whatever harm I brought to their hearts as a new believing mom. But I also realize, they have not yet walked the path of parenting. I pray they will do better than I, when given the privilege.
How do you feel when something you give has been rejected? or gone unused? what about when it’s misused? abused?
Does it feel risky to give? Why or why not?
What keeps you from giving? What is hardest for you to give?
Giving can feel risky. It always involves a loss and the releasing of something to someone else’s power and control. But this is what makes it a gift. Specifically, when we let go of control, give it to another, we allow them to receive an opportunity to grow in their success or failure in the use of what’s been given.
What are some examples of giving the gift of control to another? Have you seen growth through success? failure? in yourself? in others?
When my oldest child received her driver’s license I entered the University of Giving Control. I will never forget the morning all three of my children hopped in the car with her in the driver’s seat. As they headed off to school I thought, “There goes my life. All my eggs in one basket.” It was a scary moment for this mama.
Visions of catastrophic accidents danced in my head and kept me on my knees. I considered driving the youngest to school just to keep one safe. Phone calls were required when my daughter put her car in park at any given destination. When they arrived home each afternoon I heaved a sigh of relief.
In ten days my youngest will take his driver’s test, and I’m surprised at my lack of worry. Yes, it is still the most dangerous thing my children will do on a regular basis. Three children driving their own cars should give me reason to shudder. But I don’t. And it is not because they are great drivers.
I’ve learned for the most part control is an illusion I often use to make myself feel safe and secure.
When I refuse to give control I deceive myself, and inhibit God’s way in the life of others. It is a gift to be given. Not because in the end everyone will live long, happy, safe lives, but because the more control I choose to give grows my trust in the Controller of All Things.
When parents give their children increased freedom, they are also given the responsibility which comes with it: staying home alone, driving a car, etc. When husbands and wives give one another the gift of taking care of certain household responsibilities, it should be done without interference or criticism. Giving is a gift of grace.
Giving, like loving, can feel very one-way. There is no guarantee we will be loved in return, and there is no guarantee we will receive even a thank you when we give to another. Or that they will use what we give in the way we intended.
God gives because He loves. And all His giving is one-way. There is nothing we can give to Him which He did not give us first – even our faith (Ephesians 2:8).
If God loves with one-way giving, and we are to love others like God does, what does this say about the way we are to give?
To love others with His love is to give one-way. Without expectation of receiving anything in return.
Read Acts 20:32-35
Paul is taking his leave from the leaders of the church at Ephesus. They would never see him again on this earth. Who did Paul commend them to? Why?
Paul commended them to God and the word of His grace, because both God and His Word enable His people to be built up and receive the eternal inheritance of the sanctified.
What is it about “the word of His grace” which builds us and sanctifies us?
God’s grace and obedience to His Word has a way of humbling us, not to crush us, but to build us up by revealing sin, both actions and attitudes. The more we recognize His love for us in our sin-full state, the more we are willing to give the same grace to others.
The phrase “word of His grace” also points us to Jesus, the Word made flesh. When we give according to His will, God uses it to build and sanctify both the giver and receiver.
How did Paul live among them? Why did he live this way?
Paul earned his own keep, he did not rely on those he ministered to for support. He gave the word of grace without expectation of anything in return. By his example, he wanted to teach them to work hard to help the weak just as Jesus taught.
What words of Jesus did he tell them to remember?
“It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
Over the next six weeks we will flesh out the blessings of Give and hopefully see the truth of Jesus come to fruition in our lives. Where we truly are happier in giving than receiving.
Our first week of Give is centered on the reality of our being Bought at a Price.
Each week you will have homework. Your homework includes Scripture for reflection, a focus of praise, study of His Word, along with a time to examine your giving and an opportunity to give.
If you follow us by email, you will receive each day’s work in your Inbox. To print a PDF copy of the week’s homework, click here: Give Week 1 – Bought at a Price – Homework
Open our hearts to who You are, Lord. Open our eyes to all You have given.