SUNDAY MORNING WORSHIP SERVICE, 16 January 2022
Sermon Text: 1 John 4:7-12
Sermon Series: “Christian Service” (#3)
I. Cheered and compelled to love one another
II. Loving is serving
III. Serving in love perfects God’s love in us
As this new sermon series on ‘Christian service’ began in January, someone told me that this series was good and timely because everyone would like to consider doing something in church in a new and fresh year. This series has helped me also in my sermon preparation as well as review every Sunday evening, refreshing my commitment and deepening my joy in serving. Today’s message is the third one in this series and I’d like to remind you of what we’ve heard so far about Christian service in the previous two messages.
The first was on ‘serving in church, understanding the nature of our Christian service.’ If we do things without knowing what it is that we do in the Lord’s church, we not only get tired easily of our works, but also have little joy in doing them. So, we must know the nature of our works in church and do them, then, God’s blessing awaits us.
Christian service is the continuation of the works of the Triune God in His Church, first of all, and then, in this world we live in. This means, the works and services we do here in the midst of fellow Christians as well as our unbelieving neighbours are the works of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit – we’re the hands and feet and mouth of God, and carry out His works here on earth. This is the nature of our works and service. God has invited you and me to make His works done here in His name and for His glory.
Adding to this, the focus of today’s message is on the impetus of Christian service or what drives Christians to continue and press on in serving others, preferring others over oneself. This impetus is ‘love’! ‘Love’ enables us Christians to serve, and ‘love’ presses us on to serve with greater joy.
In this sense, ‘love’ is like fuel that makes and keeps the car running. Like the way petrol is the fuel for your car (or electricity in case you have an EV), love is the only fuel that enables Christians to serve and keep serving, never getting tired but having a deep joy in the Lord. In fact, one who serves rejoices and one who rejoices in the Lord loves more. This is the main point of today’s message.
Having said, let us now follow the word and hear the Spirit’s explanation of why it is so.
I. CHEERED AND COMPELLED TO LOVE ONE ANOTHER
The very first point we should focus on is that we’re cheered as well as compelled to love one another by the Lord. 1 Jn. 4:7 begins, “Beloved, LET US love one another,” while v. 11 says, “we … OUGHT to love one another.” This means, we’re not simply commanded but approved to love others and encouraged to do so and congratulated for this task of loving one another. This means, loving is our joy as much as mission to carry out. In other words, loving one another is our ‘joyful mission.’ As we succeed in this mission, joy comes and increases in us. When our compelled task is carried out well, our joy increases to the point of overflowing.
The Apostle Paul professes his joy that overflows from his heart and soul, following the completion of his mission of serving the Lord’s Church. He says this in 2 Tim. 4:6 and following, “I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved His appearing.”
The same is for you and I and all who know God and trust Jesus as their Saviour and Lord and King. We’re cheered and compelled to love one another. We’re approved and encouraged to love others and congratulated for having this task of loving one another as our blessed mission on earth, in both the Lord’s Church and the world.
II. LOVING IS SERVING
Then, how should we or could we love one another? If you pause and carefully examine how you could love others, you’ll soon realise that there’s only one way to do it and, that is, serving others, being a servant of others. You cannot love anyone without serving that person. This is a fact that love is always a verb, action.
So says the second half of 1 Jn. 4:8, “God is love,” meaning, ‘God is in action’ or ‘God serves.’ This was the message we heard last Lord’s Day, wasn’t it? God the Father created the whole world and every living being including mankind. He didn’t have to. But He did make all things and gave breath to our nostrils and upholds all beings and things in His hand. That is His ‘service’ to His created beings as He ‘willingly sacrificed and still does for the benefit of others, preferring us – His creatures – over Himself.’ Jn. 3:16 perfectly explains God’s love as service in these words: “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Notice in this verse how God’s ‘love’ is manifested – that is, in His ‘giving His Son’ so that sinners may be saved through faith in the Son. Truly, God is love!
If God loves and serves us, then, who could object and say that loving should be anything other than serving? Who can question the equality between loving and serving? No one can! We love and serve; we serve and love as the Triune God has displayed what love is in His works.
So, what 1 Jn. 4:20 says is absolutely true – listen carefully what this verse says, “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar.” Why? Because God showed and demonstrated what love is through His creation, generally, and through His sending His one and only Son, especially, to be the atonement for the sinners and the Way of their salvation. And anyone who says, ‘I love God,’ but does not understand God’s love, nor follow nor imitate His love by not serving others knows and loves a different god – yes, a god with a small g – rather than the God of the Bible! So, anyone who says, ‘I love God,’ but does not love others is a liar – he does not know God who is love.
As the statement, ‘God is love,’ means ‘God serves,’ we who love God through Jesus are servants to one another. After all, making us as servants to one another is the work of the Son, Jesus Christ, as He says in Mt. 20:28 that He came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many. The Apostle Paul is crystal clear about this and says in 1 Cor. 11:1, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” As Jesus came to be the Servant for many, including you and me as well as all the Father’s elect, Paul the Apostle imitated Him, the Christ, and urges us all to imitate him and be servants to one another!
This is what love is; this is who we are and what we do as servants to each other in Jesus!
III. SERVING IN LOVE PERFECTS GOD’S LOVE IN US
This automatically leads us to the conclusion of today’s text passage in 1 Jn. 4, that is, v. 12 which says, “No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and His love is perfected in us.”
I believe, you can now see what this verse means. Simply put, as we love in serving, as we serve in love, the invisible God becomes visible to everyone’s eyes, and His abode, His presence in our midst is perfected. How could we see Him or sense Him? By hearing God’s voice through the words we speak to one another; by touching and being touched by the hands of our gracious God through the serving hands of each other. This is what the Apostle Peter means in 1 Pet. 4:11 which we also heard last Sunday, “whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies”!
This is the picture of ‘God’s love being perfected in us’; this is the prayer the Lord Jesus prayed on the night He was betrayed and suffered, saying, “Holy Father, keep them in Your name, which You have given Me, that they may be one, even as We are one. … The glory that You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one even as We are one.” This is the essence of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper which He commanded us to continue until His return.
So, let me once again urge you to love and serve with the words from 1 Jn. 4, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.” May the Lord engrave His word onto the flesh tablet of our heart, and enable us all in His Church to love and serve one another, as He loves and serves us! ***