God’s Heart is That We Love Like He Loves

God's Heart Is. . .  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  34:36
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God’s Heart Is...

is a theme title that God gave when I was preparing the message for July 10, when I preached God’s Heart Is Freedom From Injustice. When I prepared the video message for July 17, it was that God’s Heart Is That We Know Him. Then last week, God’s Heart Is That We Would Experience His Grace.
I realized in my preparations this week that in reality, my theme is dealing with different facets of Micah 6:8, which is a central theme verse of the entire Old Testament. in fact it is the prophet Micah’s way of boiling down the standards of behavior that we should practice because of what we learn from the whole of the Law and the Prophets.
Jesus, of course, boiled down the core of our attitudes toward God and neighbor in his Great Commandments, Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.
Here’s what Micah 6:8 says, in the New International Version that I memorized:
Micah 6:8 (NIV)
8 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
So the verse tells us that God has revealed what he regards as good to humanity.
That first phrase fits well with this theme of “The Heart of God Is:” or as Micah says it, “He has shown you what is good
We are told in the second phrase these things are what the Lord REQUIRES of you.
Then we are told to act justly. This matches the message that the Lord wants mankind to be free from injustice, given in the positive command of what we are to do about it: Since God’s heart is freedom from injustice for all people, he tells His people to do justice. In some versions “practice justice” or “do what is right.” Or “do what is fair and just” or my absolute favorite from the Wycliff English Bible is “forsooth to do doom.”
I preached that theme already in this series, and when I preached that God wants us to know him, it fits the last phrase, to walk with God, or walk humbly with God, or even “humbly obey your God.”
My favorite English translation is in the Message Version, “don’t take yourself too seriously---take God seriously.”
Today, we are looking at the theme,

God’s Heart Is: That We Love Like He Loves.

In Micah 6:8, it comes us with these phrases:
To love mercy, or love mercifully; to show mercy or to love to show mercy or be merciful, or “let mercy be your first concern.”
I memorized the verse with the thought of loving mercy; but then, reading through other translations, I ran in to another theme the translators used in the verse:
They are variations on the phrase “to love kindness.” Love being kind to others; love kindness and loyalty. Then a combination, “love kindness and mercy,” and an expansion of that with “to love and to diligently practice kindness and compassion.”
I got a bit more interested diving deeper as I read more of the translations: to love faithfulness; to love goodness; to show constant love; to be compassionate and loyal in your love, and my favorite, “treasure the Lord’s gracious love.
So what is the phrase or words in the original Hebrew that gets so many translations in just one verse?
I mean, mercy, kindness, grace and goodness are all pretty good words. Compassion is too, as is faithfulness and love.
So that means I dug in some more. Checking out the Hebrew behind the English translations led me to a single, particularly important word that shows up a lot in the Psalms.
In Hebrew, the word is chesed. It is translated in the Psalms mostly as “lovingkindness” or “everlasting love,” and outside of the Psalms also translated “mercy.” My professor of Old Testament and Hebrew in Seminary was captured by the meaning faithful love, and if the context called for it,
“Faithful Covenant Love” which tells us that God’s love is a faithful love, because it comes out God’s own being, and God is always faithful to his true nature. God’s love is a covenant love, an active choice to love us. God’s love is the source of our forgiveness, which is his mercy toward us.
So, for today, I am sharing about our responsibility to live out the love of God in our actions to one another.
That means, this is a message about God’s faithful covenant love that he has shown to us so that we can show that same love to others to others in our daily walk with God.
This Hebrew word for faithful love, promised love, merciful and compassionate love is the closest equivalent to the Greek word agape, which is the word used by John to describe the self-giving love of God through Jesus Christ.
You will remember that I use the idea that this love of God is a love that does the best for the one who is loved, no matter what the cost.
How does this read best, in this key verse of the Old Testament?

God Shows Us What Goodness Is

and I am taken, today by the International Standard Version’s English translation:
Micah 6:8 ISV
He has made it clear to you, mortal man, what is good and what the Lord is requiring from you— to act with justice, to treasure the Lord’s gracious love, and to walk humbly in the company of your God.
This is what is good. Jesus said that only the Father in Heaven is truly good; yet Jesus says “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father.”
So in Micah, God’s revelation of goodness is through the Law the Prophets; But in the Apostle John’s writings, it is Jesus Christ who shows us what it means to live as a complete human, the word become flesh who dwelt among us.

Jesus Christ Shows Us The Love of God’s Heart.

He treasures that love so much that it is at the core of his own being. And the Apostle John himself lived with that understanding of God’s love through Jesus Christ, at least grazing the surface of its meaning, when he wrote,
1 John 4:7–8 ESV
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
There is no other way to say it, for John, than to say,

God is Love,

the most elegant and simple phrase of God’s Heart; and yet, that is only the theme statement of how God does love:

God’s Love Gives Sacrificially

1 John 4:10 CSB
10 Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.

Giving Is Love God’s Example of Love

1 John 4:11 CSB
11 Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another.
Just like God loves us, says the Apostle, we must love one another.
Love with a giving love.
Love with a sacrificial love.
Love with a love that knows the treasure of the Lord’s gracious love is given to us so that the Lord can show the goodness of his kindness, his faithful, merciful, compassionate, gracious and forgiving love through us. In other words,

We Must Love Just Like God Loves Us

This is the core of the matter.
To love like Jesus loves us.
1 John 4:12 CSB
12 No one has ever seen God. If we love one another, God remains in us and his love is made complete in us.
It is in the practice of loving others with a selfless, sacrificial love, that God’s love takes root in us, and that God’s love is made whole in us.
It is only. . .

When God’s Love is Real To Us

That we know just how to love others.
First we have to

Believe God Truly Loves Us

1 John 4:16 CSB
16 And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him.

Believe God Wants His Love In Us

1 John 4:17 CSB
17 In this, love is made complete with us so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment, because as he is, so also are we in this world.
So that we can be not just confident before the Throne of Grace and of Judgement, but as the last part of verse 17 says, that we become Jesus to the world in which we live.

Become Jesus to Our World

Believe We Can Love Fearlessly

1 John 4:18 CSB
18 There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. So the one who fears is not complete in love.

How We Know Love

is based is how God has already loved us:
1 John 4:19 CSB
19 We love because he first loved us.

God’s Love is Selfless Love

and it is important we be reminded of that over and over again.

We Are Prone to Selfishness

and selfishness is the root of sin.
So John warns us that Selfishness in how we love ---and this can show up as bigotry and racism, cultural and practical and political intolerance--- proves best that WE HAVE NO IDEA WHAT GOD’S LOVE IN US IS LIKE
Here’s John’s warning for us:
1 John 4:20 CSB
20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and yet hates his brother or sister, he is a liar. For the person who does not love his brother or sister whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.

God’s Heart is That We Love Like He Loves.

Jesus shows us just exactly what that means.
St. Paul’s Prayer:

That God’s Love Becomes Real In Us

Ephesians 3:14–15 CSB
14 For this reason I kneel before the Father 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.
Ephesians 3:16 CSB
16 I pray that he may grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with power in your inner being through his Spirit,
Ephesians 3:17 CSB
17 and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love,
Ephesians 3:18 CSB
18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love,
Ephesians 3:19 CSB
19 and to know Christ’s love that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
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