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We will CARE FOR/LOVE OTHERS – we will be there for others in their needs.

we will love each other as Christ commanded us to love.

Our model for CARING for others and LOVING them is our Lord Jesus Christ. Let’s look at His life first and reflect on the depth of His love and care for us. Following each Scripture, summarize in your own words the depths of His love and care. How did He care? How did He love?

Thank you for joining us in this study on the third essential for finishing well. We've looked at growing and connecting, and in this session we want to talk about the importance of loving and caring. This is a special one, because our model for loving others is Jesus Himself. This is why we will be spending the majority of our time in God’s Word.

We couldn’t have a better example than our Lord for the kind of love that enriches and deepens our relationships. In John chapter 13 verse 34, Jesus said: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another.” Now here’s the key to doing that. Jesus continued: “Even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” Then He added in verse 35: “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” The poet Robert Browning said, “Take away love and earth is but a tomb.” It is love that enables us to give ourselves to each other—just as Jesus poured out His love for us.


What did Jesus do to show us His love? He answered that Himself in Mark chapter 10 verse 45: “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Think about that for a minute. Jesus, the eternal God, left the splendors of heaven to come to earth and die on the cross for us. How many people do we give our lives away to in serving them and taking time for them?

In an earlier session we read Matthew chapter 11 verses 28 and 29. Jesus gave this invitation: “Come on to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you.” While He was here on earth, Jesus wore a yoke of loving and caring that led to be gentle and humble in heart. He wasn’t proud and arrogant, but stooped down to give Himself away for us.


In Hebrews chapter 12 verses 1 and 2, the writer added another description to Jesus’ great love for us when he explained how we should live as believers. We are to run our race, that is, our daily lives “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross.” That's how much Jesus loved us, and He wants us to live and love the way He lived and loved.  


There’s another text of Scripture that really penetrates my heart and mind when I think of Jesus and His sacrificial love. It’s found in Isaiah chapter 53, verses 4 to 6. I've highlighted the things that Jesus did for you and me. Look at them: “Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.”


Jesus endured terrible beatings and the agony of crucifixion to atone for our sins and make our forgiveness possible. With that kind of love as our example, how can we do less than pour out our lives in love and care for others the way Jesus loved and cared for us—and continues to do so today in heaven! He has called us to show that kind of love, with His help and the help of the Holy Spirit. Following Jesus, we have the opportunity and privilege of giving our lives away for others.


That's what we mean by this third essential. We will love and care for those around us by entering into their lives in very profound ways. Of course, we can't do this with everybody. But God places people in our lives all the time about whom His Spirit says, “You need to go and spend time with this person, help that person, or listen to that person. You need to give yourself away to serve others, because it’s not about you, Habecker!”


That's God's call to us and the heart of this essential. I want to share one more passage of Scripture that expresses the love of Christ in a very vivid way—and calls us to imitate Him. Paul wrote in Philippians chapter 2 verses 5 to 8:


“Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”


This is God's standard for giving our lives away to each other. You go to church on a Sunday morning and say hi to your friends, which is fine. But if that’s as far as it goes, that's not loving, that's not caring, that's not entering into each other's lives in a profound way, the way Jesus took on a human body and gave Himself away to serve others. That's the challenging part of this third essential. It’s only when we begin to love and care like Jesus that we become more fully what He wants us to be.


I think of the Good Samaritan, Jesus’ parable in Luke chapter 10. This man went out of his way to care for the man who had been robbed and beaten and left for dead. It cost the Samaritan time and money to care for the victim, and it was probably very inconvenient for him to interrupt his trip to take this broken man to an inn and pay for his lodging. It required an intentional change  in his life to decide that he wasn't going to go on past the wounded man and look the other way.


Jesus’ point in this parable is that God brings people into our lives who need our care, whether they are family, friends, or even strangers. Whatever the case, God wants and commands us to step aside, lay down our agenda for a while, and take time to serve others.

Satan doesn’t want us to get involved. Caring may draw me deeper into the spiritual battlegrounds of those for whom I care. Satan will tempt me to play it safe. He says, “Habecker, you don't have time to do that today. Your schedule is already busy. You can't stop and help this person.” At that moment, I have a choice. Do I listen to the voice of Satan that says, “You're too important to stop and do this,” or do I reject Satan's appeal and sense the Holy Spirit drawing me to go visit with this person, give them time, and pray for them?


May I say it again? That’s what Jesus did for us. That’s one strength of the church. We don’t go to church to be casually acquainted, or to be seen. We go to church and get involved in others’ lives in powerful ways.  


Sometimes these barriers come just when we have the most involved schedule. But the significance of this third essential is knowing that Jesus never let anything get in the way of His mission to love and care, which means that we can love and care just as He does. He calls us to grow and connect with Him and others and pattern our lives after His example, because He wants to use us to extend His kingdom His value system, and His love and grace to others.


So that's our challenge as we age. We may not have the energy we once had, but we can still love and care by entering into people's lives as best we can. My mother died at the age of 96. During his her final days, she loved and served others perhaps better than at any season in her life. I remember that in her last months, people came by her room all the time. She would pray for them and encourage them, and they in turn encouraged her.


She did that until her last day. We can do the same in our 60s, 70s, or even 80s and 90s, as God gives us strength to be engaged with others. I pray that you will grow in your understanding of how you can love and encourage others following Jesus, who gave His life for us.

NOTE: This text is an edited transcription of the ESSENTIAL THREE: CARE & LOVE video by Dr. Hal Habecker, edited by Philip Rawley.


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