What Did I Do?
I DoPastor Jerry Gillis - August 13, 2017
The way of love is the way of Jesus.
Community Group Study Notes
- What does it mean to walk in the way of love? Why is this so important for all relationships – specifically, the marriage relationship?
- What does pride do to the way of love in our lives?
- What is one action step you can take in response to Sunday’s message?
Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:1-2)
So, last Sunday, when Edie and I were up here talking and teaching, shortly after we began our talk because we had to come from back stage because of the set up, we had to do the game show thing and all of that. So we came from back stage, so I hadn't been out here to kind of look around and see all of your beautiful faces, and those of us who are watching at other campuses, see your beautiful faces, even though I can't see you, I'm just saying that in faith, so I hadn't been able to do that.
So we're up here talking and we look down on the front row and we see some friends that we've known for over two decades from our past that we've known. And so, like I didn't stop in the middle of our talk, and be like "hey, what's going on?". I didn't do that, but after the service we had a chance to stop down and be able to talk with them for just a few moments, it was great to catch up with them and see them. I hadn't seen them in a very long time. And I had heard that they had gone through some challenges in their relationship.
And so I asked if she would, or one of them would send me an email so that I could just kind of understand their story a little bit better because I didn't have time to catch up on everything right there. They said sure. So, the email that she sent but was from both of them said "on the outside we look like the perfect couple. We met, we both of us agreed it was love at first sight, it was a fairy tale or so it seemed. For many years though, he was living a double life. For my part, I ignored signs that should have been addressed and figured out. We went to church and we did lots of things together and although life wasn't perfect, it seemed pretty good. It was early July of 2013, we'd been married for twenty-one years when I knew that something was really different and it was very wrong. This time he had met someone, someone that he thought would make everything that was wrong in his life become right. She was everything he ever wanted, the love of his life, or so he thought. I was devastated. Even so, I stayed in our home and I fought for our marriage until there was no other alternative because he was not going to give her up. And so they were divorced. In September of 2013 it was final. And in the courtroom sitting before the judge, he put his arm around my shoulders and said that he thought this could be what we needed to make a new start." And then she just put: "what?".
I know that there have been a lot of people that I have talked to through the years, both in our church here and in our community who have gone through some difficult times in their relationships. I realize that, I get it and I know that some of you that are under the sound of my voice, whether you're in this room, or the East Worship Center, at one of our campuses, watching online, watching on television, we know full well that you may be right in the middle of it right now. It's kind of like the floodwaters have risen and you don't really know what to do and it feels a little bit helpless and it feels a little bit hopeless. I understand and I hear you and I want you to know that we love you.
There's others that are in the room as well who have come from a variety of different places and maybe you've gone through great trial in your marriage relationship. And you've had struggles and maybe they seemed at one time hopeless or helpless but you're on the other side of that now and here you are. In fact, there are some of you that I know that I know your stories and I'm seeing you, and you're here because Jesus made a way for you. That's the reason that you're even here. And what seemed hopeless is not hopeless anymore, because God's done something extraordinary in your life. And you stand as trophies of grace on this divine shelf of God where He is showing off His power to transform people's lives.
And then there's others of you maybe that are kind of looking from the outside looking in at marriage. You're not married right now, you're not married as yet and you're trying to figure out if this is something that you even wanted to do because you have seen firsthand, either in your own life personally in your past or maybe in your family or maybe around you, you've seen the devastation of failed relationships. You've seen the carnage that it leaves all over the place. And so you're trying to figure out if this is even something that you want to be involved in.
And then there's some of you that are newly married. That you haven't been married for a very long time at all. And man, you're so fired up because love is all you need, right? And you're just kind of moving along, you have the winds at your back and all is good and love is all you need and so you're doing well. And listen, my hope is and my prayer is for you that you never come to a place where you are struggling or where you have a really big trial in your marriage. I really genuinely hope you never do. But what I know is that it could happen. And if it does, you've got to determine where you're going to turn and what you're going to do.
And so, what I wanted to do today when we talk about this idea is I wanted to look at the truth of Scripture, but not just in one single kind of lens. I want us to look at truth that is true for every person, for all time, no matter what your status is, married or single. It doesn't matter, this is truth for everyone for all time. And as I was praying about where to kind of talk about this from the Scripture, I felt like God was leading me into the book of Ephesians. And while there though, it was not the place that you might have anticipated. In Ephesians 5 it talks a lot about husbands and wives and those kind of things, and maybe that's where you think I'm headed, but it's not, even though that's a really important teaching for us to be able to understand.
I'm going to be a little bit earlier than that in just a moment, but let me remind you of this. Ephesus was nuts. Ephesus was super-crazy. The whole place, when you've got pagan idolatrous kinds of things that oftentimes involved immorality of all types and forms and that didn't really care much about faithfulness in the context of marriage, that makes for a really interesting culture to live in. But for others of us, maybe we're thinking to ourselves yeah, but that's not exactly our culture. Well, it kind of is, and here's what I would say about Ephesus. I would say that even the church in Ephesus was struggling at times to figure out who they were.
And in fact, it was a really hard place for Paul to minister in. A very difficult place. In fact, I would contend that Ephesus was one of the toughest places that the apostle Paul, of all the places that he planted and churches that he started, it was one of the toughest that he had of any of those, and there's a reason for that. When you read in other places in the Scripture you figure that out. In fact, like in Acts chapter 20, Paul talks about how Ephesus was a place that he cried tears over night and day because he was kind of groaning for them. In Acts chapter 19 and 20, you figure out that this was a place, Ephesus, where Paul was withstood by both Jew and Gentile, they were kind of causing him trouble. You figure out when you're reading 1 Corinthians chapter 15 that Paul refers to in that chapter, he talks about having fought wild beasts at Ephesus. And he's talking about, right, having to take on you know, Sasquatch, he's talking about all the people that are withstanding him and that are causing trouble for the Gospel and he's using this metaphor of wild beasts. And then we figure out a little bit later in 2 Corinthians chapter 1 that Paul said this was the place, Ephesus, where Paul even despaired for his own life.
You see, this was a tough place for him. And I know that in the church itself that's what was breaking Paul's heart because some of the relationships in the church of Ephesus were in difficult places and Paul was having to teach and instruct them. In fact, that's why when you're reading in Ephesians chapter 5, he's talking about husbands and wives and their relationships. He's talking about parents and children and their relationships. He's talking about employers and employees in that kind of ancient context and their relationships. He knows that there's an issue with relationships in Ephesus.
And so what I want us to do is to kind of look at some of what's set up Paul's teaching about husbands and wives, and parents and children, and employees and employers. I want us to look just a little further back in the book of Ephesus because this is going to be instruction and truth for everyone, for all time in any relationship that you can think of. In fact, this truth applies when we start to think about it, it applies husbands and wives, it applies parents and children, it applies other family relationships, it applies in friendships or in dating relationships. In fact, you'll find that this is truth that will even have application when you see some of the craziness that goes on in the world, like is happening in Virginia right now. You can see some of the craziness going on in the world, and this is still truth that we can embrace and that we can say okay, how then am I supposed to respond in this context?
Let's look at it, it's beginning in Ephesians 4 verse number 32. It says: "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Follow God's example, therefore, as dearly loved children and" here it is, "walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."
Now, when we look at this passage of Scripture, something jumps out and I highlighted it for us when we were looking at that. It's this phrase "walk in the way of love". It's kind of the centerpiece of the idea of this passage. It's kind of the big idea of this passage. Walk in the way of love. Now this isn't just tossed out with no context, because Paul is saying when we talk about the idea of walking in the way of love, we're not just saying something that's kind of a neat little slogan, he's actually put it in context. He says, walk in the way of love just as Christ did this, right? That he's helping us to see that this is what Jesus did. Maybe we can say it a little more simply. We'll say it simply like this: The way of love is the way of Jesus. Alright? Now, as far as that goes, that's easy enough for us to grab hold of and go, okay. The way of love is the way of Jesus.
But, what does it mean to actually walk in the way of love? Well, that phrase, if you're listening to it in the ancient world, when you hear "walk in the way of" you're hearing a travel metaphor. In the ancient world, right, they didn't have cars as you know, right, they sometimes would ride mules and donkeys and horses occasionally. But most of the time they walked with their feet. Where they went, they walked. And what did they walk on? Well, it says "walk in the" what? "way". Way is not just something that we talk about that has this kind of ethereal meaning, a "way" was actually a road, right? That you would travel down. It was a path or a place that you would travel. "Walk in the way of love", the Scripture says. And the way of love is the way of Jesus.
You see, what the idea of this text is, is simply this. That we are going to journey in a direction, on a path, and we want to make sure that the path that we choose is the path of love, which is the path of Jesus. That's what the argument of this text is. That's what it's trying to say to us. But if I were to put it maybe in more modern terms, because those were you know, roads, right? They just kind of cut a path and they were rocky or stony or dirt, you know, or whatever they were. They weren't paved. Some of them were, some of them were brick pavers, depending on where you went. But these ways, these roads, if I were to think about it in a modern context, I would say this, that the way of love is paved with certain things. If we want to know what the way of love is and the way of Jesus, then we can figure this out by saying the way of love is actually paved with certain things. Because it's one thing for us to say that the way of love is the way of Jesus. That sounds good, we all agree with that, but we don't specifically know what that means. But the text helps us. And if we could look at it maybe in this imagery, that the way of love is paved with certain things, maybe we'd start to know what the way of love actually looks like. Alright?
So let me give you a handful of those. The first one is this: That the way of love is paved with kindness and compassion. I want to show you, I didn't make that up, I want to show it to you in the text, you'll figure out very quickly that I didn't make that up. It's in verse number 32 of chapter 4 where we started reading a moment ago. Here's what it says: "Be kind and compassionate to one another...", right? You know exactly where I got this, from the text itself. Be kind and compassionate to one another. Now, it's clear ladies and gentlemen, that we see kindness and compassion in Jesus. Alright? We know that we see it in Jesus.
In fact, if we were to look in Matthew's gospel chapter 9, notice what it says. It says that "When Jesus saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd". And if there's anything that know about Jesus, we know that Jesus has kindness and compassion because we know that to be true by the testimony of the Scripture. But what we also know about Jesus is that Jesus is the fullness of God in bodily form, so what Jesus is doing is He's showing us the heart of the Father. That when Jesus is demonstrating kindness and compassion He's actually showing us what God is like.
In fact, when we look at some of the other places in Scripture we figure that out, right? The psalmist says it this way in Psalm 103: "The Lord is compassionate and gracious" or kind, "slow to anger, and abounding in love." And elsewhere in the Scripture in Luke chapter 6 Jesus says: "Love your enemies and do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because" listen to this, "because He is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful". You see, when we see this kind of thing, we have to understand this, that the way of love is the way of Jesus, and the way of love is paved with kindness and compassion.
Now sometimes we think about in terms of relationships and we start thinking to ourselves I don't know if I can really do that kindness and compassion. You don't know what they've done to me. They've said hurtful things to me, their actions have been hurtful. I don't know if I can be kind and compassionate. Listen to this. Jesus never asked you to be something you cannot be. And He doesn't ask you to do things you cannot do. There's a reason for that. Because He, for those of us who have put our faith in Him, He by the power of His Spirit, His life is in us. And when we yield ourselves to Him, the life of God in us actually begins to show itself. It's not about us mustering our ability to do something. It's about the life of Christ within us that is living His life out through us. He's not asked you to be something you cannot be. He's not asked you to do something that you cannot do. You can be kind and you can be compassionate, but you're probably going to have to make room for kindness and compassion by getting rid of other things.
In fact, before Paul says "be kind and compassionate", he says something else in the verses that precede it. Notice what he says: "Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God". Why? Listen to this. Because it is His life that is living out of us. "So don't grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption." But instead do this: "Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice".
So, here's what Paul is saying. You want the life of the Spirit kind of appropriating the life of Jesus into the lives of other people through your own life. But to do that, you're going to have to get rid of some things. Bitterness and anger and malice. Those thing have to go. We have to repent and turn away from those things and get those things out of our lives so that we can be filled with the Spirit of God who will appropriate the kindness and compassion of God in our relationships.
Now, what if we actually functioned this way? What if we actually functioned this way in our marriage relationships or in fact, in any relationship? What if we functioned this way? What if instead of in your marriage, when your spouse says something to you that may be hurtful or may be unkind or whatever. And I know it's never happened to anyone. But what if instead of reacting with bitterness you responded with kindness? What would happen? What would happen if he said something that hurt you or if she did something that hurt you, what if you were able to respond with compassion because what you begin to realize is that the reason that they said or did something that hurt you was because it's coming from a place inside of them that's hurt, that's broken, that's in need of repair, that needs to be healed. What if you then could operate with the life of Christ within you and operate in kindness and compassion? It would change the way you frame your relationship.
Now listen, I'm preaching to you because you need it, I don't need any of this. Hey listen, I'm preaching to us. I have to live under the Word, I don't live above it. Just because I'm talking about it doesn't mean that I don't have to get under it and I have to live within it as well. I have a responsibility to obey this in my relationships. And you have a responsibility as well, but it's going to be yielding ourselves to the work of the Spirit within us that will allow us to be people of kindness and compassion.
But let me give you a second thing. The way of love is also paved with forgiveness. I want to show you that in the text as well, listen to what the text says in verse number 32: "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." I don't know if you realize just how strong a statement that is, but I'm not sure that we actually do know how strong a statement that is. It's incredibly, incredibly strong. That we're to forgive others as God in Christ has forgiven us. Paul actually says it in just as clear terms in Colossians chapter 3 when he writes to that church. Listen to what he says: "Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." Forgive others just like, in the same way that the Lord has forgiven you.
Now, it you're asking me the question "how serious is this?" Super serious. In fact, I often think to myself, why doesn't this happen more? Why don't we forgive more in the context of our relationships? Let me say it to you two different ways. There's kind of two reasons, there's probably more than this, I'm coming up with two. There's two reasons that we don't forgive.
Here's the first one. We don't forgive because we misunderstand how forgiveness works emotionally. We just don't understand how it works emotionally. Let me explain. So I've talked to people before and they said "you know, I've tried forgiveness but it didn't work". What they mean is this. I got offended on Tuesday, on Wednesday I said that "I forgive you", but I woke up on Thursday as mad as I was when I got offended. This didn't work. Some of you are going, "I know, I've tried that. I hear exactly what you're saying."
Listen. Forgiveness, while it is to be a line in the sand one-time act where we extend forgiveness to the party that has hurt us. They've said something, they've done something and of course, in the context of a marriage relationship that can happen all the time. But we say, "I want you to know that hurt me, but I forgive you. I want you to know that I forgive you." And so then we do that. And sometimes we walk away going, whew, alright, glad that's over with. And then you go to bed and you wake up the next day and you're like ohh, I'm still mad at them. Well, you know what you have to do the next day? You got offended on Tuesday, maybe you had the opportunity to forgive them on Tuesday, you wake up Wednesday and you're angry. You know what you've got to do? You've got to posture your heart on Wednesday in the posture of forgiveness. You don't have to go back to them again. You've said to them you forgive them. You've released them. But you have to come back before the Lord and say, "I've got to posture my heart in forgiveness all over again." Because when you go to bed on Wednesday night you're going to wake up on Thursday and you're going to still be mad on Thursday. And on Thursday you have to get up and you have to posture your heart in a posture of forgiveness before the Lord and you have to release it before Him. Because you may go to bed on Thursday and wake up on Friday and still be mad about it. And you've got to get up on Friday and you've got to posture your heart in an attitude and a posture of forgiveness before the Lord and release it. And that may have to happen over and over and over and over but I can tell you this. At some point down the line when you keep posturing your heart in a posture of forgiveness, you're going to go to bed one day and you're going to wake up and not be angry anymore. The bitterness is going to be gone and you're going to have replaced it with kindness and compassion and forgiveness because that's the work of the Spirit inside of you. This is what has to happen for us.
Now, when I talk about the idea of forgiveness, we sometimes misunderstand how this operates emotionally. What we forget, we forget how serious it is to forgive. Forgiveness always fundamentally means the paying of a debt. And someone always has to pay. In forgiveness someone always has to pay. If no one pays there's no forgiveness that's really happened. So when you forgive you're saying I am drinking in all of the emotional hurt and I am not counting it against your account, I'm taking it upon myself. I'm releasing you. I'm forgiving you. But you see, that's exactly what Jesus did. So when we forgive in the same way He forgave us, He took upon Himself all of our offense, all of our sin, all of our shame, all of our mistakes and He drank to the bottom the fullness of that, because He paid a debt that we owed, even though He did not owe a debt. This is what forgiveness looks like, ladies and gentlemen. And Paul says we forgive as Christ has forgiven us. So the reason we don't forgive is because we misunderstand how this works emotionally.
But there's a second reason. We don't forgive because we fail to understand the depths of which we have been forgiven. You see, sometimes we act as if it didn't take very much for God to forgive us. We're pretty good people. Let me disabuse you of that notion. The Bible says that we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God. The Bible actually says that we are, before coming to know Jesus, we are children of wrath and our destiny is destruction. What you deserved is not forgiveness, what you and I deserved is to be separated from a holy God for eternity because of our sin. By our nature and by our choice we deserve to be separated from God, but God in His infinite kindness, in His mercy and compassion, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us so that when we put our faith in what Jesus has done, dying for us and rising from the dead we can be now made right with God. Reconciled to God by what Jesus has done, not what we have done, not what we deserve, but because God is kind to us and it cost God His sinless, spotless Son for our sinful, spot-filled selves. This was eminently costly to God.
Do you know how bad our sin stinks in the nostrils of God? He is holy. Our sin is of great cost. And whether you came to know Jesus at five years old or at fifty years old, it takes the same grace of God that has extended itself for sinful human beings that could never save themselves. You see, this is the heart of the gospel. When we realize how much God has done for us, the depths to which we have been forgiven, we will be more likely to forgive. We will be in a posture where we will forgive.
So forgiveness, listen to this. And I want to make sure you understand this. Forgiveness, however, is not the same thing as trust. So if someone in our neighborhood if one of my neighbors was to have abused my children, which did not happen, but if that were to have occurred, I would have a responsibility, the gospel would make a claim on me, to forgive them. To release them. Because when we don't, if we just hold on to unforgiveness, sometimes we feel like we're getting them back, right? I'm just gonna stay mad at them and I'll show them. You're not showing them anything. They're going on with their sweet lives. You've just locked yourself in a jail cell that you made for yourself and thrown the key out. And you think you're smart! Unforgiveness will not get us anywhere. We release them.
But listen to this. They will not babysit my kids. Because forgiveness is not the same thing as trust. Trust has to be won back. Trust has to be demonstrated in terms of a healthy relationship. That's different. Forgiveness doesn't require any of that. Forgiveness we have a responsibility to extend.
So, this road of love, this way of love, it's paved with kindness and compassion. It's paved with forgiveness. But there's a third piece that I want you to see. It's paved with humility. That word is not used in our text specifically, but you see the heart of humility. Because humility and love are so closely linked together. Look in chapter five verse number one. It says this. Follow God's example therefore as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
You see, this is a demonstration of the humility of God. It's almost weird to say that, isn't it? Where we talk about God and use the term humble. That we have a humble God. You kind of go, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. Are you sure about that? Yeah, because humility and love are so closely linked together.
In fact, if we look at that in this passage, we see what God does and it's a picture, it's an example for us. Here's the first thing. God actually initiates love. This comes out of God's humility. He initiates love. And look back in verse number 1. Here's what it says. Follow God's example. What is his example? Listen to me. He said, I love you first. He wasn't waiting on us. We were dead in our sins and our transgressions. And God says, I love you first. God initiates love in our lives. That's extraordinary to think about. Think about that. That is not normal.
You see, that is evidence of this kind of idea of humility. Because you and I both know that when when we're offended, when somebody does something wrong to us and offends us it's like, well we'll see when they come groveling back. God, on the other hand, initiates love. That's extraordinary to think about. And the Scripture tells us to follow God's example.
In fact, listen to how John said it in 1st John chapter 4. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. God initiated this.
What if we applied that in our marriage relationships when we go through difficult times? What if in those relationships when we are hurt, when we are offended, when something happens, what if once we pull ourselves together, I'm not saying you can do it right then, because you got to kind of process the hurt a little bit, but what if we were then able to instead of crossing our arms and saying, well, we'll see when they can come groveling back to me. What if we acted like God, and we initiated love? What if we did that? It would change the way that our relationships function. But it takes humility to do that, doesn't it?
Let me give you a second characteristic here of God. God incarnates love. Look with me again in verse number two in the very beginning. It says, "and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us." What did Christ do in loving us? Here's what he did? He put on flesh. He who was from the beginning. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And then the Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld his glory the glory of the only begotten of God full of grace and truth. The one who was from the very beginning put on flesh, moved into the neighborhood, and identified with us who needed rescue. Sinless though he was, he still came and entered into our world, a sinful world, so that he could rescue us and save us. He puts on - incarnate - means to to put flesh on. He really put flesh on love.
In fact, Paul talks about that humility in Philippians chapter 2. He says, "In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death - even death on a cross!"
This is an extraordinary picture of humility where God puts that kind of love in the person of Jesus. And Jesus.. Listen, here's what happened. God showed his love by sending Jesus. And Jesus demonstrated that love by coming and living in our sinful world. He initiated love that way. What if we acted that way in our relationships? What if when we are finding trouble, we initiate love - listen to this - by entering into their world and showing them love where they are, even if they're in sin. Doesn't mean we are. It means we still enter in and say, we want you to know, I want you to know that I love you. What you're doing is wrong. But I want you to know that I love you. That takes humility. It's hard. But this is what the gospel teaches us that God has done in Jesus. And this is the example that we're supposed to follow.
And we can do it, because he lives in us. He's not asking us to be who we cannot be. He's not asking us to do what we cannot do. So don't write it off. I just can't do that. That's just not something I could do. If you're his, it is something you could do. He says so. He has the power to do that.
But you also see that God inspires love. In humility, God inspires love. Look in verse number two. It says, "and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." When you see, when you see the humility of what the Son of God has done in giving himself up for us that were undeserving of his sacrifice, you know what it does? It inspires love in us. We don't initiate love. We respond to it because of what he has done on our behalf. He gave himself up for us. The sinless one for the sinful ones. The one who is purely worthy and deserving to the ones that were unworthy and not deserving.
And when that happens, when we see that kind of love, it inspires love in us. When we give ourselves up in relationship with people, when we humble ourselves and don't let pride win the day, I promise you it changes the way the relationship happens. It actually inspires love. You hope. Sometimes maybe that's not the case. We live among people. Sometimes that's not the case. But this is the model that we are to follow.
You see, humility is the key, ladies and gentlemen. Pride will kill every chance of the restoration of a relationship. It will kill it, it will kill it, it will kill it. Every time. Pride does not solve problems. It creates them. It magnifies them. Pride is never the way. In fact, pride is the wrong way. The way of love is the way of Jesus. And pride and love simply don't coexist. If the road that you're on in your relationship is paved with pride, you are not on the road of Jesus. You are not in the way of Jesus. You are on the wrong road all together.
You see, ladies and gentlemen, humility is a demonstration of love's power. But pride is a demonstration of love's absence. This is what we have to remember. Humility is a demonstration of love's power. But pride is a demonstration of love's absence.
So, you got to choose a road. You've got to choose a way. But here's the thing. Here's what I need you to understand. You're either gonna take the way of Jesus, which is the way of love, or you gonna take the way of pride. You got to choose a road. You got to choose a way. But there's only one way that will make a way. Only one way will make a way. And that's the way of Jesus. Do you know why I know that to be true? Because Jesus is the way. That's what he said in John 14:6, right? I am the way. I am the way. Jesus is the way.So Jesus is the only way that can make a way. The way of pride will never take you where you're going. Pride can't get you where you're headed. Only when we trust that Jesus can do that.
Now I know it's hard. I know you've been scarred. I know you've been hurt. I know you've got emotional baggage tied up in all of this. But I want you to turn away from that for a moment and think about what God has done for you in Christ. Think about the gospel. And then ask God to give you the grace to be able to respond as you ought to.
So my friends that were sitting on the front row who got a divorce. She finishes this email by saying, I remember one right shortly after I had moved out in the home of friends that had graciously allowed me to stay there with my face on the floor crying, no screaming out to God, what am I supposed to do? That I heard God say to me as clearly as if he was in the room with me. Keep praying and watch me work. She said His promises I know always proved true, but I didn't, I wasn't really sure that I believed that at the time.
And so she began to pray, and she began to trust the Lord. He's with another woman. And she's not, they're divorced. But she's not moving on and dating. She's not doing anything, because God spoke to her. Said you keep praying and you watch me work. And she did. And little did she know but God's Spirit began working on his heart. And he felt compelled one day to go into one of the local churches there in a men's ministry meeting. And while there, God's Spirit so dealt with his heart that he melted into repentance. As men stood over him, put their hands on him and began to pray over him. He said his life was chaos. It was a mess. He felt lost. He was in a terrible spot. And he basically just started this process of repentance at that point.
He soon began to reconnect with her, and they began talking again. They started seeking some counseling from their pastors. The pastors met with each of them individually, then met with them together. Even the other woman was in the meetings at some point as well. And then it finally came to a place where he realized that what he was doing was wrong. He had come to a place of full repentance. He cut that off. And he began now kind of reconnecting with his wife, even though they weren't married. They ended up over the course of time going to a marriage renewal event together. And after so much time had passed and so much had happened in his heart, and she could tell he's a brand-new man, and she was watching the promise of God come to fruition in front of her eyes.
And at that marriage renewal event, he had worked it up out with the hosts that at the end of that event he got up on the stage and he had the opportunity to bring her up there and he got down on one knee and he asked her to marry him. He said this time on the foundation of what God would have for us. And with sweaty palms and shaking knees and crying through her tears, she said yes. And then on December 31st of 2014 with their life group there, the people that they were in community with in their church, they got married. And they're serving Jesus.
And they were sitting on the front row last week. And I hadn't seen him in years and years and years. And they were saying to Edie and I, you have no idea what you were saying how direct and how clear that was to us. We've got a testimony of God's grace.
I say that to you to say this. Jesus is a way maker. He's the way. And the way of love is the way of Jesus. And Jesus is a way maker. You've got to cooperate with him. And in fact, if there's two of you in the relationship, you both have to cooperate with him. But if we do, God can do great things. God can do great things.
What I want to do is I want to take a moment and I want to pray with you and I want to pray over you. Because I know that there may be a bunch of people that are in places in their hearts and in their lives where they're having to try and see about what it looks like to apply these things. We're going to do that on all of our campuses. And so I'm going to let our campus pastors at our other campuses do that as we take a moment now and bow our heads together in prayer.
In these moments here, I just simply want you not to identify yourself, but to recognize what application God's Spirit wants to make in your heart. What's the application in your own heart? You may or may not be married. But there's an application for you in your heart.
So Father, I pray for every single person under the sound of my voice. You, Holy Spirit, know exactly what is going on in their hearts in their lives. And I want to thank you God that you have left us a witness in your word, superintended by your Spirit, that speaks is clearly to us today as it did in the day that it was written. That you call us back to the gospel. To the beauty of what you God are and what you have done in Jesus for us. I pray that we would realize in deep ways that what you ask us to be we can be because of your power. And what you ask us to do we can do because of your power in us.
But we know that for many of us, it may require that we repent deeply of things in our lives that are sabotaging our relationships. Pride, slander, malice, unforgiveness. Any of those things that you bring up in our hearts, we want to repent of those so that we can replace that with the flood of your Spirit and your life in us, so that what overflows from us is what overflows from a life of love, kindness and compassion and forgiveness and humility. You can do that, because you, yourself, Lord Jesus, are the way. So to trust you and put our faith in you and to surrender to you means that we are walking in the way of love, because you are the way of love.
So Father, would you help us. Would you apply this to every single need, whether it's a marriage that's going through a trying time. Would you help each party to understand how imperative it is for them to humble themselves before you, to seek your face, and to work through the hard things, because they believe that you're a way maker. And that their witness matters in this world. It matters deeply.
For those who maybe experienced the heartache of what failed marriage looks like, and a failed relationship looks like, God, I pray that you would be their strength and their encouragement in this moments. I pray that you would help them to be a testimony of your faithfulness. And to speak into the lives of other marriages. And to be able to share some of the heartaches, but also some of the grace that they've experienced. Father, would you do what only you can in our hearts and in our lives, we pray in Jesus name.
Here's what I want us to do you. Just remain seated for a moment. That chorus we learned just a little bit ago, I want us just to sing it as a proclamation. That you can make a way. We want to affirm that. This isn't just theory. He can make a way. Whatever your issue is, your relationship maybe, it's marriage, maybe it's friendship, it's a dating relationship, it's a family relationship. I don't know. But he can make a way. Because Jesus is a way maker. So let's take a moment right where you're seated and let's just sing that out to the Lord together as we affirm this truth.
See, we want you to know there's hope. That Jesus is a way maker. I don't know what that means for you. I don't know what that looks like for you. But he's a way maker. Some of you maybe are in a relationship, in a marriage, and you're struggling. And you've made mistakes. What did I do, you think to yourself.
And for some of you maybe you've been playing games with God. Maybe you've been coming to church and you've been doing your thing, but you've been playing games with God. Your need might actually be that you need to be saved. That you need to repent of your sin and receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior and be transformed. Because you've been trying to do what you do in the flesh and it won't ever work. You need a new heart. The old gone, new has come. That's what you need. Maybe you've never come to that place in your heart where you have repented and received Jesus. I want to encourage you today that his arms are wide open. That he loves you and he receives you. And if you'll come to him, he won't cast you away.
So when we dismiss in a moment, I hope you'll come by the Fireside Room and speak to someone. And simply just come in and say, I need to give my life to Jesus. We had people come to faith in Jesus last worship gathering. I'm confident there's probably people in here who've never really come to that place. Please come.
By the way, if you're in a marriage mess. If you need somebody to pray over you. If you need somebody to pray with you, come by the Fireside Room and let somebody pray over you. Let them pray with you. Take it to the Lord. Trust him with what he wants to do. Because Jesus is way maker. He's the way, he's the truth, he's the life. Somebody's getting it. He is.
You know why some people get it? Because they've experienced it. They know when he's rescued them. They know when they're singing the only way I'm standing here is because you made a way. That's the only way that I'm standing here, because you made a way. You, Jesus, made a way. I don't know how, but you did it. You made a way. He's a way maker.
Father, I pray that you would breathe life and hope into every single circumstance that might feel hopeless, and that you would remind that you sit above all things. You are exalted above all things as the great way maker. You, Jesus, are the way and the truth and the life. May we turn our hearts' attention to you. May we turn our affections toward you. May we humble ourselves and made your life within us burst forth. That we would walk the way of love, which is the way of Jesus. In kindness and compassion, with forgiveness of hearts that understand what you've done for us in Christ. And with a humility that submits to your lordship. Would you do that, so that we could demonstrate what it looks like to have Christ-like relationships as disciples of Jesus. We pray in Jesus' name. And all God's people said, amen.
I love you. God bless you. Have a great week.