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The Gift Of Love – Part 1 of 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
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January 9, 2024 1:00 am

The Gift Of Love – Part 1 of 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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January 9, 2024 1:00 am

Human love is typically based on the person being loved. But we often associate our mothers with a greater, sacrificial love. In this message from Luke 6, Pastor Lutzer observes the key distinction between divine love and human love. Christ is the ultimate expression of God’s selfless love.

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Running to Win
Erwin Lutzer

Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. In our current series, we're learning about four gifts we can't live without. So far, we've explored the gift of hope, the gift of belonging, and the gift of significance. Today, we've come to the fourth gift, a gift that underlies all of the others, and that is the gift of love.

From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, the word love gets tossed around pretty freely, like, I love that new dress or I love that famous singer. I'm hoping you'll clarify what love means today. Dave, I think that the word love is used even in more confusing ways today. Oftentimes when people want to commit sin, and when they want to break the boundaries of what God has laid out in the Scripture, they do so saying, well, love is more important than truth. Well, as I like to point out, love can actually be evil because people can love money, they can love themselves, they can love pleasure.

So you're absolutely right, we have to know what love really is. Now, I want to speak to all of our listeners. This is a very special week. It's near the beginning of a new year, and we are, by God's grace, praying that we will have 50 new endurance partners sign up this week. You ask the question, what is an endurance partner? Well, it's someone who gives regularly and contributes to this ministry.

Of course, the amount that you give is entirely your decision, but you need more info. So here is what you can do. Go to

That's And I trust that God will enable you to help us because our desire is to share the good news of the gospel and the love that comes from God. Well, today is the fourth in a series of messages entitled, What Do We Have to Offer the City of Chicago? And today the topic is love. And isn't it wonderful that we can blend these themes together because who can teach us best to love? The quintessential example of love is, of course, our mothers. Sometimes we hear that love conquers all, but don't believe it. If love conquered all, we wouldn't have so many divorces, would we?

We wouldn't have so many people walking away from their families, because supposedly it all begins in love, but love does not conquer all unless it is the right kind of love. Jesus made a distinction in the sixth chapter of Luke and I invite you to turn to that passage, Luke chapter six, where we have a distinction between divine love and human love. And if you do not understand that distinction, you may well find yourself giving up no matter how much you have chosen to love. First of all, human love, Jesus taught. Human love, Luke chapter six, is based on the person loved. It's based on the person loved.

I'm picking it up at verse 32. If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.

That's human love. Even among thieves, there is a certain amount of honor, a certain amount of respect, and a certain amount of, quote, love. And if you do good only to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.

And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to get back the same amount. That's human love. Human love says, I love you because of what you mean to me and what you can do for me. If I can scratch your back and you scratch mine, if I get some benefit, I will love you. And almost always, human love is based on two things.

Now I'm thinking particularly of romantic love. First of all, it is based on appearance. There's no doubt that those of you women who are beautiful, men who are striking and handsome in their appearance, you got all of the breaks in life.

No question about it. We're attracted to people who are good looking in a supermarket. If you have a cute kid, people are going to stop by and they're going to give you compliments and they're going to want to play with your child. And so we're attracted to people who are beautiful. We're also attracted to those who have the right kind of personality. Possibly we could say a magnetic personality. Man said to me, he said, you know, my wife has a magnetic personality. I said, how do you know that?

He says, virtually everything that she wears is charged. Maybe you've met a charmer. Now there are some charmers that turn out to be abusers, but there are also those who are the real deal. I mean, really nice people.

Now if you put those two things together, if you put together a charming personality and a physical attraction, you have a powerful package. And human love says, I love you because of what you do for me, because of the way in which you stimulate me, the way in which you encourage me, and I'm proud to be with you. And it's human love. Jesus would say, there's nothing wrong with human love, is there? In fact, when it comes to marriage, there's a whole book in the Old Testament devoted to human love. It's the Song of Solomon.

Just listen to what this man had to say. Behold, you are beautiful, my love. Behold, you are beautiful. Your eyes are like doves behind your veil. Your hair is like a flock of goats leaping down the slopes of Gilead. Your teeth are like the flock of shorn ewes that have come up from the washing, all of which bear twins. And not one of them has lost its young. Are you enjoying this?

You should. It's what makes the world go round. Your lips are like a scarlet thread and your mouth is lovely. Your cheeks are like the halves of a pomegranate behind your veil. Your neck is like the Tower of David built in rows of stone.

On it hang a thousand shields, all of them the shields of warriors. Here's a man who had it really bad. He was madly in love and there's nothing wrong with that. Human love is experienced by all of us and it's important. But the problem with human love is simply this. Sometimes it isn't strong enough to weather the storm. Because you see, human love is based upon the person who is loved.

Human love says when you change, I no longer will love you. Thirty years ago I was preaching in a church. Well, I can even tell you the city because it's so long ago.

It's Peoria, Illinois. I remember the days when a pastor said 30 years ago I was preaching so and so. I thought he was an old man. Now I know better. But a woman came to me and she seemed to be attractive. But I did notice that part of her face was scarred and later I learned that part of her arm was scarred. In fact, much of her body was scarred. She was in a terrible fire. And much of her body was burned. In fact, there were times when she didn't think that she would live. Her husband walked into the hospital, saw his wife, left her and the kids and says you're not the woman I married.

He could not handle it. So he divorced her and then he went and he married someone else who was more beautiful because human love says when you stop being lovable, I will no longer love you and I will find someone who will do for me what you should be doing for me but aren't. So that's human love. It's transferable.

It's okay, but it can't weather the big storms. Also 30, 35 years ago I understand there was a song that went something like this. Please release me, dear. To live with you would be a sin. Please release me so that I could love again. And we might say and again and again and again and again. Have you ever wondered why in Hollywood there's so many divorces and the marriages don't last? It's because they live with this mythology that marriage is supposed to make you happy. And so when somebody doesn't make them as happy as they think they deserve to be with all of their money and fame, I divorce you because I'm convinced I'm going to go with someone else who is going to make me really more happy than you can make me happy.

And so on and on it goes. And human love ends up failing. Nothing wrong with it, but it's not strong. Contrast this with divine love. Divine love is so strong because it is based on the lover. Divine love says I can go on loving you even if you change, even if your body is burned and scarred. Divine love says I can go on loving you when you have Alzheimer's disease and when the going gets difficult and when the romance has to be over because reality begins to set in and all of the difficulties of old age and marriage begin to break upon us. Divine love says I can go on loving you even if you don't do for me all the things that in my heart I think you should. Look at what Jesus said about divine love. He said in verse 27, well, we can pick it up at verse 35, but love your enemies. Now that's divine love. Love your enemies and do good and lend expecting nothing in return and your reward will be great.

But I want to go back to verse 27 where he explains it even in more detail. But I say to those of you who hear love your enemies, do good to those who hate you. I need to pause here and say that all divine love involves action. Every once in a while people say, you know, I just love the whole world. I just love the whole world. And you know, all those starving children, I just love them all.

No, you don't. You have some sentimentality because of their situation. If you love them, you would do something about it in some way because love always involves sacrificial involvement for God so loved the world that he gave. Now, Jesus is telling us that there is a kind of love that is so strong that with it we can love an enemy. And he goes on to say exactly how we should love our enemy. Here's what the text says.

It says, bless those. First of all, do good to those who hate you. What you do is you think to yourself, there's the person who hates me. There's a person who's an enemy. What I want to do is do something good for him. You see, if there's a standoff, you hate me and so I'm going to hate you and we're not going to do anything for each other. As a matter of fact, we're going to do all that we possibly can to torpedo your career because I hate you.

Can you imagine what that does? Now that's the way in which the world lives, but Jesus is saying that's not the way you treat your husband who has not done you well. You do good for him.

I could tell you stories of children who have been abused who have done good to the parent who abused him. You say, well, you can't expect that because you don't feel like it. Well, this kind of love is stronger than feeling.

This kind of love is a choice that is so strong that with it you can love an enemy who hates you. I notice what the text says. You do good. You bless those who curse you. Somebody at work who wants to see your downfall, somebody who has been delighted to see you destroyed.

What do you do? Do you treat them in the very same way? No, you bless them. You think of ways of blessing them and if you can't think of a way to bless them, you go on with the text and you pray for those who abuse you and you do not pray that God would heap vengeance upon them and vaporize them. What you do is you say, oh God, this person has deeply wounded me, but what I want you to do is to bless them in ways in which they will see your love and your compassion and your concern and that they will turn from their ways and be converted. That's the way in which you bless those who curse you and pray for those who despitefully use you. That's what divine love is all about. Love costs everything. There's a television program. I don't know whether it's a TV program or whether it was advertising a movie.

I just saw it on the screen. It says that love costs you nothing. Are you serious? Love costs you nothing. Love costs you everything. And this kind of love is so divine that if you see it in the life of someone who is not a believer and there may be in some cases, particularly among mothers and their children, you know it is because the divine image has been stamped upon the human being and we are creatures.

All creatures still have the divine image even though it has been effaced. It has not been totally erased and because of common grace, you sometimes see examples of love in the most unlikely places. The kind of love that is divine, the kind of love that sacrifices, the kind of love that says I can endure this even if you're not to me what I think you should be. It is a divine love. The Bible says in Romans chapter 5, it says that the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who has given unto us. It also says in the very same chapter that divine love is indicated when it says while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us while we were his enemies. That's divine love.

Divine love says I can go on loving you even if you don't like me, even if you're my enemy, I have resources to know that it is dependent upon me not you. Now we here as a church would like to be able to say to the city of Chicago, this is a place where you can find a sense of love and acceptance. We want to have ministries to parents and their children and we do of course have ministries to children of all age groups in our Sunday school. We have mops, mothers of preschoolers trying to help mothers. We want to be able to reach out to those who are single mothers.

They are the ones who should be the special object of our concern as they try to be mother and a father to their children. And with a new building, the Christian Life Center, we have more room than ever to welcome the city of Chicago, to welcome people, to connect with people, to become a part of their lives and to be able to say that if you want a place where there are people who love one another, this is the place where it happens and it happens beyond these walls. It happens in our small groups. It happens wherever we find ourselves in our evangelism and in our work throughout the city of Chicago. May it be said that this is the place where love exists. You've heard me say it before.

When it comes to the world, the world can out finance us, they can outnumber us and they can out entertain us. But may it never be said that they can out love us because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who has been given unto us. Now no one can provide a better example if we want models on how to love. No one can provide a better example than mothers, mothers in our congregation, mothers whom we have known, mothers whom some of you are right now, loving in the midst of difficult circumstances.

But divine love is giving you the grace to love. The other days I was preparing this, I thought of three different kinds of mothers and I've known many mothers in each of these categories. First of all, the mother who has to love a child born of a relationship with a man who mistreated and used her. Some of you are in that predicament. You developed a relationship with a man, a child has been born, he's walked out of your life, the man is not contributing to the welfare of the child, he's not connecting with the child and maybe he's the kind of person that you do not even want to have connect with your child.

I don't know. But as you look into the eyes of that little child, you see in his face the very image of his father, the man who wronged you, who did you injustice and who used you. And some of you mothers are in that situation and you are going on and loving that child. And I say from my heart to yours, your responsibility is to love that little child as if he were Jesus.

And to give him what he desperately needs or to give her what she desperately needs, the love, the acceptance and the attention of a parent who cares. And so we go on loving because love says I can endure anything because of who I am and because of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in my heart. I think, for example, of parents who love special needs children.

It's very difficult to do. And sometimes, as we've indicated, as we've learned today, it may take years to accept this. We have one among our own relatives.

Story I'd like to tell you about a child with a skin disease, that there are only about 800 people in all the world known to have this disease. What a burden God has placed upon these parents. And yet through it all, through times of anger and misunderstanding and the total change of scheduling and the ruining of many plans, they can look back within time and say, surely God has led us. And surely this child, this child is a gift of God, unconditional love. That's divine love.

It's divine love. There's another category of parents. And that is those of you who have children who have grown, who have hurt you deeply because they've gone perhaps into homosexuality. Perhaps they have left home. Perhaps they are some of those prodigals that we have been praying for and they're way out there.

Some of you, God bless you, you don't even know where your children are. And you have to go on loving and caring. Many years ago, there was a woman dying in a Boston hospital and she told the nurse before she died, the woman had actually slipped off of a platform. That's why she was dying in the hospital. And she told the nurse, I sold everything that I had in California and I have gone from California now to Boston, stopping in various cities, going to hospitals and to police stations, trying to find the son who left home.

And I haven't found him, but if you should ever hear his name or know of him, let him know that there were two people who didn't give up on him. And the nurse said, who? And she said, his mother and God.

And with that, she died seeking her son. What a sad story. And yet at the same time, you and I know that this world is broken, very broken.

Families are shattered. We're living at a time of political uncertainty. Of course, we also have racial uncertainty.

You can go down the list. But in the midst of all of that, we do have God's sure word. And I'm so glad to be able to tell you today that the Ministry of Running to Win is in 50 different countries in five different languages.

When I say 50 different countries, I mean by radio in 50 different countries. And today, I want to emphasize that this week, we are hoping that we will have 50 brand new endurance partners. Would you consider being one? You say, well, Pastor Luther, what does that involve? Well, here's what you can do.

Go to, And in a moment, I'm also going to be giving you a phone number. But before I do, I have in my hands a letter from someone who says that they want to thank us for this ministry. This has truly been a blessing in my life, this man writes, and I encourage my children to listen and to learn.

And from time to time, we do indeed hear of children who continue to listen to this broadcast, and we are very grateful. Consider becoming an endurance partner. Here's what you can do. Call us at 1-888-218-9337.

I'm going to be giving you that phone number again to give you time to get a pen or a pencil. But also, you can go to If you want to know more about what Moody Media is doing around the world, you can also go, as I've already mentioned, to

Thanks in advance for helping us. Here's that phone number, 1-888-218-9337. Or go to

You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60614. Running to Win is all about helping you find God's roadmap for your race of life. No more poignant image of love can come to mind than a mother with her child. We especially feel this connection when we consider Mary with the infant Jesus. Love takes many forms, human love and divine love, like that of God the Father in sending His Son for us. Next time, more teaching about the final gift we can't live without, the gift of love. Thanks for listening. For Pastor Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-09 02:10:43 / 2024-01-09 02:19:33 / 9

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