TRUE LOVE HAS NO LIMITS
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TRUE LOVE HAS NO LIMITS

A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS

24 JULY 1994

By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

Proverbs 10:12
Amos 5:14-15
John 6:16-21

True love has no limits.

We, as individuals, may put limits upon ourselves as to how, or if, we will receive or give love.

But true love has no limits.

It is our application of love, or our lack of application of love, that puts limits upon it.

In Proverbs 10:12, we are told,

12. Hatred stirs up strife,

But love covers all transgressions.

Think about all the strife that’s going on all over the world.

Is it not caused by fears and hatreds?

Is it not caused by one group of people trying to take advantage of another group of people?

Is it not caused by a lack of love?

It doesn't matter what some individual does to another, or what one society has done to another.

Hatred only makes it worse, for it escalates it and involves others who were not part of the original problem or who are willing to seek a solution in love.

Only love can overcome and solve our fears and hatreds, and allow us to forgive.

In this light, listen to what Amos told the Israelites when they had turned from the love of God (Amos 5:14-15).

14. Seek good and not evil, that you may live;

And thus may the Lord God of hosts be with you,

Just as you have said!

15. Hate evil, love good,

And establish justice in the gate!

Perhaps the Lord God of hosts

May be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.

Have you noticed that people who seek to do evil also begin fighting among themselves?

Evil is self-destructing.

Love repairs and builds.

Evil comes in where God is not accepted or invited.

And that is what happened to ancient Israel.

As long as we seek after evil, God will limit His presence with us.

And I believe that this is particularly true when people do evil acts in the name of God.

Thus, evil has the opportunity to multiply.

But our God is loving and forgiving; so, as the prophet tells us, if we change our ways, then God is faithful to restore us, and perhaps even to restore what we have destroyed.

We have to learn to follow the loving instructions of our Lord, and not the prideful teachings of people, or their evil examples.

Even when we innocently fall into a problem situation, we are to turn to God for our help.

Let me give you an example of someone innocently falling into a bad situation.

Do you remember the Laurel and Hardy comedy team?

Oliver would always come up with some big scheme, and then have Stan do the work.

And living up to the part, Stan would always find himself in over his head, without the ability to perform the task properly, thus creating a mess.

Or, as Ollie would so often say, "That's a fine kettle of fish you got us into."

Ollie would always blame Stan for getting them into trouble, even when it was Ollie’s idea in the first place.

This was comedy, but there are many “Ollies” in this world, that lead an even greater number of “Stans” into such trouble.

And like Stan, these innocent people all too often blame themselves or God.

But if we would allow God to be with us, and seek His direction, first, we would very rarely find ourselves in hot or troubled waters, for He would warn us of the pending dangers.

He does this because He loves us.

Laurel and Hardy showed us our faults so that we could laugh at our own foolishness and ourselves, as we laughed at their antics.

One of the most interesting things about the writers of the Bible is that they always point out our human frailties and show us how often we go in the wrong direction.

But the key to all of these situations is that our loving God is always there to help us out of our problems, no matter what we may have done.

True love has no limits!

One of these situations is recorded in John 6:16-21.

16. Now when evening came, His disciples went down to the sea,

17. and after getting into a boat, they started to cross the sea to Capernaum. And it had already become dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them.

18. And the sea began to be stirred up because a strong wind was blowing.

19. When therefore they had rowed about three or four miles, they beheld Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near to the boat; and they were frightened.

20. But He said to them, "It is I; do not be afraid."

21. They were willing therefore to receive Him into the boat; and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.

The disciples didn't seek after trouble, but they nevertheless found themselves in troubled waters.

They found themselves in a situation similar to those that all of us find ourselves in from time to time.

We find that this happens even when we are doing our best to serve the Lord, as the disciples were doing.

And when we get into trouble, we all too often fear the Lord's presence, and sometimes we run away.

Don't a lot of people stay away from church because of something being wrong in their lives?

Jesus' walking upon the troubled waters is symbolic of His lovingly coming to us when we find ourselves with a problem in our lives.

And Jesus says to us, as He did to the disciples, "Do not be afraid."

But, like the disciples, we must invite Him in with us to solve the problem.

And as happened in this boat upon the troubled waters, as soon as Jesus entered the boat they found themselves at their destination, safe and sound, and so shall it be with us.

This passage doesn't tell us that Jesus stopped the troubled waters, but only that He carried the disciples safely through them to the other side.

This is love.

He didn't say to them, "You got yourselves into this problem, get yourselves out."

When they invited Him in, He solved their problem.

What do we do when someone else is in troubled waters?

Do we go to them where they are?

Do we see beyond anything they may have done in the past, and feel compassion for them?

Do we offer to help them?

Do we remember what Jesus Christ did for us, and do the same for them?

Do we extend this love to the whole of creation: to people all around the world, to every animal, and to the environment in which we live?

If we are doing these things, then we are loving without limits.

Let us pray!

Amen.

Your Comments are welcome

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