Lesson for August 9-15

There’s only one thing we need to know about living like Christ. And that’s how to LOVE like Him. That’s what His whole life was about: LOVE. Jesus’ love is easy to observe and even value. But knowing about Jesus’ love and practicing it ourselves is where the difficulty comes. We might as well admit that we’ll be “practicing” His love throughout our lifetimes.

I’ve often wondered why they say doctors “practice” medicine. It’s not as much an exact science as we’d like to believe. One doctor tells you one thing and another tells you something else. Both are hoping to come up with a correct diagnosis; but even with all the medical tests available these days, one can never be sure. Every body is unique–there is often no simple answer to improved health.

This mirrors the way we must look at Jesus’ love. We can study it for years (like a medical doctor studies his chosen field), but until we “put the rubber to the road”, we’ll never know how we’ll perform in real life situations, where Jesus’ love is the only answer. Therefore we must become as familiar with His way of loving as we possibly can.

Key Text: “‘A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.'” John 13:34 NKJV

The command to love was not new to Jesus’ listeners. In the Old Testament, Leviticus 19:18 says Israelites should love their neighbor. The newness of Jesus’ instruction in our key text comes with the addition of “as I have loved you”. For the first time in man’s history, they were able to actually witness the kind of love God expects of His followers.

We might say that this principle of love is the watermark of true Christianity. Jesus himself tells us, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” John 13:35 KJV.

Yes, if there’s one teaching of Jesus we MUST get straight, it’s His lessons on how to live by truly loving others!

Sunday: How Jesus Lived

One notices several things about Jesus’ style of loving others:

  1. His love reached even those who were ignored by society and seen to be of little value during His time on earth, such as women, children, foreigners, lepers, and tax collectors.
  2. He not only cared about others, but was sensitive to their needs, and always willing to meet them where they were.
  3. He loved the rich, young ruler (someone who turned his back on Him) as much as those who befriended Him, like Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.
  4. His love was steady and permanent. John 13:1 says “…He loved them to the end.” NKJV
  5. Loving others was more important than satisfying His own physical needs for food and shelter. See Luke 9:58 and John 19:25-27.

“‘Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends'” John 15:13 NKJV

Most of us have grown used to the idea that this verse means dying for someone else. To risk and even lose our life in the effort to save a fellow human being from death constitutes an enormous sacrifice. And of course, Jesus did show His love for humanity by dying on the cross for us.

But looking deeper into this great love, its manifestation occurs more in following Jesus’ example of LIVING for others, not just dying for them.Jesus laid down His life for us from the time He left heaven and was born as a babe in Bethlehem, right down to the cross where He actually gave His physical life as a substitute for ours.

Discussion Questions: Who are those marginalized by society today? Give examples. [the homeless, minority populations, homosexuals, those with mental illnesses, to name a few] How can Christians adjust our thinking toward these individuals and begin to meet their needs?

Is it possible to love others, while they are still living in sin? Does God expect this of us? On a practical level, how is it done?

Jesus’ love was self-renouncing. How do Christians become more self-renouncing without losing a sense of their own worth? In other words, do we have to sacrifice our sense of self in order to put others’ needs before our own? How do we determine what is a reasonable sacrifice to make for someone?

Monday: Love Your Neighbor

Loving your neighbor was commanded in the Old Testament, but also verified by Jesus when the rich, young ruler approached Him and inquired how to inherit eternal life. See Luke 10:25-37. Being somewhat territorial, as most of us are, he wanted to know who his neighbor was. Jesus wisely told him the story of the good Samaritan. The parable showed him that we are a good neighbor whenever we help someone in need, no matter who he is.

good-samaritan 2

There are many ways to think of the Golden Rule. Many have twisted its meaning. It doesn’t just say “do not do to others what you yourself dislike”. Was the good Samaritan showing love by not being the one to assault and rob the poor man left by the side of the road? To fully implement this rule, we must think of ways to SHOW love, not just avoid hating others.

But the really hard part for most us is how to be kind to those who mistreat us. It’s one thing to help a stranger by the side of the road, but how would the good Samaritan have dealt with the situation if he had reason to believe that the injured man was one of the robbers, instead of the one robbed? Do you think he would have felt as obliged to help if he recognized the man as one who had robbed him on a previous journey?

When we consider the “what if’s” in this parable and in our own lives, we are reminded that loving others involves more than just ministering to them. In order to love like Jesus did we must:

  • encourage forbearing attitudes
  • develop forgiving dispositions
  • actively serve others in practical ways

Discussion Questions: Is it necessary for us to do more than just not seek vengeance against those who have wronged us or a loved one? How far must we go in order to show them Jesus’ love?

How do you as a Christian respond to the charge that forgiving someone excuses their misdeed and might encourage further hurtful actions?

Tuesday: Loving Service

As Jesus sat with His disciples one day on the Mount of Olives, the disciples approached Him with a question about the signs of His coming and the end of time. Matthew 24 is usually noted for this full discourse about the signs of His coming. But He follows up in the following chapter with several parables to help them grasp how they should be ready for that time. He begins with the parable of the fig tree, then the ten virgins, and the talents.

And then there’s the passage in Matthew 25:31-46 where He talks about the difference between the sheep and the goats. There seemed to be much consternation over the fact that God’s people were not congratulated for their eloquent sermons, the valuable labor they performed, or even the generous monetary donations they gave to further the work.

Instead Jesus allowed them entrance to heaven based on the small acts of love they showed to others. In sharing even as much as a glass of water or visiting someone in the hospital or in prison, they were actually showing love to Jesus.

Of course, this story wasn’t meant to discourage large acts of kindness and generosity, but it does remind us that it isn’t the size of the gift that matters. Any act of service that comes from the heart is important. Because Jesus died for everyone, and we are actually showing our love for Him when we help those in need.

James totally got the message that day. He says in James 1:27, “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” NKJV

Discussion Question: Many have wondered who Jesus was referring to when He spoke of “the least of these My brethren” (Matthew 25:40). Read Matthew 10:40-42. Could He have meant missionaries, or those sent out in His name? Also read Matthew 12:48-50 and discuss if He meant His followers.

Others have given this phrase a wider scope. By declaring Himself as the Son of man, could He not include all humanity as “the least of these”? This quote from The Desire of Ages seems to take this last interpretation: Christ “identifies Himself with every child of humanity…He is the Son of man, and thus a brother to every son and daughter of Adam.” ~p. 638. Why would you agree or disagree with any of these interpretations?

Wednesday: Love Your Enemies

There was a prevalent thought in Jesus’ time that the commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18) implied that you should therefore hate your enemy. But Jesus came to dispel that notion. He even told us HOW to love our enemies:

“But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.” Luke 6:27, 28 NKJV

This verse indicates three ways to hate:

  1. attitudes (“hate you”)
  2. words (“curse you”)
  3. actions (“spitefully use you”)

Three ways to love our enemies are given in a different order:

  1. actions (“do good” to change hateful attitudes)
  2. words (speak well or “bless” them)
  3. attitude (prayerful attitude for those who have hateful actions against you)

Paul, who experienced his share of persecution and hatred, advised us: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21 NKJV

Good Christians of all ages must love even their enemies through caring actions, kind words, and intercessory prayer. And the reason we do this is because Jesus did. “…For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.” Luke 6:35, 36 NKJV

There are three reasons why loving our enemies is important:

  1. We need to live above the low standards of the world.
  2. God will reward us for loving our enemies.
  3. This love is an evidence of our close communion with God.

Discussion Questions: How do we avoid loving our enemies or serving God in any way for the purpose of a future reward? What’s the difference between a fruit of salvation and the means of our salvation?

How would you describe an enemy who would be easier to love (someone merely annoying or unfriendly), as opposed to someone who intentionally does you or your family harm? How are we to love both kinds of enemies?

How do you think Jesus feels about Satan, His number one enemy? Does this raise the bar for us?

Thursday: How to Live Like Jesus

Living like Jesus and loving even our enemies is a tall order and virtually impossible to accomplish from a human standpoint. But through God we can be successful. Romans 5:10 reminds us that “when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” NKJV

Keep in mind that we were once His enemies too! If God can forgive us, as sin-battered as our lives may have been, then surely we can use some of that divine love and extend it to our enemies now. Jesus told us “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you…” John 15:9 KNJV And He goes further in saying, “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” John 15:12 NKJV

We don’t use our own powers of love for this. It comes directly from God! And the beautiful part is that it naturally becomes easier over time.The longer we realize and appreciate God’s love for us, the more of this love we have for others, even our enemies. So one doesn’t have to be discouraged if our love doesn’t appear to be adequate at the time. It will grow, if we stay fastened to the “vine” (Jesus Christ) long enough.

Discussion Questions: Read John 15:11. It says, “that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” What kind of experience is this talking about?

Is there a difference in the joy remaining with us and the joy being full?

How can we feel joy from serving Him, even when we are unhappy about unpleasant circumstances or surroundings? What words of wisdom would most world missionaries have for us?


Jesus’ personal lifestyle and practice of love reveal to us our need to be compassionate and forbearing to everyone we meet. Our inherent selfishness must be replaced with active service to others. In order to be like Christ, we must learn to love like Him, even to the point of loving our enemies. While on earth and through His death, He taught us the deepest meaning of love, a principle that is the watermark of true Christianity.


As you go through the week, take note of the message of love prevalent in the popular media, such as in song lyrics and TV show plots you happen to watch or hear. You’ll probably find these presentations portraying love as self-centered, shallow, sentimental, and uncertain.

Also consider the kind of love brought out by Christian song writers and TV programing. As you listen to them during the week, can you see a more self-effacing, self-sacrificial, and everlasting kind of love?

Which kind of programming are you finding yourself drawn to? Try to outweigh the worldly influences by immersing yourself more in the kinds of media that portray the kind of love Jesus has in mind for us.

Next week: The Church

To read the Sabbath School lesson or find additional resources, see www.ssnet.org