P – The Virtue of Love

///P – The Virtue of Love
P – The Virtue of Love2017-03-30T17:07:02+00:00
Study Explanation
Key Scripture
Discussion Guides
Growing Exercises
Recommended Reading

Explanation

 

This is your response to others.  What is your general reaction to people, particularly your treatment of individuals or groups that you have trouble with?  How do you respond to the unlovable people in your life?  Are you kind, helpful, understanding and patient?  Are you accepting and affirming of those who express differing ideas and attitudes?  Do you think of others before yourself?  Do you genuinely care about people who are hurting or suffering?  Are you a dependable and responsible spouse, parent or friend?  On the other hand, do you typically look after your own interests first?  Do you enjoy seeing rivals put in their place?  Do you enjoy seeing people you dislike struggle and face difficulties?  Are you quick to voice your opinion or tell people what you think even when it is not kind, helpful or affirming?  Do you generally disapprove of most people?  Would your family and close friends say that you are a caring and loving person or that you are really more of a selfish person?

KEY SCRIPTURES

Key Scriptures

Key Scriptures are designed to give a biblical overview of the topic in question.  They are extremely valuable for gaining an immediate general understanding of what the Bible teaches on a given subject.  Key Scriptures are the first place you should explore when starting a new subject.  They can be discussed individually, in part, or in whole.  Generic inductive Bible study questions are provided to assist you in your discussion.  Key Scriptures are also good for memorizing and reference.

God’s Love

1 John 4:7-8 – Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. NIV

Jeremiah 31:3 – “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness. NIV

Psalm 145:8 – The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. NIV

1 Thessalonians 4:9 – Now about brotherly love we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. NIV

Commands to love

Romans 12:9-11 – Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. NIV

1 Thessalonians 3:12 – May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. NIV

1 Corinthians 16:14 – Do everything in love. NIV

See also 1 Thessalonians 3:12, Hebrews 10:24, 1 John 2:10, & 4:21

How to love

1 John 3:18 – Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. NIV

Leviticus 19:18 – Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD. NIV

Leviticus 19:33-34 – When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the LORD your God. NIV

Proverbs 21:21 – He who pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor. NIV

Romans 13:8 – Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. NIV

Ephesians 4:2 – Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. NIV

See also 1 Timothy 6:11, 1 Peter 4: 8-10, & Proverbs 17:17

Inductive Bible Study Questions

to be used with individual Key Scriptures

  • What is the primary point of this passage?
  • How does this passage challenge us?
  • How does this passage comfort or encourage us?
  • What does this passage teach us about God?
  • What spiritual insights are found in this passage?
  • What are the personal & spiritual implications of this text?
  • What does this passage ask or require of us?

Key Scriptures Bible Study

to be used when studying all Key Scriptures together

  • Did any of the scriptures given surprise you? Explain
  • Did any of the scriptures given confuse you? Explain
  • Did any of the scriptures given comfort or excite you?
  • How would you sum up these scriptures to another?
  • What implications do these scriptures have for our lives?
  • Which of these scriptures would you find it valuable to memorize?

DISCUSSION GUIDES

God’s Love

P1 – The Radical Love of Christ – Matthew 27: 11-56

Key Words: Love, Christ’s Love, Cross, Sacrifice

  1. What adjectives would you use to describe what happened to Jesus in his final hours?
  2. What adjectives would you use to describe what it must have been like for Jesus to walk this road?
  3. Did Jesus have to die… could he have avoided the whole unpleasant experience?
  4. Why did Jesus willingly give himself up to be crucified (see John 3:16)?
  5. How does his death benefit us (See Romans 3: 19-26)?
  6. Who is Jesus (See John 1: 1-5, Philippians 2: 9-11, Revelation 5: 11-14)?
  7. Who are we in the grand scheme of things?
  8. How do you respond to Jesus willingly enduring the cross for you: confusion, love, gratitude, contempt, indifference, amazement, hope, or something else?
  9. How is the best way for us to respond to his sacrifice and love?
  10. Why should Christ’s sacrifice inspire us to love others?
  • Approach all scripture prayerfully open
Rating: 5.0. From 1 vote.
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P2 – Living God’s Love – 1 John 4: 7-21

Key Words: Love, God’s Love, Spirituality

  1. How do most people today both inside and outside the church recognize Christians?
  2. What is the general reputation of Christians in society?
  3. What is Johns test for recognizing authentic Christians?
  4. What is his rationale for using this criteria to discern who is a genuine believer?
  5. Do you agree with John’s argument?
  6. How does this criteria reconcile with salvation by grace alone?
  7. How does John describe God’s love?
  8. Why should genuine grace always lead to genuine love?
  9. What are the qualities of true love (See 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7)?
  10. How do you measure up using this criteria?
  11. According to John, list the reasons why it is important to express our relationship with Jesus by loving others?
  • Approach God’s Word with humility, honesty and teachability
Rating: 5.0. From 1 vote.
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P3 – The Fruit of Following Jesus – John 15:9-17

Key Words: Love, Spiritual Fruit, Dependence, Faith

  1. These words are given in context of Jesus declaring that he is the vine and we are the branches… what is the process by which fruit emerges, grows and ripens?
  2. In what way is love like fruit in the life of a Christian?
  3. Why might Jesus choose to focus on the fruit of love and what implication might that have for our understanding of following Jesus?
  4. What rationale does Jesus give for us to love?
  5. Part of following someone is to follow their example, how does Jesus set this example?
  6. Jesus strait up commands us to love… how is love different from most religious requirements or commands?
  7. Does it seem counter intuitive to you that loving others (which requires selflessness and sacrifice) leads to joy… explain?
  8. What are the characteristics of the friendship Christ has with us?
  9. What implications does that friendship carry in our relationship with others?
  • These questions are only suggestions, allow the Holy Spirit to be your guide
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The preeminence of Love

P4 – The Greatest Commandment – Matthew 22: 34-40

Key Words: Love, Spirituality, Law, Righteousness

  1. Who does Jesus command us to love in this passage?
  2. Is it easier for you to love God or others?
  3. Does Jesus imply that love enough for genuine righteousness and spirituality… explain?
  4. Does having our heart right purify our thoughts and deeds… explain?
  5. Are there exceptions to this or does love always lead to the right response?
  6. How does Jesus describe the depth of love we are to have towards God?
  7. What is the nature of the love we are to have towards others?
  8. Why is love the greatest commandment?
  9. How does love sum up the law and commandments?
  10. How well would God say you love him?
  11. How well would he say you love others?
  12. What does this reveal about your spirituality?
  • These questions are simply a foundation for you to build upon
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P5 – Truth and Love – 2 John 3-6

Key Words: Love, Truth, Obedience, Integrity

  1. What do most Christians mean when they say they are seeking truth?
  2. What does John mean when he speaks of seeking truth in this text?
  3. How are truth and love related?
  4. How are obedience and love related?
  5. How many times does John use the word ‘command’ in this passage?
  6. What does he wish to ensure he communicates?
  7. Why is love such a difficult command for us to follow as opposed to keeping a list of rules?
  8. Why is love rather than rules so central to the Christian life?
  9. How do we sometimes lose track of this truth?
  • Create your own study by adding and subtracting questions as needed
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P6 – Love Marks True Disciples – John 13: 34-35

Key Words: Love, Spirituality, Discipleship, Following Jesus

  1. How do most Christians define spirituality or what a disciple of Christ should look like?
  2. How does Christ define a disciple?
  3. How is genuine love for others the truest test of our identity in Christ?
  4. Can you identify three reasons for loving others embedded in this passage?
  5. According to the passage, what impression does our love have on others?
  6. How does genuine love distinguish us within larger society?
  7. Why does love stand out… what makes it unique and even remarkable?
  8. How does love compel others to identify us with Christ?
  9. How does our love compel others to seek Christ?
  • Your questions are probably better than mine
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P7 – Rooted in Love – Ephesians 3: 14-19

Key Words: Love, Prayer, Truth

  1. How does this prayer for the Ephesians differ from the way we often pray?
  2. What does Paul’s prayer reveal about the importance of love?
  3. How do verses 16 and 17 empower us to better understand Christ’s love?
  4. Why does an understanding of Christ’s love surpass knowledge; isn’t doctrine and theology important… explain?
  5. What does this say about love? What does this say about knowledge?
  6. Which do you emphasize more in your spirituality?
  7. Truth and love are not mutually exclusive, how do they fuel each other?
  8. What does this passage teach about Paul’s spiritual outlook and priorities?
  9. How should this passage influence our spiritual outlook and priorities?
  • Spend time with the questions prior to leading a group or coaching time
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The Power of Love

P8 – The First Fruit of the Spirit – Galatians 5: 22-23

Key Words: Love, Fruit of the Spirit, Spiritual Fruit, Power, Spirituality

  1. How your life would change if you experienced more of the fruit of the Spirit?
  2. Why do you suppose love is listed as the first fruit of the Spirit?
  3. How many of the fruits that follow are simply expressions of love?
  4. Explain how love leads to joy.   Patience.  Kindness.  Goodness.  Faithfulness.  Gentleness.  Self-Control.
  5. How does walking in the Spirit (seeking God and his goals for our lives) produce this kind of fruit in our lives?
  6. On the flip side, how does the fruit of the Spirit empower us to live by or keep in step with the Spirit as verses 16 and 25 command?
  7. Specifically how do you think God desires you to grow in love, and do you think that would that enhance other fruits in your life… explain?
  • Interrogatives are keys that unlock wonderful secrets 
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P9 – The Freedom of Love – Galatians 5: 13-15

Key Words: Love, Freedom, Bondage, Sin Nature, Brokenness, Division, Righteousness

  1. On a scale of 1 to 10, how loving would you say you are?
  2. What do you feel is your biggest obstacle to being more loving?
  3. What does it mean to be free to love?
  4. What types of inhibitions and/or bondage keeps us from truly loving others… explain?
  5. How does being freed from our sinful nature enable us to love more fully?
  6. What does Paul mean when he refers to indulging the sinful nature: morally, ethically, and relationally?
  7. How does indulging the sinful nature lead to division, brokenness and destruction?
  8. Specifically how does love counter the sinful nature?
  9. Is Paul saying in verse 14 that loving others is a catch all guiding principle to morality, ethics and righteousness… explain?
  • Be like a detective who interrogates scripture 
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P10 – The Supremacy of Love – Colossians 3: 12-14

Key Words: Love, Spirituality

  1. List the virtues in this text that Paul indicates are bound together by love.
  2. How were each of these virtues exemplified in the life of Jesus?
  3. How well would you say this passage sums up the Christian ethic… explain?
  4. How does love connect or bind all these all these virtues and qualities together?
  5. Can we sincerely practice any of these other virtues without love?
  6. What happens when we attempt to practice these virtues without love?
  7. How does this list compare to the dynamics & definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13: 1-7?
  8. Why do you suppose love has such power to transform character?
  9. What motivation does verse 12 give for practicing these verses, and explain how that works?
  10. What is the secret to growing in love?
  • The insight is found in scripture; questions are simply tools to mine the ore
Rating: 5.0. From 1 vote.
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How to Love

P11 – The Greatest Virtue – 1 Corinthians 13

Key Words: Love, Spirituality

  1. What do you suppose is Paul’s reason for writing these words to the Corinthian church?
  2. What religious activities listed in verses 1-3 does love supersede?
  3. What does this imply about the nature of spirituality?
  4. Does it seem fair or right that one could be faithful, gifted, fruitful, obedient and sacrificial in their service to God and have it count as nothing… explain?
  5. In what specific ways do verses 4-7 challenge you?
  6. Which of these love actions are most difficult for you?
  7. Why is love the ultimate virtue or standard?
  8. What does this passage reveal about God’s heart, God’s standards, God’s purpose for us and God’s priorities?
  9. Why do you suppose Paul concludes by stating that the greatest virtue is love?
  • Follow the lines of curiosity 
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P12 – Imitators of God – Ephesians 5: 1-2

Key Words: Love, Christlikeness, Sacrifice, Self-Denial, Spiritual Growth

  1. What reason does the text give for being imitators of God?
  2. How does the text say we imitate God? Does this make sense… where in scripture is God presented primarily as loving?
  3. What clue does this text give regarding the nature of God’s love?
  4. Should the example of Christ and his sacrifice inspire us to love others… explain?
  5. Is it possible to truly love God and appreciate Christ’s sacrifice and remain hateful, mean-spirited, harsh and petty… explain?
  6. How do you respond to Christians who relate to others in harsh and mean spirited ways?
  7. How well do you imitate God’s love… explain?
  8. How is it possible for a Christian to grow in God’s love?
  • Group leaders may wish to consult a commentary for background information 
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P13 – The Hard Side of Love – Matthew 5: 38-48

Key Words: Love, Enemies, Justice, Forgiveness

  1. Describe in your own words the ethic Jesus outlines in this passage.
  2. Do you feel this is the hardest command in scripture to keep… explain?
  3. How does our pride respond to this ethic?
  4. How does our sense of self respond to this ethic?
  5. How does our sense of justice and fairness respond to this ethic?
  6. How does your heart and life stack up to this ethic?
  7. Why does Christ’s love demand that we love everyone, and not just our friends and families?
  8. What does it take for someone to genuinely love their enemies?
  9. Can you think of an example of someone doing this?
  10. How did their actions impact you?
  11. Why and how must we rely on Christ to be this way?
  • Seek to connect the dots with other scriptures and Bible content 
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P14 – Loving One Another – 1 John 3: 11-20

Key Words: Love, Hatred, Works, Faith, Truth, Spirituality

  1. What is the message heard from the beginning that verse 11 speaks of: the beginning of what?
  2. Verses 12 and 15 speak of hatred and murder, why do you suppose John contrasts love with these specific vices?
  3. How do verses 14 and 15 describe the spiritual state of someone who does not love, but hates?
  4. Does this passage teach a salvation by works rather than faith: what exactly is John trying to say?
  5. According to verse 16, how do we know what love is?
  6. Describe the ethic of love John lays out in verses 16-17.
  7. What is the difference between loving in word and tongue and loving in action and truth?
  8. Describe a person who loves in word only.
  9. Why did John use the word ‘truth’ in verse 18… what implications does this have for those who love in word only?
  10. How do we know that we belong to the truth?
  • There are no greater tools for effective Bible study than humility, honesty, and diligence
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P15 – The Gift of Friendship – 1 Samuel 20

Key Words: Love, Friendship, Faithfulness, Sacrifice

  1. How would you describe a true friend?
  2. Describe the friendship between Jonathan and David: their camaraderie, their depth and their love.
  3. What did Jonathan risk for the sake of their friendship?
  4. What motivated Jonathan to help David in spite of how Jonathan’s father felt about David: spite towards his father… friendship… righteousness… honor… thrill seeking… integrity… duty?
  5. How do verses 12-14 describe the role of the Lord in their relationship?
  6. How does or should faith impact our friendships?
  7. Have you ever had a friend like Jonathan?
  8. Have much do you need Jonathans in your life?
  9. What steps can you take to cultivate relationships like the one that existed between David and Jonathan?
  • You are responsible for your level of engagement
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P16 – Love and Family – Genesis 37 & 45

Key Words: Love, Family, Bitterness, Justice, Gentleness, Forgiveness, Peace

  1. What motivated Joseph’s brothers to do what they did?
  2. List the ways they sinned against and wronged Joseph?
  3. How would you genuinely feel about your family if they did something that egregious to you?
  4. Describe Joseph’s response to them in chapter 45.
  5. How do you think the average person would have responded to his brothers?
  6. How would you have responded?
  7. Why did Joseph not seek vengeance?
  8. How was Joseph able to respond with such grace and love?
  9. What can we learn from Joseph about loving those who do harm to us?
  • Go beyond the obvious by avoiding “Yes” or “No” answers
Rating: 5.0. From 1 vote.
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Gentleness and Kindness

P17 – Gentleness – Philippians 4: 4-7

Key Words: Love, Gentleness, Peace, Humility, Prayer

  1. Does our society value gentleness… explain?
  2. What rationale does verse 5 give for displaying gentleness?
  3. Describe what a gentle person is like as opposed to someone who is harsh or aggressive.
  4. Do you feel that gentleness sums up the various qualities in the text… explain?
  5. How does gentleness imitate Christ?
  6. To whom does the text say our gentleness is to be evident?
  7. How are gentleness and peace related?
  8. How are gentleness, humility and prayer related?

How is gentleness related to the promises in this passage?

  • Think before answering
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P18 – Understanding and Grace – John 8: 1-11

Key Words: Love, Grace, Forgiveness, Law, Compassion, Mercy, Righteousness

  1. Describe what is happening in this story: what is the dynamic, who are the villains, the victim, and the hero?
  2. The mob is only acting according to the law; how are they still wrong in this?
  3. What motivated the mob in this story?
  4. Why do people sometimes revel in the condemnation and vilification of others?
  5. What virtues does Jesus demonstrate in his dealings with this mob and this woman?
  6. How does Jesus balance love, kindness, acceptance, understanding, compassion, mercy and grace with truth, obedience, righteousness and holiness?
  7. Why did the mob and those who incited them ultimately walk away?
  8. What example does Jesus give that we as Christians should follow?
  • Thoughtful silence is the soil of epiphany
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Hatred

P19 – The Poison of the Heart – Matthew 5: 21-24

Key Words: Love, Hatred, Sin, Righteousness

  1. How does God view hatred and anger?
  2. According to the text, how does God respond to those who harbor hatred and anger in their hearts?
  3. Some say love is an action rather than a feeling; does this reasoning also apply to hatred?
  4. Why do you suppose thoughts and attitudes of hate and anger are sins even when we don’t act on them?
  5. What happens when hatred and anger are ignored or nurtured in our hearts?
  6. How does hatred impact others?
  7. How does hatred impact us? How does hatred impact our relationship with God?
  8. Is it possible to genuinely worship God when your heart is filled with hate and anger… explain?
  •  Seek Nuance
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P20 – The Fruits of Hatred – Esther 3 & 7

Key Words: Love, Hatred, Pride, Jealousy, Self

  1. Describe Haman.
  2. What did Haman’s actions betray about his heart: his thoughts and attitudes?
  3. How common are the values and attitudes of Haman in society today… explain?
  4. Why do you suppose Haman felt the way he did about Mordecai and the Jews?
  5. Do you see any of Haman in yourself: his pettiness, jealousy, envy, pride, selfishness or his need to win?
  6. How do these attitudes lead to brokenness in our lives and relationships?
  7. What specifically and ultimately led to Haman’s downfall?
  8. Was Haman’s fate irony or was he simply reaping what he had sown?
  9. Contrast the values and attitudes of Mordecai and Esther with that of Haman?
  10. How does the story of Mordecai and Haman illustrate Proverbs 3:33?
  • Be sure to explore all the resources for each doctrine, virtue, and practice
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GROWING EXERCISES

  1. Invite a friend to lunch once per week for a period of one month.
  1. Invite your neighbors to your home for a dinner party.
  1. Keep a journal over the next two weeks keeping a log of the challenges you face each day. Take special note of how these challenges impacted your ability to relate to the various people involved.  Discuss with your spiritual coach during your next session.
  1. Spend at least 15 minutes per day asking God to give you the grace and strength to love the people in your life. Confess your shortcomings and pray for specific relationships.
  1. Identify your 5 most challenging relationships and pray for each of those people daily.
  1. Perform a random act of kindness for your spouse, children or close friend. When they ask you why you did it tell them that you love them and simply wanted to express how much you care.  Discuss the experience with your spiritual coach.
  1. Obtain a copy of “The 5 Love Languages” and go over the love languages with your spouse. Spend time together identifying each other’s love language and discuss how your preferences impact your relationship.
  1. Watch “The Passion of the Christ,” or read all four gospel accounts of the final days of Jesus. Write a letter to Christ expressing how much you love him.
  1. Volunteer in a ministry in your church that enables you to directly express love to another through care or service.
  1. Watch or read “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens and make a list of 10 specific ways you will change the way you live in light of the message in the story.
  1. Humbly restore a broken relationship.

RECOMMENDED READING

  1. The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis
  2. Principles of Love by Charles Finney
  3. The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard
  4. The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning
  5. The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts by Gary Chapman
  6. The Friends We Keep by Sarah Zacharias Davis
  7. The Jesus Creed: Loving God, Loving Others by Scot McKnight
  8. Love as a Way of Life: Seven Keys to Thrive 316ing Every Aspect of Your Life by Gary Chapman