Summary: This sermon is the 1st in a series on the fruits of the Spirit, or rather, the character of a Christian: Love!

Remember "The Dating Game"? Where contestants asked eligble bachelors or bachelorettes questions to determine which one they would want to go on a date with. What if we did like "The Christian Game?" Like the Pastor or Administraitive Board had to ask potential members questions before they could become Christians?

- Christian #1 I’m looking for new members of my church, what would you do if you found someone beaten up and bleeding by the side of the road? And the Levite Priest answers: "Well it depends, if it was someone that I thought was unclean or unworthy of my help, I would cross over to the the other side and pass on by"

Alright! ...Well potential Christian #2, I’m obviously still looking for new members, and I want to know what you would do if you were wronged by someone or found out about someone else’s faults? He answered, well me, I would get a bunch of my friends together and we would drag that person to the feet of Jesus and accuse them of their sin, like say "adultery".

Okay? Well Christian #3, I haven’t made up my mind yet, but you might be able to determine if you are the next new Christian if you could tell me what you would do if you found out someone needed a coat, or was in prison, or hungry? ...The contestant answers back: "Let them get their own coat, and they messed up and deserved prison"... You get the point!

The point is - how can we be a Christian without the character of love? And how can we claim to be Christians and not show love? It is a fruit of the Spirit? It is a sign that we have truly been empowered by the Spirit of God.

(1) Kenneth Emerson Sauer, Pastor of Parkview United Methodist Church, Newport News, VA tells that "At a men’s retreat a truck driver told about the change Christ had made in his life, and he was asked to think of some specific way in which he was different. After a pause, he said: “Well, when I find somebody tailgating my truck, I no longer drive on the shoulder of the road to kick up pebbles and rocks on them.”

What becomes clear, is that love is not so much a "Feeling"... "Oooo you make me feel so good" and "O you make my heart race and pitter patter" BUT love is an action. If you rely on feeling then your spouse better get out of the way most of the time. Of if you rely on feeling, you could easily say "Well I have fallen out of love with you". But this love is "agapao" or "agape" love. It is "unconditional love". It can’t be lost, or fallen away from because it is "unconditional". It is active love. Jesus said "If you love me keep my commandments", not "if you love me be all hot and mushy". He told Peter "If you love me, feed my sheep"... "If you love me, tend my little ewe lambs". (John 21)

And Paul addresses to the Church, "If you have everything, but don’t have love, then what do you have?" If you have a new car but can’t forgive someone of there sin, then what do you have? If you have a great job but don’t show love to your neighbor, it is like a loud gong or a clanging cymbal. What do you have if you don’t have love? It is and should be our character as Christians. In fact Paul writes "If I didn’t love others then I would be of no value whatsoever".

Paul goes a step further to tell us what love is and what love is not. What actions represent love, and what actions do not.

Love is patient: Just think how patient Jesus was with the disciples or with the multitudes coming to be healed! How patient he was with Peter! And we have to be patient with one another in the Church! Patient with one another in our households! In our communities.

Love is kind: (1) "If someone were to pay us ten cents for every kind word we’ve ever spoken about people, and then take back five cents for every unkind word we’ve ever spoken about people, would we be poor or rich? Kindness costs no money. It’s as easy to go around with a smile as it is to go around with a frown. Kindness is a big step in the Christian aim to “overcome evil with good.” To pay a visit to someone, to say a kind word of cheer or comfort, to convey friendliness by a handshake…

Love does not criticize the work of others. It does not attack worship styles of others even if you don’t like it. That isn’t love, and isn’t the character of a Christian.

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