February is the month when we celebrate Valentine’s Day and love. But what is real love? This program is designed to help the women look at more than just romantic love and see how we can love God and our neighbors.
Decorate the meeting room for Valentine’s Day. Use Hershey Kisses/Hugs® on the tables Place a cross on the main table as the centerpiece to illustrate Christ’s love for us.
Questions for Discussion
In your opinion, what is real love?
Scripture – Read John 3:16, 1 John 3:16–18, John 15:13.
- What differences do you see in these scriptures?
- In looking at John 15:13, can you think of any circumstance when you would be willing to lay down your life for a friend?
- Are you aware of any time when someone has laid down their life for (a) a family member, (b) a friend, (c) a stranger (police officer, firemen)?
- How does 1 John 3:16 challenge us in a practical way in regards to the way we treat others?
- Could this be described as love in action?
- Pause and invite the women to pray asking the Holy Spirit to reveal practical ways that they could show God’s love to others the following week.
- Discuss what the Holy Spirit revealed. What are some practical ways to put these ideas into practice?
- Considering John 3:16, how is God’s love towards us different than the love we often exhibit? (God loved us so much He gave His Son whose death provided the way of salvation for us.)
Future Service Project
Invite the women to discuss possible community projects for the homeless, the police or the fire department. Once a project has been decided upon, set a date and time to carry out the plan. For example: Collect individual size toiletry items, mints, gum, fast food gift cards and put in gallon Ziplock® bags. Add contact information cards giving the corps address, telephone numbers and the times for Sunday services. These can be given out at the corps social service office, or the women could hand them out to needy individuals they encounter on the street.
For a variety of simple crafts, check Pinterest. Search under “crafts John 3:16.” Or create a word search using the words from 1 John 3:16, John 3:16 and John 15:13. There are a number of these programs on the Internet. One site is: https://mywordsearch.com.
During our discussion time we explored the meaning of real love. Looking at the three scriptures, we now have a better understanding of that term. In John 3:16 we read that God loved us so much that He sent His Son to die for us, thus providing our salvation. In 1 John 3:16, 17, 18 we are told that since Jesus gave His life for us, we also ought to give up our lives for others. This doesn’t mean to literally die, but to go out of our comfort zones to help someone. It goes on to tell us that when we show compassion for others, we show that we love God. In just three verses we see a true model, definition, application and test of true love. Our model is Jesus Christ Himself, more specifically, Jesus Christ crucified.
In John 15:13 we read. “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” It is one thing to lay down your life for your family or friends, but to lay it down for your enemies takes love a step further. According to Romans 5:8, “ But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” We are told that we are to be like Jesus; therefore, we are also to love our enemies.
Love is self–sacrifice. The model Christ demonstrates leads to love’s definition. The act of laying down our lives for others can be understood literally, and certainly Jesus understood this with regard to His own life. Self–sacrifice can also be understood metaphorically, as a belief or mindset that places the welfare of others before our own.
First John 3:17 states, “ If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person?” This verse shows the application of true love in terms of our use of resources. Charity toward the poor is not the only application of sacrificial love. Every time we use our time, talent, and treasure for others, and put their interests before our own, we are applying sacrificial love.
The test of true love is whether we are actually self-–sacrificing. If we choose not to use our time, talent, and treasure for others—more importantly the poor—John asks, “How can the love of God be in us?” The love of God may refer to God’s love, or our love for God. If we fail to love others, especially those in need, then God’s love has not taken over our being and our love for God is lacking.
These scriptures set out the model, definition, application and test of true love. One final word from 1 John 3:18: “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” More than ever before, our society needs Christians to step up and love intentionally and self–sacrificially.