Love is not a Hallmark card.  Love is not a mylar balloon.  Love is not a teddy bear holding a heart.  Love is action and sometimes that action is hard to do.

Loved people Love people podcast notes

Who here has a child? If you’ve had a child then my guess is you’ve probably experienced the following scenario. If you haven’t had a kid let me explain. When we had our first child, Riley, he was, quite simply the most gorgeous baby ever created. That’s how we thought. That’s how every parent thinks. Just in case you think I’m biased, let me take a moment to talk about my second child. Paige is now a stunningly beautiful 21 year old woman, but when she was born we said she looked like Ed Asner.

Remember him. He played Santa in Elf.

A lot of babies come out looking like Ed Asner but not Riley. He was beautiful. It was at this point that the competition began. Who does Riley look like? I, of course, thought he looked like me. Jilane, of course, thought he looked like her. When any member of Jilane’s family came over the comments would be the same. “J, he looks just like you.” Mom said it. Aunts and Uncles said it. Great Aunts said it. It was starting to get to me until my family came over. My family took one look at this beautiful baby and said, “Oh, look how cute he is. He looks just like you Jack.” Finally someone got it right. I went up to my wife and said, “You see. My family got it right. It’s obvious to them that he looks like me.” To which my wife responded, “Yeah, well, that’s probably because you’re holding him upside down.”

That last part didn’t really happen. I read that in a book. The line was so good I couldn’t pass it up.

Whenever my mom comes over to visit us she looks at Sterling and says, “You are the only grandchild that looks like me.” Sterling is never really very thrilled by that statement but you can understand. What beautiful 16 year old girl wants to think that she looks like her 88 year old grandmother?

Not only is this true of us, human parents, but it’s true of our God as well. He wants us to look like him. He wants us to be a reflection of him.

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1

Do you think most people think we look like God in this regard? Are we as Christians known as people who love and love well?

There are a lot of ways to show that you love someone and there are a lot of places you can learn about love. This last week when I was researching this message I wanted to know how to love someone so I went to an obvious source. Wikipedia. Wikipedia has a branch called wikiHow. These are their ideas of how to love someone.

Make them a mix CD
Give them something from nature (what is that exactly)
Buy or make coupons for romantic activities
Bring them balloons.
Be affectionate
Share with them
Cook for them
Be honest.
Write a romantic song or poem
Tell them you love them.

This is wikipedia’s idea of how to show someone you love them. And those aren’t bad ideas. Balloons, a mix cd, a poem. Feels more like I’m asking someone to the prom, but okay. These aren’t bad. But compared to God’s idea of love, these are juvenile. In verse 1 God tells us to walk in the way of love and in verse 3 it gets real, real fast.

3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Ephesians 5:3

You want to show the people around you that you love them. Stop messing around with sex. This is a far cry from a mix tape. God says you want to love people, I don’t even want a hint of sexual immorality. If that wasn’t clear enough, let me spell it out for you

If you are single, I don’t want you sleeping around. I want you to save yourself for marriage.
If you are married, I want you to keep yourself for your spouse
I don’t want you flirting with your secretary. I don’t want you trying to get the attention of the guy on the elliptical next to you.
Married people and single people,I don’t want you to play around with sex. I don’t want you watching sexy movies. I don’t want you searching the internet for pornography. I don’t want you reading 50 shades of gray or romance novels.

Not even a hint. No obscenity. No foolish talk. Our conversation just got real, didn’t it?

1) Walk in the way of sexual purity

We find our second way to walk in love in verse 4

Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.Ephesians 5:4

In other words
2) Watch your language

A buddy of mine works for the Chargers. He’s in his fifties and he’s a ball boy. That sounds kind of embarrassing so I won’t give you his name. Oh, what the heck, it’s Mike Rucker. Mike has had a front row seat to watch the Chargers for years and one guy who has impressed him in this regard is Philip Rivers. If anyone is swearing in the locker room he yells “Language.” I’m guessing that seems juvenile to some people but I think it’s a call of God in our lives. In these verses God puts it like this.

Stop swearing like a sailor. Stop making jokes about sex. I don’t want you
I don’t even want you joking about it. I don’t want you to follow up you’re buddies comment with “That’s what she said.” You’re a reflection of me now, and I want you to clean it up. Because here’s the deal. We hurt people with our words when we swear.

I want to stop for a moment to talk about this one, because I’m guessing I could sound very judgey right here. The pastor is telling us to not swear. He’s so high and mighty. Listen, this can be a problem for me as well. I’m not really a hit your thumb with a hammer yell out an obscenity guy, although I have done that. I’m more of what I would call a recreational swearer. When I get with some of my buddies every once in a while I will swear just to make them laugh. There was a moment where I did that over the phone with one of my friends and my daughter caught me. After I hung up she said, “Dad, you’re just swearing to try to be cool.” She had me on that one.

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed.

3) Don’t let money be the focus of your life

If you want to love people, here’s the deal. I don’t want you to be greedy. I don’t want you so focused on your financial gain that you forget about the people around you. I don’t want you working a 70 hour week so that you don’t have time for your wife and kids. I don’t want the sole focus of your efforts to be making money and acquiring wealth. I don’t even want there to be a hint of greed in you. He continues this thought in verse 5

For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Ephesians 5:5

The word idolater is a scary one but it has a simple meaning. It means one who follows an idol. We are idolaters when we place anything as the main focus of our pursuit other than God.

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them. Ephesians 5:6,7

Do not be partners with them. It’s so easy to get sucked into this greedy lifestyle when that is the pursuit of the people around us. When everyone around us is focused on getting more, climbing the ladder

I’ve had to make an important decision in this last year. Many of you know that I do weddings as a side business. Last year I did 42 of them. I realized in this last year that my wedding business was taking me away from my family. 42 weddings a year means 60 consults a year and 200 emails a year. It was wearing me out. So I made a decision in this last year to do less. And I’m doing less. A lot less. At first it was hard. I found that the desire to do more was my partner. It was in my head. It took months to shut that off.

8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. Ephesians 5:8-13

Shame derives its power from being unspeakable. If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive.” Brene Brown

God has one last way he wants us to walk in love. Again, it’s not “buy her balloons.” Look at verse

18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:18-20

4) Don’t let alcohol take over your life

(We could also add weed to this list thanks to the voting public of California)

Understand that Paul is not saying, “Never have a drink.” At the end of 1 Timothy Paul challenges Timothy to drink some wine for health purposes. God is not anti-alcohol. Jesus didn’t turn wine into Snapple.

God tells us to walk in this way because this is the way of love. This is how to show love to people around you. This morning I’ve shared with you two ways to show people we love them. I’ve got them here for your convenience.

Let’s look at these two lists. They are both good lists. But let me tell you something. Only one of these lists shows how to really, truly love someone.

I love my wife. I could make her a mix CD. But do you know what she wants. In order for me to love my wife I need to fight for my purity.

I love my kids. I could buy them some balloons. If I really love them If I’m going to have to learn to watch what I say. I’m not going to be inappropriate with my jokes. I’m not going to lose my cool and let my words fly.

If I’m going to love my family I’m going to have to put money in it’s proper place. I can’t be greedy. I can’t spend all my time working to get ahead and neglect my family.

If I’m going to love the people in my life I can’t let alcohol rule me.

Years ago I gave a similar message in church. I remember when I gave it I was a little self conscious because there was a friend in the audience who’s family business was an alcohol distributorship. The point I made in that message was that high school students see everything black and white so when your kid is in high school you may want to consider not drinking because if you drink and you tell them not to drink it can be confusing. That day he gave up drinking and didn’t have a single drop for a year. He did it out of love for his son.

This is the way of love. This isn’t some sweet Hallmark ideas to pull out on Valentines day. This is the way of love. Walk in it.