A Life Characterized by Love
by Jim Cymbala

In his message, Pastor Jim Cymbala shares how our lives are to be characterized by love and how God made a way for His sons and daughters to love like Jesus did.

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By Pastor Jim Cymbala of Brooklyn Tabernacle speaking at First Baptist Orlando

Video Highlights

Here are some highlights from this message about Love by Pastor Jim Cymbala.

In the very last part of Matthew 5, Jesus is preaching what we call the Sermon on the Mount. “Be perfect therefore as your heavenly Father is perfect.”. . .  What does that mean? What’s the context? It can’t mean perfectionism. It can’t mean be perfect—as in quality—with God, because the Bible says, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Even as Christians, the Bible says, “If anyone says he has no sin, he is a liar; the truth is not in him.”

Referring to the Old Testament . . .  Jesus said [in Matthew 5:43-48], “You have heard, love your neighbor, hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you that you may be sons and daughters of your Father in heaven. God the Father causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and He sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors, the publicans, doing that?  If you greet only your brothers, the people that are like you, your color, your background . . . Don’t even the pagans do that? Now be perfect therefore as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

This verse is stunning. . . . Jesus is saying, “If you want to be true sons and daughters of your heavenly Father, remember: He is love. He doesn’t have love; He is love. His essence is love.”  He has power. He has wisdom. . . . Those are attributes of God, but His essence is love. So, to be a true son or daughter of God and to reflect His heart, your life has to be characterized by love, or you become a contradiction to the name you are carrying—which is Christian.

You spiritually are children of a heavenly Father so you’re supposed to reflect what He looks like. What is He? He is love.

At 6:31 Pastor Cymbala points out that the Christian church should be characterized by Jesus’ love:

When you walk into a Christian church, the first thing that should hit you is love—the love of God.

A lot of churches around the country, in the world, don’t reflect love. They reflect a doctrinal edge. We are Calvinists. We are Armenians. We are Evangelicals. We are Charismatics. These words don’t exist to God.

The Christian church is supposed to be a Holy Ghost hospital where anybody can come in broken, smashed in life, every color, homeless, smelly, whatever, they come in and they are loved because we know that Jesus died for them.

Did Jesus Christ favor one person over another? No. He did not. He never turned one person away. Not one!

At 14:03 he makes it clear that love is the defining mark of all sons and daughters of God:

If you want to know how strong you are in God, there is only one test; that is love. . . . If you speak with the tongue of men and angels and have not love you are zero. If you understand all mysteries, if you have faith to move mountains but don’t have love . . . What is the sense of talking about Jesus if we don’t reflect more and more of His love? He prayed for people who were killing Him, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.”

The acid test of all spirituality is: “How much are you controlled by the love of God? How much does that love exude out of us?” 

If you love people who love you, what is that? If you stroke people who stroke you, what is that? Sinners do that. If you love your family or you love people of the same race because they are your race, or you love everyone from your country. . . . But there is no special country. There is just a special Savior, Jesus Christ. He is the One.

If you really want to be like your heavenly Father, love your enemies. Bless those that curse you. Love people who are different. Love people who are unloving. Love people who just turn you off. Love them.. . . Your heavenly Father, when He sends the rain . . . The rain just doesn’t fall on the Christian farm. It comes on the atheist farm, on the Muslim farm, on the Hindu farm, on the degenerate’s farm. The rain is coming down on all of it. . . .  If your heavenly Father loves and blesses all people regardless of where they are coming from, now show the world that you belong to that family and love unconditionally.

At 19:43 Pastor Cymbala shares that we can’t work ourselves up to loving like God created us to love:

And I’m telling you, that love is not in us. . . . I want to tell you the truth about Christianity. Unfortunately a lot of Christianity and preaching has become “Old Testatment-ish.” We give people commands. They get revved up and make vows. . . . But you are going to break that vow . . . because that’s not Christianity. Christianity isn’t trying to do stuff in your own strength.

Jesus says, “Without Me you can do nothing. You can’t love anyone without Me. That’s why when you come into My family, I’m going to put My Spirit of love in you and you’ll be able to love because it won’t be you. It’ll be Me loving them. It’ll be My Spirit loving them.”

I’ll never have that love in me. I’ll never love people who hate me. That’s not in Jim Cymbala. . . . Just because God gives us a command doesn’t mean He wants you to try and obey it. He wants us to obey it, but it has to be Him doing it through us. . . .  For every command there is a promise that God will help you to do it. 

Without Him it is hopeless. Jesus is my strength through the Holy Spirit. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace . . .”.  Let that Spirit inside of you express Himself. Yield to Him. Walk controlled by Him and you’ll show people what Jesus is like.

To conclude his message, at 23:57 Pastor Cymbala shares a powerful, personal story about a homeless man who visited his church. Hear the story of the two men hugging and crying in the love of God. Hear the power of transforming love—in both hearts.

At 34:47 Pastor Cymbala ends with a prayer for all of us:

Forgive us for our lack of love. Break us that are proud and hard . . . Humble us to become like children so we can say, “Fill us with Your love.” Baptize us in Your love. . . By this will all men know that you are My disciples because we love one another. Help that love to go to the world and to people who are contrary. . . We love You today because You first loved us. Fill us with Your love and let the world see it.

Amen.