Today we are wrapping up a four-part series called Truth or Dare. You probably remember playing the game as a kid. As adults, we are still faced with this dilemma called Truth or Dare.
We live in a culture that is falling further and further away from God and we’re faced with this tension of deciding which way we are going to go.
Are we going to dare to live our lives like the world? Or are we going to face the truth of God’s Word?
In the game, there were usually negative consequences regardless of what you choose, truth or dare. You either had to reveal something you didn’t want people to know, or you had to do something that had a negative consequence.
But in the context of your spiritual journey, there’s an obvious best choice. Come clean about your secrets with God and you are going to find freedom. Dare to live like the world and you’ll find yourself drifting further and further from God.
This entire series is based on the book of Daniel because Daniel lived in a time where the nation of Israel, the people who are known as God’s people, rejected God and were paying the price for it.
But, Daniel took a stand for truth in the midst of all the compromise.
As you probably know, history tends to repeat itself. So, what we see in Daniel, even though it happened years ago, can be paralleled to what we are seeing today. And we all need to find out how to live like Daniel.
In week one, we talked about how grace and truth go together. Yet, we tend to think you have to choose one or the other.
If you choose truth, you have to be passionate about telling people when they’re wrong. Or, if you choose grace, you have to refrain from telling people when they’re headed in the wrong direction.
Neither of these is right. Actually, we need them both working together. We need to be generous with grace while standing firm in the truth we find in God’s Word.
In week two, I uncovered the devil’s biggest secret. Every ounce of ungodly behavior is rooted in this one thing. Every one of the devil’s lies spawn from this one thing:
The enemy’s one and only trick is to get you to elevate yourself above God. He did it to Adam and Eve by telling them they would be smart like God if they ate the fruit. And he does the same thing today by getting us to think our way is better than God’s way.
Now that you know the devil’s biggest secret, it will be easy for you to recognize when he is trying to mislead you. And here’s what you do instead:
Proclaim that everything God says and does is right and just. Stand on the Word of God as ultimate truth and don’t try to argue that your way is better.
Because when you elevate God, He elevates you.
And then last week we talked about living a stand-up life in a bow-down world.
You’ve probably experienced culture demanding you to follow their ways. They never ask you not to follow God. Instead, they flatter you with the idea of elevating self and in the process, you lower God.
And it can be a struggle to stand for the Word of God because culture gets loud and hateful and calls you names. But turns out, it has no power over you. It may be loud, but it can’t hurt you.
You can walk around with confidence as you stand for God and His Word because when you stand, you not only inspire others to stand with you, but Jesus stands with you too.
Today, we are going to wrap up the series talking about how to hold on to love while you are taking a stand for the truth. Because you may have noticed how love tends to go out the window when you get passionate about the truth.
And then we tend to overcorrect by pulling the love back in and fudging a little on the truth because we feel if we hurt someone’s feelings, we aren’t loving them well.
But, to be effective for Jesus, we need both love and truth working together. Here’s a good verse to start us out today:
Galatians 5:6 NIV – The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
Before the book of Galatians, there is a lot of Bible. Like, Galatians is towards the end of the Bible and then we get this statement, “I know I’ve said a lot, but by the way, the only thing that matters is faith expressing itself through love.”
Apparently this is a really important thing for us to grab ahold of, wouldn’t you agree?
So, have faith in God and stand for the truth in God’s Word. And then let that faith express itself by loving others.
The thing is, the church isn’t known for doing this well. We tend to take this stance thinking that we have to defend God. So, even though we are sharing the truth, we are ugly about it because we really don’t care about the other person.
A lot of people are out there right now mad at the church because they encountered these kind of Christians. I mean, how many of you have heard someone say they will never go to church again because of this very reason?
We think we are defending God. But the truth is, we are repelling people away from God.
Can I be honest with you? I’ve been this Christian, so passionate about the truth that I left love in the dust and beat up a lot of people in the process.
Jesus knew we’d have a hard time with this. That’s why He gave us a little tip to navigate this tricky issue of bringing truth and love together:
John 13:34-35 NIV – A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
Whoa. This is a newsflash. All this time I thought people would know I was a Christian if I went to church every week, or if I was baptized, or if I had a Bible on my coffee table.
But turns out, the only way people will know I am a true disciple of Jesus is if I love you – all of you. And we’re not talking about a surface, pretend type of love. We are talking about genuine love that you feel deep down in your gut.
You’ll hear people who’ve been in church awhile say things like, “When are we going to go deep into the Word? Can I get a message that has more meat and is a bit hard to digest?”
Can I tell you something? This is about as meaty as it gets.
Love the people that annoy you. Love your neighbor who has the lawn that always looks better than yours. Love the people who do things that you don’t agree with.
Because if Jesus was here and you were asking for a deep message, I bet He’d look at you and say something like, “When you’ve got the love thing down that I’ve already talked to you about, we’ll go from there.”
In other words:
1 Corinthians 14:1 MSG – Go after a life of love as if your life depended on it—because it does.
If you are looking for a how-to on love, there’s no better place to go than the 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians. There, the Apostle Paul laid it all out for us in a way that is easy to understand.
And if you go verse-by-verse, you can actually come to five different conclusions about what will happen if we do not love well:
Without love, all I say is ineffective.
It doesn’t matter if you are right or not. If you don’t have love, your words don’t even matter. Without love, even the best truth that you spew out of your mouth will render ineffective. All it’s going to do is make people mad.
It’s not about winning arguments, it’s about winning hearts.
In case you’re having a hard time believing me on this one, let me show it to you in scripture:
1 Corinthians 13:1 NLT – If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
We live in a culture that overwhelmingly vocal when they disagree. I mean, go on Facebook and find a post that either supports or comes against vaccinating your children. Read the comments and you’ll see exactly what I mean.
We’ve all been trained by culture to take this self-righteous stand about the things we believe and we cut down anyone who doesn’t agree with us. And you’ve probably heard me say this before:
When’s the last time you argued with someone and changed their mind?
I bet you are running through your most recent arguments right now trying to find one that was effective and it’s not there. You can even change your spouse’s mind by arguing with them.
So, if we’re not supposed to argue, how do we stand for the truth?
Ephesians 4:15 NLT – Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ.
It really comes down to your motivation. Are you speaking the truth because you want to be right? Or, are you speaking the truth because you love the other person too much to watch them live a lie?
Keep in mind, speaking the truth in love still has the potential of making the other person upset. But if the truth came from a motivation of love, you can trust that God will work in that.
Are you getting what I am saying here? Looking back, are you able to distinguish all the times you shared the truth with the wrong motivation? Maybe you just wanted to be right, or maybe it came from a source of frustration?
The way to fix this is to have a quick conversation with yourself before you share the truth, “Do I want to share the truth because I love them? Or, is there some other motivation going on here?”
And if love is not the answer to that question, keep your mouth shut.
Here’s the next thing 1 Corinthians 13 shows us:
Without love, all I know is insignificant.
There’s a stat that says we are currently doubling our knowledge every three years. And this is all because we live in the information age where we can ask Google for the answer to any question.
Funny thing is, we are supposedly getting smarter, yet our world is worse off. Why is this?
1 Corinthians 13:2 NLT – If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge … but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.
Ah, now it makes sense. We could be the smartest people on the planet. But, if we didn’t love others, it wouldn’t even matter.
Here’s the next one:
Without love, all I believe is insufficient.
Even the strongest faith isn’t enough on it’s own. Yet we get caught up in the belief that “all I need is more faith to impact those around me.” But take a look at this:
1 Corinthians 13:2 NLT – If I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.
If you had faith that could literally move a mountain, I’d be impressed. But, if you didn’t pair it with love, God would not be impressed at all.
Without love, all I give is incomplete.
You guys are the most generous people I know. The things we are able to do financially as a small church blow my mind.
But it’s not the amount that matters. What matters is the love we have for the people we give to. We give because we love our church and want to see people come to know God. We give because we love the people of Mexico.
And if we’re not careful, our giving can become a source of pride. “Look at what I’ve done. Look how much we’ve given.”
But it’s not about us. It’s about the positive impact we’re having on those around us. That’s why we give. And that’s why we take time every Sunday to explain to you the impact your giving is making.
1 Corinthians 13:3 NLT – If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.
In this same scripture, you will also see the last conclusion we can come to about what happens when we don’t love well:
Without love, all I accomplish is inadequate.
We see this all the time. The people in America who have amazing accomplishments get to the end of their life and find out they really gained nothing because they didn’t love along the way.
They abandoned their family in the name of accomplishment. They abandoned their church to get a little more work done on Sundays.
And now they have grown kids who don’t want anything to do with them. They have a pile of money and all it does is contribute to their unhappiness. The only relationships they have are with people who only come around for money.
Yet all that time, they honestly believed that overworking and sacrificing time with their family would somehow pay off in the end. But have you noticed that this mentality is rooted in elevating self?
You overwork so you can feel accomplished. You run after money so people will see that you are successful. You elevate yourself above your family because your work is more important.
And anytime you are elevating yourself above those around you, you know you’ve fallen into one of the devil’s traps. And it’s time to get out.
Let me put it to you this way:
Your Life – Love = 0
Without love, your life doesn’t even matter. Without love, this church doesn’t even matter. And that’s exactly why we have this core value:
We love others without reason.
You don’t have to earn our love. You don’t have to meet some set of requirements. No, we love you because God loves you. And we love you right where you are.
As a church, we want to be known as people who stand for the truth found in God’s Word. But even more than that, we want to be known as people who love others in the most remarkable way.
The good news is, we don’t have to guess at how to do this because the Bible gives us everything we need to know in four simple verses:
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NLT – Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
Can I give you a challenge? Read these four scriptures every single day until you get the hang of it. It will take you less than 30 seconds, but the impact it has on your life is going to be unthinkable.
Because I don’t know about you, but some of these things are a little hard to swallow. Like, love never gives up? I can think of a few people I’d live to give up on because they’ve burned the bridge one too many times.
But I read this scripture and it reminds me to stay hopeful and not give up. Because the next time might just be the time thing things turn around.
Can you read these four verses every day? I bet you can. And trust me, you should. It’s going to bring a load of peace and joy into your life.
Now, we’ve been in the book of Daniel throughout this entire series and I’m not about to let this message go by without showing you how Daniel handled this love thing. Because he is our example in this series.
And all through the book of Daniel, we’ve seen him standing strong yet respectful and polite at the same time. He never budged on his convictions but people respected and loved him because he acted from a standpoint of love.
Daniel 6:1-2 NLT – Darius the Mede decided to divide the kingdom into 120 provinces, and he appointed a high officer to rule over each province. The king also chose Daniel and two others as administrators to supervise the high officers and protect the king’s interests.
This is interesting right here. They put 120 babylonians over each province and then chose the outsider, the Hebrew man, Daniel, to be one of the three men who led the 120 high officials.
Daniel 6:3 NIV – Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom.
Everyone should take note of this right here. Daniel was able to stand out amongst everyone else because he embraced the Word of God which gave him exceptional qualities.
You don’t have to be the most talented. You don’t have to have the most education. If you simply embrace the Word of God and put on those exceptional qualities, you’ll stand out from everyone else.
I mean, just look at Daniel. Because he was standing firm in the Word of God, the king gave him the whole kingdom. And here’s how his fellow leaders responded:
Daniel 6:4 NLT – Then the other administrators and high officers began searching for some fault in the way Daniel was handling government affairs, but they couldn’t find anything to criticize or condemn.
You know how it goes when you get promoted. There’s always people that don’t like it and think you don’t deserve it. But in Daniel’s case, they really couldn’t come up with a solid argument, and here’s why:
Daniel 6:4 NLT – He was faithful, always responsible, and completely trustworthy.
Notice it doesn’t say anything about how good looking he was, or how many degrees he had on the wall, or how much money he had. No, he simply had character.
I don’t know about you, but this is good news to me. I don’t have any fancy degrees or millions of dollars or impressive muscles. But hey, I can choose to have character every day of my life.
There’s no prerequisite to character, it’s something you choose in every situation. You can be faithful to your church, you just have to choose to prioritize Sunday mornings and your small group on your schedule.
You can choose to be responsible. You simply show up to work on time, fulfill your commitment, do your best, keep your phone in your pocket and you are going to stand out and get promoted.
See what I am saying? You can do this. I can do this. We can all distinguish ourselves by following the Word of God.
And we just read earlier that loving one another is the best way to follow the Word of God. So let me give you three practical things you can do to love others.
#1 Serve them.
Here’s how easy this is: Take just one minute each day to look around, find a need, and fulfill it. We’re talking about helping someone with one of their tasks at work. Or getting a cart for someone at the grocery store.
And if you’re thinking, “Kade, I’m above that. I’m the leader and people should be serving me.” Well, imagine how blown away people will be when you serve them. You have an opportunity to really make an impact.
Here’s how the Apostle Paul explains it in the Bible:
1 Corinthians 9:19 NIV – Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.
Here we have the greatest leader the church has ever known telling us he chose to be a servant to all those around him so he could lead as many people as possible to Jesus.
We need to learn from his example. We don’t serve to earn honor and respect from man. We don’t serve to impress God. We don’t serve because Kade told me to.
No, we serve because we’re passionate about leading people to Jesus. We clean the bathrooms because we know a dirty bathroom might keep someone from coming back.
We serve in kids ministry because our kids need to know Jesus. And not only that, but our kids are the future church who are going to lead people to Jesus themselves.
So, when you’re walking in to church and thinking, “Ugh, I really don’t feel like serving today”, go ahead and hit yourself in the back of the head and remind yourself, “I have the opportunity to help lead people to Jesus today.”
It’s all about perspective. And here’s why serving people is so important:
Jesus connected before He corrected.
It all starts with relationship. We can’t jump the gun in helping someone live their best life without first showing them that we genuinely care about them.
Do y’all get what I’m saying? Let me sum it up into this one statement:
Our job is not to fix people. Our job is to connect with people.
Here’s the second thing we can do to live a life of love:
#2 Set an example for them.
This one may give some of you anxiety. Because you know that if other people saw your real life, they wouldn’t want to be a Christian.
Well, hey, we’ve all been there. And one of my biggest hopes as a pastor is that you’ll choose to be here with us every Sunday and get plugged into a small group and go through the growth track and serve on a dream team.
Because I can promise you, if you invest your time in these four things and make them a priority, your life is going to turn around.
Seriously, I can guarantee it. Make Sundays a priority, make your small group a priority, go through the growth track and serve on a dream team. Be consistent in these things for one year and you’re going to look back and be amazed at how far you’ve come.
We didn’t put all these things together for you to have something else to do. You don’t need anything else to do. But, you do want to live your best life and that’s exactly why we do this every week.
Sundays are dedicated to helping you know God. Because knowing God is the first and most important part of your spiritual journey.
Small groups are all about finding freedom. Because the only way to step out of your past and into your best life is with real relationships with other Christians.
The Growth Track is where you find your purpose. There’s a call of God on every person’s life, but sometimes you just need a little help finding it. At the end of a four-step process we call Growth Track, you’ll know your purpose.
And the Dream Team is all the areas in the church where you can serve. But we don’t want you serving on just any team. We want you on the team that connects with your dream.
Trust me on this. Join us on these four things and you will have no problem setting an example for those around you. Everyone will be looking to you and wondering how you have so much freedom and peace and fulfillment.
Just like Jesus said:
Matthew 5:13-16 NIV – You are the salt of the earth … You are the light of the world … Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
The people around you will want a taste of what you have. They are going to see that your life is different and you’ll be able to explain to them that is is all because of Jesus.
Which leads us into the third way to love others well:
#3 Share Jesus with them.
At this point, it’s not about trying to get someone to buy in to our belief system. It’s not about showing them how they are wrong and we are right.
No, since we’ve served them and set the example for them, we now have the opportunity to share Jesus with them. Seriously, when you have steps one and two in place, this third step is no longer a big deal.
In many cases they will even open the conversation themselves by asking how your life is so different. And when that happens, never shy from telling them about Jesus because Jesus is exactly what they are looking for.
Here it is in scripture:
1 Peter 3:15-16 NLT – You must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way.
So it all starts with you falling in love with Jesus and making Him the leader of your life. And then, when people ask you why your life is different, be ready to explain what Jesus has done for you.
Don’t be ready to come against their belief system or their sin. No, be ready to share what has happened on the inside of you. And do it with respect and be gentle in your approach.
1 Peter 3:15-16 NLT – Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ.
In other words, live your life in a way that reflects Jesus. Stand firm in the Word of God and don’t bow down to culture. When you do this, even the people who come against you will end up being ashamed that they even tried.
Here’s a quote that sums it up really nicely:
“Preach the gospel, and if necessary, use words.” -St. Francis of Assisi
I hope you now realize that how you act is more important than what you say. This isn’t about how well you can explain the Gospel. This isn’t about using all the right words or having an answer for every argument.
It’s about how we live our lives and how well we love other people.
Time to Reflect
You may be sitting there right now thinking, “That’s the problem. I don’t act right. But I feel stuck. How do I fix this?”
Well let me explain this to you and I need you to get this. If you try really hard to act better, you’re not going to get very far. But when you grab hold of the love God has for you, you gain the capacity to love others.
1 John 4:19 NLT – We love each other because he loved us first.
This literally means that you first have to receive the love of God for yourself before you’ll ever be able to love others like we’ve talked about today.
This message wasn’t to give you things to go out and do to try to get better. No, this message is to lead you to the only one who can change your life, Jesus.
Everything we do here at NoLimits Church – Sundays, small groups, growth track, the dream team – is to lead you closer to Jesus. Because when you experience His love, your capacity to love others will blow you away.
Romans 5:8 NLT – God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.
God didn’t tell you He loved you. He showed you that He loves you by sending Jesus to die while we were still a hot mess.
He didn’t wait for you to get your life together. No, God made a way for you to experience His love when you did nothing to deserve it.
You may be sitting there right now with the realization that you’ve never received God’s love. You’ve never experienced God’s love and your heart is crying out for it.
You may have even grown up as a Christian but it’s only been a duty. You come to church because you feel like you have to. But now, you’re ready to experience God’s love in a deeper way than you ever have before.
If you’re sitting there now thinking, “I need to take a step towards God’s love. I need to receive His love and I’m ready to commit my life to Jesus or I’m ready to rededicate my life to Jesus”, say the following prayer out loud:
Jesus, I’ve been living without you and I don’t want to do that anymore. I’ve done a lot of things wrong and I need your forgiveness. I accept Your love and grace for me and ask that You would be my Lord. Thank you for making me new. Thank you for washing away my past. I hand my life over to you and ask that you’d help me walk out your plan for my life.