Chapter OneSession 1
THE BIG PICTURE
It takes an enormous amount of courage to enter the character
battles that Scripture challenges us to fight. I would like to
propose that treating others as more important than yourself is one
of the best definitions of love I have ever heard. I get so tired
of superficial definitions of love. They seem to change with
Love is a gentle smile.
Love is finding someone's space that is similar to your own.
Love is standing up in a church service and shaking hands
Love is feeling warm and sentimental toward other
Love is the feeling you get when you are near someone
This is all lightweight, hollow stuff. The Bible cuts through all
of the haze and says that if you want one clear definition of
what love is, treat every person as though they were more
important than you. This means you should treat family
members, friends, employees, minorities, Republicans, and
Democrats as though they are more important than you are.
It means you should learn to honor others. To hold them in
high esteem. To respect them. To believe they have something
to contribute to your life.
A WIDE ANGLE VIEW
1 How would you have defined love at one of the following
times in your life:
When you were a child
When you were a teenager
When you were a young adult
How has your understanding of love changed over the years?
A BIBLICAL PORTRAIT
Read Philippians 2:1-11
2 What does this passage teach about what love looks
3 What has Jesus done to model perfect love for us?
How can we follow Jesus' example of love?
SHARPENING THE FOCUS
Read Snapshot "Putting Others First, Even at One O'clock in
PUTTING OTHERS FIRST,
EVEN AT ONE O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING
I remember an experience some years ago when I was awakened at about 1:00 A.M. by our son, Todd,
then five years old, who said, "Mom. Dad. I just had a nightmare." As soon as I awakened, my instinct
was to lay very still and pretend I was asleep so Lynne would get up and deal with him. After he kept
trying to get our attention, I poked her and said, "Lynne, Todd had a nightmare." I was hoping she
would be so startled that her motherly instincts would take over. It worked like a charm. She jumped
up and took care of him. But as I lay there, trying to doze off to sleep, I found myself thinking, "Oh no! This
was a great opportunity to treat my wife as more important than myself, and all I could think of was me."
4 Tell your small group about a time you had a chance to
treat someone else as better than yourself but failed to
Tell about a time you received God's supernatural power and
were able to love another person by treating him or her as better
Read Snapshot "The Power of the Spirit"
THE POWER OF THE SPIRIT
The primary means by which God accomplishes His transformation in our lives is through the work
of His Holy Spirit. If you have surrendered your life to Christ and asked Him to be your Savior and
friend, one of the first things God does is put His Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, into your
life. Through the Spirit, He begins the process of transformation. He begins to work twenty-four
hours a day to change your natural instincts so that you begin to act and react to people in a supernatural,
God-honoring fashion. The Holy Spirit will always be faithful to grow this kind of love in your life. The big
question is, will you cooperate?
5 How have you experienced the transforming power
and presence of the Holy Spirit in your life since becoming a follower of Christ?
6 Describe a time when you did not fully cooperate
with the Spirit's work or prompting. What were the
Read Snapshot "God's Example of Love"
GOD'S EXAMPLE OF LOVE
Our God is wonderful, amazing, and loving beyond our understanding. He treats us like celebrities.
We are VIPs in His sight. He even put our needs and interests above His own by giving His only Son
for us. What greater motivation could we have to love others?
7 Choose one area below and list a practical way you
can show love by putting the needs of others ahead of
your own needs.
Your small group
What can your small group members do to support you and
keep you accountable as you seek to express love in this area?
8 Describe a recurring situation in your life where
putting others first is difficult.
What is one thing you can do to begin to change in this area of
PUTTING YOURSELF IN THE PICTURE
Putting Others First
Take time in the coming week to identify one person you
need to love by putting that person's interests and needs
before your own. Decide exactly how you will express love to
that person by putting him or her first.
To whom will you be expressing love?
What will you do to put that person first?
When will you do it?
Who will be praying for you and keeping you accountable?
How Will You Be Remembered?
I remember attending the funeral of a man from our church
some years ago. One of the things said about him during the
eulogy was, "He put others first." All the way through that
funeral, the Spirit put a mirror of reflection in front of me
which caused me to wonder, "What are they going to say
about me at my funeral? He was intense? He was a leader?" I
hope people will say, "He loved others. He put others first."
Take time for honest and prayerful reflection and answer the
If you were to die today, what do you think people would say
about you and the impact your life has made? What would
you like people to say about you after you are gone?