Our love for others is compelled by Christ’s love for us and what he did for us on the cross. The fruit of our dependence on Jesus is how we "act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God" (Micah 6:8). What does it mean to live as a disciple serving out of love for Christ?
It means having a heart for the least, the lost, and the left behind.
It means unselfishly serving other people.
It means using our spiritual gifts for God’s kingdom.
With Your Small Group
1. Introduction: Use one small group meeting to discuss this lesson as a starting point. The lesson is used in conjunction with Emily Hamilton’s video on God’s Grace:
2. TouchPoint: use these questions before, during, and after working through this trait to help your group have conversations about how you’re growing together as disciples of Jesus:
- Does your group know the spiritual gifts of each of its members? How can you encourage one another in using your spiritual gifts?
- Have each group member respond to this question personally: Have you served in order to earn somebody’s love? And then experienced the transformative power and ease when loving and serving in response to a filled tank of love from Jesus? What was the difference?
- Have you ever experienced an opportunity to love or serve somebody that made you feel more dependent on Jesus? What was that like? How did you come to delight in Jesus and his grace more as a result of this experience?
- How have you discerned where God is calling you, to whom, and doing what? Where is your ‘among’?
- Are there places in your life where you have idolized safety, comfort, approval, or success at the expense of God’s call to love and serve others? What would repentance look like? How can you return to God’s heart of grace for you to be fueled and sent out again?
3. Choose one of these Bible studies or books:
- Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes us Just by Tim Keller. This book explores a life of justice empowered by an experience of God’s generous grace. (8 chapters, 256 pages, reading homework required.) Use this study guide to explore the teachings. (6-session Bible study guide with homework preparation recommended but not required.)
- When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett & Brian Fikkert. This book provides strategies for effective poverty alleviation, based on the idea that sustainable change comes not from the outside in, but from the inside out. (11 chapters, 288 pages, reading homework required.) The companion video for small groups is available on RightNow Media. (6 sessions of 12-17 minute videos; study guide available for purchase; homework preparation recommended but not required.)
- The Mission Centered Life: Following Jesus into the Broken Places by Bethany Ferguson. This study explores how God’s grace empowers us to serve in places of need, what to do when we fail, and how to cultivate hope in the midst of a broken world. (10-session Bible study with leader guide; homework preparation recommended but not required.)
- Reconciling All Things: A Christian Vision for Justice, Peace and Healing by Emmanuel Katongole and Chris Rice. The authors present a Christian perspective on what makes real reconciliation possible. They reflect on practices that will help the church be both a sign and an agent of God’s reconciling love in the fragmented world of the twenty-first century. (8 chapters, 165 pages, reading homework required.)
- Welcoming the Stranger on RightNow Media by Matt Soerens and Jenny Yang. This study helps us wrestle with one of the most complex issues of our day – refugees and immigration – and offers opportunities to experience what you are learning. (6 sessions of 5 minute videos; free downloadable study guide for discussion; each session includes an activity that is generally designed to be done on your own as “homework.”)
- Courage and Calling by Gordon T. Smith. The author invites you to discover your vocation by listening to God and becoming a coworker with him. (12 chapters, 269 pages, reading homework required.)
4. Explore ways to serve together:
On Your Own
1. Take a spiritual gifts inventory and discover how God has wired you to carry out His purposes.
2. Read one of these books:
- The Justice Calling by Bethany Hanke Hoang and Kristen Deede Johnson. This book draws us into the whole story of Scripture, inviting us to know more intimately the God who loves justice and calls us to give our lives to seek the flourishing of others. It also includes practices that can help form us into people who join God’s work of setting things right in the world.
- Visions of Vocation by Steve Garber. The author challenges us to see vocation as following our calling to seek the welfare of the world we live in. And in helping the world to flourish, we find that we flourish too.
- Our Global Families: Christians Embracing Common Identity in a Changing World by Todd Johnson and Cindy Wu. This is a great introduction to the impact of global Christian movements and how we can be a part of it.
3. Watch these video resources (if you don’t already have a RightNow Media account, create a free account):
- Tim Keller deals with the theology behind why we help the poor and disenfranchised in this RightNow Media video.
- Pastor Emily Hamilton explores why missions matters in this sermon:
- Ed Stetzer reminds believers that we are sent, to all people, with a message, empowered by the Spirit in this RightNow Media video.
4. Read this article by Scott Sauls and explore how our faith relates to our work.
5. Explore opportunities to serve:
Foundational verses provide the biblical basis for each character trait. Read through these verses together as a group when you first begin exploring this trait. You might also consider memorizing one of the verses together.
“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.”—2 Corinthians 5:14-15
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”—1 John 3:16-18
“And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”—Micah 6:8
“And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to [Jesus]. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free.’”—Luke 4:17-18
“Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 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 5:1-2
“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’”—Matthew 28:18-20