Love Relationships (Part 2)

Love Relationships

 Love Relationships

 (Part 2) 

Contents 

·        Our Love for Jesus Christ

·        Our Love for Brothers and Sisters in Christ

·        Our Love for Friends

·        Our Love for All People

·        Our Love in Family Relationships

·        Let us Live a Life of Love

Our Love for Jesus Christ 

            Just as we love God with all of our heart, we must also love Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  The Lord said, “If God were your Father, you would love Me” (John 8:42).  Just as our sincere love for God is our heart passion and life commitment, so our love and devotion to Christ is our dominating motive in life.  Paul says, “The love of Christ controls us” (2 Cor. 5:14).  The Greek for “controls” here refers to “pressure that causes action.”  It may be translated, “compels” (NIV).  One writer adds, “It coerces, or pressures, and therefore impels.”  To Paul, the love of Christ pressed upon him in such a way that his whole life was dominated by it.  Paul’s reference here may either mean that Christ’s love for us controls us, or it may mean that our love for Christ controls us.  Both aspects are surely true.  We love the Lord Jesus who loved us with an overwhelming love!  The love of Christ urges us to live wholly and completely for Him and His purposes on earth.  We love Jesus, though we have not seen Him (1 Peter 1:8).

Furthermore, just as our love for God is shown in our willingness to obey Him, so our love for Jesus is seen in our obedient submission to Him.  We must remember that Jesus is not only the divine Savior from sin, but He also is our Lord, Owner, Master, and King.  He has “all authority . . . in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18), thus we are to lovingly and humbly submit to His will.  The Lord succinctly declared, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15).

It is useless and hypocritical to claim to love Jesus if we refuse to acknowledge His Lordship over our will and His right to direct our life.  Jesus went on to explain, “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me. . . . If anyone loves me, he will keep My word” (John 14:21, 23).  The converse is also true: “He who does not love Me does not keep My words” (v. 24).  Jesus asked, “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46).  He could have asked, “Why do you profess a love for Me and do not do what I say?”  Is it honest for us to say that we love Jesus, while disobeying or dishonoring Him in these ways:

·        Not taking the time to read His words

·        Not desiring to study His teachings

·        Neglecting to pray to God through Jesus

·        Refusing to love His other followers

·        Refusing to be baptized (immersed) into Him

·        Taking His name in a careless manner or as a curse word

·        Going places that He would not approve

·        Spending your precious time on worthless activities

·        Involving yourself in worldly pursuits that break His heart

·        Being ashamed to publicly identify yourself as His follower

·        Refusing to take a moral stand when with your friends

·        Disobeying the specific instruction of Jesus in some way

If we truly love Jesus and love our God, let us openly, constantly, fully obey them in our daily life.  People should know that you are a sincere, consistent lover of God!  If we love a son or daughter, we will sacrifice sleep, money, and time for his or her health and well-being.  If we have and love a wife, we will willingly labor and lay down our life for her health and happiness.  How much more will we willingly, eagerly, and joyfully serve our Lord Jesus Christ, prompted by a true love and devotion!

A failure to love Jesus surely is serious and will condemn: “If anyone does not love the Lord, he is to be accursed” (1 Cor. 16:22).  The promise of God’s judgment on those who do not love Jesus is just as true as His promise to bless those who love Him.  Only those who sincerely love the Lord Jesus with a submissive love and obedient faith can be saved from God’s wrath and enter His kingdom.  Let our genuine, life-dominating, all consuming love for Christ motivate us to live fully for Him!

Our Love for Brothers and Sisters in Christ 

            God’s love for us inspires our own love for each other.  “If God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:11).  If we truly love God, we must love our fellow-believers in Christ: “The one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. . . . The one who loves God should love his brother also” (4:20-21).  Again we read, “Whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him” (5:1).  This love for other saints fills the pages of Scripture!  Peter succinctly writes, “Love the brotherhood” (1 Peter. 2:17).  The Hebrew writer adds, “Let love of the brethren continue” (13:1).

            Our love for other believers who are truly saved and walking in the light is close, intimate, and fulfilling.  It is a love for others who are walking in the light of truth and righteousness.  John wrote, “If we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).  Within this sphere of light (of truth and holiness) we may experience this special “one another” love for other saints.  Again and again, Jesus commanded us to have this love.  “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another” (John 13:34).  “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you” (15:12, 17).  John the apostle also wrote, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God” (1 John 4:7; 3:11; 2 John 5).  Mutual love triumphs over selfishness, self-centeredness, self-orientation, self-absorption, and an independent spirit.

The Lord Jesus said that this love for other saints would be the hallmark of His followers.  But this love identification would be marked by a special degree or character of love:  It would have the self-sacrificing love of Jesus as its model.  “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35; cf. Eph. 5:2).  Love is the mark, the badge, or identifying characteristic of true disciples.

Notice also this connection between Jesus’ love for us, and our love for fellow-believers in Christ: “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.  You are My friends if you do what I command you” (John 15:12-14).  The self-giving, sacrificial love of Jesus for us is the divine model or example of our love for our “friends” or fellow-saints.  This shows the unique character of brotherly love.

True disciples of Christ may be known in many ways, but surely mutual, intimate, reciprocal love is the greatest.  As true believers, we are to be “knit together in love” (Col. 2:2; cf. 3:14).  We are to be “rooted and grounded in love” (Eph. 3:17).  The body builds itself up “in love” (Ephesians 4:16).  This love for our brothers and sisters in faith and truth will be willing to lay down its life: “He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:16).  It is significant that when the early Christians were martyred by cruel Roman authorities, the pagan observers exclaimed, “Behold, how they love one another!”  May unbelievers have this same response today!

Paul’s instructions to the believers in Thessalonica illustrate both the emphasis on love and the need of this love to grow.  The apostle writes, “May the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all people, just as we also do for you” (1 Thessalonians 3:12).  He then urges them to increase more in this love!  “You yourselves are taught of God to love one another; for indeed you do practice it toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia.  But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more” (4:9-10).  Then, in his second letter to these saints, Paul writes, “The love of each one of you toward one another grows even greater” (2 Thessalonians 1:3).  The apostle likewise prayed for the love of the Philippians to increase: “This I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment” (1:9).  Love is so vital that it must be expressed, it must increase and abound, it must excel even more, and it should grow even greater!  In the words of Joseph Swain’s delightful song:

How sweet, how heavenly, is the sight,

When those that love the Lord

In one another’s peace delight,

And so fulfill the word.

 

When each can feel his brother’s sigh,

And with him bear a part;

When sorrow flows from eye to eye,

And joy from heart to heart.

 

When, free from envy, scorn, and pride,

Our wishes all above,

Each can his brother’s failings hide,

And show a brother’s love.

 

When love in one delightful stream

Through every bosom flows;

When union sweet and dear esteem

In every action glows.

 

Love is the golden chain that binds

The happy souls above;

And he is an heir of heaven who finds

His bosom glow with love.

How sweet, how deep, and how significant genuine love should be in the bonds of close and intimate Christian friendships.  Although this character of love must be rare in some circles, it is definitely God’s ideal and prescriptive will.  In our Lord’s own experience, an intimate love was extended to others.  When Jesus’ close friend Lazarus died and our Lord wept, the people were saying, “See how He loved him!” (John 11:36).  Apparently, John also thought of himself as the “disciple whom Jesus loved” (21:7, 20).  When the disciples gathered with the Lord in the upper room, John records these poignant words, “having loved his own who were in the world, He loved them to the end” (13:1).  Just as our Lord had close, deep, and personal relationships of love, so we should seek the same kind of love relationships.

This genuine love for our fellow-believers will be expressed in practical ways.  Just as Jesus loved and gave Himself, so we should be willing to love and give to meet the genuine physical needs of the saints (1 John 3:17-18).  Paul says that our willingness to give to poor saints is a test of “the sincerity of your love” (2 Cor. 8:8).  It is a “proof of your love” for those in genuine need (v. 24).  If we truly love our brothers and sisters, we will feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, provide lodging, give clothes, and care for, as we have opportunity and ability (cf. Matthew 25:31-46; Luke 10:30-37). Scripture admonishes us: “Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth” (1 John 3:17-18).  We will also lovingly teach, edify, admonish, and warn our brothers, as needed.  Paul says that we are to “[speak] the truth in love,” and thus “grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ” (Eph. 4:15).  We are to show “tolerance for one another in love” (4:2).

Sometimes genuine love must be demonstrated in sorrowful and difficult ways.  On one occasion, Paul said that “out of much affliction and anguish of heart” he had written a letter to the Corinthian saints “with many tears” (2 Cor. 2:4).  He sought to bring them to repentance and correct sinful attitudes and relationships that they had tolerated in their midst.  When a sinful brother subsequently repented because of his letter, Paul urged the assembly, “You should rather forgive and comfort him, otherwise such a one might be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.  Wherefore I urge you to reaffirm your love for him” (vv. 7-8).  Our sincere love will earnestly seek to reach our brothers and sisters who fall into sin, but we will also lovingly receive and encourage those who repent and seek forgiveness from both God and faithful saints (cf. Galatians 6:1-2; James 5:19-20; Matthew 18:15-20).

God wants our love for His true children–our brothers and sisters in Christ–to be fervent and true, even radical in its character.  Our love relationship with true believers should be closer than that of our own physical family, if they are unbelieving and opposed to the ways of God (cf. Matthew 12:46-50; Mark 3:31-35).  We should rejoice and weep together, sharing the blessings and trials of life with each other (cf. Romans 12:9-10, 15; 1 Corinthians 12:25-27; Philippians 2:1-4).  We should eat, work, play, worship, and have extensive fellowship with each other–sharing our very life with those we love.  Sadly, in this fragmented, worldly, and compromising age, this ideal experience must be rare.  Yet true Christians who know God, who respect His Word, and are indwelt by the Spirit of God should do all they can to seek out genuine believers and be with them.  They should earnestly strive to have “a sincere love of the brethren” and “fervently love one another from the heart” (1 Peter 1:22; cf. 4:8).

Our Love for Friends

            Perhaps this should be a subcategory of the previous section on love for brothers and sisters in Christ.  The reason is that it is impossible for the Christian to have true friendship with one who does not know Jesus, who is in darkness, and who is separated from the life of God (cf. Ephesians 2:12; 4:17-19).   A true friend can only be one with whom we, as believers, share a basic view of Christ, the gospel, the Scriptures, life, the world, morality, and with whom we feel particularly close.  This means that spiritual friendship is not based on nationality, color, gender, or economic status.  While it is true that we use “friendship” in a broader way today, here we are referring to friendship in Christ.

            Scripture does say that we should not be close friends with people of the world, those who are not true believers (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:33; 2 Timothy 2:22).  Paul wrote, “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?  Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever?” (2 Corinthians 6:14-15).  We might add, what does a lover of God have in common with one who has little or no regard for God?

Jesus must have had this closeness of friendship with certain ones.  Although all who obeyed God’s word where close to Him spiritually (cf. Matthew 12:46-50), he was closer to certain ones than others.  He was closer to the 12 disciples (who became apostles) than others in the crowds of people; he was closer to Peter, James, and John than others in the circle of twelve; of these three, He seems to have been closer to John.  The Lord explained, “You are My friends if you do what I command you.  No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you” (John 15:14-15).  Jesus had friends and this friendship was based on their willingness to obey what Jesus commanded.

 Let’s notice here Jesus’ love for certain ones.  When the Lord Jesus walked on this earth in the flesh as a man, He was a man of love.  He was the great lover.  Do you remember when the young ruler came to Him and inquired about eternal life?  Scripture says, “Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him” (Mark 10:21).  He must have felt this love because the ruler had tried to obey God all of his life.  Sadly, when Jesus told him to sell everything and follow Him, the ruler turned away and was never seen again.  But Jesus’ love for certain ones was of an intimate nature; he loved those friends who were particularly close to Him and responded to His teachings.

For instance, Jesus received word of the sickness of His friend, Lazarus.  John writes, “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister [Mary] and Lazarus” (11:5).  When Jesus went to the tomb of Lazarus, He wept.  The people who observed this expression of emotion remarked, “See how He loved him!” (v. 36).  You will also remember that John the apostle felt especially loved by Jesus, calling himself the “disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 21:7; cf. 13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21:20).  On the night of Jesus’ betrayal and arrest, John seems to indicate that the Lord had a special recognition of His deep love for the disciples.  John writes that He “loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end” (13:1b).

If Jesus our Lord had a special love for certain disciples and friends, we may have the same kind of close love for our friends who are devoted disciples.  Jesus pointed out that He takes His “friends” into His confidence and shares personal information with them (cf. John 15:15).  Likewise, be willing to express your intimate love and devotion to your true friends who have proven faithful over the years.  As in all relationships, let love prevail.

Our Love for All People 

            If we are truly God’s people, we will love everyone—just as He does!  Paul says, “May the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all people” (1 Thess. 3:12).  In a similar admonition, Paul writes, “Always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people” (5:15; cf. Galatians 6:10).  Although the emphasis in Scripture is on the believer’s love for other true believers, we must go beyond this.  We must love everyone in the world!  This love for all people should be demonstrated in the way we live and respond to others.  We will treat them as we wish to be treated.  Christ’s “golden” command puts it this way: “Treat others the same way you want them to treat you” (Luke 6:31).  This is love in action!

Jesus goes so far as to say that we should love even our enemies!  He said these radical, even shocking, words: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27-28; cf. vv. 35-36; Rom. 12:17-21).  This is very different from the way unbelievers respond to those who are their enemies or those who treat them unkindly.  No wonder that the way of Christ was considered radical and even today professing Christians seldom take our Lord’s words seriously.  His instructions are blatantly violated.  Even religious people consider our Lord’s words to be unrealistic, preposterous, or even ridiculous.  But Jesus requires it and we should commit ourselves to fulfilling it.  Let us love even those unworthy of our emulation and respect:

·        We will not harm them.

·        We will not kill them.

·        We will not slander them.

·        We will seek their good.

·        We will seek their salvation.

·        We will call for their repentance.

·        We will model Christ before them.

·        We will pray for them and bless them.

This takes the supernatural power of God at work in our heart, for it is not natural, convenient, or easy to love those who abuse, speak against, hurt, or even want to kill us.  But just as God loves everyone and seeks their good, especially their repentance and salvation, so we are to love all, including those who oppose us (cf. Matt. 5:43-48; Rom. 2:4; 1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9).

This is when our love is put to the test.  Will we love the unlovely?  Will we love one who has been unkind to us, has been cruel to us, has spoken against us, or has lied against or to us?  Will we love the person, do good to him, bless him, and pray for him (Luke 6:27-28)?  Or will we retaliate, just as the world does, and try to “get even” and do harm to the person?  In contrast, will we follow the loving way of Christ?  Peter says, “Not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing” (1 Peter 3:9).  The way of love–the way of unselfishness and non-retaliation–is the way that Jesus walked, and we are called to “follow in His steps” (1 Peter 2:21-23).  Paul wrote, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. . . . Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:14, 21).

The next time someone treats you unkindly, speaks against you, or sins against you in some hurtful way, be willing to love the person in return.  Do good to him or her.  One person seeks to carry this out by giving or sending a gift to the person who has been hateful, unkind, or cruel in some way.  In whatever way you choose, seek to actively love even your enemies.

Our Love in Family Relationships

We must also notice in particular that love is to be found in all family relationships.  The Christian husband is to have a special love for his wife, a love that has Christ’s love for His people as the model.  Paul writes, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (Eph. 5:25, 28; cf. Col. 3:19).  Even in the Hebrew Scriptures, we read of Isaac’s love for his wife, Rebecca (Gen. 24:67; 26:8), and Jacob’s love for Rachel (29:18-20).

Husband, do you sincerely love your wife the way Jesus loved you?  A Christian husband is even to love his unbelieving and disobedient wife.  Do you love her even when she does not display Christian virtues, when she is unloving and unkind, when she retaliates in a cruel manner, and when she knowingly disobeys the Lord?  Your love may be the very element that could bring her to repentance.  Your love should be seen in the way you respond to your wife.  As Paul says, “Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them” (Colossians 3:19).  “Bitterness,” as well as anger, unkindness, harsh words, lack of gentleness, and lack of spiritual interest are all ways of manifesting a lack of sincere love!

The Christian wife and mother is also to manifest love in the home.  Older Christian sisters are to train younger ones, that “they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children” (Titus 2:4).  This may be a difficult task, especially if your husband is disobedient to the Word, but the Holy Spirit can enable you to love your husband even in trying circumstances (cf. 1 Peter 3:1-6).  If your husband loves Jesus and you, how much easier it should be for you to respond to his prior love by expressing your own love, respect, and submission, as Scripture commands (cf. Colossians 3:18).

The home is also the setting where parents love their God-given children and children love and respect their father and mother.  Both the father and mother are to “love their children” (cf. Titus 2:4, concerning the mother).  Proverbs also states, “He who withholds his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently” (13:24).  Parents who truly love their sons and daughters will lovingly teach, train, admonish, guide, protect, and discipline them–for their physical, emotional, and spiritual good.

Corresponding to this, children should have a natural love, honor, respect, and submission to their parents.  Even when Jesus was dying on the cross, He showed a loving concern for his mother (cf. John 19:25-27).  Notice God’s will for children: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  Honor your father and mother” (Ephesians 6:1-2).  This honor and obedience should be prompted by love.  Love must be displayed in all family relationships.

Although love must prevail in all human relationships, surely the Christian home is where love is manifested in a special way–love of husband for wife, love of wife for husband, love of parents for their children, love of children for their parents, and love for those in the extended family.  As the song puts it:

Happy the home when God is there

And love fills everyone,

When with united work and prayer

The Master’s will is done.

 

Lord, let us in our homes agree

This blessed peace to gain;

Unite our hearts in love to Thee,

And love to all will reign.

            What we see above is God’s ideal–what He wants for our family relationships.  Yet, although love should be the atmosphere of the ideal home, we must always have a much greater love for God.  We are to love Him with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30).  Further, our love for Jesus must always take priority over our important but secondary love for family members.  Jesus warned, “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:37).

This means that our love for God in Christ must be so intense, so surpassing, so consuming, so passionate, and so dominating that all lesser loves seem like hatred in comparison (cf. Luke 14:26).  Jesus showed that spiritual interests and relationships take precedence over human and natural family relationships (cf. Matthew 12:46-50; Mark 3:31-35).  Interestingly, it is true that if we do love God with a deep heart-felt love, we are able to love our husband or wife, our mother and father, our son or daughter with an even greater and more significant love than we otherwise could!

While love for family is ideal and vital, we realize that few if any families really reach this goal.  Jesus warned us that often family relationships suffer strife and division because one family member has a sincere commitment to Jesus Christ.  When one member comes to the Lord and the rest of the family refuses to repent, this can result in tremendous conflict and suffering, inflicted by the unbelieving members.  Jesus said, “A man’s enemies will be the members of his household” (Matthew 10:36).  He further warned, “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and have them put to death”  (Mark 13:12; cf. Matthew 10:21, 34-38; Luke 12:51-53; 21:16-17).

Although this degree of animosity and murder is seldom found today in the United States and other civilized countries, there are places in which Christians are killed by their family or imprisoned by the government through the instigation of their family members because they turn to Jesus Christ and preach Him to others.  Some false but well-known world religions as well as false cults actually promote persecution and even death when a family member turns to Christ.  In this context, the Lord would still call on the believer to love his family and friends, to show outgoing care and concern for them, and to meet their needs as much as possible.  True love will be active in these troubled relationships and during these times of trial and persecution.

Let us Live a Life of Love 

            Paul emphasizes the priority of love with these words: “Now, faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Cor. 13:13).  Peter urges us to have a life-motivation of love: “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another” (1 Peter 4:8).  What degree of love?  Peter answers, “Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart” (1:22).  Do we have such a “fervent” love for other saints?  Do we have an even greater, life-dominating, heartfelt love for God our Father?  Remember, love for God must dominate all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30; cf. Matthew 22:37-38).

            If we have a passionate, consuming love for God, we will hate all that is contrary to Him.  The psalmist said, “Hate evil, you who love the LORD” (Psalm 97:10).  Love for God will mean hatred of all that opposes God!  Paul wrote, “Abhor what is evil, cling to what is good” (Rom. 12:9; cf. Prov. 8:13; Psa. 119:104, 128, 163).  When we love our holy God, we will have a corresponding hatred of all that is sinful, all that is opposite to His holy character.  When we love God, Christ, His Word, and things above, we will refuse to love all unrighteousness, dishonesty, wickedness, selfishness, immorality, disobedience, rebellion, and all that is in conflict with Scripture.  It was written of Jesus: “You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness” (Heb. 1:9).  If we truly love, we will not be captivated by the world: “Do not love the world nor the things in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15; cf. James 4:4).  We cannot love both God and the world at the same time (cf. Matt. 6:24).

            What is the nature of love in Scripture?  The basic verb for love is agapao and the noun is agape.  We recognize this love in its actions.  We have already noticed that God’s love prompted Him to “give” His Son.  “God so loved the world that He gave”  (John 3:16; Rom. 5:8; 1 John 4:9-10).  And Christ’s love impelled Him to give Himself for our sins (Gal. 2:20; Eph. 5:2, 25; 1 John 3:16).

Likewise, when we truly love God and Christ, we will freely and completely “give” our life in sacrifice to the Lord.  We will give Him our will, our devotion, our interest, our affection, our time, our money, our possessions, our all!  When we love others, we will actively serve and bless them, according to wisdom and opportunity (cf. Matt. 25:31-46; Luke 10:25-37).  If we love others, we will do good to them.  We will refuse to harm them.  “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law” (Rom. 13:10).

One divorced man who was planning to marry a divorced sister said that he would do this “because I love her so much!”  I pointed out to him that his intention would tragically result in adultery (Matthew 19:9; Mark 10:11-12), and adultery results in God’s righteous wrath and His refusal to allow the adulterer into the Kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-21; Revelation 21:8).  I told this man that it was impossible to truly “love” a person and then do “wrong” to that person, a wrong so great that she (and he) would be eternally condemned.  Love will do good and not wrong!

The one who loves is the one who has fulfilled the Law, for the whole law is summed up in the command to love (Romans 13:8-10; cf. Matt. 22:40; Gal. 5:14; James 2:8ff).  “He who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law” (Romans 13:8).  This doesn’t mean that commands from God or Christ are not needed.  They are very much needed, and there are hundreds of them throughout the new covenant writings.  God knows that we need guidance and love needs content.  (There were also hundreds of commands under the Law of God given through Moses to Israel.).

Today, God, through the New Testament writings, directs our love for others by telling us what to do and what not to do in our relationship with them.  We are not simply given the general command to love people, but we are instructed how to love people, how our love is to be expressed in action or behavior.  God’s commands are to be motivated by and expressive of love.

Consider this: If we love another person, we only bless him and never sin against him.  If we love our neighbor as ourselves, we will not steal from him, will not kill him, and will not commit adultery with his wife.  We will not slander him, lie to him, cheat him, or do anything else that harms him.  Rather, we will bless him, do good to him, protect him, and show an interest in him.  Because of our outgoing love, we will avoid the wrong and do the good for each person, as we have the opportunity.  As we have stated, the one who loves others has fulfilled the law of God.

Some people mistakenly say that if we love God and people, we can violate the other commands in Scripture.  They say that we may lovingly lie, we may love an enemy and kill him, we may steal from a person yet love God, and even commit adultery with a person because we love that person so much!  The theory is that if we love, we can actually sin and violate the plain commands of Scripture.  In fact, there are a few who would say that some of these acts of disobedience are not even considered sinful by God–because of the inner motivation of love!  God’s Word, however, clearly says that we are never justified in sinning.  It is a condemning teaching and wicked philosophy that says, “Let us do evil that good may come” (Romans 3:8).  We cannot sin against God and still love Him!  We cannot sin against another person and love him!

When we love others, we will do nothing that would hurt them or hinder their spiritual life and growth.  Paul says that if we hurt or bring distress to a fellow-believer, we “are no longer walking according to love.”  He then says that we are not to “destroy . . . him for whom Christ died” by living with a careless, hurtful, and unloving attitude (Romans 14:15).  Love is active; love is giving; love is experienced inwardly but demonstrated outwardly by our deeds and entire life.

One of the chief ways that we express love to another person is through our words.  In the world, speech is commonly the means of communicating resentfulness, hatred, bitterness, and all kinds of abuse.  Their “mouth is full of cursing and bitterness” (Romans 3:14).  James adds, “The tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity. . . . It is a restless evil and full of deadly poison” (3:6, 8).  Outward speech may convey evil from within.  Paul wrote, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice” (Ephesians 4:31).  These sinful attitudes are expressed in unloving words.  Recently I walked past a parked car where the owner was playing some of the most profane “rap” music imaginable.  It reminded me of the way people sin with their mouth!  The tongue can be used as a destructive sword against another.  “There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword” (Proverbs 12:18a).

In contrast, Paul says that we, as believers, are to be actively “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15).  “The tongue of the wise brings healing” (Proverbs 12:18b).  Our words are to convey love, manifested in truthfulness, purity, kindness, gentleness, and helpfulness.  Sometimes love will even mean that we must speak words of warning and admonishment to another.  Proverbs 27:5 says, “Better is open rebuke than love that is concealed.”  Love may mean that we must rebuke another because of some sin and disobedience (cf. Galatians 2:11ff).

Many people you know are weak, wounded, and weary.  They need your loving and kind response.  Your brothers and sisters in Christ also may be bruised and broken; they too need your loving interest and thoughtful attention.  Those who are hurt need healing, the fallen need a loving word and encouragement, the depressed and defeated need uplifting counsel and tender sympathy.  Our loving attitude and words are needed in this cold and impersonal world.

Paul urges us to “pursue love” for it is “the more excellent way” of relating to people (1 Cor. 14:1; 12:31).  What will true, sincere, and unhypocritical love mean in our own lives as we relate to other people (Romans 12:9)?  Paul offers some of the manifestations of genuine love in his well-known love chapter (1 Cor. 13:4-7):

Manifestations of Love

·        Love is patient

·        Love is kind

·        Love is not jealous

·        Love does not brag and is not arrogant

·        Love does not act unbecomingly

·        Love does not seek its own

·        Love is not provoked

·        Loves does not take into account a wrong suffered

·        Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness

·        Love rejoices with the truth

·        Love bears all things

·        Love believes all things

·        Love hopes all things

·        Love endures all things

If you love others, you will bless them, care for them, help them, and seek their highest good.  As Paul says, “Through love, serve one another” (Gal. 5:13).  Again, “Let all that you do be done in love” (1 Cor. 16:14).

In summary, true love, the love of Christ, will be manifested in these ways:

(1)        Children will lovingly respect and obey their parents.

(2)        Parents will lovingly train and discipline their children.

(3)        A husband will lovingly care for, cherish, and lead his wife.

(4)        A wife will lovingly respect, honor, and submit to her husband.

(5)        A courting and engaged couple will lovingly treat each other with chastity and respect.

(6)        Children will lovingly care for, honor, and bless their aged parents.

(7)        Christians will lovingly respond to elders, preachers, servants, and other workers with respect and honor.

(8)        Elders, preachers, servants, and other workers for the Lord will lovingly serve others in the body of Christ.

(9)        Christians will lovingly relate to their friends with fairness, honesty, and faithfulness.

(10)    Christians will lovingly share the precious treasure of Christ’s good news with their friends, acquaintances, and others.

(11)    Christians will lovingly respond to brothers and sisters in Christ who are in physical, emotional, material, and spiritual need.

(12)    Christians will allow love to motivate and influence their verbal communication with family members and all others.

 Richard Hollerman

(Continue at Part 3)

 

 

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