Love part Two
When we speak of Christian love in the context of people loving people, we must realize that such love is the “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22). Such love does not spring from within us because of our goodness, but the source is Deity. Man cannot and does not originate and develop such love without Deity. When the Holy Spirit takes possession of a person's life, which is accomplished as the person follows the Word of God, this love fills his heart and he grows more and more like Christ in his attitudes toward others. It is impossible for one who is not a Christian to possess and exhibit Christian love. One may see the desirableness of such love and even recognize it as the solution to problems, even mentally accepting the truth that this love is what God expects. But one cannot live in Christian love until Christ lives in him.
There are those who are skeptical and critical about Christian love. They misunderstand it. They contend that such love is unworkable and impractical in this imperfect and sinful world. Christian love is seeking the other's highest good. But some think this means to allow everybody to do whatever they want. They say such love would permit the world to be dominated by the criminal element, the evildoer, those who possessed the greatest power. They think it would demand letting all people have their own way. Of course, if that were the case, life would be impossible and disorder would prevail. Christian love is not simply letting everybody have their own way. In fact, it is quite the contrary to that. If we seek the other's highest good there are times when we may have to resist him, oppose him, even punish him. Christian love is not to be considered permissive and simply allowing people to "do their own thing" without regard to the consequences to themselves and others. Does not God love us? Does not God often oppose mankind in what man sets out to do? Love enforces rules. It does not dismiss rules and laws. It is not love to be permissive and without restrictions. That could be the worst thing for another and not their highest good.
Love is not vindictive nor does it seek revenge. But love will demand that evildoers be checked for their own good and for others. So the criticism and misunderstanding about love only reflects how much more we need to learn concerning it. It is not the fault of God or the love He teaches that some of us misunderstand and misapply love.
We learn that love is as the Bible defines and teaches is the basis of every perfect relationship in heaven and in earth. This is one reason that ero is not love. Ero involves immorality, impurity and sin. There are many passages that show love as the basis of perfect relationships and we shall confine ourselves to but a few.
Love is the basis for the relationship between the Father and Son. John 3:35, “The Father loveth the Son…” John 14:31,“…that the world may know that I love the Father.” These were words of Jesus speaking of this relationship.
Love is the attitude that the Father and Son have toward humanity. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world…” Romans 5:8, "But God commendeth his own love toward us…”
To love God the Father and Christ the Son is the basis of man's duty to Deity. Luke 10:37, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy strength, and with all thy mind…” Christianity is not simply man submitting to the power of God or cowering under the threats and warnings that God has issued. It is in its best stage man surrendering to the love of God and returning that love to God. The very substance and body of the faith is our love for the Lord. We have not seen Him except by faith we have that is based in the evidence that God has provided. Yet, we believe in Him and love Him. First Peter 1:8, “...whom not having seen,, we love.”
We sing two songs that express the idea adequately. “0, how I love Jesus,”and “I am so glad that Jesus loves me.”Love is the basis of the relationship between Deity and humanity.
Likewise, love is the basis for the relationship between Christians. John 13; 34,35, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. " John 15: 12, 13, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you." First John 3:11,23, "For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another... And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. " Christians have been described as a people who love Christ and each other. So we see that every conceivable relationship in heaven and earth that is right, proper, perfect, pure and holy is based on love. Does not this emphasize the greatness of this virtue?
God Love Man
We must consider God's love for man because without knowledge of that love we cannot understand the quality of love that the Lord expects of us. First John 4:7,8, “Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God; and everyone that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love.” It is not that we worship love. God is the origin and spring of the kind of love that seeks the others highest good. What are some of the characteristics of this love of which we are the beneficiaries?
God's love is universal. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world…” Acts 10:34,35, “Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons but in every nation he that feareth him and worketh righteousness is accepted with him.” Titus 2: 11, “For the grace of God hath appeared, bringing salvation to all men.” There is no person that is outside the embrace of the love of God. It is not restricted to families, tribes, nations or races. It is extended to all humanity.
God's love is a sacrificial love. Ephesians 5:1,2, “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children, and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour.” By His death on the cross, the sacrifice of sacrficies, Deity has demonstrated His love toward man. First John 4:9,10,"ln this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
The price that was paid for our ransom was the blood of the sacrificial "Lamb of God" (John 1:27) sacrificed at Calvary. Revelation 1:5, "Unto him that loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood. "
God's love is given even though it is undeserved. This is an astonishing quality of God's love. Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” In our sins we merited nothing except the damnation that awaits those who are lost in sin. But God was not content to let conditions remain like that, but provided for our release from spiritual bondage.
More About His Love
His love is merciful. After defining the Christian's spiritual state before he became a Christian, Paul said in Ephesians 2:4,5, “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, [by grace ye are saued].” We are saved by the unmerited favor of God and we are not capable of earning our salvation. This does not negate the necessity of our obedience because obedience is not a way of earning, but is only meeting the conditions whereupon God gives us the gift of salvation. Obedience is the way of receiving. God's commands are not harsh, dictatorial and ruthless, but every command is for our highest good.
God's love is a saving love. Second Thessalonians 2:16, "Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace.” Salvation, everlasting life, stems from God's love. Paul addressed these words to those he said were "chosen…to salvation through sanctification. " (Verse 13) .To be sanctified means to be cleansed, set apart, and by this manner afforded the provisions of God's love.
God's love is strengthening, bringing victory. It is not an over-protective, softening love that makes man weak and ill equipped for daily living. Quite the opposite is true. God's love makes conquerors of those who otherwise would be defeated in sin. Romans 8:35-37, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.”
God's love is enduring. Romans 8:38,39, “For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, not things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” This speaks of God's love for man, especially His children in Christ. Human love is sometimes fickle rather than lasting. It can be crushed, lost or withdrawn. But regardless of situations, changes, circumstances, God never ceases to love any person. This does not mean all will be saved. This does not mean God approves of all one does. But it does mean that God never ceases to seek our highest good.
And Still More
God's love is rewarding. James 1:12; 2:5, "Blessed is the man that endureth temptation; for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him...Hearken, beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?" There is that "crown of righteousness" that we shall receive when we, like Paul, have fought a good fight, finished our course, and kept the faith. (Second Timothy 4:6-8).
God's love is chastening at times. Hebrews 12:6, “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.” Parents can readily understand this. We often chasten and discipline our children, not because we seek their harm and not because we do not love them, but because we do love them and seek their highest good. They must be guided, trained, rebuked when wrong, and shown the way of right. We may not always know how God chastens us. Through His Word we have His will and that will includes the assurance that He does chasten those whom He loves. Through His providence God is mindful and watchful over His children. His love is of such a quality that is does not withhold essential discipline when needed. It is not indulgent and permissive.
The love of God is universal, sacrificial, undeserved, merciful, saving, strengthening, enduring, rewarding and chastening. How great is the love of God for mankind!
With these thoughts we pray that our understanding of love is enlarged and our appreciation of love will grow, making us better fitted for service before God, both now and in the hereafter. The next lesson shall consider man's love for God and some prime traits of the love we are to manifest in our own lives.