Saturday, September 29, 2018

What about Love?

John 13:34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."

Are you a disciple (a learner) of Christ? If we say "yes," then Jesus says that it will proven by our love for other disciples. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

You see, it's by that standard that we are proven to be disciples of Christ. Do we love our brothers and sisters in Christ?

John echoed this truth in 1 John 4:20 If anyone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

He repeats it in chapter 5, where we see that there are no exceptions to this. 1 John 5:1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him

So, not only is love important, not only is it something we are commanded to do, it is something that defines us as disciples of Christ. 

(We would do well to remember that disciples are those who believe in Christ, and because of their faith, are made righteous, saved, justified and headed for heaven. Go HERE to read more about this.)

So, what about love?

Well, if it is what we are commanded to do, and if it defines us as disciples, we should probably know what it means to love our brothers. What does it look like? How do I know for certain if I am loving my brother?

Let's also point out that we won't and can't love apart from God's grace. Only by grace do we do anything Jesus commands us to do.  Ps 18:36 You gave a wide place for my steps under me, and my feet did not slip

How then do we love our brothers? The law of God tells us exactly, every time and in every situation what we should do to love.  It is a compass that always points in the direction of love. That's right - the law of God tells us this. 

Just a reminder that I am only referring to disciples of Christ who are already justified by faith alone (See Romans 1).

The law of God informs us as to what the loving thing to do is - in every circumstance. The Psalmist knew this. That's why he declared, "Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors." (Psalm 119:24) 

Because the law always informed him of the way that is loving, the Psalmist loved the law of God.  Psalm 119:97 Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day. 98 Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me. 99 I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation. 100 I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts.  

If you're a believer, you should love the law of God too. Do you think that Jesus, the lawgiver (James 4:12), doesn't love his own law? (He does and we'll prove it in posts to come.)

It's a curious thing that many in the church today "love" Jesus, but don't love his law.  That's a real problem in the church today (and more on this later too.)

Anyway, this role of the law of God (informing us as to the loving thing to do) is important, because, without it, we will quickly substitute our own terms. 

It's the way of our flesh, to do what we think is right. But God wants us to keep his law instead.  Prov 21:2 Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the heart. 3 To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.  (Doing "righteousness and justice" mean obeying the law of God.)

Do you want to love your brethren, truly, sincerely, actually?  We should because the word says this - 1 John 3:18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth

The word, "deed" is the Greek word ἔργον érgon, er'-gon; from a primary (but obsolete) ἔργω érgō (to work); toil (as an effort or occupation); by implication, an act:—deed, doing, labour, work. (Strong's Concordance - taken from THIS REFERNCE)

The way to love "in deed" actually, is to keep the law of God towards your brethren. 1 John 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments

Now that we have done the work (by grace alone) to be saved (which is to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ - see John 6:29), we should do the work of love - which is to keep the law of God. 

We need to understand and believe this so that we consult the law of God to figure out what the loving thing to do, and not our own opinions, our own desires, church tradition, culture, habit or anything else. 

You see, it's the law of God which instructs us as to the loving thing to do, if we want to love our brothers in deed and not just in word.

How often have we uttered, "I love the church" or "I love you brother..." while we are doing something other than what God's law says.  This ought not to be. 

If we are disciples of Christ, we must love our brethren - actually and actively. If we don't think we need to do that, we need to hear the gospel again. 

We will fail at this. We will fall short. And thanks be to God that when we do, as believers we are always forgiven (See Acts 10:43). But we should understand that love is not optional. It's not a choice. It's a defining characteristic of disciples. 

Let us then get in the habit of seeking counsel from his law. Am I loving my church right now?  Am loving my spouse right now? Am I loving my neighbor right now?  Am I loving my employer right now?  Am I loving my Lord right now? 

Well, am I doing what the law says towards them?  That's how we know - every time.

Let us understand this clearly. If we are not doing what the law says, we are not loving our brethren - period. Let's not be deceived in that way. 

The only place we can find out how to love our brethren in the way God wants is to consult the law of God.  Prov 6:20 My son, keep your father's commandment, and forsake not your mother's teaching. 21 Bind them on your heart always; tie them around your neck. 22 When you walk, they will lead you; when you lie down, they will watch over you; and when you awake, they will talk with you. 23 For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life,

If we are disciples, we will love our brethren, and that means that we will obey God's law towards them. Let us seek his grace to understand and do that - and so prove to be his disciples.

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