How are we to love one another? What should that look like? What does it mean to love others “as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us”?
“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.” Eph. 5:1-2 NIV
What are some practical ways in which we can apply this truth to our lives? How do we, for example, “walk in the way of love”?
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. 1 Jn. 4:7-12 ESV
God is love. He is pure, holy, righteous, forgiving, just, kind, truthful and compassionate. So, love, the kind talked about here, is also all those things. When we love with this God-like love, we prefer what God prefers, which is all these things – righteousness, holiness, purity, etc. So, loving others with this kind of love will demonstrate that we truly do prefer what God prefers.
In other words, if we love others with this love we won’t lie to them, cheat on them, steal from them, gossip about them, slander them, abuse them, use them, mistreat them, or take advantage of them in any way. We will be kind to them, but not in the way the world often interprets kindness, but regarding the kind of grace God showed to us. We will do to them what is truly in their best interest, so we won’t lie to them and call it kindness.
How did Jesus love us? He spoke the truth to us, for one. He didn’t sugar-coat it, either. He certainly was compassionate, except maybe towards the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, but he never compromised truth in order to be “kind,” in the way of the world. He even spoke the truth if he knew it would hurt someone, initially, for he knew that it is the truth that sets people free. And, his goal was that they be free from their chains of sin, and that they not continue to walk in them. This is why he died!
We are never loving people, thus, by consoling them in their sin or by just telling them what we think will make them feel good. We shouldn’t just be brass and curt, for our words should be full of grace, seasoned with salt, but grace does not give an out for sin, nor does it coddle sin. It does not accept lies, either. For, God’s grace instructs us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly (fleshly) passions (lusts) and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives. So, although love certainly forgives sin, it doesn’t pacify it or ignore it. It doesn’t make allowances for it, but it speaks the truth, because the truth is what sets us free.
When Jesus Christ died on that cross for our sins, that was the ultimate in love, to give of one’s life in order to see others go free. But, the truth is that he didn’t die just to rescue us from the punishment of sin or to give us the promise of heaven when we die. He died so that we would die with him to sin, and he was resurrected from the dead in order that we might live with him to righteousness. He gave his life for us to free us from our addictions to sin, not to give us a pass so that we could continue in those addictions.
So, when we truly love others with Christ’s love, our concern, too, will be to see people set free from their slavery to sin and walking in Christ’s righteousness and holiness. And, we will be willing to be misunderstood, rejected, despised, hated, falsely accused or whatever in order to tell people the truth about their sin, and the truth about what Jesus did for them in order to set them free; to deliver them out of their prisons, not to comfort (console) them in their prisons.
I Love God
God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. 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. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. 1 Jn. 4:16b-21 ESV
What does it mean to hate someone? Hate is the opposite of love. If love is kind, hate is unkind. If love is truthful, hate is telling lies. If love is pure, hate is impurity. If love is faithfulness, hate is cheating. If love is humble, hate is pride. If love considers what is in the best interest of others, hate considers only what the person doing the hating determines is in the best interest of self. Yet, he (or she) is believing a lie that says his best interest is to please himself (his flesh) at the expense of everyone else.
So, when we hate someone, we are doing to them, or we are acting toward them in a manner which is in direct opposition to love; which is in direct opposition to God, for he is love. Thus, cheating, lying, stealing, bearing false witness, gossiping, slandering, lusting (immorally) after or committing adultery against people are all acts of hate. Yet, many will cloak these behaviors under the guise of love, when love has nothing to do with any of this. Lying, for instance, is never kind, and it is never loving.
If we fear what others think of us more than we care about their freedom from sin, then that is selfishness, which is the opposite of love, so that is hate. If we fear the consequences of obedience to God, that is not loving God, so that is hate, for we are more concerned about what pain and suffering we might have to go through than we are concerned about obeying our Lord and loving others with Christ’s love. Hate always puts self (flesh) first and at the sacrifice of others and of showing them genuine love.
So, if we claim to love God, and yet we make it our practice to treat others in a way which is the opposite of love, then we are liars, for we don’t really love God. We just think we do. For, love for God is to love others with his love, and it is to obey his commands. And, it is to follow God’s/Jesus’ example to us in how to love others in the way in which God truly loves us, in that he gave his life up for us to free us from slavery to sin, and to free us to walk in his righteousness and holiness.
And, we should, as well, willingly lay down our lives and our reputations, and what others will think about us, in order to show others the way to the cross of Christ; the way to freedom from slavery to sin and a walk of faith in Jesus Christ, committed to his holiness and righteousness. It is only by God’s grace that any of us can experience that kind of freedom, but if we want to have that freedom, we have to yield our lives to Christ, make him Lord of our lives, and cooperate with him in his work of Grace in our lives.
How Deep the Father’s Love for Us
Behold the man upon the cross
My sin upon His shoulder…
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom
Monday, February 19, 2018, 8:00 a.m. – Thank you, Jesus, for your love and your grace to us, so we can walk in your righteousness in freedom from sin, by your power and in your strength. Amen!