Is Love Nice?

I John 4:7-12 ESV

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.

Being Nice

This word “love” is often thrown around quite loosely without any real meaning behind it. For, society, even within the church, gives us this idea of love that it is all about feelings, or that it is all about being “nice” to everyone. But, “nice” can be pretty superficial. For, “nice” means “pleasant, agreeable, fine, amusing, polite, enjoyable, charming, attractive, and appealing,” etc. In fact, it can be totally fake, and a lot of people fake it, too.

But, a lot of people today are confusing being “nice” with love, and they are not one and the same. In fact, a large portion of the church today, at least here in America, is teaching their people to love the people of the world and to love one another by being “nice” to everyone. And, so they are being pleasant and agreeable with the people of the world, and they are charming and entertaining them, and they are telling them what is attractive, enjoyable, and appealing to them, which is “nice,” but is it “love”?

And, maybe the greater question here, too, is “Is it real?” Is “nice” something people just put on, like putting on a nice shirt, but it covers (conceals) what is underneath? And, is it used as a mask to cover up what is in the heart? I see this so much, even within the church. Too many people joke and tease about everything. Nothing is ever really serious with them, or rarely. Conversations are so superficial. It is like they are afraid to be real, i.e. for people to see who they really are, and so they cover it with making everything a joke. Or, they are purely superficial in whatever they say.

Now, I realize we can be “too real,” and that can be bad, too. Some people just complain all the time about their miserable conditions and they never seem to see anything in a positive or uplifting manner. They are grumpy, they are mad at the world, and they just want everyone to commiserate with them so that they are not alone, for misery loves company. But, this is the extreme the other direction, and we want to avoid this, too.

True Love

So, true love, the kind that is from God is neither “nice” nor is it grumpy. And, it isn’t fake. It isn’t put on in order to conceal what is really in the heart. True love is honest, but it speaks the truth in love, which means it speaks what is beneficial for the listener, and what is for the listener’s ultimate good, and because it truly cares about that other person, not because it just wants to get something off its chest.

Basically, this love we are to have, one for the other, because it comes from God, is like God in what it does, and in how it acts, and in how it treats others. It prefers what God prefers, which is what is holy, just, pure, honest, righteous, moral, trustworthy and faithful. So, it will not lie to you. It will not willfully hide the truth from you, when it is morally obligated to tell you the truth. It won’t cheat on you, either, or gossip about you, or commit adultery against you, or betray you, or try to trick and manipulate you, either.

So, when we love others with this kind of love, it has to come from within our hearts, which have to be filled up with the Spirit of God, so that it is truly God’s love being poured out through our lives into the lives of others. It can’t be faked. It can’t be generated in our flesh, either. Yet, this doesn’t mean we have to feel it, though. It is possible to not feel love for people and still genuinely love them, if we are allowing God’s love to flow through us.

And, Jesus is our model for how to love others with this kind of love, too. He healed the sick and afflicted, raised the dead, comforted the sorrowful and fed the hungry, so he ministered to people’s legitimate needs. Yet, he always spoke the truth in love, and he told people what they needed to hear, not necessarily what they wanted to hear. He never faked anything. He didn’t try to conceal what was in his heart. He was genuine always.

And, he didn’t try to just make people feel good. He spoke hard truths often, because he loved the people, and he knew what they needed to hear. So, he willingly laid down his own reputation, and he was willing to be thought of as crazy, or as being too hard on people, too. And, he was willing to have people hate him and to think all manner of evil about him, as well, because he loved them, and because he knew what they needed to hear, for it was life or death for them. And, Jesus always took this very seriously.

I John 4:18-21 ESV

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.

Do We Realize?

Do you realize that if you just go around being “nice” to everyone, but that you don’t tell them the truth that they need to hear, that you are not acting in love toward them, but that is actually hate? For, who are you really thinking about? Honestly? You say you just don’t want to hurt people’s feelings. Maybe that is so, but shouldn’t you be more concerned with their salvation from sin and their eternal destiny than you are with their feelings?

Also, in most cases, though perhaps not in all, when we just say what is nice to people, and we avoid telling them the truth they need to hear, we are really thinking about ourselves, not about them. For, we are more concerned about what they will think about us, or what they might tell others about us, or that they might reject us, or perhaps even persecute us. And, so we don’t tell them the truth because we don’t want to be rejected, and we don’t want people to think badly of us, and to not like us, or to think we are “nuts.” After all, who wants to be hated? I think most of us want to be liked.

So, to love like Jesus loved (and loves) us means we have to die to ourselves and to our own reputations. We have to forget about what people might think of us or even what they might say about us to others. And, we have to put other people and their needs above our own selves. For, there are many people in this world who are dying and who are going to hell.

There are many people, too, within our nations, and even within the gatherings of the church, who are not walking in freedom from sin, but who are still trapped in sin’s deceitfulness, and who need to be shown the way to true freedom in Christ Jesus, our Lord. And, true freedom in Christ is deliverance from addiction to sin, i.e. from the control of sin over our lives, and not just freedom from the punishment of sin. So, we need to be honest with them. But, before we do that, we need to find true freedom in Christ ourselves from slavery to sin, if we have not yet truly been delivered.

So, the way to true freedom in Christ from sin is that we must humble ourselves before God, own up to our sins, turn away from our lifestyles of living to sin and self, and turn to follow (obey) Jesus Christ with our lives. This is the essence of the gospel message, that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, and that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us (1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15; Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Lu. 9:23-25; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Gal. 5:19-21).

For Our Nation

An Original Work / September 11, 2012

Bombs are bursting. Night is falling.
Jesus Christ is gently calling
You to follow Him in all ways.
Trust Him with your life today.
Make Him your Lord and your Savior.
Turn from your sin. Follow Jesus.
He will forgive you of your sin;
Cleanse your heart, made new within.

Men betraying: Our trust fraying.
On our knees to God we’re praying,
Seeking God to give us answers
That are only found in Him.
God is sovereign over all things.
Nothing from His mind escaping.
He has all things under His command,
And will work all for good.

Jesus Christ is gently calling
You to follow Him in all ways.

Men deceiving: we’re believing
In our Lord, and interceding
For our nation and its people
To obey their God today.
He is our hope for our future.
For our wounds He offers suture.
He is all we need for this life.
Trust Him with your life today.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

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