I thought I was finished with this topic last time. But, something has been stirring in my heart about this topic that I can’t let go of. This one could be on its own, but in light of what we’ve been discussing, I think it fits. Previously, we have been discussing the reasons we CAN’T love. If you haven’t read those yet, I suggest you stop here and go back and read the previous posts. It is imperative for us to understand the things that prevent us from loving because we will NEVER love as we should until we deal with those issues. Today, we’re going to flip things around a bit. I want us to take a quick look at why we not only CAN love, but why we MUST love. It is ABSOLUTELY NOT optional.
Love: It’s amazing when you think about it. You would think we get to pick and choose who we love or don’t love. But that’s not how this thing works. We aren’t asked to love. It’s not suggested that we should love. It’s not simply hoped that we can love. Instead, we are commanded to love. Yes, you read that right… Commanded to love. In Matthew 22:36-40 Jesus quotes from the law when a lawyer asked what is the greatest commandment.
Mat 22:36-40 Master, which is the great commandment in the Law? Jesus said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.
Jesus said something similar later in John 13.
John 13:34-35 I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. As I have loved you, you should also love one another. By this all shall know that you are My disciples, if you have love toward one another.
So, there you have it… and in bright red letters too. You have to love others whether they want to be loved or not and whether you want to love them or not.
If you can’t pray for someone because they’re black, or because they’re white or because they’re yellow, green, purple or polka-dotted or any other color or ethnicity, then what you’re calling love isn’t really love at all. If you can’t give to someone in need because of their skin color or because they remind you of your dad or mean old uncle Joe or that friend that did you wrong in high school, then you have not love. You have something else and it is sin.
As we learned from the very first installment of this series, love is part of our new nature. According to Galatians 5, these are the fruits of the recreated spirit.
Gal 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
We also learned that Christ dwells within us according to Colossians 1:26-28,Romans 8:10, Galatians 2:20 and Ephesians 3:14-19 just to name a few. So, even with love being part of our new nature and with Christ living within us, we still have difficulty loving others as we should. You’ll have to visit the previous installments for the reasons for that. The bottom line is this. We have been empowered to love and yet no matter how you slice it, love is still a choice… and what a wonderful choice it is.
My friend, turn with me to I Corinthians 12:27 through the end of Chapter 13.
1Cor 12:27-31 And you are the body of Christ, and members in part. And God set some in the church, firstly, apostles; secondly, prophets; thirdly, teachers, then works of power, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, kinds of languages. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of power? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak languages? Do all interpret? But zealously strive after the better gifts. And yet I show to you a more excellent way.
Let’s stop here for a moment to look again at that last sentence. Paul is telling us to not just strive but to zealously strive for the better gifts. The King James version says we are to …earnestly covet the best gifts. What he’s saying here is this. Do you want to see blind eyes opened, see the lame walk, or see the deaf hearing? Do you want signs and wonders in your ministry? Here’s how you do it…. Let’s continue.
The Way of Love
1Cor 13:1-13 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I have become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have prophecies, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so as to move mountains, and do not have charity, I am nothing. And though I give out all my goods to feed the poor, and though I deliver my body to be burned, and have not charity, I am profited nothing. Charity has patience, is kind; charity is not envious, is not vain, is not puffed up; does not behave indecently, does not seek her own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil. Charity does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth, quietly covers all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Charity never fails. But if there are prophecies, they will be abolished; if tongues, they shall cease; if knowledge, it will be abolished. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when the perfect thing comes, then that which is in part will be caused to cease. When I was an infant, I spoke as an infant, I thought as an infant, I reasoned as an infant. But when I became a man, I did away with the things of an infant. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall fully know even as I also am fully known. And now faith, hope, charity, these three remain; but the greatest of these is charity.
My friend, Love is the conduit through which the power of God flows. It is the train track that everything rides on. Without love, NOTHING happens. Through the word of God we can have hope arise in our hearts to see the miraculous. We can study and meditate upon the Word until we have mountain moving faith. But is it any good without love? Apparently not. Look at verse 2.
1Cor 13:2 And if I have prophecies, and know all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so as to move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
What good does it do to have this mountain moving faith if you cringe because the person in front of you is black or white or whatever else you are hating that day? The answer is NO GOOD. How can love work through hatred? It can’t, it’s as simple as that. All that matters is faith working through love.
Gal 5:6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.
If love is your motivation, then your hope is alive in God and your faith will be activated to see God move in great ways. This is the way of the Kingdom. The Kingdom of God is all about love. It is truly the coin of the realm. As I said earlier in this post, love is the track that everything rides on. There is a good reason for this. In a word, it is relationship. Relationship was the basis for creation in the first place. Restoration of that relationship is what the cross is all about. Bringing others into that relationship is what the gospel is all about. Deepening that relationship is why we teach, preach and counsel others. The gifts demonstrate to others that we are in that relationship. It’s all about relationship. We are designed for relationship. This is why we have ears to listen and mouths to speak and it is why we have common language. We were designed to love and to live in a world of love.
We were never designed to hate or to be filled with bitterness and anger. The medical world is beginning to see the connection between these negative emotions and disease. In my own life, as I have been healed of the anger and bitterness, I have seen my need for medication to be reduced or eliminated. My thyroid condition has lessened to the point where I no longer take a prescription drug. Instead, I take a supplement. My blood pressure medication has been cut in half as well as my diabetes medication. For the record, these changes have been at my doctor’s request, not my own. I have no doubt that as I pursue God and dig up the rocky ground that we talked about last week, I will eventually be off all of these medications. Now, after reading my testimony, please don’t just throw away your medications. Christ died to give us life and I truly believe that physical healing is part of that. It is important to know that you aren’t healed because you take medicine or don’t take medicine. You are healed because of what Christ did on the cross. All healing comes from God, even healing from medications and medical doctors. I thank God for my doctors. My trust is in Christ and I take my meds until the doctors tell me to stop. As my healing becomes more visible, the test results will show it and my doctor has no choice but to change the medication and he is elated to do so.
My point in all of this is that we weren’t ever designed to carry hate, anger, bitterness or any of the other junk that causes those rocky places in our hearts. We are to be a light in a dark world, not more darkness. We are called to heal the sick, not to be sick. We are called to love and be loved, not carriers of hatred and anger. We struggle with these things because the god of this world has blinded our eyes and we think we are okay when in reality, we are not okay at all.
People often remark that if God really does heal, then why aren’t we going in praying for people and emptying the hospitals? That is a valid question. I think I have the answer. The answer is that we as a people need to be perfected in love and we aren’t there yet. When we get there, then our hope will arise and our faith will be bold and I am convinced that the miraculous will occur as it did at the birth of the church. This is what Paul was referring to in 1 Cor 12:31 where he said the following concerning the gifts:
1Cor 12:31 But zealously strive after the better gifts. And yet I show to you a more excellent way.
Love IS that more excellent way.
I strongly suggest that you read all of John’s epistles (1 john, 2 John and 3 John) as he talks a great deal about the subject of love. In light of what we’ve been talking about, here are a few worth considering.
1John 2:10-11 The one loving his brother rests in the light, and no offense is in him. But the one hating his brother is in the darkness, and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness blinded his eyes.
1John 3:14 We know that we have passed from death to life because we love the brothers. The one not loving the brother remains in death.
1John 3:17-18 Whoever has the means of life of the world, and sees his brother having need, and shuts up his heart of compassion from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word, or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.
1John 4:20-21 If anyone says, I love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar. For the one not loving his brother whom he has seen, how is he able to love God whom he has not seen? And we have this commandment from Him, that the one who loves God also loves his brother.
So, I ask you: Are you loving others as you really should be? Are there those you could really love better? Have you thought about what might be hindering you from truly loving others? Whatever that is, you need to get rid of it.
The writer of Hebrews (Paul) put it this way.
Heb 12:1-2 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Beloved sister or brother in Christ, what is holding YOU back? What is weighing you down? Is there sin trapping you? What are the rocky areas in your heart? Isn’t it time you dealt with these things once and for all? I would ask you to please take a moment right now and ask the Holy Spirit to show you what those issues are.
Please re-read the previous installments and take a look at my instructions on getting free. I also listed a couple of resources to help you through this process. Until next time, may God’s richest blessings be yours in Christ today.
Copyright (C) 2019 M. Unruh
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