I recently had the opportunity to speak with a middle aged man who was in the midst of a very stressful situation. He spoke of his past Christian experience and was confused about the future. Our interaction reminded me, that as biblically born again believers, when we wake up in the morning, there are only TWO things the Lord requires of us:
- To Love Him
- To Love Our Neighbor as Ourselves
The Lord Jesus said:
“…AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH. The second is this, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ Mark 12:30-31
and then He adds this statement:
“There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:31
The Lord Jesus says there is nothing greater than loving the biblical God and our fellow man.
The word “love” is the Greek agapao. This “speaks of a love which is awakened by a sense of value in an object which causes one to prize it. It springs from an apprehension of the preciousness of an object. It is a love of esteem and praise.” (Wuest) It is the same word the Apostle John used in John 3:16 to describe how God feels about lost mankind, whom He sent Jesus to redeem. He considers each person precious. That is why He paid such a high price to redeem lost sinners, like you and me.
Therefore, when I wake in the morning, this is all that God requires of me. I am to consider my fellow man, lost or saved, as precious to God and, therefore, to me.
Through the indwelling Holy Spirit, He gives me the desire and willingness to do this. (Philippians 2:13).
If I love God like Jesus said:
- I will have no other gods before Him
- I will not have idols in my life
- I will not take His name in vain
- I will treat Him as Holy
And if I love my neighbor as myself:
- I will not murder him
- I will not commit adultery with his wife
- I will not steal from him
- I will not lie to him or against him
- I will not covet his possessions.
When a person is biblically born again by the Holy Spirit, God begins to change that person from a “hater” to a “lover”. A “hater”, as I am using it, is someone who sins against God and his fellow man. A synonym of “sinner”.
Take for example the apostle John.
The Lord Jesus nicknamed John and his brother James, the Sons of Thunder. They evidently had a short temper. Luke 9: 54 says that they wanted to call down fire from heaven to kill some Samaritans who did not receive Jesus into their village. Jesus rebuked them saying “You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” After years had passed, we see in the Book of Acts, John with Peter returning to the Samaritans to minster to them (a manifestation of love) with Philip, the deacon. Through what John learned from Jesus as a disciple and what God did in his heart when he was born again, he was changed from a “hater” to a “lover” of the Samaritans.
Later in his life, he wrote what we know as I John. In chapter 4: 7-12 his changed heart is manifested in these words:
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.
In this is love, not that we 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 beheld God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is PERFECTED in us. (emphasis added)
Everything God has done for us through Christ is to help us PERFECT His love in us:
- We identify with the Lord’s death, burial and resurrection, therefore, we can overcome Satan and our sinful nature and walk in love toward others.
- When we are born again, the Holy Spirit spreads the love of God in our hearts so we can properly love Him and our fellow man.
- The Holy Spirit is given to us to comfort, teach, and encourage us as we fight the good fight of faith in learning and persevering to walk in love toward others
- The Bible is given to us to teach us how to love through the example and instruction of others who had to learn to walk in love.
- The Bible gives us levees for our love so it is channeled in the right direction and does not overflow into unrighteous.
- The Body of Christ, the Church, is a place to exercise our love gifts, share love and perfect our love.
- When Christ returns and we stand in His Presence, we will not turn away in shame because we have conducted ourselves like He conducted himself.
The ultimate goal of the Christian life is to be PERFECTED in love. To cause us to do what the scripture said in the beginning of this blog. To stop being a “hater” and change into a “lover” of people and God.
Conducting ourselves in love toward others, assures us that we are saved, “God abides in us“. John said “We love, because He first loved us.” (I John 4:19)
The devil will use religion to heap expectations and distractions on us that will choke the true spiritual life out of you if you let it. If that is where you are, take a time out and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any traditions of men or church that are clouding your understanding of God and what he expects of you. Then ask Him to PERFECT His love in you.
In closing, listen to Paul’s personal priorities as expressed in I Corinthians 13 and 14:
” If I speak with the tongue of men and angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love ,I am nothing.
And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.‘
“But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
“Pursue love…” (emphasis and underlining added)
In Paul’s personal life he was pursuing love. He was another disciple that was changed from a literal “killer” of Christians to a “lover”. May we yield to the working of the indwelling Holy Spirit Who is trying to make us “lovers”, freeing us from being “haters”.
Thank you for your time. May we be enriched in all knowledge and understanding by His Holy Spirit who was sent to lead you and I into all truth.