Friday, September 3, 2010

"Love, As Defined By God"

"Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust" (Matthew 5:43-45).

The first mention of love in the New Testament concerns our enemies, and thus reveals our complete dependence on help from Above if we are to fulfill the will of God.

Loving our enemies is a human impossibility. We are not composed of such holy substance in and of ourselves, a self evident truth prove by the history of the human race and our own personal experience. Despite our frequent consideration of the concept of love, the personal and corporate experience of humanity conflict reveals that love, as defined by God, is our great weakness.

"For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:7-8).

We may find motivation to bless and do good for family and friends (although we are weak even in this pursuit). However, human beings do not love enemies unless empowered by the One who died for those whose sins were the very cause of His suffering. There is such an empowering through the Lord Jesus: "the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us" (Romans 5:5). Through Him, we can love, bless, do good, and pray for who hate, curse, do evil, and seek our harm. We must, because love that exempts enemies from its bestowal is not love as God defines it.

The great commands of Scripture, repeated in both Old and New Testaments, are to "love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself" (Luke 10:27). This is the proper goal of human existence, established and commanded by the Creator of human existence. If any lesser pursuit rules our hearts, we can be sure that we are being controlled by our native human weakness. On the other hand, if the altar of love has been built in our hearts through faith in the Lord Jesus and submission to His will, we must continually seek His enabling. He will gladly respond, and we will find ourselves loving, as God defines love. He will be the origin, the motivation, the reason and the power of such self sacrifice, and He alone will be glorified. We will be the glad recipients of that love not only bestowed upon us, but abundantly made resident within us.

"Walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savor."

(Ephesians 5:2)

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