As it has been a while since I last posted, just to remind everyone that of late I have been expounding upon attributes that I aim to be, this being a question I must fill out in my daily journal page. The latest one is today I will be … loving.
So, how can one be loving?
- Share your wealth with the less fortunate, 1 John 3:17 “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?”
- In action and truth, 1 John 3:18 “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”
- Lay down our lives for one another, this need not refer to literally dying for another, although, this could easily be expected of us, but, this could also refer to our becoming a living sacrifice for Jesus, dying to our own desires and living for Christ. 1 John 3:16 “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” 1 Corinthians 10:24 “No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.”
- By honouring one another in humility, Romans 12:10 “Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves.”
- Bear with one another, Ephesians 4:2 “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”
- Speak the truth, Ephesians 4:15 “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.”
- Our very lives should demonstrate love, Ephesians 5:2 “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.”
- Serve others humbly, Galatians 5:13 “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.”
- Show hospitality and care for strangers, Hebrews 13:1-2 “Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”
- In everything, 1 Corinthians 16:14 “Do everything in love.”
We have the ability to love like this because God has given us this power, 2 Timothy 1:7 “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”
We have the ability to love like this because God loved us 1 John 4:19 “We love because he first loved us.”
So, who or what must I love?
- Our enemies, Luke 5:43-48 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
- What is good, Romans 12:9 “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.”
- God first, Matthew 10:37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” Mark 12:30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.
- One another, John 13:34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” 1 John 4:20,21 “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.”
- Your neighbour Mark 12:31 “The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’There is no commandment greater than these.”
What am I not to love?
- The world 1 John 2:15, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.”
- Material possessions, 1 Timothy 6:10 “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.”
Why must I love?
- So that people know you are a follower of Jesus, John 13:35 “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
- For God to dwell in us, 1 John 4:12 “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”
- To drive out fear, 1 John 4:18 “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
- To cover wrongs, Proverbs 10:12 “Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.”
- To fulfil the law, Galatians 5:14 “For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbour as yourself.”
- To overcome evil, Romans 12:20-21 “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
- To express our faith, Galatians 5:6 “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”
- To set an example, 1 Timothy 4:12 “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”
Surely one of the most beautiful passages in the Bible is that written by Paul to the Corinthian church, 1 Corinthians 13:1-13:-
“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
To Paul, love is everything, love is greater than omniscience and omnipotence. Love is everlasting, it will never cease to exist as prophecy and knowledge will. In this passage, Paul warns us against the attributes that do not belong in love:-
- Does not envy
- Does not boast
- Is not proud
- Does not dishonour
- Is not self-seeking
- Is not easily angered
- Does not delight in evil
- Keeps no record of wrongs
And Paul explains to us the attributes that are the very nature of true love.
- Is patient
- Is kind
- Rejoices in truth
- It protects
- It trusts
- It hopes
- It perseveres
As well as Paul’s beautiful teaching on this matter we have the perfect demonstration of Godly love in Jesus, who, by coming to us fully man, shows exactly what we are to do in order to possess Godly love.
- Jesus was patient, Mark 1:13 “and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.” During His period of temptation, Jesus was thirsty, Jesus was hungry, for 40 days He went without water and food, despite the fact that He had the ability to provide Himself with these at any time. It was necessary for Him to endure this period of temptation and that He did, with ultimate patience.
- Jesus was kind, Matthew 14:14 “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” Throughout the Gospels we see Jesus’ kindness, in healing, prayer, exorcism, in His very being.
- Jesus rejoices in the truth, 1 John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Jesus came so that we would not just live an earthly existence which all too quickly is over but that we may have abundant eternal life with Him and in this Jesus rejoices! Jesus drank wine and enjoyed meals with others, He brought 12 men into close fellowship with Him and was surrounded by many more followers including many women. Jesus rejoiced in fellowship and he rejoiced in the Word of God.
- Jesus protects, Matthew 8:16 “When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick.” In this passage, Jesus protects people from demons. We also see Jesus protect his disciples from the storms that endanger their boat.
- Jesus trusts, Matthew 18.21-22 “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” 1 Peter 2:23 “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.” Throughout His earthly existence, Jesus puts all His trust in the Father. He endures all manner of pain and persecution for the trust He bears towards God. He wishes that we will also have this trust and that no amount of persecution will affect our future hence why it is important that we continue to forgive others and not hold resentment that may impede our journey with Christ.
- Jesus hopes, John 17:20-21 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” Jesus has hope that we will all come to Him and be joined in the Holy Family.
- Jesus perseveres, John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Throughout His earthly life, Jesus knew how it would end. Though he was terrified to the point of sweating blood, He persevered and had the courage to face the cross.
In this, His final act as man, Jesus epitomises the complete essence of Godly love, on the cross, Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Jesus hung there, beaten, tortured, and laughed at. Bystanders mocked Him that as the “Son of God” He was unable to get Himself down off the cross. In all this, Jesus did not retaliate. He showed ultimate humility. When we are made fun of or mocked, our immediate response is to defend ourselves and show that we do not deserve this, that we are better than what others suggest, that we are above this mocking, yet Jesus, being God incarnate humbled Himself beyond all measure, for you, for me and for all who call upon His holy name. In this way the cross is the ultimate sign of love. Whenever you see an image of the cross, imagine Jesus upon it, pain etched across His face, the weight of all the sin of this world upon his shoulders, the very sin you and I commit daily, Jesus bore on that wooden cross. What love is this!!
If you would like to find out more about the heart of Jesus, I would strongly suggest reading the book entitled “Gentle and Lowly” by Dane Ortlund. Jesus describes His heart as “gentle and lowly”, Matthew 11:29. The most powerful being in all the world, the creator of every aspect of existence has a heart that is gently and lowly! This is the love that is from God.
Love and Blessings