By Dr. Richard Ing
March 28, 2008
LEARNING TO LOVE
Love is far deeper than just emotions. It is reflected in how we think, what we say and what we do. A person can claim to love God and fellow man, but if his words, thoughts and deeds do not reflect love, it is unlikely.
God is love. 1 Jn. 4:8, 16. All of His thoughts, words and actions manifest love all the time. We may not think so when we are undergoing trials and tests, but love is the reason God chastens and even scourges His sons. “For whom the God loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receives.” Heb. 12:6. Even while Jesus scolded and reprimanded the hypocritical Pharisees, He did it in love for them. His desire was to awaken their hearts and minds to their poor spiritual condition. Love motivates and is behind all of God’s thoughts and ways.
The thoughts, words and deeds of most humans, on the other hand, are motivated by self-love. That love for self is why God said: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
In order to think and be like the Lord, love for God and others must be the sole motivation behind our thoughts and ways.
LOVING ONE ANOTHER
Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked Him a question, tempting Him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. Mt. 22:35-40.
These two commandments are one. You can’t have one without the other.
It is like the scripture that says, “But the fruit (singular) of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, against such there is no law.” (Parenthesis mine) Gal. 5:22-23. The fruit of the Spirit is singular but contains all of the other traits. Notice that love is the first mentioned. All of the other traits flow out of love. In similar fashion, our love for God and our love for our neighbor is one. You cannot have one without the other.
HOW GOD’S LOVE IS PERFECTED IN US
The apostle John said, “No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and His love is perfected in us.” 1 Jn. 4:12. We can read this passage over and over again, but never really understand or embrace it. We cannot see God and often cannot hear Him or feel His presence. But we can hear and see one another, the brothers and sisters in Christ. If God truly lives in us by His Holy Spirit and sits on the throne in our heart, His love for the brethren dwells in us and flows to those around us.
John also said, “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” 1 Jn. 4:20. You cannot love God and hate your brother. It is impossible.
THE NEED TO ALLOW GOD TO EXPRESS HIS LOVE THROUGH US
The apostle Paul said, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” Watchman Nee once said (paraphrasing), “I have a wonderful gospel to share. Because Christ died for me, I don’t have to die any more. I have a second equally wonderful gospel. Because Christ lives in me, I don’t have to live any more.”
If Christ is truly Lord of our lives, and we are allowing Him to live through us, we would love the brethren. As we love the brethren through the love of God, His love is perfected in us. His love is given perfect utterance, manifestation and expression in this world through us. That is why Jesus said, “And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” Mt. 22:39. Your love for God is no greater than your love for your neighbor.
Please note that this passage is even higher than loving just your brothers and sisters. Anyone can love their brothers and sisters or their fellow Christians. Even a criminal can love his family. To love your neighbor is a higher requirement. Who is your neighbor? It is everyone in the world. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Jn. 3:16. God loves everyone in the world, not just Christians. That is one of the reasons why His thoughts and His ways are higher than ours. We love only ourselves and those that we perceive are part of us or those self identifies with.
Many Christians claim they love God, but at the same time have no real love for others. Their love is hollow and selfish. Self is still on the throne in their heart. Christ is still not the Lord and Master of their life. They do not express God’s love to the world or towards either their brethren or their neighbor. There is no perfection of God’s love when His love is not manifested toward those that we can see and hear. God’s love is intended to be revealed and expressed to the world by the saints and the Church. “(T)he love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” Ro. 5:5. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Love. God’s love was poured into our hearts by the giving of the Holy Spirit, so that we can allow that love to flow out of us and into the world.
Allowing God to live our lives for us and express His love for the brethren and the world is the highest expression of our love for God. Again, that is why your love for God is no greater than your love for your neighbor. God’s love is revealed to the world through our obedience to Him. Obedience is what allows God to live our life for us.
When Jesus walked the earth, His life and death was the highest expression of the Father’s love. Everything He did and said was founded on love for the Father and the world. “I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. . . I do always those things that please Him.” Jn. 8:28, 29. Jesus said nothing but what the Father told Him to say and did nothing except what the Father showed Him. “The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever He seeth He doeth, these also the Son likewise.” Jn. 5:10. “I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.” Jn. 5:30. Jesus said, “For He whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto Him.”
If God is the Lord of your life, you will speak the words of God and do the will of God. Not only that, you will love your neighbor as yourself. It is God’s love, not ours that we allow to be expressed in this world. It is God’s will that we love one another.