“In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.” – 1 John 3:10-11
We all know that, as Christians, we are called to love God and love others. I mean, that is the greatest commandment after all. (Matthew 22:37-40) Yet many times if we stop and examine our hearts we might find that, though we love in word, we do not always love in action and in truth.
You see, in scripture, if you take it back to the Greek, their are four different kinds of love listed through out the bible. Yet only one kind of love is ever attributed to God, that’s “agape” love. Agape is the Godly love. It is the love by which God not only expresses Himself to us and commands us to express Him, through us to others, it actually is God. When scripture tells us in 1 John 4:8, that God is love, it actually says, in the Greek, “God is agape“. So what is agape? It’s true love, it’s unfaltering, unfailing, faithful, selfless, self sacrificing love. It’s the greatest, purest, truest love and it’s not only who God is, it’s literally what God is.
“He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” – 1 John 4:8
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” – John 15:13
You might say, wait a minute, if God is love and we have to love with the same love that God loves, then why does God also hate? Doesn’t the bible say that God hates somethings? Why yes, it does! (Proverbs 6:16) Though the bible does list sins that God hates, all of which stand in opposition to a heart of selfless agape love and cause His own to be separated from Him, He does not hate people. God desired that none would turn away from Him and parish, but that all would repent (2 Peter 3:9) because He loves all, yet He hates the sins that draw His beloved away into eternal damnation. This is much in the same fashion that a husband who truly loves his wife might hate the sin of adultery that is drawing his beloved away from him while still desiring that she repent and return to her rightful place beside him. There is still love for the person and a desire that they change, yet their is disdain for the sin and separation as long as it persist. Not by God’s choosing but by ours.
A great example of God’s love for people and disdain for sin is displayed in Jesus Himself. There were many times when Jesus, because of his love for people, publicly rebuked sin. In fact, He spends all of chapter 23 of the book of Matthew telling off the scribes and Pharisees! He flipped tables and cracked whips in the synagogue, filled with righteous indignation against evil acts. Yet He gave His very life to save, not only you and I, but those men as well, and even the very people that crucified Him also.
“Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” – Acts 2:36-39
We say we love with the love of Christ but would we suffer for the good of someone that has wronged us? Sure we love people, but do we love all people? Do we love them enough to inconvenience ourselves to help them? Do we love them enough to speak uncomfortable truths to them for their own good even when they don’t seem to want to hear it? Do we love them enough to take persecutions for them, or even by them, and still be willing to not only pray, fast, and cry out for them, but to lay down our very lives for them, if need be? Do we really love like Christ loves? Let us examine our hearts today.
“Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” – 1 John 3:16
“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. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” – Matthew 5:44-48
“My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.” -1 John 3:18-19