Church Revitalization #4...Are you more loving?
LET ME GET RIGHT TO THE POINT. JESUS SAID THAT LOVE IS THE clearest mark of a Christian. “A new commandment I give to you,” He announced in 34 "“I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. 35 "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”” ()
If we are growing in your love for others—especially in your love for those in the body of Christ—then you are growing as a follower of Christ.
Notice in God’s Word the importance He places on love by Christians:
12 "“This is my command: Love one another as I have loved you.” ()
17 "“This is what I command you: Love one another.” ()
10 "Love one another deeply as brothers and sisters. Outdo one another in showing honor.” ()
8 "Do not owe anyone anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” ()
14 "Do everything in love.” ()
14 "For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement: Love your neighbor as yourself.” ()
2 "and walk in love, as Christ also loved us and gave himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God.” ()
9 "About brotherly love: You don’t need me to write you because you yourselves are taught by God to love one another.” ()
24 "And let us watch out for one another to provoke love and good works,” ()
1 "Let brotherly love continue.” ()
22 "Since you have purified yourselves by your obedience to the truth, so that you show sincere brotherly love for each other, from a pure heart love one another constantly,” ()
8 "Above all, maintain constant love for one another, since love covers a multitude of sins.” ()
11 "For this is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another,” ()
23 "Now this is his command: that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another as he commanded us.” ()
21 "And we have this command from him: The one who loves God must also love his brother and sister.” ()
Love is the badge and character of Christianity. A Christian may advance in many areas, including the ability to witness, teach, or even preach (“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels”), or biblical insight and knowledge (“And though I … understand all mysteries and all knowledge”), or faith, service, and giving (“and though I have all faith, … and though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned”), but these mean little (“I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.… I am nothing.… It profits me nothing”) without growth in the most important Christian distinctive—love ().
LOVE IN REAL LIFE
LOVE IN REAL LIFE
Those who are growing in love will demonstrate it in at least three areas. First, their love for other Christians will strengthen. One of the clearest indications that we have the Spirit of God is love for others in whom He lives: "We know that we have passed from death to life because we love our brothers and sisters. The one who does not love remains in death.” (). Relationships with Christian brothers and sisters in the church become indispensable to those who share eternal life. Like Christ, true Christians have a love for non-Christians, but they have a preferential love for those who love Christ. Just as we love many people, yet have a deeper love for those in our families, so we in God’s family love one another more than we love those who hate Christ and His people. And as we are able, the Bible says that we should express our love by doing good to all people, but particularly those in our spiritual family: "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us work for the good of all, especially for those who belong to the household of faith.” ()
A second area of growth in love is love for the lost. A wealthy young man once came to Jesus and asked what he must do to inherit eternal life. The young man assumed he was in fairly good standing because he had tried to keep the Ten Commandments. But after he asserted this, 21 "Looking at him, Jesus loved him and said to him, “You lack one thing: Go, sell all you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”” (). In showing love to this man, Jesus did not compromise His message. He made it unmistakable that to have eternal life the man must forsake his god (that is, his possessions) and put Christ first. Although there is no indication that the man became Jesus’ disciple, Jesus loved him nonetheless. The more we are like Jesus, the more we manifest the fruit of the Spirit and the more loving we will be to everyone, including those who are cold to the things of God. Jesus said we are even to love our enemies, and not just those who love us (, ).
A third area to examine when measuring your growth in love is love for your family. For many who are reading this, this will be the most brutal part of the evaluation. Nowhere are we more aware of our unloving words and ways than at home. And yet, who we really are, we are at home. Even so, we must never believe that it is impossible to grow in love toward our family members. God does not insultingly give us commands such as "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her” (). All Christians are meant to be growing Christians, and that includes observable growth in love for family members. Over time, those in your family—your spouse, your children, your parents, your siblings—should feel that you love them more than you used to. Maybe that will be expressed in more gratitude than previously, or less anger, or more physical affection, or more patience, responsibility, generosity, generosity, or simply by having more time for them.
The motive of Christian love at its best is "...because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” () we are able to love out of the extravagant outpouring of God’s love for us. An unbeliever can only pump love from his own limited, stagnant, sickened human reserves. The Christian, on the other hand, can pour out love from the love God pours in. He can show a love to others that effervesces from the fountain of his delight in knowing God. Another way to put it, Love is the overflow of joy in God which gladly meets the needs of others. It is love that arises from an apprehension of the wonderful riches of free grace and sovereignty of God’s love to us in Christ Jesus.
we are able to love out of the extravagant outpouring of God’s love for us. An unbeliever can only pump love from his own limited, stagnant, brackish human reserves. The Christian, on the other hand, can pour out love from the love God pours in. He can show a love to others that effervesces from the fountain of his delight in knowing God. Another way to put it, Love is the overflow of joy in God which gladly meets the needs of others. It is love that arises from an apprehension of the wonderful riches of free grace and sovereignty of God’s love to us in Christ Jesus.
So, Christian, love begins with God. We love because He first loved us. Then the more satisfaction and delight we find in His love, the more we delight in loving others. The more enjoyment we find in God as God, the more we truly enjoy being like Him by loving others. The more we grow in our joy in God, the more joy we find in the joy others find in our loving actions.
Whitney, D. S. (2001). Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health (p. 50). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.
Whitney, D. S. (2001). Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health (p. 48). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.
Whitney, D. S. (2001). Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health (p. 43). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.