Love of God – humanity’s greatest need #1
Scripture reading: John 13:34, 35: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you love one another. By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Today we will look at 3 important questions and will try to get answers to them:
1) What is God like?
2) How much do I “know God”?
3) How does my level of “knowing God” and picture of Him affect my life, relations, behavior and my love?
1) What is God like?
Scriptures give one major description: “God is love”. (1. John 4:8)
1. John 4:16 – “And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love and he who abides in love, abides in God, and God in him.”
What kind of love are we talking about here? Is this a sentimental kind of love that gives you some good feelings for a while?
Or do Scriptures speak of something far greater, higher and deeper?
The love of God far surpasses even the kind of “true friendship love” we human beings love to experience.
Agape love is love that involves the will, choice, attitude, thoughts, motives, speech, actions and behavior. Agape love is not driven by ever changing emotional nature or by sentimental emotions. It does not depend on the behavior of others toward us. Agape love is not affected by any of these. It controls, transforms and includes our ever changing emotions in the process. And it has power to correct and heal our emotions in the process.
Let’s read Bible’s love definition - 1. Corinthians 13:4-8 NKJV:
“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; Does not behave rudely; does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; Does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.”
NIV version says it this way:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
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.
New English Bible:
Love is patient; love is kind and envies no one. Love is never boastful, nor conceited, nor rude; never selfish, not quick to take offense. Love keeps no score of wrongs; does not gloat over other men’s sins, but delights in the truth. There is nothing love cannot face; there is no limit to its faith, its hope, and its endurance. Love will never come to an end.”
The Living Bible:
“Love is very patient and kind, never jealous or envious, never boastful or proud; never haughty or selfish or rude. Love does not demand its own way. It is not irritable or touchy. It does not hold grudges and will hardly even notice when others do it wrong. It is never glad about injustice, but rejoices whenever truth wins out.
If you love someone you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost. You will always believe in him, always expect the best of him, and always stand your ground in defending him.”
EGW – one of the comment on this passage from 5T – pg. 123:
“Every true Christian will develop in his life the characteristics of this divine love. He will reveal the spirit of forbearance, of beneficence, and freedom from envy and jealousy. This character developed in word and act will not repulse, and will not be unapproachable, cold and indifferent to the interests of others. The person who cultivates the precious plant of love will be self-denying in spirit and will not yield self-control even under provocation. He will not impute wrong motives and evil intentions to others, but will feel deeply over sin when discovered in any of the disciples of Christ.”
2) How much do I know God?
Here we are talking about an intimate close relationship with God.
1 John 4:8 – “He who does not love (by agape love) does not know God for God is love.”
1 John 4:16 – “And we have known and believed the love that God has for us, God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.
Friends, if we don’t have the kind of love as presented in 1 Corinthians 13 we really “do not know God”, or we are not connected to Him, or have a distorted spiritual experience.
But first we are to become secure in God’s love for us. His relationship toward you and me is exactly the way we have read in passages of 1st Corinthians 13. That is how God treats and relates to us! We ever need fresh supplies of this life giving and life changing grace power filling us up!
Our actions, words, behavior often hurt Him. We may give Him bad publicity among the unbelievers and believers by our coldness, by our tactlessness, by our thoughtless words, by our compromises and duplicity.
Does that change God’s love toward us? Is He offended and repulsed? Or does He devise means and ways to get through to us helping us to be cured from our inner and outer wrongful trends?
Remember Jesus washing the feet of His self-centered disciples, likely starting with scheming dishonest Judas who Jesus knew would betray Him!
Remember Jesus’ compassionate and non-condemning look at Peter when Simon Peter denied Him, disowning Jesus with cursing, swearing and open lying – insisting that he doesn’t know Him!
Jesus kept no record of their wrongs. Nothing would alter His love and faithfulness toward them. He did not keep in His mind their cowardice, pride and betrayal.
He goes after them after His resurrection with love that much stronger! He still loves them as their true friend and “Older Brother”.
Dear friends: are you secure and grounded in God’s love? How much do you love Jesus? Do you love Him at all?
1. John 4:19 – “We love him because He first loved us.”
Yes, to the extend you know God is the extend you love Him and others.
3) How does “my knowing God” affect my life, attitude, behavior and love?
Let’s make an equation:
My level of knowing God = my level of loving God
Some Christians say: Oh yes, I love God, or Yes, I know God…
Well, are there several “acid tests”, that can show us where on the Divine scale of knowing/loving God we really are?
Not where we think we are, but where we actually are?
The vertical profession of our love gets tested by at least 2 of our responses:
So apostle John lists 2 main tests by which we are to test ourselves:
- 1. John 5:3 – “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.”
Is doing God’s will and obeying Him burdensome or happy experience? Do you avoid any of God’s commandments? Or can we with David and Jesus say? “Yes, I delight to do your will oh God. Your law is within my heart”? (Psalm 40:8).
But we can deceive ourselves even here and so John points to the nitty-gritty relational principle behind the commandments – our attitude, thinking, behavior, our speaking about others and our treatment of other fellow beings.
- 1. John 4:20.21 – “If anyone says, “I love God”, and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.”
It does not define what kind of “brother” right? Elsewhere Jesus calls the brother “your neighbor”. Just love him with the agape love! You may not like what he is doing, but love him! You may not like everything about him/her, but love him/her anyway!
1. John 4:7. 8, as a sharp two-edged sword says it clearly: “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He, who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”
Story from my childhood – communist, atheistic neighbors that hated us because we were Christians and Adventists, wrote letters about me to my school (we boys played a hockey game before their house when one boy broke their window and ran away. They blamed it on me and I was severely punished by school principal…), oh how much I disliked them and hated them, how deep resentments I felt against them… My father asked me to clean their sidewalk from snow and ice each winter as they were older and not too strong… Oh how I resented that!
My dad’s kindness eventually won their hard, prejudiced and hateful hearts. They became good family friends and Mrs became a Christian.
As God’s undeserving love changes and heals some of us, so our love for others can do the same. God commands us to love one another with His kind of love!