Last week we looked at how human relationships should always have a measure of what might be called relative “hate” when compared to the Love we should have for the Lord Jesus. That is, our love for Jesus should be so strong that we are willing to strive with others for the truth. This is a loving thing to do, but some will interpret it as hateful.
There is no need to be contentious, but we should contend for the Good News of Jesus Christ.
So, then what about love, is there no such thing as love? Or, are all relationships marred by “hatred”?
Love is an attractive thing and forms when there is some kind of agreement. We should love God 100%.
This means we should always say God is right and sin is wrong. If we sin, we should love God more than our sin, and confess the truth about our sin. It is a high standard. We all fall short.
To Love God is to hate evil and to delight in wisdom that is pure. It is to do good and pursue peace.
So then, what does love look like in our human relations:
1. It is natural to agree with oneself. If we discover we have made a mistake, we should love ourselves enough to repent and turn from the evil of our hearts. It is assumed that those who are wise will love themselves in this sense. Those who are wise will not prefer themselves over all others. Indeed, the most loving thing is to put others ahead of oneself.
2. We should love our families. While family members may not always agree on everything, we should do the best we can to ensure their well-being. We should share the Good News with our families. To hide the Truth of Jesus from our families is an unloving thing. To let a family member do evil without seeking to speak to them directly about the wrong is to do them a great disservice. They may think you are hating on them when you kindly tell them that they have sinned. But in fact, correction and rebukes are signs of love. So is teaching your children to live godly lives. Training your children how to live in today’s world in a way that pleases the Lord God Almighty and yet is sustainable is a good thing. Providing for family members is a good thing and a sign of love. Those who do not love their family members are worse than unbelievers.
3. We should love one another. That is, we should love other Christians as Christ loved us. If someone identifies as belonging to Jesus, then we should come alongside them and support them and prioritize their wellbeing. In a day and age when the family of Jesus is growing rapidly as new believers are born again all around the globe every day, this could keep us busy all the time. If you find you are “witnessing” to a Christian, the goal must always be to build them up in the most holy faith and to help them draw closer to Jesus and not to be a stumbling block to any Christian unnecessarily. This is done mostly through getting acquainted with saints in your church/congregation or small group. But it should also extend to supporting the persecuted church or training believers in ministry around the world. We must not stop there though.
4. We are to love our neighbor. Jesus made it clear who our neighbor is: anyone we encounter in need, even if we do not know them or necessarily have any ethnic or national or political reason to agree with them. Loving our neighbor means breaking out of the mold and showing kindness to strangers. We must not only greet one another, we must also go to places where there are people who have yet to be greeted in the Lord’s Name. In today’s world where our neighbor may be discovered through a broadcast or website about tragedy in a distant land, the heart is called to expand to a greater degree. Whenever we learn of someone hurting, we should be sensitive enough to feel their pain. Wisdom teaches us not to focus on the problems of the world lest we become insensitized and numb in spirit. PRAY when you watch the news. Pray when you are in public, only in your heart and not for show. Pray wherever you walk. Pray while you study and read. Pray while you watch. God will lead you to your neighbors.
5. We are to love our enemies. You say, this is a tall order … HOW? Does someone offend you? Forgive them immediately and do not hold any grudge. If someone attacks you, pray for them. Do good to them. Show kindness to those who are cruel. May God’s kindness lead them to repentance. It is not enough to restrain from evil, we must bless. Do not return insult for insult. When cursed, blessed. When struck, shake hands. You do not have to invite ruin by aggravating an offended person, simply show kindness and be joyful. You cannot make everyone happy. Do not worry about that. Love anyways. If they hate you and seek to do you harm, that is their business. Bless and do not curse. Encourage them when they are down. This will not be easy. When people see you treat your enemies like this, they will call you a fool. They will say that you have lost your mind. They will say you are mindless. Keep loving. Love is foolish only to fools. Better to be an idiot in the world’s eyes and beloved of the Lord than to be rich in the world’s eyes and destitute of mercy on the last day.
Now you see why loving can seem like hating. If you love your enemies, you will seem to be hating yourself. You may end up dying as you proclaim the Good News of Jesus to the nations.
You may be rejected and poor as you apply the teachings of Jesus.
You will lose all and gain all if you follow Jesus.
In this world, you will count all as loss. In the world to come, you will lack nothing if you lack no love here. To have love, you must give love. God’s love is available to all. It is holy, pure, undefiled by sensual, sexual lust. It is innocent of evil. It is clean and enduring forever. It blazes away evil and shines in the night of wickedness. Stand, and shine the light of God’s love to the world, even the nations at the world’s ends.
For Americans, remember, to love not only America, love those who are assaulting her freedoms and love those who are attacking her people. Love your enemies and be perfect. Go to the nations. Preach the good news of the Lordship of Jesus. Stand against evil and for freedom, even if you must lose your life in the process, but there is no need to take their lives to share the sacrifice of Christ. Love is about giving life, not taking it. Celebrate the victory that is yours in Christ Jesus rather than the wars fought on domestic and foreign soil. Love your enemies.