PARTNERS WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT: PART LXIX
Love is a popular subject in the world and we use it mostly for our convenience. We love to hear that God and Christ love us, but how do we love God and Christ without their physical presence? In that sense, love takes on a completely different role. In addition of comforting and encouraging, love demands to be expressed in actions and in deeds. To demonstrate love, God made man to turn a great idea into reality (I Corinthians 13:13). Love can only be shown in the way it is applied. During the time, before Christ joined the human race, God sent people into the world that showed bits of love (Hebrews 1:1-4). To show the highest level of love, God sent his Son into the world to demonstrate how far love would take him (John 3-16; 15:13). This kind of love made Paul willing to lay his life on the altar for others and expected to be sacrificed himself (Romans 12:1; II Timothy 4:6-8).
LOVE, ACCORDING TO JESUS, WAS THE FIRST AND THE GREATEST COMMANDMENT
But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they came together. And one of them, a lawyer (scribe), asked Jesus a question, to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” And Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:34-40).
The Apostle John came to this conclusion: “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, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him, that he who loves God should love his brother also” (I John 4:20-21).
By this we know love, that he (Jesus) laid down his life for us ; and we oughtn to lay down our lives for the brethren. But if any one has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or speech but in deed and in truth (I John 3:16-18).
James, the half-brother of Jesus, applied the love of neighbor and self as follows:
If you really fulfill the royal law, according to the scriptures, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you do well. But if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it. For he who said “Do not commit adultery,” said also, “Do not kill.” If you do not commit adultery but do kill, you have become a transgessor of the law.
So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy; yet mercy triumphs over judgment.
What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him? If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead (James 2:8-17).
WHERE DID JESUS FIND LOVE, NOT FROM TALKERS, BUT FROM DOERS. HERE ARE SOME EXAMPLES
Jesus found a widow who gave away her last two coins because someone else needed them more than she did.
And Jesus sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the multitude putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came, and put in two copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him, and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For they all contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, her whole living” (Mark 12:41-44).
“Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by me. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you (Matthew 6:1-4).
The disciples stopped a man from doing good because he did not belong to their group, but Jesus accepted the good others do:
John said to Jesus, “Teacher, we saw a man casting out demons in your name; and we forbade him, because he was not following us.” But Jesus said, “Do not forbid him; for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon after to speak evil of me For he that is not against us is for us. For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ, will by no means lose his reward (Mark 9:38-41).
Then the King will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me’ (Matthew 25:34-40).
Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah, “Arise go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to feed you.” So he arose and went to Zarephath; and when he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was gathering sticks; and he called to her and sid, “Bring me a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.” And as she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, “Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.” And she said, “As the LORD your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of meal in a jar, and a little oil in a cruse; and now, I am gathering a couple of sticks, that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.” And Ellijah said to her, but first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterward make for yourself and your son. For thus says the LORD the God of Israel, ‘The jar of meal shall not be spent, and the cruse of oil shall not fail, until the day that the LORD sends rain upon the earth.’” And she went and did as Elijah said; and she and he, and her household ate for many days. The jar of meal was not spent, neither did the curse of oil fail, according to the word of the LORD which he spoke by Elijah (I Kings 17:8-16).
TRYING TO BE GOOD WITHOUT BEING GENEROUS IS UNACCEPTABLE
A very respectable young ruler came to Jesus, who had kept all the Laws all his life, and Jesus loved him. And Jesus wished that He would become a disciple of His. The young man lacked generosity and was blinded and fooled by his riches, and so was another wealthy man.
And he (the young ruler) said to Jesus, “Teacher, all these I have observed from my youth.” And Jesus looked at him and loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you have, and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” At that saying his countenance fell, and he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions (Mark 10:20-22).
And Jesus said to the people, “Take heed, and beware of all covetousness; for a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man brought forth plentifully; and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones; and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you; and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:15-21).
Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast what is good; love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer to the needs of the saints, practice hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; never be conceited. Repay no one evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God; for it is written “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” No, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Romans 12:9-21).
LOVE IS AN INGREDIENT THAT SOFTENS OR BURDENS LIFE
Love is very much like an ingredient to spice, or salt, or sweeten our edibles. Too much or too little of anything spoils the taste and the usability of our food. Life, too, requires the proper application of love. Love must be served where it is needed and not because it is wanted too much by some. We need to use the formula Paul used:
While we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Why, one would hardly die for a righteous man—though perhaps for a good man one will dare even to die. But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us (Romans 5:6-8).
But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loves us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward un in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God — not because of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:4-10).