What is the greatest thing you can give away?
29 Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. 31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
32 So the scribe said to Him, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth, for there is one God, and there is no other but He. 33 And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices (Mark 12).”
For the most part, people relate to others according to their feelings or a gut sense they have about them . When it comes to relationships, oftentimes we are driven by how others treat us. We are emotional beings, and how others feel about us makes us respond in kind. We love those who love us and dismiss those who dislike us. Our approach to others may be influenced by how they may have made us feel, in the previous encounter. Since we are fickle about how we interact, we can become unpredictable. The world is full of people who act on a whim based on their emotions. Being at one’s best requires consistency. Each moment of every hour is a new opportunity to approach others with the right attitude. Love is the highest principle to live by. Love doesn’t vacillate over how to respond based on past hurt or another’s reaction to us. Love gives the best of us.
8 But God demonstrates His own Love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His Blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. 10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His Life. 11 And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through Whom we have now received the reconciliation (Romans 5).
Anger, resentment and bitterness from past hurt leads to rifts that destroy families, and societies as a whole. We are created for relationships so that we can experience life with others. God knows that when one offends another, there’s little hope for reconciliation. Our Heavenly Father knows that we are imperfect and prone to disobey, but are still the work of His Hands.
While we were yet sinners, God gave His Only Son to die for us. Christ took the punishment that was meant for us upon Himself, so that there’s no rift between us and God. How willing are we to still love those who offend us? God Who spared us from His Wrath, showed His Love when we were in our worst shape—unworthy of mercy. In His Wrath, God showed His Love by extending Grace. Only A Loving Father will give His wayward child an opportunity to be reconciled, by His Mercy. If God were to turn a blind eye to sin, He would not be Holy. If parents were to ignore disobedience, their children would be insolent and destructive. A child’s behavior is usually projected on the parent.
We now live in The Son; one with Him in His death and risen with Him as a new creation; fully justified to please God. We have escaped the punishment of death for our sins, because of His Love. Love offers peace and joy through reconciliation. True worshipers of God, understand why they worship. Those who truly worship God have experienced this Love. We are only saved by Christ’s Life— by living in Him. We have been given the right to be called Children of God. Apart from our union with Christ we remain in our sin, and the Wrath of God awaits us. Since we have been born again, we have a new heart that gives to others what we have received.
14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; 15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him Who died for them and rose again (2 Corinthians 5).
We all died to our sins through Christ’s death, and we now live in the Risen Life of Christ. We don’t live for ourselves but for Him. Our emotions are His, our thoughts are His, and our life is His. The Cross was the place we exchanged our sinful lives for His Righteous Life. By the same measure of Love He gave us, we are compelled to give to others. If nothing else restrains our self-will, let it be the works of God in us, through The Spirit of Christ. We no longer live for ourselves, but live out God’s Will, which is Love.
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is Love. 9 In this the Love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another (1 John 4).
Love for others is the hallmark of one born of God and has acquaintance with Him. Anyone who doesn’t love, does not know that God is Love. It is in loving others that God is manifested. If God so loved us, we are to love others likewise. Being born of God is having His Character of Love. It means allowing Christ to use us, as a channel of His Grace and Love. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree; so we must become more like Him.
3 The Lord appeared of old to me, saying: “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with loving kindness I have drawn you. 4 Again I will build you, and you shall be rebuilt, O virgin of Israel! You shall again be adorned with your tambourines, and shall go forth in the dances of those who rejoice (Jeremiah 31).“
To be loved with an Everlasting Love, who wouldn’t like that? This is the love we give a newborn baby, when we first hold them in our arms. They don’t know us, they don’t understand, but we know they need to be loved and protected with every inch of our being. Our Heavenly Father knows what an unloved child can become; lonely, depressed, underdeveloped and afraid. With loving kindness He has drawn us to Himself. Though we are broken, hurting and maybe on the path of destruction, He will restore us. He will adorn us with joy once again. No one, on their worst day wants to be rejected. This is The God we serve; He draws us with chords of love when we are out of sorts. He longs to do a new thing, so that we can forget the past. His desire for us is that we will have a song of praise in exchange for our sorrows and press forward to newness. Love holds out hope for the broken.
2 Take words with you, and return to the Lord. Say to Him, “Take away all iniquity; Receive us graciously, for we will offer the sacrifices of our lips. 3 Assyria shall not save us, We will not ride on horses, nor will we say anymore to the work of our hands, ‘You are our gods.’ For in You the fatherless finds mercy.” 4 “I will heal their backsliding. I will love them freely, for My anger has turned away from him (Hosea 14).
God forgives those who are willing to admit they want their sins removed and are in need of Grace. Repentance is spoken words; it’s not just an idea. We return to The Lord in dire need, with a request and a plea to be forgiven. Nothing will save us from God’s Judgement but His Own Mercy. He will heal our backsliding and love us freely. No offering is needed to gain His Love. How many people can we offend and expect to be forgiven without paying a price? God is not like man, who we have to impress to placate. He only requires that we are honest about our error, and He will turn away His Anger. How much Mercy do we forfeit by shrugging off repentance? Many see God as they see people; unwilling to forgive and love. If you have never experienced this kind of Love, let it draw you to Him. In fact, if we love to be loved, let us come before the Seat of Mercy. Here we confess and our shame is covered with Grace. God’s Love should compel us to be honest about ourselves.
4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away (1 Corinthians 13).
This verse sums it all. But who among us can love as it describes? Certainly not me; only Christ in me. God doesn’t ask us to use our version of love but His. His Love doesn’t hurt others, isn’t selfish or conceited, and it never fails to meet another’s needs. Regardless of how much Scripture we can reel off, prophecies we can utter with precision, how learned we are in Scripture, if we fail to love, we have failed to meet God’s Standard. As the Body of Christ, all that we do for others must be grounded in love. We are a working progress in God’s Hands.
33 Little children, I shall be with you a little while longer. You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come,’ so now I say to you. 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13).”
Christ left His followers with a new commandment: To love one another as He has loved us. The disciple is not above the teacher; they must emulate the teacher. If Christ loved others who rejected Him, dismissed Him, betrayed Him, abandoned Him, denied Him and crucified Him, we are commanded to do the same. Somehow, a lot of us think this is a good suggestion, it’s more than that— it’s a command. Disciples are duty-bound to live out the instructions given by their master. So it behooves us to obey this command. We don’t represent ourselves, we manifest Christ in our interactions. If we are incapable of loving as He loves, we can’t be His disciples.
44 Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. 45 You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. 46 You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. 47 Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.” 48 Then He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven (Luke 7).”
The woman loved Christ extravagantly, even though she had many sins. She worshiped Him with every core of her being. Because she loved much, her many sins were forgiven. Those who think they have been righteous a long time, and haven’t received much from Christ, sometimes don’t get as excited to be in His Presence. Of more significance is this: “But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.” Those who have been forgiven little don’t love God extravagantly and don’t see the point in loving others. Since they don’t desire forgiveness from A Holy God, they don’t give grace to others. They are judgmental of others and resentful, because they consider them irreparable.
Do you worship God because He gives you material things, a good paying job, or has healed your sickness? Are you concerned that others may think you are too zealous in your worship? What must God do for you so that you can worship with your whole being? If someone gave you millions of dollars, you may never stop thanking them. But what about the One Who took your place so that you would not die or go to hell? If hell isn’t real, Christ wouldn’t have come to die. That’s how real it is! If there’s no other reason to worship, at least worship because you have Eternal Life in Christ and are not slated to spend a day in hell. The more we love our LORD, the more we receive Grace for our sins.
7 But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. 8 And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4).”
The love that Christ commands us to live out is not for the faint of heart. This is love that overcomes biases, forgives offenses, offers help to those who don’t deserve it, does not expose others’ shortcomings to hurt them, but covers a multitude of sins. Beyond a prayerful and worship-filled life, a life full of love for God and others, is a life complete. There’s no telling how much hope, comfort and peace we can offer to broken relationships or to the downcast; but we can give what we have freely received, and give it ever so cheerfully.
8 Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law (Romans 13).