by Steven Chan
When one becomes a Christian, one declares that he or she is a disciple or learner or follower of Christ (Acts 11:26; I Pet 4:16). One of His principal teachings is that of “love”:-
- The evidence of our love for Him is that we keep His commandments:
“If you love Me, keep My commandments”. (John 14:15)
- As our Lord (we are His disciples), He commands us (not merely suggests to us) to “love one another” in the same manner and to the same degree as He has loved us:
“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 13:34-35; I John 3:16)
”By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? 18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.”( 1 John 3:16-19)
- The Bible reminds us that when chose to obey the gospel of Christ and were born again into God’s family (Acts 2:47; I Tim 3:15), we had effectively committed ourselves to “loving our brethren sincerely and fervently”:
“Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, 23 having been born again”( 1 Peter 1:22-23)
- So, the Bible exhorts us to “walk in love” (Eph 5:2; Heb 13:1)
”Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you. 5:1 Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.”( Eph 4:31-5:2)
- There’s no justification whatsoever for one to profess love for God and yet hate (or not love) his brother.
”If someone 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? 21 And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.”( 1 John 4:20-21)
”In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. 11 For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, 12 not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous.”( 1 John 3:10-12)
- Jesus emphasized the importance of love for one another when He taught concerning the Day of Judgement where the failure to extend acts of love to our brethren in need was a basis for one being sent to eternal punishment (Matt 25:31-46)
- The Bible gives an important example of a situation when one fails to walk in love towards one another
- When we are inconsiderate in our actions in the areas God has granted us liberty of actions (i.e. permissible actions as contrasted with required or forbidden actions) and thereby cause a brother to grieve or stumble in his faith and/or sin, then we sin against the brethren and against Christ, and we are no longer walking in love.
“I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. 15 Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil; 17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19 Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.”(Rom 14:14-20)
”But food does not commend us to God; for neither if we eat are we the better, nor if we do not eat are we the worse. 9 But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak. 10 For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will not the conscience of him who is weak be emboldened to eat those things offered to idols? 11 And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? 12 But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble”.(1 Cor 8:8-13)
- In the above instance, the Bible highlights the problem of one having knowledge but not tempered with love:
”We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies. 2 And if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know.” (1 Cor 8:1-2)
- Knowledge of the truth is important. “Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”( John 1:17). But knowledge that is exercised without love profits nothing.
”Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.”( 1 Cor 13:1-3)
- But truth should be spoken in love especially in the light of there being erroneous doctrines taught and oppositions to the truth.
”we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head–Christ– 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.”( Eph 4:14-16)
”And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, 25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, 26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.”(2 Tim 2:24-26)
- If one loves his brother, he is obligated to help the one who has strayed from the truth (2 Tim 2:17-18) to return to the truth. Love does not mean allowing the brother to continue to wallow in his sin. The brother who wanders from the truth is heading towards death (1 Tim 1:18-20). He needs to turn back from the error of his way. But the effort to restore needs to be done with a competency of teaching the truth (2 Tim 2:24; Heb 5:11-14; Acts 18:24-26), humility, gentleness, patience and love.
- “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.”(Gal 6:1)
- “Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, 20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.”(James 5:19-20)
”And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8)
”Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.”(Psa 32:1)
Let us “therefore be imitators of God as dear children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us” (Eph 5:1-2).