the Church on the Hill
by D. Eric Williams
Pastor, Cottonwood Community Church
Many people - Christian and non-Christian alike - define love in terms of emotion. Certainly, emotion is often part of the mix, but the fact is, you don't need to feel anything in order to exercise biblical love. In the Bible, love is primarily concerned with our covenant relationship with the Lord. This means one who is in covenant with the Creator fulfills the conditions of the relationship by exercising love. Thus, Jesus said, YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.' This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 22:37-40). In other words, everything God ever said about right relationship with him is summed up in these two commandments. It doesn't mean we can throw away the Bible and just “love;” we won't understand what Christ meant by “love” if we do that. These words of Christ remind us that love is first of all a matter obedience.
The Apostle John wrote, By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome (1 John 5:2-3). Keeping the commandments of God is evidence of love toward God and his children. Hence, love is primarily about how we act. It is not enough to say we love the Lord and our neighbor, we must show it. Therefore, true love depends (in part) on a good knowledge of the Bible.
There is no part of life exempt from the expression of love. For instance, part of loving God and our neighbor is to love our immediate family. Nonetheless, this most basic employment of the law is often overlooked and we end up treating those closest to us with the least love. The Bible says we are to lay our life down for others and think of others more highly than our-self. Yet, countless Christian husbands fail to love their wives and children because they neglect to exercise servant leadership.
Moreover, we show love in the local fellowship by following the biblical commands concerning the Church. Pastors love in teaching and admonishing the flock while the congregation shows love in obeying their pastor and supporting him in his ministry (1 Corinthians 9:9-10, Hebrews 13:7, 17) .
We are also called to show love to God in the way we engage the world. All of our activities – on the job, in our political involvement, our community service, our recreation – everything must be done as unto the Lord (Colossians 3:17). Indeed, we might say that the Bible is a handbook on how to show love to God and our fellow man; we cannot properly love unless we know the word and obey it.
More Next Week.