THE EVIDENCE OF CHRISTIAN LOVE
One theologian wrote, “Believers ought to throw the mantle of love over the numerous faults into which their brethren may fall, in their conduct towards them, and thus to hide them from their eyes, forgiving their faults, even as God, for Christ sake, hath forgiven them.” Chapter 12 to the end of this letter is challenging as we live the sacrificial life in a fallen world system. The remaining chapters of this letter, Paul instruct us in orthodoxy that is put into orthopraxy, this means practical dedication. Living the full gospel for the glory of God, and for our greater good. This is exemplified…. To the needs, obligations and relationships of the Christian life towards those who oppose us and those who are inside the family of God. By living……
“Let love be genuine” 12:9
“Live in harmony with one another” 12:15
“Love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” 13:8
“Put on Christ and make no provisions for the flesh.” 13:14
“So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.” 14:19
“Let each of you please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.” 15:2
“Greet one another with a holy kiss.” 16:16
The opening of (v8) isn’t speaking of car loans or mortgages or any other Institution that sends you monthly reminders. There is no sin in borrowing money to build a church, or home, or buy a car. But there is a sin in borrowing something and not paying it back. We are required to fulfill our obligation. But the context of this letter is speaking about our conduct to authorities and towards one another. (v8) is teaching the believer to “owe” only a debt of love.
Love is a uninterrupted obligation, indebtedness given to us by Jesus, “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 and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Matt 22:37-39. Jesus said… By doing so, this fulfills the Law of God over our lives and in our society. The law of God leads the sinner to the Savior. The law of God condemns the sinner. The law of God provides the standard to how we live out the Christian life. The law of God restrains sin in society, not perfectly but it does restrain. The law of God produces in a believer the ability and freedom to love others. R C Sproul said in his commentary, “Of our decision about how to treat others are always motivated by love for God, a singular love for God, we really do not have to worry about the law, because the law reflects what is pleasing to God. That is why Augustine said, “Love God and do what you want.” If you love God, you can do as you please, because you will be doing what pleases God. It is that simple. If you really love Him, you will be pleased by what pleases Him, and what pleases Him is revealed to us in His law.”
We are to love God and do what the love of God
requires in every human situation.
Paul knows the battle is real and it takes great strength to do this in a fallen world system. Living sacrificially are not idle words that Paul used to paint the picture of a believer’s devotion. Sacrificially in Paul’s era and today’s, has the same meaning, because sacrifice meant even to the death. What Paul is saying to the believers in Rome. “The way to open doors for the gospel in Rome is to avoid entanglements. We are on a kingdom mission of spreading the gospel, not moral retaliating the Roman Empire or its citizens.” We don’t get to choose when we live sacrificially for Christ. It’s not an on and off switch to appease our conscience. Even when we see the world system collapsing right in front of us. We have a higher calling through the gospel confession. I love what R C Sproul wrote, “We can pay our debt to the bank, the store, and the credit card company, but our debt to love our neighbor is never discharged until we cross into heaven.” And Paul states here we obligated because the first few commandments prescribe or duty and behavior with respect to God. And the remaining Commandments focus on how we are to treat one another with respect to horizontally.
The order of the family
Sanctity of life
Possessions & property
God’s law is given to us in real-time and we fulfill the Law when we love as Christ loved us. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." John 13:34-35. So many people are interested in the details to obeying God, than actually obeying God. The same is true when we observe the Ten Commandments! We know how to obey according to Scripture; but tend to fail and fall short to do what God commands of us. We say to ourselves….”You don’t have to tell me twice, to not murder, to not commit adultery, or steal, covet, and so on. Right?” Yet you hear horror stories of these broken commandments inside the church and the brokenness it brings to those involved. I truly believe the reason for this is that we try, and think; we are filling our minds with the things of God, and never put it into practice. You have to really ask yourself!
Do you truly love the believer seating
in this sanctuary?
This radical call upon your life began when Christ went to the Cross to unite sinners back to the Father. And this reconciliation also brings sinners alike into the house of God to love one another. Jew and Gentile, slave and master, male and female, and different shades of melanin. When you love your neighbor you will refrain from adultery. When you love your neighbor you will regard their life as unbreakable. When you love your neighbor you will return that borrowed item. When you love your neighbor you will respect their ownership of property. That is point Paul is making, “Let no debt remain outstanding, but the continuing debt to love one another.” See, you can easily convince others that we love our neighbor, because you love God. But that truth will be seen in your love for your neighbor. Who is my neighbor?
(Turn to Luke 10:25-37)
To find the answer to who is my neighbor is, we need to seek the Son of Man as He tore down the walls that we build by our own ignorance and traditions. There is no reason not to love God, but we usual have a million reason not love our neighbor. Which of the two is harder? To love God, or your neighbor? I will leave that with you to ponder quietly and privately.
How have you loved your neighbor
these past two years?
And I am not referring to your views on vaccinations or mask wearing or what the Government is doing with all these foolish and immoral Laws. How have you love your neighbor according to God and His Word? Have these past two years softened your heart to pray more, study more, to put into practice more, so you can love your neighbor more. Have these past two years given you love like never before, to be patient and consider one another’s convictions to work together for the greater good of the Gospel? A love to strengthen the body of Christ for the Kingdom that is to come, instead of tearing it down for your selfishness. Because I think these past two years have revealed,
“We don’t love our neighbor
as we think we do."
That is evident! In people
leaving the church and having animosity towards one another. Staying
home instead of corporate worship out of fear of getting ill. Gossiping
and spreading rumors about one another. To even
picking sides/teams; whether it’s political or health concerns. We have become everything
that Paul says we shouldn’t.
See, here is where the self-examination begins. God has placed us individually; He has called us through the gospel to the most challenging and radical thing next to our salvation. And that is “therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” (v10b) The neighbor to we are called to serve goes beyond the boundaries.
Why is this hard?
Because we have a wrong view of what love is, whether it’s personal relationships, or how we treat others inside/outside, the body of Christ. Our love extends as long as I receive something in return, and when that stops, I’m done with you, I have no need of you anymore. We need to understand that God is the supreme Mayor and “His law states we are to love, which is to given to all.” Remember what John wrote in his first Epistle. (Turn to 1 John 3:11-18) Our salvation through the gospel is more than a rescue; it’s a complete and total renovation for the better. Loving our neighbor does not imply a self-focused obsession, but rather the same natural motivation and care you take for yourself. We are to extend that to others as the Good Samaritan did with the man who was severely beaten.
Romans 12:10 says “Show family affection to one another with brotherly love.”
Gal 5:13 says, “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”
Eph 4:1-2 says, “…accepting one another in love.”
1 Thess 4:9-12 says, “Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.”
Peter even went to say, “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8
This agape love is working when there is a person who has a need that I can meet, that’s what it means to be a neighbor inside the church and outside the church. It’s not self-seeking and seeking the praises of men; but genuine; because they love Christ sacrificially which is our reasonable display of worship. It is in the same sense of outward care that Paul instructed husbands to exemplify in. “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.” Eph 5:24-30
This action of love is an urgent call, because this love is a debt we are to pay to all. We are to pay it continually but never finish paying it; this is one of the greatest debts we could owe. Why? It’s a satisfying debt, that when paid will make us more Christlike. The Ten Commandments were given to frame the charter to which we live by, and this is fulfilled ultimately when Jesus died and rose again. But this radical display of love that God had for sinners is exemplified when we love as God loved us.
We love our neighbor….
We do not steal or slander them.
We do not be jealous or be envious of one another.
We never speak falsely or accuse others.
We love others so we don’t want to harm them.
We don’t just do the bare minimum, but go beyond to show our love for one another.
Hatred characterizes the world,
those who model Cain.
Sacrificial love demonstrates the love Christ showed us when he was hung on that tree. That is why we are to love as Christians; we are to be known by the love that we have for each other and for our neighbor. When Paul penned his letter to the Corinthian church, chapter 13 was not written for romance or marriage, it was written for how the church is to love their neighbor. “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1 Cor 13:4-7