What is Love?

And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?”  Jesus answered, The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’  The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.

Mark 12:28-31 (ESV)

Love Is:
4a:  unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another: as
          (1):  the fatherly concern of God for humankind
          (2):  brotherly concern for others
     4b:  a person’s adoration of God

Definition of from Merriam Webster

So what does it mean to love God? Does it mean being at the church every time the doors are open? Does it mean accosting everyone you come across with the Four Spiritual Laws? Does it mean dressing weird? Does it mean putting tons of bumper stickers on the back of your car? Of course not.

  • To love God is to first of all believe that He exists.
  • To love God is to admire His character.
  • To love God is to love what He loves and hate what He hates.
  • To love God is to follow His decrees and commands.
  • To love God is to pattern your life after Him.

And what does it mean to love your neighbor? Does it mean agree with or condone everything he does? Does it mean to roll over and do everything he wants you to? Does it mean offer him platitudes when he is poor, or in trouble, or depressed? Of course not.

  • To love your neighbor is to treat him like you want to be treated.
  • To love your neighbor is to seek his best interests.
  • To love your neighbor is to not seek revenge.
  • To love your neighbor is to open your heart, home, and wallet to his needs.
  • To love your neighbor is to be happy for him when he wins, and mourn with him when he loses.


Or as a much greater writer put it:

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

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.

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.  For we know in part and we prophesy in part,  but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.  For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13:1-13 (ESV)

The Cart Before the Horse

“Doesn’t the Bible say ‘judge not, lest ye be judged? ”

“Don’t judge others who sin differently than you! ”

“Who are you to say what’s right or wrong? “

Three excellent statements that deserve an answer.

1. The bible does indeed say to ‘not judge’ in two parallel passages . However,  it uses the word judge in the sense of condemn or sentence, not in the sense of distinguishing between things. In fact, very often the bible specifically tells us to judge between right and wrong and to judge the actions of those in our midst.

2. The Bible,  God’s instructions for us,  is very specific in naming some things as sin. It is less specific in other things. First we should define what sin is:

Doing what God says is wrong;
Not doing what God says you should;
Doing the right thing for the wrong reason;
Doing the wrong thing for the right reason;

But first, foremost, and the ONLY sin that will keep you from God’s presence – Refusing to love and be loved by God by accepting the forgiveness found through Jesus (the cause) and following Him as a humble student (the effect).

3. What gives God the right to tell us what to do? Because He created us and loves us, He knows what is best for us.

“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” Luke 6:36-37, (cf Matt 7:1-5)

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people —  not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world.  But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one.  For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?  God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”
1Cor 5:9-13

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,  nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.  And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
1Cor 6:9-11

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance,  but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
1Pe 1:14-16

Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more.  For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus.  For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality;  that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor,  not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God;  that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you.  For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness.  Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.  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.
1Thes 4:1-12

The cart before the horse

For far too long, the Church has gotten things backwards. We tell (or at least infer) that you need to clean up your act and come to church. We shout from the rooftops that ‘you heathen are going to hell in your sins’. We insist that the people outside the family of God act like the family should (when in fact most of the “family” doesn’t).

The horse before the cart

The Church, starting with the local group of disciples, needs to clean house.

How can we say come be like us if we’re no different than the world?

Before we can have any credibility that our faith is real and true and useful,  we need to live like God tells us to.

We need to be absolutely clear what the Bible says, and transparently, honestly,  wholeheartedly,  apply it to ourselves.

We need to hold each other accountable for our lifestyles.

We need to call those who are not living a disciple’s life back to repentance following  the biblical process, as Paul says:

If your brother is sinning, go to him and urge his repentance.
If he doesn’t listen, bring two or three others and urge his repentance.
If he still doesn’t listen, the leadership of the local body meets with him to urge his repentance.
If he still refuses to listen, treat him as an unbeliever, ie love him, keep urging his repentance, but for the sake of the body, he is to be excluded from the life of the congregation.

Only then can we say to the world  “we have found the Way, the Truth, and the Life,  come follow Him and live.”

Only then can we offer them the message of hope, and love, and reconciliation with God:

The Good News

God loves you! He created you to love Him and live right.

BUT, we have ALL rebelled against Him. We are bent and broken people, unwilling and unable to love Him.

He still loves us so much that He sent His own Son (Jesus) to die on the cross to pay the penalty for our rebellion.

If you

BELIEVE in Jesus,

ACCEPT His forgiveness,

REPENT (turn away) from your rebellion, and

CONFESS Him as Lord (in control).

He will give you a new heart , able to love Him and live right.

The Last Words of Jesus

Revelation 2-3
“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands.  “‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false.  I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary.

But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.  Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.  Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’

“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life.  “‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.

Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.’

“And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: ‘The words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword.  “‘I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. Yet you hold fast my name, and you did not deny my faith even in the days of Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.

But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality.  So also you have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans.  Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth.

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’

“And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: ‘The words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze.  “‘I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first.

But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols.  I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality.  Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works,  and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works.  But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden.  Only hold fast what you have until I come.

The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations,  and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father.  And I will give him the morning star.

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars.“‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.  Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God.  Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.  Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy.

The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens.  “‘I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.  Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie—behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and they will learn that I have loved you.  Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth.  I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown.

The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

“And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation.  “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot!  So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.  For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.  I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.  Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.  Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”

Revelation 22:7
“And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”

Revelation 22:12
“Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”

Revelation 22:16
“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”

Revelation 22:20
“Surely I am coming soon.”