Jereme and I went to a wedding last night. Check out these two beautiful people!
The theme was “all you need is love…”
A very appropriate theme for such a celebration, but that got me thinking: what is love?
We are told to love God and to love our neighbor, and we hear about the importance of love throughout society in conversations, books, movies, quotes …
But what exactly does it mean to love?
Some would equate love with tolerance. If you love someone, then you must tolerate their sinful lifestyle. You must accept them for who they are and love them no matter what.
But what does that mean?
Does that mean you withhold what you know to be the truth about what happens if they choose to turn away from YHWH, continue on the path of sin, refuse to repent, and knowingly walk in rebellion to the ways of our Creator?
Does that mean you say nothing, because telling the truth is “offensive” and “hateful”?
In an attempt to get to the bottom of this, let’s start with how the Bible defines loving God:
“If ye love me, keep my commandments.”
What are his commandments?
In Matthew 22, a Pharisee asks Yeshua (Jesus):
“Master, which is the great commandment in the law?”
“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
Some might interpret this passage to mean that Yeshua replaced his Father’s law with these 2 commandments, and that “all you need is love.” But he doesn’t say that. He says, “this is the first and GREAT commandment, and the second is like unto it … on these two commandments hang ALL the law AND the prophets.”
So the act of loving God and loving your neighbor—how we do these things—is spelled out for us, all throughout Scripture—in the law and the prophets. (That includes the old and new testaments.)
Which means the commandments given to Moses are still relevant. They still matter. All of them. Including the 4th. 😉
“But no one can possibly keep the whole law! He gave it to us to prove that we couldn’t keep it, right? Isn’t that what Jesus died for? He kept the law and died for my sins so I don’t have to!”
Hmm … is that what it says?
“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 grievous.” 1 John 5: 2-3
“But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.” James 1:25
“…hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.” 1 John 2: 3-6
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Matthew 7: 21-23
What is iniquity?
Sin. Lawlessness. Transgression of God’s Torah (as defined in 1 John 3:4 — “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.”)
It means to be without His instructions. When we are without His instructions, then we are relying on our own knowledge of good and evil to determine how we should live.
I’m so grateful that He loves me enough to give me His instructions and to correct me when I’m wrong!
“My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments:
For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.
Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart:
So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man.
Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.
It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.
Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase:
So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.
My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction:
For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.”
Proverbs 3: 1-12
This is echoed in Hebrews 12: 4-12 as well:
“Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.
And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:
For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.”
Are you relying on your own interpretation of what “love” means? Or are you seeking to know His ways AND to walk in them, because, as his Word clearly says, that is how we love him and how we love His children?
Moreover, are you “speaking the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15) to those who walk not in his ways (ignorantly or otherwise), or holding back for fear of being called “offensive” or “hateful”?
The following passages of Scripture make me stop and think twice about that:
“When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul. Again, When a righteous man doth turn from his righteousness, and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumblingblock before him, he shall die: because thou hast not given him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he hath done shall not be remembered; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Nevertheless if thou warn the righteous man, that the righteous sin not, and he doth not sin, he shall surely live, because he is warned; also thou hast delivered thy soul.” Ezekiel 3: 18-21
“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5: 17-20
Based on all of the above, I’m going to make the following assertions:
- Loving God means keeping His commandments, and His commandments are not burdensome. In fact, His law brings “liberty” and “blessings”, according to James 1:25 and many other passages of Scripture.
- Loving God’s children means keeping His commandments and teaching them to do the same.
- Loving your neighbor is speaking the truth that it might save his life.
- Love is following our Messiah—walking as he walked, in the ways our Heavenly Father who defines love by His Word and trusting that our actions in doing so will glorify Him and bring His Kingdom, on earth as it is in Heaven.
This is day 13 in my 40 Days of Repentance series. Click here to read day 12.