Abound In Love
By Rich Carmicheal
This issue of the Herald focuses on the theme of love – God’s love for us, our love for God, and our love for others. Even just a few passages from Scripture are enough to show that love is of utmost significance to the Lord:
“Jesus said to him, ‘“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’” (Matt. 22:37-40).
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).
“…Love is the fulfillment of the law” (Rom. 13:10).
“And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Cor. 13:13).
“But above all these things put on love...” (Col. 3:14).
“He who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:8).
“…God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16).
With such truths in mind, is there not great cause for us to examine the level of love in our own lives? And is this not all the more important in light of Christ’s warning that in the last days “the love of many will grow cold” (Matt. 24:12) and Paul’s warning that people will be “lovers of themselves, lovers of money, …unloving” and “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God”? (2 Tim. 3:1-5). Are we not even now living in a culture marked by the very opposites of love – impatience, selfishness, rudeness, divisiveness, anger, hostility and hate?
And what about the church? In how many cases today could Christ give the same word He gave to the Ephesians: “…I have this against you, that you have left your first love”? (Rev. 2:4). There may be good works and concern for truth and holiness (2:2), but when love is missing, the church is fallen and in urgent need of repentance – “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place – unless you repent” (2:5). The simple truth is, without love we are nothing and our faith and works profit us nothing (1 Cor. 13:1-3).
Clear Marks of Love
So a significant question for each of us to ask ourselves is how strong our love is for the Lord and for others. Do we love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength? Are we living in close fellowship with Him, growing in our relationship with Him, spending time with Him regularly in worship, in prayer and in His Word? Are we fully obeying His commands? Is our love for Him strong and vibrant, or has it waned?
Are our lives marked by love? Would others say that we are full of patience, kindness, compassion, humility, sincerity, truthfulness, tenderheartedness, self-control and unselfishness? Do we have a forgiving and forbearing spirit and a servant’s heart?
Are our lives full of practical expressions of love toward others? How do our lives match up with this definition of love: “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. 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? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth”? (1 John 3:16-18). Are we giving, sacrificing, laboring and serving in order to minister to the saints and to the lost and needy?
Christ’s Love in Us
If we fall short in any (or all) of these areas, the good news is we can repent and the Lord can fill our lives to overflowing with His love. He is able to make us “increase and abound in love to one another and to all” (1 Thes. 3:12). We can seek Him for a fresh outpouring of His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 5:5). We can depend upon the Holy Spirit to produce in us “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal. 5:22-23).
Consider with me one more remarkable truth. In His prayer to His Father for all believers, Jesus prays that the love with which the Father loved Him may be in us, and that He, Christ Himself, may be in us! (John 17:26). The love of the Father is in us! Christ Himself is in us! May we live and love by His grace and power so that others see Christ in us and experience His love.
“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).