Friday, April 8, 2016

The Way of Love

The fear of man or the fear of God?  Such is the subject of Christ's teaching in Luke,

“And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.  But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!

“Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God.  But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. (Luke 12:4-7)

Why is it that we so little fear Him and so readily fear men? I think because we see quite readily the threat of a man and God's merciful way we often misinterpret as a forbearance of Eternity.

We think, “He is eternal – he knows we are but dust (Psa. 113:14) – so he won't punish but will bear up with us.” But is that true?

We forget that even in his great mercy he does not overlook sin forever. We forget that his forbearance is tied to his having poured out wrath upon his Son for us. And somehow we think Christ's sacrifice will cover for, or account for, the sin of all men – even those who never repent.

That is the problem. And how do we overcome such thinking?

Consider our worth and the cost of our sin.  This is what we learn in Verse 6-7.  We see it in Christ’s death on the cross.  He did not die for mere birds – and his death was not only to show our worth, but also the horrible malignity of sin as it was so bad in us that it necessitated Christ’s death to reconcile us with God. Both ideas are true.

I think the answer of the Scriptures is that love covers a multitude of sins – and we see that most vividly in the cross.  But it does so in our lives as well. 

·        Perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:17-18).  Though our love for others is flawed - His love works through us, his children, so we must find our hope in His ability, not ours. Then we must love them with all our might!

·        Love never fails (1 Cor. 13:8). Keep this truth in your heart, and be motivated by it - to do and say good things to all whom we encounter.

·        Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.  (Rom. 8:37) It is His love for us, shown in the Cross (Rom. 5:8) which effectuates the conquering.

·        And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” (1 Pet. 4:8) A most wonderful promise!

·        God is love (1 John 4:7-8). We often think of the Great Commission (Mat 28:18-19) as evangelism only.  Yet as we communicate Him to those around us, that is to say as we teach who God is, Love incarnate – Christ on the Cross, we are reminded that His commandments, which we are to obey, are not hard and difficult.  They teach us more of who He is, and how we are to love. 

Let me simply quote John to close this devotional.

Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot, also loves him who is begotten of Him.  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.  For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.  Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 John 5:1-5)

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