6 For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6–8, NKJV)
We “love” everything from ham sandwiches, ice cream, and chocolate, to cars, sports teams, friends, and family. The English language does not do a very good job of differentiating the meanings and usages of the word love. People generally use “love” to describe a strong affection, attraction, warm attachment, enthusiasm, or devotion. But these meanings do not begin to approach the biblical meaning and practice of love (agape). “God is love,” and He has shown us what love really is by giving His Son to die for us unloving, unlovable, “ungodly” sinners (see 1 John 4:8-10). God’s love is active goodwill toward us (“demonstrates”). It is unselfish in its scope (“toward us”), and sacrificial in its depth (“Christ died for us”). God’s love toward us is the pattern Jesus teaches us to follow in loving God, our neighbors, our brethren, and our enemies (Matt. 22:37-39; 1 John 4:7, 11; Matt. 5:44-45). And, since Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments,” to love Jesus we must demonstrate active goodwill toward Him by obeying Him unselfishly and sacrificially (John 14:15). When we love as God has loved us, we know the love of Christ and are filled with all the fullness of God (Eph. 3:17-19).
16 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. 17 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? 18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. (1 John 3:16–18, NKJV)
How do you know someone loves you? Is it because they say, “I love you”? Well, that helps. But, saying “I love you” is convincing for only so long. We know someone truly loves us by how they treat us. Christ put His love into action by sacrificing His life for us. Likewise, we are under love’s moral obligation to sacrifice ourselves to help our brethren. While many suppose hate to be the opposite of love, in fact, love’s opposite is indifference. When we are apathetic toward someone we will not show them active goodwill (love). Indifference easily discounts and disregards others. We may say we love them, but our apathetic conduct toward them proves differently. Jesus is the embodiment of love because He “laid down His life for us.” Instead of closing our hearts to brethren in need, we must “lay down our lives” for them. That is when the love of God abides in us. Do not be deceived, beloved brethren.
“that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children,” (Titus 2:4, NKJV)
Today is February 14 – Valentine’s Day – a day to fondly and affectionately acknowledge the person you love. Today’s verse calls attention to the work of older women to admonish (“to make of sound mind, to discipline or correct: -teach to be sober,” Strong’s Dictionary) young women to “love” their husbands. Interestingly, “love” in this verse is not agape (active goodwill), it is a variation of phileo (warm affection). So then, God’s word says young wives must discipline themselves to be affectionate toward their husbands. Without a doubt (and to their shame), some husbands make this a difficult task! A loving husband helps his wife develop the affectionate quality of love by living with her “with understanding” and giving her the honor she is due (1 Peter 3:7). Still, today’s verse reminds a wife of her responsibility. When it is easy (like on Valentine’s Day) and when it is difficult, the godly wife does not withhold warmhearted affection from her husband. A husband’s understanding and a wife’s affection help secure and strengthen marriage – every day of the year.
6 Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:6–7, NKJV)
The indication is that Timothy received a miraculous spiritual gift from the apostle (see also, 1 Timothy 4:14). Whatever the specific gift was, Timothy had a duty to stir it up, to rekindle it as one would stir the embers of a dwindling fire. Being fearful would prevent Timothy from stirring up his gift – from accomplishing his work. Timothy was to be bold and courageous in the power of truth, in the love of God, and in the soundness of mind that is shaped by putting the word of Christ into one’s heart (2 Corinthians 6:3-10). Like Timothy, Christians must stir up the gifts we have and faithful fulfill the will of God. Romans 12:6-8 exhorts us to bold and courageous service as members of the body of Christ. The enemies of truth and opponents of righteousness would have you be too afraid to aggressively stand fast in the faith. But, nothing will be achieved for Christ through fear. May we develop and add virtue (moral courage) to our faith (2 Peter 1:5). Replace fear with the spirit of “power and love and of a sound mind.”
1 Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. (Matthew 6:1–2, NKJV)
Giving to those in need is nullified before our heavenly Father if our motive for giving is impure. Charity given from a desire to be seen and praised by others will not be rewarded by God. When recognition from men is one’s motive for giving, that is the only reward the giver will receive. The trumpet of the hypocrite is sometimes heard on social media, where it has become rather routine to “share” the charitable deeds one does. The trumpet is heard in boastful announcements of what one has done or how much one has given to a worthy cause (see the contrast in Matthew 6:3-4). We must have pure motives when we give, for even “though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor,” if I “have not love, it profits me nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:3). Pride warps our motives for doing good. Yes, it is possible to pretend righteous motives when we give, but God knows our hearts and He will reward or withhold His blessing accordingly. Let us purify our hearts and do good to others so they will be blessed and so God will bless us, too.
Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. (Romans 13:10, NKJV)
Love obeys God’s law. By doing so it fulfills law. It is indeed futile to try to separate our obedience to God’s law and our love for Him and for our neighbors. Obeying God’s commands grows out of loving God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30). Loving your neighbor means loving him as you love yourself (Mark 12:31). Just as we do not seek to harm ourselves, love does no harm to its neighbor. Love does not commit adultery, does not murder, does not steal, does not bear false witness, does not covet, or do anything else that harms another person (Romans 13:8-9). Love actively does good instead of evil. Obeying the will of God from the heart is love in action (Romans 6:17; 1 John 3:17-18). Love is not set in contrast to obeying the law of God; It is not one or the other. Instead, love actively fulfills (accomplishes, obeys) the law of God.
1 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! (2 Timothy 3:1–5, NKJV)
Please read this list carefully. Let it sink into your heart. The “last days” and these dangers have continued since the first century (Hebrews 1:1-2; 1 John 2:18). Troublesome, difficult, stressful times exist as people turn away from God with selfish and sinful demands, expectations and actions. Christians are called to be God-loving, while those who press, stress and persecute God’s people love everything except God. They do not love good and they do not love God (v. 3, 4). They are hostile and heartlessness – they are without natural affection. Yet, they are warmly fond of some things. They “love” 1) Themselves (they are selfish and self-absorbed), 2) Money (they are materialistic and covetousness), and 3) Pleasure (they are fond of sensual delight). These obstructionists may even be religious (they appear godly), but their lives negate the power of true godliness. Satan’s angels still appear as servants of righteousness (2 Corinthians 11:13-15). Be warned, and turn away from such (Ephesians 5:11).