Love one another as I have loved you. These were the words that Jesus spoke to his desciples. But what is love? How can we understand what this love is that is required of us? The whole law that was passed to Mozes could be summarised in: Love the Lord your God and love your neigbour as your self. And then, Jesus came to set us free from our sins. His offering was, is and shall be a perfect offering for our sins. But He also had an important message to share with us.
In most of His dealings with His disciples and pharisees, He was showing them that love is more important than being a self-righteous, follow-the-book kind of person. Paul also highlights this with even more added weight:
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;
does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;
does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;
bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.
For we know in part and we prophesy in part.
But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. (I Corinthians 13:1-10 NKJV)
So we need love, and much of it. So let us examine a recent development and challenge ourselves to find out where we stand: the refugee crisis in Europe. I’ll be honest with you, I was convicted by the Holy Spirit, so I pray that He would allow the same thing for all of us.
We see streams of refugees come in to the western european society. There are mixed feelings: Some want to help and others feel threatened. What is your feeling/position/situation towards this development? Are you feeling sorry for those who had to abandon house, community, possessions and land to run for their lives? Or do you feel threatened to share your piece of land, peace and provisions to help, support and nurture those who flee to us for protection? What are we willing to sacrifice for others? What do we feel to give in order to help another? These are very though questions, which are also very challenging ones. It seems as though we are only ‘succesful’ in this world if we take, keep and don’t give. That certainly is the way of this world. So if we want to be ‘succesful’ in the world, we have a problem when many come in our country. Then our recourses are burdened and we feel threatened.
Is that the way we are told to live? Let’s go and study some verses. One chapter that pops up here is Matthew 5:
For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’
But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.
If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also.
And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,
that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?
And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?
Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:20, 38-48 NKJV)
What do we say then? If this is what Jesus asked of us.. Our love has to surpass our ‘bookkeeping’ of holiness. The pharisees kept all the laws, but they forsook some. They kept all the laws that seemed more important in their own eyes and neglected the least important in their own eyes.
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation.
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. (Matthew 23:14,15, 23 NKJV)
So it is .. that we must take care of those around us. Yes even those that have come to take away our supplies. The Lord has instructed us to give more than they want. We are to be their neighbours, and love them as ourselves. Do to them whatever you would do to yourself if you were in that position. why?
Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in;
I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’
And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ (Matthew 23:34-36, 40 NKJV)
or do you prefer to hear..
“Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:
for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink;
I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’
Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ (Matthew 23:41-43, 45 NKJV)
Let us not grow weary in wel doing. Remember what Paul mentioned in I Corinthians 13:1-10, and what the Lord told us to do. Having outstanding knowledge of the scriptures is great! Having faith to move whole mountains (even continents) is awesome. But without LOVE… it is worthless… Wow imagine that!
Let us from this day on ask the Holy Spirit to help us examine our motives every time. Holy Spirit please help us to see our ways as You see them and change in us whatever needs to be changed. So that our motives reflect Your ways of love and not self-righteousness, pride, greed, envy, strife or any other ungodly behaviour. Empower us to the point that we can give freely, happily, with simplicity, giving and not expecting anything back, not even a smile. Let us be as our Father in Heaven, who gives blessings to those who hate Him, in the hope that they may one day turn from their wickedness. Provide us with trust in Your omnipotent ability and provision oh God, so that we can give and not worry about our own reserves. We pray in Jesus mighty name, Amen!