Romans 12:10 (NIV)
Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.
Our Verse of the Day continues to examine the expectations and qualities of our personal relationships with others. These are always great reminders when we might feel otherwise in our attitudes with other people. The Apostles give us some practical ways to demonstrate love … to be devoted to one another in love and to honor others above ourselves:
Romans 13:8-10 (NIV)
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” (Citing Exodus 20:13-17; Deuteronomy 5:17-21) and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Citing Leviticus 19:18) Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law.
Galatians 6:1-3 (NIV)
Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves.
1 Thessalonians 4:9-10 (NIV)
Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. And in fact, you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more….
James 2:8-9 (NIV)
If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well; but if you show favoritism, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors.
1 Peter 1:22-23 (NIV)
Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from a pure heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring Word of God.
1 John 3:11-18 (NIV)
For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s actions were righteous. Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him. This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
Well, if you are struggling with loving other people as God sees them, especially those you consider the most unlovable, then I hope these Scriptures will give you some renewed encouragement to love as God in Christ has demonstrated His love for you. When it hurts to love because someone has hurt us … when it is not convenient to love because it takes of our time … when it is difficult to love because we have disagreements … when love requires financial sacrifice to provide for the needs of others … how do we put the unmerited, compassionate, agape love of God into action – in real terms? I am reminded that Jesus addressed this issue for us:
Luke 6:27-36 (NIV)
But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most-High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
As I mediated on all these scriptures, the word “kindness” came to mind. Jesus said that God is kind to the ungrateful and wicked – like many of us before we received the grace of repentance and came to a knowledge of the truth in Christ Jesus! Kindness is the greatest demonstration of the other fruit of the Spirit. Love, peace, goodness, gentleness, and self-control can all be expressed through our kindness. And kindness is inherent in longsuffering and faithfulness. Paul observed it is the kindness of God that leads us to repentance (Cf. Romans 2:4). So, I think the kindness we extend to others should have this same intention. Indeed, “Mercy triumphs over judgment!” (Cf. James 2:13)
My friends, I think it is important for us to remember that God expressed His “unmerited” love through the riches of His kindness. As Paul wrote: “God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Cf. Romans 5:8) There is nothing we did to earn it or deserve it. We are sinners saved by grace alone! (Cf. Ephesians 2:5) And so, I believe it follows that we are to love others without consideration of “merit”. We are not to love others because they deserve our love, forgiveness, or compassion; rather, we are to love others and to be merciful to them fully for the sake of love itself … while they too are yet sinners. That is HOW God has loved us … without condition! Amen!
So Now You Know…
Have a Blessed Day!
Instead of being motivated by selfish ambition or vanity, each of you should, in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself. Each of you should be concerned not only about your own interests, but about the interests of others as well. You should have the same attitude toward one another that Christ Jesus had toward you. ~ Philippians 2:3-5