Love Lessons from the Lord

gods-love  I wonder how many self-help books have been written to try to help people learn how to love each other?  Isn’t that what all those books are really about that are written on topics like marriage, dating, conflict resolution, parenting, and interpersonal relationships?

In the New Testament, we find a group of people who didn’t need to read any how-to books on love.  The Thessalonians had already learned their lesson. The apostle Paul wrote to them, “But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another” (1 Thessalonians 4:9).

God is certainly qualified to teach lessons on love.  Who would know more about what love is?  He is the definition of it!  “God is love” (1 John 4:8).  Among the many wonderful lessons we can learn from our heavenly Father, consider these on the nature of love:

  • Love is sacrificial. God gave His only begotten Son out of love for us (John 3:16).  This supreme sacrifice surely teaches us that love is sacrificial by nature.  “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:10-11).  If we say that we love, but are unwilling to sacrifice, we haven’t learned what love is. In 1 John 3:17-18, the apostle John said, “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.”
  • Love is merciful. Ephesians 2:4 states that “God…is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us.”  God’s love for us is the reason He is merciful to us – blessing and forgiving us.  Jesus commanded, “Therefore, be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful” (Luke 6:36).
  • Love is unconditional. It is natural to love those that love us, but it is Supernatural to love those that hate us.  This is the love that God teaches.  Jesus said, “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” (Matthew 5:43-45).
  • Unconditional love can be critical. Unconditional love does not equal uncritical love. Sometimes love demands that we point out the faults of those whom we love. We learn this from Jesus Himself, who told the Laodiceans in Revelation 3:19, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten.”  If we truly care for another person, we will say and do all that we can to keep them on the right path.

Learning to love means learning to sacrifice for others, to show mercy, to love the unlovable, and to correct those who need correcting.  Have you learned your lesson?

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Domestic Violence

Guest article by Joe R Price

Men hitting women. Such violence is deplorable, yet a reality in a world where selfish impulses take precedence over self-control, patience and kindness. The video of Ray Rice knocking out his fiancée (now wife) with one punch gave graphic confirmation of what was already known: He physically assaulted and abused her.  As The Boston Globe staff writer Chad Finn noted, men must be willing to be educated on how to view and treat women. Here is some of what God teaches on this subject. Men (husbands), are we willing to learn?

     1) Do no harm. “Love does no harm to a neighbor” (Rom. 13:10). Spousal abuse displaces a number of things that are the very opposite of love (see 1 Cor. 13:4-7). If you are doing anything that harms your wife, you are not loving her; you are sinning against her.

     2) Do not be bitter toward your wife. “Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them” (Col. 3:19). Bitterness is a selfish attitude. Lashing out toward your wife is bitterness on vivid, sinful display.

     3) Be understanding and honor your wife. “Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the wicker vessel…” (1 Pet. 3:7). Men, women are different than we are! Husbands must be willing to learn about their wives and show them honor; not ridicule, belittling and battery.

     4) Treat your wife as your own flesh. “So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it…” (Eph. 5:28-29). Spousal abuse is often followed by extreme remorse and vows of “never again”, all too often to see the same abuse repeated. You are “one flesh” in marriage. Abusing your wife (physically or emotionally) is an act of hatred against her, yourself and God who joined you together.

Husbands and wives must respect each other, not only in public, but also privately. This begins by respecting God

–Joe R. Price

Where is it Written in Stone?

  Our culture deplores unchangeable rules.  We don’t like prohibitions and restrictions, and so we want to be able to alter or eliminate them.  This attitude is so prevalent that some advertisers actually try to attract buyers with slogans like “no rules, just right” or “the rules have changed.” 

  Often those desiring to change rules will ask, “Where is it written in stone” that something must be done a certain way?  The implication is that if it isn’t written in stone, it wasn’t meant to be permanent to begin with, and it is therefore subject to change.   The question, “Where is it written in stone?” expresses the desire of man’s heart to change rules or procedures.

  So, rules are changed constantly in virtually every area of modern life.  Some are changed because they are bad or inadequate; but just as often, they are changed because it’s inconvenient to keep them, they aren’t being kept anyway, or somebody complained enough.

  The rules or laws God gave the Israelites in ancient times actually were written in stone.  They were literally delivered on “two tablets of stone” and were “written with the finger of God” (Deuteronomy 9:10; cf. Exodus 34:1).  Choosing the medium of stone as a writing material emphasized the relative permanence of these laws.  By writing with His own finger, the Lord indicated that these laws were of divine origin, unalterable by human hands.

   The Lord Himself did eventually change those rules.  He took the “handwriting of ordinances…out of the way, having nailed it to his cross.” (Colossians 2:14).  He decided to give His people new rules as part of a new covenant. He declares, “I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people” (Hebrews 8:10).  Notice that the new laws would still be written by God and thus be unalterable by man. But they are not written on tablets of stone.  They are written on human hearts. 

    God’s laws today are on the hearts of His covenant people. Since God has written them there, they are not subject to change by humans.  But more than that, because they are written on our hearts, we do not want to change them.  You see, if we are truly God’s people, His laws are part of us.  They are what we want to do!  Regarding His laws, we would never begin to ask, “Where is it written in stone?” because there is no desire within us to change His rules.  We love His laws, and we live His laws. 

   

 — Steve Klein