Wednesday, January 12, 2011

January 12, 2011 … The Importance of Brotherly Love

Passage of the Day: Hebrews 13: 1 [NIV] – Keep on loving each other as brothers.

Hebrews 13: 1 – [NASB] – Let love of the brethren continue.

My Journal for Today: Again from the verse of the day, the Author of Hebrews exhorts believers to hold out brotherly love for other Christians on a continual basis. In this passage, the author uses the Greek term “philadelphia” to speak of God’s exhortation to Christian love. “Philadelphia,” translated into our American culture, is the human love that we hold for those dear to us. It’s … the love that gives and takes in human relationships. However, when Jesus commands His followers to express HIS love to our fellow man, our Lord uses an even stronger term in the Greek for love, “agape,” which is the love that gives and gives and then keeps on giving. It’s that unconditional love that actually is supernatural. [Again, I refer you to Jesus’ mandate in John 13: 34 - 35]

>>> SCRIPTURE: John 12: 34 "A new command I give you: Love [Greek – “agapao”] one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another."

And in his first epistle, John, reiterates this Christlike emphasis on love. Read 1st John 3: 17 – 20 [and especially note verse 18 in bold below]…

>>> SCRIPTURE: John 3: 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? 18Dear children, let us not love [again, the Greek – “agapao”] with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 19 This then is how we know that we belong to the truth [i.e., that we are truly Christians], and how we set our hearts at rest in His presence 20whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything.

And here is the tough thing for Christians from the words of Jesus and His Spirit, through the Apostle John, quoted above. They are telling us that we cannot really call ourselves “born-again Christians” and refuse to love anyone, let alone fellow Christians. John is even writing, inspired by God’s Spirit, that no mature Christian would ever refuse to help another person, and especially another Christian, in genuine need. Such refusal would demonstrate, according to God’s word, a rejection of God’s love, which simply would not be the case with the genuine, surrendered Christian. And if a Christian were to sin by refusing to love another (love is always a choice!), then the conviction of God’s Spirit would be present in the Christian’s heart and would alert the believer of his/her sin. I certainly have felt that kind of conviction when my selfishness has been exercised and I’ve refused to reach out in love to others when I saw them in need.

We’ve heard of “tough love,” which is love doled out in challenging acts of separation or even rejection of the behavior of those whom we don’t want to be “enablers” for their acts of sin. Jesus taught (in Matt. 18) that there is a time when we must love another Christian enough to put them out of the church for their habitual and flagrant sin. But there’s another kind of tough love as well… and that’s “the love that is tough” to express in living up to John’s exhortation in 1John 3: 18, “… let us not love with (just) words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” I think you’d agree that this can be really tough at times; and I must admit, I find it difficult to live this out when I perceive a “drunk” panhandling for money. My struggle and question is: “How do I show love to this man?” My rational nature is saying: “If I give him money, he’s going to use it for booze.” >>> Have you ever been there and wondered how to “love” the sinner without enabling the sin? That is the real tough love for me.

Yes, all of us who are genuinely in Christ must continually take a sober look at our relational choices; and if God, the Holy Spirit, convicts us of any act where we withhold our “agape,” or our “philadelphia” from another, we simply must act to allow God’s love to be channeled through us to others. Again, according to Jesus in John 13: 34 - 35, that’s the only way that the world is ever going to see God’s love working in and through us as Christians; – and that, my dear one, is when God’s love is given out in His Name by His people.

How about it?! Let’s give out a little “agape” today and let the lost world see Christ in us.

My Prayer Today: Lord, convict me to be a light of love in this ever darkening world. Amen

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