Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Colossians 1:3-5a The Direction of Our Love II

We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
praying always for you, since we heard of you faith in Christ Jesus
and the love which you have for all the saints; because of the hope
laid up for you in heaven...
Colossians 1:3-5a

This is a continuation of the previous post.

Why is this love directed toward the saints?
Most of us who have been Christians for any length of time are familiar with the two greatest commandments in all of Scripture. The greatest is to love the Lord your God with all of your heart, and with all of your soul, and with all of your mind, and the second is like it, it is to love your neighbor as yourself. We all know that when Jesus came He fulfilled all of the law, so He fulfilled these two commandments. But what He also did was to raise the bar.  Look at John 13:34-35. Here Jesus gives a new command, and this command is to love (agapao) one another, which would be fellow believers (the saints), not as ourselves, but as He has loved us. This is what John is referring to in I John 4:7 when he says “Beloved let us love one another, for love is from God.” So we are to have the same love toward all the saints that Christ Jesus has for us. This is why Paul is commending the Colossian saints, for following the command of Christ to love one another as He has loved us. According to John 13:35 this love for all the saints will prove to all men that we are His disciples, His followers. If you think about what we have seen about agape, you can understand how this would be a witness to all men that we are His disciples, His followers, because only Christ or someone who has Christ living within can love like this.

We also see that this is a particular love.  It is Christ’s love, and His love for his own, His saints, being lived out through His saints for one another. This is a powerful witness to all men, both saved and unsaved, of the reality of the power and love of Christ. And when we follow His command to love one another we prove our love for Him as He said in John 14:15 “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments,” and we see the saints at Colossae doing just that. Isn’t it wonderful that the love of Christ has already been poured out within our hearts so that His command to love one another as He has loved us is not burdensome, but a joy. Christ Jesus wants us to love one another as He loved us. He wants us, His own, to continually share and experience His love for us with and through each other. Oh, what a glorious thing this ought to be in the church, to never be without the love of Christ. What a wonderful provision He has given us to never be without His love. This is the reason behind the gifts and the gifted given to the church in Ephesians chapter 4, to attain to the stature of the fullness of Christ, and in doing so the church will build itself up in love, agape, Christ’s love.

How is this love manifested?
When something is manifested it means that it is revealed. As believers we reveal the love of Christ in how we live it out, and from the context here in Colossians it is lived out in relation to other believers. Let’s look at some practical examples from the Scriptures.

We are to be angry and yet, not sin.
We are to let no unwholesome word proceed from our mouth, but only that which edifies.
We are to let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and slander be put away from us.
We are to be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other.
We are to bear one another’s burdens.
We are to bear one another’s weaknesses.
We are to be on the alert and pray for one another with all prayer and petition.
We are not to be arrogant toward one another.
We are not to be partial.
We are to treat each other the way we would want to be treated.
We are to please others instead of ourselves.
We are to defer to others by considering one another as more important than ourselves.
We are to do no wrong to one another.
We are to accept one another.
We are to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice.
We are not to be provoked.
We are not to act unbecomingly toward one another.
We are to speak the truth to one another in love
We are to be patient with one another.
We are not to gossip about one another.
We are to consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds.
We are to provide for one another’s needs.
We are to reconcile with one another.
We are to gently restore those who sin.
We are to be subject to one another.
Our love is to cover a multitude of sins against us and still keep on loving.
No matter how much and how well we love we are to excel still more.

This is the essence of love, God’s own love, Christ’s own love, that has been given to us.  This is the love in which we are rooted and by which we are grounded.

You know, we hear so often today that we are to love ourselves or that we must learn to love ourselves. This is the mantra behind all the self-help books and seminars, many of the twelve step programs, and unfortunately is what is being taught in so many churches. This is the eternal lie. Self love is the polar opposite of agape.  Love of self is what Satan has always possessed.  It is what Satan was really telling Eve to do in the garden. It is what Satan was tempting Christ to do in the wilderness. Isn’t it interesting that there is no place in Scripture that says God loves Himself. What Scripture says is that God loves us, that God loves His Son, that God so loved us that He gave His Son, His only Son whom He loved, for us, that we might have eternal life with Him and enjoy His presence forever. In addition, we are not commanded in Scripture to love ourselves, but to love God, to love our neighbor as we love ourselves and to love one another as He has loved us. In fact, there is no place in the Scriptures where self love is commended.

In I Corinthians 13:5 it says that love does not seek its own.  In other words it is not self seeking, self focused.  The focus of our love is to be on God and therefore on His saints, our brother and sisters in Christ. My friends don’t fall prey to the siren song of self love, but follow the command of Christ, the example of Christ, to love one another as He has loved us. Greater love has no man than this than that He would lay down His life for His friends. My friends, my fellow saints, let us love like this today.

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