Love to be Like Jesus

Romans 12:3-5, 9-10, 16shutterstock_57727846-300x200
(3)  For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
(4)  For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:
(5)  So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.

(9)  Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.
(10)  Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another;

(16)  Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.

We will never see Jesus move in a great way until we see His creation as He does. Jesus’ body has many members, but each of these is to operate as one body. Such cooperation requires that we love each other. Such love will be shown by each member thinking of their brother as being greater than themselves!

Look the mind set that Paul said the Church in Philippi should possess.

Philippians 2:3 KJV
(3)  Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

Look at this same verse in a couple other translations.

Philippians 2:3 ESV
(3)  Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

Philippians 2:3 AMP
(3)  Do nothing from factional motives [through contentiousness, strife, selfishness, or for unworthy ends] or prompted by conceit and empty arrogance. Instead, in the true spirit of humility (lowliness of mind) let each regard the others as better than and superior to himself [thinking more highly of one another than you do of yourselves].

A disciple of Jesus Christ is called to lay down all motives that are selfish in nature, and to view those around them as more important than they see themselves. Such consideration derives from Jesus’ teachings on the great commandment.

Matthew 22:36-40
(36)  Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
(37)  Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
(38)  This is the first and great commandment.
(39)  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
(40)  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Jesus said to “love thy neighbor as thyself.” “Neighbor” means “nigh-bor” or those “nigh” to you. Such nearness is not limited to just those who have houses near to where you live; but more so, encompasses all men, women, and children in proximity to you at any given time. This includes people at your job, at the grocery, and other places where people are found near you…including your church.

The problem is nearness often involves more strife than love.  Think about it; the first of the month, you’re at the grocery. You find there a huge crowd. Lots of people in every isle, shopping. Their carts are over-running with all sorts of staples. The check out lines is long and crowded with moms and kids and old folks and, seemingly, everybody else. Do you feel ‘love’ seeing all those people? Or do you feel strife? Are you happy that you get to fellowship the large crowd ahead of you in the check out? Or does that long wait cause you to feel friction? And what about the “nigh-bors” at family get-togethers and high school reunions? Such gatherings comprise both love and strife, since they often consist of both desirable and less-desirable situations. Yet in all these times – and in many more – Jesus still calls us to prefer another’s well being more than we prefer our own.

The Jewish Talmud is said to contain nothing about loving our enemies. The Apostle Paul was trained in both the Torah (Old Testament) and in the oral traditions of the Talmud. In Romans 12:20, he shows that regardless of what traditions may or may not say, God’s Word requires all men to love their enemies.

Romans 12:20
(20)  Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.

Paul is quoting the following Torah passages:

Proverbs 25:21-22
(21)  If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink:
(22)  For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the LORD shall reward thee.

Paul was showing how a born again believer is to treat those “nigh-bors” who have become enemies against their own soul. Notice it says to love them enough to serve their needs. Loving them does not mean you accept or excuse their ways. It simply means you keep doing the right thing according to what’s best for your walk with God, and then you trust Jesus to take care of the judgment. This is why Paul premised his statement in Romans 12 with:

Romans 12:16-19
(16)  Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.
(17)  Recompense to no man evil for evilProvide things honest in the sight of all men.
(18)  If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
(19)  Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.

In Acts 5 we find a Pharisee named Gamaliel. He is said to be the son of Rabban Simeon, and the grandson of Hillel the great.  Simeon might be the priest who held Jesus in Luke 2. Hillel, Gamaliel’s grandfather, is often quoted by Jews even today. During Jesus’ day, the main schools of Rabbinic thought originated from either Rabban Shammai or Rabban Hillel. Hillel is the one who taught Gamaliel, who then taught Saul, who later became the Apostle Paul. When speaking on the ethic of reciprocity, or “The Golden Rule,” Hillel reportedly said, “What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow man.” (Hillel ca. 50 B.C.E. – C.E. 10) Jesus likewise spoke on this rule. He took a different posture than Hillel in the way in which this rule should operate.

Matthew 7:12
(12)  Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

Luke 6:31
(31)  And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.

Hillel took a passive position. To do as he taught requires no service from a believer. Jesus’ instruction is very different in that it requires action to obey. Jesus says that men and women are not to wait and “do not,” but to actively “do” unto others what they know is best for someone else. This requires a believer to first serve another’s needs before they concern themselves with their own. Jesus was all about serving, not about being served. His “Golden Rule” shows that agape love for another is first necessary if we are to receive similar love.

The love test is simple; do you want to do more for him or her than you want him or her to do for you? Think about it this way: Do you love chicken? If you did, then you would not eat them! You don’t “LOVE” chicken, you love what chicken does for you! This is not agape love.

When describing Agape love, Madeleine L’Engle wrote: “Agape love is…profound concern for the well being of another, without any desire to control that other, to be thanked by that other, or to enjoy the process.”

My dad used to say that all men should live by the following eight words: “use things not people; love people not things.” See, many times love is based on the giver receiving something back. They may love a person to get something back or they may love as long as the other person responds the way they feel they should. When one loves this way, they are using love for a self-serving means to receive a material possession or personal fulfillment. This is not the type love to which Jesus calls His Church. Ask yourself these questions: what if my love for a person never produces any kind of reciprocal love or gain? What if my giving is never received the way in which I intended? What if I am rejected or attacked while trying to love a person with Jesus’ agape love? Many of these situations occur daily in a believer’s life. What will you do when issues like these arise? How will you keep on loving like Jesus? The answer to this question is summed up in the one verse from John:

1 John 4:11
(11)  Beloved, if God so loved usWE OUGHT ALSO TO LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

We love all men – both the loveable and the not so loveable – because Jesus loves us! And remember “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

When I care more about someone else than I do about myself, when I’m willing to give to someone without expecting to receive anything back, when someone else’s happiness means more to me than seeing my own, its then – and only then – that that I can truly say that I love a person with a love similar to Jesus’.

John 13:34-35
(34)  A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
(35)  By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

Look now at the way the Message Bible translates these verses:

John 13:34-35 MSG
(34)  “Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another.
(35)  This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples–when they see the love you have for each other.”

When a men love God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength, they exhaust all the love contained within them. Since they have given all their love to God, they will have no love remaining to fulfill the command to “love thy neighbor as thyself.” To accomplish this, they must receive love from the source of true love – Jesus. Once a man’s emptied of hindrances that obstruct true love, God can then give him agape love so he can unselfishly love his neighbor as Jesus would have him. It is only then that the body of Christ can touch mankind with true agape love.

Philippians 3:10
(10)  That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

Paul cried, “I want to know Him…” Not just in the promise of the resurrection, which the gospel already promised, not just in suffering for Jesus’ Truth, which Paul was already experiencing, but also in dying out to his own will in preference to God’s. Remember, Jesus’ love was proven by His willingness to die for other men. This is the same test for men and women today; not dying by crucifixion, but in loving another so much that they forfeit their own life’s desires in favor of someone else’s. This is what Jesus meant when saying, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) Now let’s look at what many call the Bible’s “love chapter.”

1 Corinthians 13:1-13
(1)  Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
(2)  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, and have not charity, I am nothing.
(3)  And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

When we look at 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 we can see the attributes of immaturity and the attributes of maturity.

(4)  Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
(5)  Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
(6)  Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
(7)  Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

The “Love of God” will never fail.  It falls on the just and the unjust. The Lord Jesus forgave those who crucified Him. We must reject and refuse Him in order to come under the penalty of the curse. The “Love of God” is always there.  We are the ones who despise that love. Love is the true mark of benevolence. It gives and gives simply because that is its nature.

Look now at the remainder of this chapter:

(8)  Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
(9)  For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
(10)  But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
(11)  When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
(12)  For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
(13)  And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

Verse 8 is used by some in effort to say that there will be a day – someday – that the Holy Ghost will be removed from the earth, and God will save men with another gospel. Of course we know this cannot be true since the Bible emphatically states that there will never be another gospel other than that which we now have (See Gal. 1:6-7). Look again at verse 8:

(8)  Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

In this chapter, Paul is placing preeminence on the type of love we exhibit. This includes the way how we treat Jesus and how we treat His prized creation – man.

The word “katargeo” (Strongs #2673), appears twice in 1Corinthians 13:8. We find it in “shall fail” and in “vanish away.” The Thayer Greek Dictionary defines katargeo as: “(1) to render idle, unemployed, inactivate, inoperative (1a) to cause a person or thing to have no further efficiency (1b) to deprive of force, influence, power.” The subject context of this chapter confirms that Paul is not speaking about prophecies and knowledge someday ceasing from being available to man; in context, Paul is saying these gifts cease having effectiveness in the lives of men or women who refuse to grow in the agape love of God, thus rendering them spiritually immature.

If a person abides in the carnality that accompanies spiritual immaturity, they inevitably devalue the gifts that God has for their lives. Here Paul mentions “prophecies,” “tongues” and “knowledge.” Each of these speak of God’s communication to man. Paul is showing that a man and woman’s mouth does indeed speak the abundance of their heart (See Matthew 12:34), and if their words are not aligned with God’s love, then their words will distance them from their relationship with God.

John agrees with this summation in two areas of his first epistle.

1 John 2:5-11
(5)  But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfectedhereby know we that we are in him.

  • 1 John 2:5 MSG
    (5)  But the one who keeps God’s word is the person in whom we see God’s mature loveThis is the only way to be sure we’re in God.

A believer’s maturity is determined by their level of love for their brother.

(6)  He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.
(7)  Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning.
(8)  Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth.
(9)  He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.
(10)  He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.
(11)  But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.

We were translated from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of the light of Jesus Christ (See Col 1:13). The proof of this change of kingdoms is found in the way we love or don’t love those around us.

 1 John 3:10-14
(10)  In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.
(11)  For this is the message that ye heard from the beginningTHAT WE SHOULD LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

Not just love for God, but love for our fellow man. This type LOVE is THE MESSAGE of true Christianity!

(12)  Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.
(13)  Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.
(14)  We know that we have PASSED FROM DEATH UNTO LIFEBECAUSE WE LOVE THE BRETHREN. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.

The evidence of being born again is not just that you obeyed Acts 2:38, or that you spoke in tongues today; the evidence is that your born again experience has caused a new nature in you that is based in and proven by agape love. God does not call His believers to guard orthodoxy, nor to rely on sacraments; what Jesus calls each and every believer to is to love all men with agape love.

Love gone askew from its biblical foundation creates many problems. One of these is LegalismWebster’s defines this as: “the doctrine that salvation is gained through good works. The judging of conduct in terms of adherence to precise laws.” When we love incorrectly we begin to judge people according to what we think they should be instead of what God is creating them to be. Remember, love is patient and kind. Legalism is neither of these. It demands strict perfection with little regard to a believer’s physical, mental, or biblical level of maturity. Sadly, it is the legalist that is the one suffering from immaturity, not the one who is still spiritually growing. Legalists suffer when trying to love. Since their expectations are seldom achievable, their guilt makes it impossible for them to love either themselves or someone else.

Another area of perverted biblical love is found in GnosticismWebster’s defines this as: “a member of any of certain sects among the early Christians who claimed to have superior knowledge of spiritual matters, and explained the world as created by powers or agencies arising as emanations from the Godhead.” Gnostics claim to have knowledge that is greater than others around them. Their claimed enlightenment becomes their excuse for looking down on those without their particular revelation. I do believe in “The Truth,” but I also know that any Truth that is truly biblical must be easily found in the Bible. “Truth” that comes from philosophical teachings of a man or a group, or that can only be proven by “revelation” rather than by God’s Word, does not qualify as “biblical Truth.” Mostly Gnosticism breeds love of one’s mind and brand of beliefs. Gnostics can seldom love anyone outside their group, and often have a hard time truly loving those within their group as well. Instead of loving superior knowledge and revelations, Gnostics need to fall in love with the giver of all Truth – Jesus!

Also, we cannot forget about those who adhere to AntinomianismWebster’s defines an antinomian as: “a person who maintains that Christians are freed from the moral law by virtue of grace as set forth in the gospel.” These folks believe that the love of God is so great that He does not have any rules for or against what a person views as right or wrong. This is not grace but disgrace! God is our heavenly Father. Any father that does not establish clear and safe boundaries for their children is abusive, not loving. Remember, “God is not the author of confusion, but of peace” (See 1Cor 14:33). Children without rules are known as “juvenile delinquents.” Adults without rules are known as “anarchists.” God calls Christians without God’s rules, “unlearned” and “unstable.” The Bible says men and women who do so, wrestle against the scriptures “unto their own destruction” (see 2Pet 3:16). God’s commands give believers both safeties from what’s found outside the boundaries of God’s holiness and peace that comes from staying within His areas of grace. This, my friend, is love!

Let’s look again at Jesus’ teaching on true love.

Mark 12:28-34
(28)  And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all?
(29)  And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:
(30)  And THOU SHALT LOVE the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.
(31)  And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt LOVE THY NEIGHBOR as thyselfThere is none other commandment greater than these.
(32)  And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said THE TRUTH: for there is one God; and there is none other but he:
(33)  And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbor as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.
(34)  And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly he said unto him, THOU ART NOT FAR FROM THE KINGDOM OF GOD. And no man after that durst ask him any question.

This scribe said Jesus spoke “The Truth” in this teaching. This man understood that this love is truly the issue. Notice that Jesus answered him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” Jesus said, “You are so close. Once you receive the Holy Ghost, and you fuse it with this type love, you will experience the Kingdom of God.” This fusion is why John wrote:

1 John 4:7-8
(7)  Beloved, let us love one another: for LOVE IS OF GOD; and EVERY ONE THAT LOVETH IS BORN OF GOD, and KNOWETH GOD.
(8)  He that loveth not knoweth not God; for GOD IS LOVE.

You love God only as much as the man you love the least. Years ago I knew a man that got on my nerves quit frequently. I tried and tried, but he still got under my skin quicker than anyone I had ever known before. While praying one day the Lord asked me if I loved Him. I answered straightforwardly, “Of course I do, Lord.” “How much do you love this brother?” He asked. God did not ask me this because He needed my answer; He asked me because I needed to hear my answer. I reluctantly saw that I did not like this man very well. Once this was seen Jesus said, “You only love me to the degree that you love the man you care for the least.” From that day on I worked to find room in my heart for this man. As time went by I genuinely discovered that I did love him. Loving this man as Jesus asked brought me closer to both he and Jesus.

Jesus loves the least to the great. His love is not determined by who the person is or by what they can or cannot do. Jesus gave a glimpse of this in one of His parables when He said, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matthew 25:40). Our behavior is proof whether or not we possess the agape love of Jesus Christ. When we allow Jesus’ love to operate in and through us, we are loving Him. This type love allows the world to see Jesus working in the world today. He is the head; the Church is His body.

Finally, let me leave you with a scripture from Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians: “When we love as He loves, it is Jesus loving and touching His world. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that” (Eph 5:2 MSG). Amen! May we all love like that!

 

Copyright © 2007 TK Burk. All Rights Reserved.
www.tkburk.com

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