Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Importance of Love

Consider the two great commandments.  What is the command common to both?  Love. 

“'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  (Matt 27:37-40 NIV)

The most important thing you can do is to love.  It should be the Christian's #1 priority.

Consider the badge of the Christian.  How will people know that we are followers of Christ?  Is it our dress?  Our activities?  Our confession?  Yes, sometimes.  But it's most clearly seen elsewhere.  Jesus identified our badge as his followers as love.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  (John 13:34-35 NIV)

Among the many virtues (self-control, joy, kindness, humility, etc.), one stands out as preeminent: love.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. (Col 3:12-14 NIV)

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.  (1 Corinthians 13:13 NIV)

Listening to a recording of A. W. Tozer preaching recently, he said something that intrigued me.  "Do you know what chapter of the Bible troubles me the most?  It's not [I don't remember which he said], and it's not Revelation 19.  No, the chapter in the Bible that troubles me the most is 'If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.'" (1 Corinthians 13:1-3 NIV)

Pile up all your accomplishment, all your awards, all your achievements, and bring them before the throne of Christ.  What will he be looking for?  Love.  All your good deeds, if unaccompanied by love--nothing.  Reread those 3 verses.  Pretty powerful.

One other passage shows love's prominence and preeminence:

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,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.  (Romans 13:8-10 NIV)

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