How does your understanding of God’s love effect your life? Can you say, “God is love.” or “I know that God loves me.” without in turn loving others? Can you take God’s love for granted? Certainly we all do at times. Now let me ask you another question. Does the teaching that you receive in your church inspire you to love others or does it make you want to separate from those who are not like you? As the Apostle Paul instructed the young pastor, Timothy to lead the church at Ephesus, his first instruction was to command false teachers to quit adding to the Gospel. This was obvious because their teaching brought endless arguing and debate. That is not to say that we should end all debate, but that the main fruit of it was not godliness and contentment but pride and contention. This ought not to be the case.
1 Timothy 1:3-4 As I urged you when I went into Macedonia–remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine, 4 nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith.
Love certainly is not afraid of confrontation when it is needed. As these men who claimed the office of teacher showed the wrong fruit, it was necessary to stop them. They imagined themselves teachers of the Law (1 Timothy 1:7) but really did not base their teachings on the truth of God’s Word. The purpose of instruction in the church is not to show ourselves how wonderful we are. It is not to brag about our superior knowledge or morality. It is not supposed to generate an attitude of arrogance! Paul tells Timothy what the ultimate goal of all instruction is supposed to be.
1 Timothy 1:5 Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith,
In the context of the first chapter of 1 Timothy, it should become obvious that love for one another is the indispensable fruit of knowing Christ. In the Law and in the Gospel, love for God and one another is the goal;
Matthew 22:36-40 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” 37 Jesus said to him, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
John 13:34-35 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Don’t take this as an assertion that the Bible teaches that we just love people without regard to truth or sin. The context of the passage in 1 Timothy certainly does not support that idea! Love looks out for the benefit of others; the true benefit! The Love of God, His creating, preserving and saving us from our sin was not just a feeling or a sentiment. It involved His own personal expense and suffering. Love does that. It also rebukes the one who is bent on self-destruction, i.e the false teachers in Ephesus. But it does not teach us to hate people. It does not teach us to neglect or separate ourselves from them.
We certainly do not deserve the Love of God! To take it in and not see the need to let if flow back out to others is blindness in the extreme. What would your spouse say if you expected them to give in their relationship to you but you never gave back to them in that relationship? It would not be much of a relationship.
Matthew 5:43-48 “You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’ 44 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, 45 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. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? 48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.
The purpose of the commandment is, Love from a pure heart, a good conscience and sincere faith. The teaching that is done in our churches, that we listen to on the radio, television or internet, what purpose does it serve? It must be both sound in doctrine and conducive to generating an attitude of love in us or it is either inadequate or in error.
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