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Who Do You Love?

Who Do You Love?

    Many will recognize the title of this week’s article as a song written in 1956 by Bo Diddley and recorded by a number of folks down through the years.   I thought this to be an appropriate title for this week’s article as many are beginning to focus on the up-coming holiday, Valentine’s Day.

   According to “legend” there was an early Roman Catholic bishop by the name of Valentinus who was reportedly imprisoned in Rome because he was performing weddings for soldiers, who were forbidden to marry, and ministering to those “Christians” persecuted under the Roman empire. The legend states that this man wrote a letter, just prior to his execution, to the blind daughter of his judge, and he signed it “Your Valentine” as a farewell.   Of course the Catholics later made him a “saint” and the course of a holiday was charted. Then in the 14th century, the English poet, Geoffrey Chauser wrote of the day in terms of romantic love and by the 18th century, a flourishing business had developed as “courtly love” was expressed with flowers, confectionery (candy) and greeting cards. The cards became known as (you guessed it) valentines. The season is upon us and many are spending much to express their love in various ways. A whole industry has developed as a result.

   There is much said about love in the Word of God and has none of these have to do with cards, or other expressive ways man has invented to deal with this God given emotion.  With love, man has (as he has done with most things that God has given) focused on one aspect, and not necessarily what was intended. In fact, in the King James Bible, there are 311 occurrences of the word “love”. In each place this word is found, the context needs to be consulted to determine the type or kind of love being referenced. Also the context is necessary to see the object of the love being referenced.

     The first reference to love in the Bible is found in Genesis 27:4 and the object of love here is the “savoury meat, such as I love”. This “love” was expressed by Isaac in his advanced age as he prepared to bless Esau. And make me savoury meat, such as I love, and bring it to me, that I may eat; that my soul may bless thee before I die.  The first reference to “romantic love” is in Genesis 29:20 when the days seemed but few as Jacob labored under Laban for the hand of Rachael, the younger daughter.   And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her. This is the kind of love all young woman likely desires that their man had for them.  

     But there are “loves” that are by for more important than either of these which have been previously mentioned in this article.   One of these is that which God has shown for all humanity in the sending of His Son to die on the cross.   John 3:16 is a passage familiar to many, yet the depth of the meaning is lost on most. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.    Some even suffer the delusion that simply because God gave Jesus, they have eternal life. For this to be the case, God would have to authorize “unrequited love”. We know from a study of the Word, that God expects His people to love each other and to love Him.  

     When God had separated out a people (Israel) through whom He would carry out His plan for the redemption of souls, He gave them a Law.   In Leviticus 19:18 we find in that Law, that love for one’s neighbor as one loved himself was required. Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD. God also required His people to love Him, as is evidenced by Deuteronomy 6:5. And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. But then in vss 6-7 of the same book and chapter we see how this love was to be carried out and taught.   And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. 

     Then as we examine the latter part of the New Testament, 1John 2:9-10 shows that loving one’s brother is also a commandment of God under this dispensation. 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.  Then in 1Thessalonians 4:9 the Spirit had Paul write to these brethren on the same vein.   But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another. 

     We also have the teaching of Christ in Matthew 10:37-38 showing that love and devotion to even our parents and family is not as important as love to the Lord. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.   Now, who do you Love?  How do you show it?   Who, or what you love is evident in your actions. It’s something to think about.        

                                     Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

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