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Who Do You Love?

Who Do You Love?

     By asking the question which is the title of this week’s bulletin article, it is apparent that we have choice of whom or to what we will show our deepest affection. One biblical way of asking this question was utilized by our Lord in John 21:16-17 following His coming forth from the dead as He appeared to His apostles. He asked: “lovest thou me?”. In both of these verses, Christ directed the question specifically to Peter.   The response from Peter each time was “thou knowest that I love thee.”   In verse 17, Peter affirmed that the Lord “knowest all things”. As Christ is God, we also know this to be so.

     In this same book and chapter, we have a question from the Lord which indicates that one can love someone in varying degrees, or that one can love one more than another. We have this inquiry of Christ in verse 15: “Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?” As Peter was with the other disciples (apostles), it is clear that our Lord was asking Peter whom he loved the most, the Christ Who died to provide Salvation, or his fellow apostles.   Once, following Peter’s response, the Lord Commanded: “Feed my lambs”, and twice He Commanded: “Feed my sheep”.   Because of their love for the souls of man, all the apostles would all participate in carrying out this Command and in so doing, show their great love for Christ and God.

     The “job” for which the Lord prepared the apostles included teaching the gospel message of love. Christ’s response in John 14:23-24 to the question of Judas (not Iscariot), indicates this very thing.   Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. 24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me.  We then see from verse 26 how the apostles were to receive that saving message and on-going instruction after the Lord’s ascension.   But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

     Our Lord never taught that one must love Him exclusively.   He indicated this clearly in Matthew 10:37-38 as He taught that we are to love Him more than even our own family.   He said: “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. ” We are to understand from this that we are all to love father, mother, sons, daughters and siblings, but our love for the Lord is to be greater. This was taught while the O.T. Law of Moses was in effect, and aligns perfectly with Luke 9:23-24 which also shows how often His followers are to show that love. And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. 24 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.

     Love for God and love of one another is also taught in the N.T. Law of Christ.   In 1John 1:8-11 we find these Words, provided by the Spirit and penned by that beloved apostle John.   He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. 9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. 10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.  Husbands are also to love their wives as Christ gave us example per Ephesians 5:25. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;   Another great example is shown in 1John 4:19, and shows that love originated with God. We love him, because he first loved us.

     Of course, no discussion of God’s Love for man can be complete without pointing out John 3:16-17.   So many “hang” their Salvation on these verses, yet fail to follow the Commandments of God. 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. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.  I fail to understand why man cannot see that God’s Love alone will not save the soul of man without man doing something.   If that were the case, Jesus needn’t have died on Calvary’s cruel cross. 1John 5:3 gives every indication that each individual also has responsibility in the Salvation of their souls. Keeping God’s Commandments is also how we show our love for Him. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

     This is also supported by 1John 2:5 . But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.   The “Him” here is Christ. Titus 2:14 shows what Christ did for man. Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. Considering all God and Christ has done for mankind, perhaps the question should be: “Who Do You Love Most?”   Keep His Commandments; obey the gospel, continue to keep them.   Show your love for God and prepare for eternity.

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

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