Jehovah did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all peoples: but because Jehovah loveth you, and because he would keep the oath which he swore unto your fathers, hath Jehovah brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.
Know therefore that Jehovah thy God, He is God, the faithful God, who keepeth covenant and loving-kindness with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations (Deuteronomy 7:6-9)
We believers have been grafted into the tree of God’s love. We are deeply privileged to have been elected to be children of God and heirs of His love.
But the Pharisees, when they heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, gathered themselves together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question, trying him: Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?
And he said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second like unto it is this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments the whole law hangeth, and the prophets. (Matthew 22:34-40)
Our Savior calls us to an extravagant outpouring of love. If we are to love God in this way, we must consider the totality of God’s love for us. Once we embrace the concept of the total love God has for us and our total love for God, we are called to embrace the concept of total love for others, emulating our loving Father, whether or not others deserve it; whether or not they respond in like love.
For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, that ye may be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inward man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; to the end that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be strong to apprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that ye may be filled unto all the fulness of God. (Ephesians 3:14-19)
When Christ dwells in our hearts, His love is in us. He then schools us by the Holy Spirit.
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he shall guide you into all the truth: for he shall not speak from himself; but what things soever he shall hear, these shall he speak: and he shall declare unto you the things that are to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall take of mine, and shall declare it unto you. (John 16:13-14)
The Holy Spirit will teach us about the expanse of Christ’s love – all we can assimilate now in our materialistic framework, all that we can bear in our frail physical being.
I rejoice greatly that I have found certain of thy children walking in truth, even as we received commandment from the Father. And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote to thee a new commandment, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another. And this is love, that we should walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, even as ye heard from the beginning, that ye should walk in it. (2 John 1: 4-6)
His Commandments are summed up – “Love God, love others”. Augustine said, “love God and do as you please.” Out of love for God, all you do will please Him, because your love for Him does not allow you to displease Him by overt sinful acts. Thus, when a believer pleases God, it pleases the believer.
“And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. And if ye love them that love you, what thank have ye? for even sinners love those that love them. And if ye do good to them that do good to you, what thank have ye? for even sinners do the same. And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? even sinners lend to sinners, to receive again as much.
But love your enemies, and do them good, and lend, never despairing; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be sons of the Most High: for he is kind toward the unthankful and evil.
Be ye merciful, even as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:32-36)
Love is fully exercised when we struggle to love the unlovely, the undeserving and the ungrateful; just like God loves us who are unlovely, undeserving and ungrateful.
A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; even as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. (John 13:34-35)
To the Jews God gave Ten Commandments, whereas to believers Jesus gives just one,
“This is my commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you.” (John 15:12)
This, “as I have loved you”, is an extremely high threshold!
“And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote to thee a new commandment, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another.” (2 John 5)
When the Holy Spirit repeats the same teaching in Scripture several times, He really wants us to learn, obey and exercise that principle – love one another!
God refers to His covenant with His people as a “covenant of love”. How is this different from the New Covenant?
Answer: The covenant of love God speaks of in the Old Testament is God’s covenant or faithful promise to love the Children of Israel. In Jeremiah 31:31-34 God introduces the concept of a new covenant.
Behold, the days come, saith Jehovah, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was a husband unto them, saith Jehovah. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith Jehovah: I will put my law in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know Jehovah; for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith Jehovah: for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin will I remember no more. (Read Jeremiah 31)
This is different in that God’s commandments are not external, but internalized. We obey, because we love Him. His love is not taught as an article of faith, but is experienced through the action of the Holy Spirit.
What happened to Israel when they broke the Old Covenant?
Answer: God punished them, often destroying the worst offenders, but God put even the faithful remnant through the chastisement.
Did God stop loving them?
John 13:15 says that everyone will know His disciples, if we love one another. How does this work?
Answer: When Christ’s love permeates our lives, it cannot help but be noticed. Our loving words about and acts to our siblings in Christ demonstrate what is going on in our hearts.
In your experience, do you find it easier or harder to love non-Christians as you do other Christians?
Answer: Because there is spiritual connection it is easier to love our brothers and sisters in Christ. There is no spiritual barrier, which is formidable. Our compassion for Non-Christians is based on their great need for Christ or it is based on physical attraction. There is no spiritual component, since the unbeliever’s spirit has not been quickened by Jesus.
Is it easy for you “to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ” for you?
Answer: It is beyond our capacity in this temporal and corruptible form to grasp Christ’s love. Even when we are in our imperishable bodies in the Presence of God, we will not be able to plumb the depth, nor measure the span, nor grasp the scope of God’s love.
Nevertheless, we currently have the capacity for much greater appreciation of God’s love than we experience, so our desire is to grow in that knowledge daily. Then when God calls us into His Presence, we will be joyfully surprised by the magnitude of God’s love for us!