Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Friday, 23 August 19:
Note: Here is a link to a short video overview of 1 Timothy: https://youtu.be/7RoqnGcEjcs
1 Timothy 1:5 — “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.”
Love comes from 1) a pure heart, 2) a good conscience, and 3) a sincere faith. Since our greatest command is love, we should seriously consider where we sit on these three essential elements. Our Great Commandment from God is “love.” Our “charge” is love. So, naturally, since love is our life’s duty, given to us by God who IS love, we should strive to become experts, masters of love. We must be both students and practitioners, involving both diligent study and practice, guided by the Teacher, as we forget about our old lives and follow our God who is Love.
– John 17:3 — And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
– John 17:17-19 — Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.
– John 15:9 — As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.
– 1 John 4:11, 12 — Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
You can’t do what you don’t know, so, understanding God’s word on love is foundational to our sanctification. We cannot love apart from Biblical knowledge — to love we must be “transformed by the renewal of [our] mind[s].” (Romans 12:2) The Bible has much to teach us about true love, and we have much to learn as we grow up in God’s love which is 180-out from what the world teaches about love. God is careful to remind us, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8, 9) We must forget what we thought we knew about love and our personal opinions about what love is and submit to God’s definition of love. How many verses in the Bible speak directly about love? Do you know them all?
The Bible, however, is also very clear that knowledge alone does not make us loving. In fact, knowledge that is not “of the Spirit” and applied from a heart of love can be a prideful thing that “puffs up.” (1 Corinthians 8:1) Our aim is to “know (become one with) the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge,” and to “be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:19) So, what does the Bible teach us about love today?
– 1 Timothy 4:12 — Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.
– 2 Corinthians 6:4, 6 – “…but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way… by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love….
If we truly desire to obey God’s Great Commandment, we must relentless pursue purity — “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8) “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.” (Psalm 119:9)
– Acts 24:16 — “So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man.”
If we truly desire to obey God’s Great Commandment of love, we must strive for a good conscience. Note from the verse above, that we have a requirement to both God and man. Yes, we must seek forgiveness from others and give forgiveness to others freely. Jesus told us: “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23, 24)
– 2 Corinthians 5:7 — We walk by faith, not by sight.
– Hebrews 11:6 — And without faith it is impossible to please him.
– Proverbs 3:5-7 — Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
Finally, if you want to obey God’s Great Commandment of love, you must live by faith. It takes great faith to truly love; to love even your enemies and pray (a secret sacrifice and gift of love) earnestly for those who persecute you; to give and forgive unconditionally, expecting nothing in return; to take up your cross daily in relationships; and to boldly share the Gospel with others, though it may be uncomfortable, perhaps even dangerous, because love compels you and faith empowers you. It takes faith to invest time every day in the study of God’s word and in pray that you would grow in your understanding of love and increasingly know the God of Love. It takes faith to walk in purity when it means you may be walking alone (though we are never really alone) at times; and it takes faith to make the daily sacrifices required to maintain a clear conscience before both God and man.
How are you doing in the areas of purity, conscience, and faith? Pray to God that he will increase your knowledge, understanding, faith, hope, and love.
– John 21:15-17 — When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.”
– 1 Thessalonians 5:8 — But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.
– 1 Corinthians 13:13 — So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 23 August 19: Today, begin the habit of memorizing Bible verses on love, perhaps one for each week of the year.