Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Friday, 20 August 21:
[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 commandment from God is love, since “the aim of our charge” is love, we should seriously consider where we sit on these three essential elements. Since love is our ultimate calling 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 put away our old selfish, self-centered lives and follow our Lord and Savior who is Love (1 John 4:8).
Learn to 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.
- John 15:9, 10 — As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.
You can’t do what you don’t know, so, understanding God’s word on love is foundational to our sanctification, learning to love and abiding in love. The Great Commandment says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength “(Mark 12:30) You must have a heart and soul that desires to love, but you must also have a mind that knows how to love, and then you can use your strength (your God-given abilities) to love others. 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 will the Holy Spirit teach you about love today from the Bible, and how will that knowledge move from your head, to your heart, and to your mouth, hands, and feet; turning knowledge into understanding and wisdom (knowledge rightly applied), and bearing fruit in the lives of others?
Love flows from a pure heart:
- 2 Timothy 2:22 — So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
- 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.
- 1 Timothy 5:22 — Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, nor take part in the sins of others; keep yourself pure.
- 2 Corinthians 11:3 — But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.
- 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….
- Proverbs 21:8 — The way of the guilty is crooked, but the conduct of the pure is upright.
- Titus 2:5 — …be self-controlled, pure… that the word of God may not be reviled.
- Philippians 4:8 — Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
- James 1:27 — Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
- James 3:17 — But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.
- 1 Peter 1:22 — Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart….
- 1 John 3:3 — And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.
If we truly desire to obey God’s Great Commandment, we must relentlessly 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)
Love issues from a clear conscience:
- Acts 24:16 — So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man.
- Romans 9:1 — I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit—
- Romans 13:5 — Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.
- 2 Corinthians 1:12 — For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you.
- Hebrews 9:14 — …how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.
- Hebrews 10:22 — …let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
- Hebrews 13:18 — Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things.
- 1 Peter 3:16 — …having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.
If we truly desire to obey God’s Great Commandment of love, we must both rest in a clear conscience, having been purified and washed clean by the blood of Christ, and we must also strive to live by a clear conscience through thoughts, words, and deeds which honor God and demonstrate His love to others. Note from the verses above, that we have a requirement to both God and man. We must strive to lovingly treat others as we would hope to be treated. (Matthew 7:12); and 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) Loving God and loving others go hand-in-hand and are not separate lakes but one ocean of love as described in 1 John 4:11, 12 above. Love demands reconciliation with God and with others, and as Christians, we have been entrusted with both the message and ministry of reconciliation (see 2 Corinthians 5) How are you doing with that mission?
Love flows from a sincere faith:
- 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 you treat others reveals what you really believe about God; it reveals your faith. The ultimate secret to loving others is to have sincere faith in God’s love for both you and them. The more you appreciate God’s love, the more you will desire to love, the more God’s love will naturally flow through you to others. The more you are amazed by His grace bestowed upon you, the more people will be amazed by the grace you show others – “Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” (Luke 7:47)
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) – 20 August 21: Today, begin the habit of memorizing Bible verses on love, perhaps one for each week of the year.