Tag Archives: love

Do You Love Me More Than ______?

“Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off. When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead. 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.”” (John 21:4-15)

After his resurrection, Jesus will come to the apostles on a number of occasions while making the final preparations for his ascension. The third occasion is described here.

Peter, John, and others are out fishing, and have not had anything to show for it. Jesus tells them to cast their net out the right side of the boat and immediately the net is filled to overflowing with more than 150 fish.

When Peter and the others come to the shore, knowing that it is Jesus waiting for them, they prepare to sit down and eat with him. While they are eating, Jesus asks Peter a question: “Do you love me more than these?”

The question is both interesting and important. He uses the Greek word “agape” for love. It means to love in a self-sacrificial, revering way enough to put another first. Jesus asks Peter if he loves him enough to give up the fish, which he had caught as his work and livelihood his whole life.

Peter responds: “Yes, Lord; you know I love (The Greek word “phileo”) you.” Peter says that he has such an emotional, brotherly attachment to Jesus, and that he will do so for the Lord. As the conversation continues in the next few verses, Jesus shows Peter just how much he will give to follow Christ.

However, the question Jesus asked of Peter is still asked of us today. Jesus is still asking man: “Do you love me more than _____?” Do we love him more than our job, money, possessions, friends, family, or life? Are we truly willing to move all that behind him and make him first in our lives? Do we love him?

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The Failure of Acting without Love

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3, NKJV)

Normally when we think of the words of this great chapter we tend to focus on verses 4-8. However, the lesson of these first three verses is vital to our lives as Christians and our implementation of what follows in those next verses.

It is interesting that Paul writes these words in the midst of discussing the miraculous gifts the church at Corinth had been given. These Corinthians have been fighting and wrangling with one another because they have different gifts and do not see them as equally useful or meaningful. Paul is telling them that the gifts they have received mean nothing if they do not have love.

The word translated “love” is from the Greek term “agape.” It is the love that sacrifices self for what is best for others. It is the love that is unselfish and puts others first. It is this kind of love that Jesus had for us that led him to the cross.

As Christians today, we need to understand the lesson Paul is teaching as much as the Corinthians did. It does not matter how much we good we do if we are not motivated by love for others. If it is only about self or making sure others see and glorify us, it is empty and a failure. Only by acting out of a pure, loving heart do our works have the impact God desires – giving glory to God, and saving others.

Are our actions motivated by love?

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A Lesson from Job’s Pain

“After this Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth. And Job said:
‘Let the day perish on which I was born, and the night that said, ‘A man is conceived.’ Let that day be darkness! May God above not seek it, nor light shine upon it. Let gloom and deep darkness claim it. Let clouds dwell upon it; let the blackness of the day terrify it. That night–let thick darkness seize it! Let it not rejoice among the days of the year; let it not come into the number of the months. Behold, let that night be barren; let no joyful cry enter it. Let those curse it who curse the day, who are ready to rouse up Leviathan. Let the stars of its dawn be dark; let it hope for light, but have none, nor see the eyelids of the morning, because it did not shut the doors of my mother’s womb, nor hide trouble from my eyes.'” (Job 3:1-10, ESV)

These are Job’s first words when he speaks to his friends. Even though Job did not lose his faith in God or turn away from Him, the depth of his pain and agony is evident in his words here. Job has lost everything he has in his life and he feels as though it would have been better if he had never been born.

We need to remember that people who speak out because they are in immense pain (whether it be emotional, physical, or both) have not lost their faith in God just because they speak out in great distress. Let us seek to help those in such pain with true comfort and compassion, seeking to build them up, not tear them down. Be a blessing by bringing the love and compassion of God, not a curse by adding your contempt and fueling the fire of their emotions.

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The Greatest Love

In common English terminology the word “love” is used in many different ways for many things. It is used to relate emotion for everything from food, to people, to ideas and everything in between. Love is a generic term in today’s society meaning anything from “an intense like,” to “a lustful desire,” to “an affection for” something or someone.

Nevertheless, in all of the discussions of love there is a form of love that is greater than all of its other uses; yet it is also the form of love that is least common in its enactment in our society. It is the form of love that so many desire to see in action, but very few are willing to perform its requirements. This is because the greatest form of love is not self-centered, sexual, or solicited by others. It is the love that is given and shown based upon the desire for the best interests and well-being of others.

This love is selfless. It does not call into the equation what is the best option or most profitable outcome for the one utilizing it. Instead, this love is fully focused on the needs, aspirations, and welfare of others. Jesus said, on the night of his betrayal, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). It has often been described as the “self-sacrificing love.” Yet the willingness to sacrifice self can be done in many ways beyond the giving of one’s life for another. This love is so focused on the other person that it does not care if recognition is ever given for the service rendered.

Many people do good deeds, but often it is with the motivation of the praise or accolades they expect to receive from those actions. You don’t think so? How many times have you seen or heard someone complain because an individual they helped did not say thank-you, send them a card afterward, or otherwise acknowledge their part in the “love” that was shown? Such actions are not selfless, but are motivated by the desire for acclaim, even though the person feeling slighted would not say so and may not even have thought about it in those terms. The one who utilizes the greatest love cares nothing for what the giver gets out of extending that love, only for what the recipient receives and that it is sufficient for their needs.

This love is not, in any way, sexual. For whatever reason, it is nearly impossible in today’s society to talk about love without a sexual component being inserted. Our society’s fascination with overt sexuality has attempted to turn every form of love and affection into a sexual desire or display. Yet sexuality is built upon desire, personal physical attraction, and lust for satisfaction. These emotions are not the core, or even the crust, of the greatest love. These emotions are built on lust, selfish desire, and personal physical “need.” Many have thrown away their marriages because their “love” was all (or mainly) sexual and not the greatest love. It was based on lust, not the desire to serve the best interests of the mate. This is not to say that in the marriage relationship the greatest love cannot be shown in the sexual context, but it is not sexual in nature. It has no sexual component associated with it. It is an affection that far exceeds temporary desire and satisfaction, because it is focused on the continued safety, well-being, growth, and goodness of the one receiving it.

The greatest love has no boundaries. It can be exhibited by, and toward, men or women, young or old, rich or poor, healthy or sick. It is the love that has enormous benefits for both the giver and the receiver, yet it is also the love that many in our world have never experienced; because this love is not geared toward carnal desires and personal satisfaction. It is the love that does not have roots with man and his emotions, but has its source in God and his love for mankind (John 3:16).

If every person lived their life exhibiting this love, there would never be an individual that would go hungry; there would never be a child abused; there would never be an individual who has to go through life alone because nobody notices or cares about him/her; because this love puts others first.

This love also has a spiritual component. We do not cease to exist when we pass from this life; therefore, the greatest love requires that I be concerned about the spiritual situation of others as well. I cannot say that I have the greatest love of all when I show no concern for the souls of those around me and leave them to fend for themselves without any care or concern for their eternal well-being.

We all know the words of Paul in First Corinthians 13:4-7, when he wrote: “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (ESV). However, very few have ever truly seen these words played out in their lives. That is because, to most people, they are only that: words. Most people have never stopped thinking about themselves, their desires, and whether an action is beneficial for them long enough to even comprehend the import of these statements by Paul, much less exhibit them.

Have you ever utilized the greatest love toward others? Have you ever seen it exhibited in your life? John wrote, “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:9-11 ESV). God has given the greatest exhibition of the greatest love the world has ever seen. When this love is truly exhibited it is impossible to overlook. Yet it will never arrogantly boast itself. It will look out for both the physical and spiritual wellbeing of an individual without trying to bring attention to self. Do you love others as God has loved you?

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The Mother of Proverbs

The book of Proverbs uses the term “mother” 14 times; 13 of these occasions deal with the principles of the mother’s relationship with her child and vice versa. There are a number of different emphases in these passages, therefore, let us seek to bring out a few of them.

A mother is a lawgiver. This is one of the first two principles every child learns (the other, of course, being that mommy loves you!). Solomon wrote: “My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother” (Pro. 1:8); and again, “My son, keep thy father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother” (Pro. 6:20).

Mothers are responsible (though not solely so) for pointing their children in the right direction. If they fail, it is unlikely there will be anyone to step up and take their place as a positive influence. Solomon emphasized it in this manner, “The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame” (Pro. 29:15). They, along with fathers, are the moral compasses which must guide their children to the safety provided in Christ. How beautiful it is when such is accomplished in the heart of a child. Solomon emphasizes this when he writes, “Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding. The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice: and he that begetteth a wise child shall have joy of him. Thy father and thy mother shall be glad, and she that bare thee shall rejoice” (Pro. 23:23-25). Therefore, it is important for mothers to lay forth righteous laws which will guide and strengthen their children in Christ.

A mother is to be loved. This should be a statement which does not need much explanation. However, there are some who seemingly feel that the mother is simply the slave of the house with no feeling or care for her. Such an individual is truly lacking in wisdom. Solomon wrote: “A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish man despiseth his mother” (Pro. 15:20), and “Hearken unto thy father that begat thee, and despise not thy mother when she is old” (Pro. 23:22). Children are to love their mothers, not despise them.

A mother is to be respected. It is impossible for a child to truly love his/her mother without a healthy respect for her. Solomon described the necessity of respect in this manner: “The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it” (Pro. 30:17). There is no mincing of words in such a description; rather, Solomon is showing how despicable such an attitude is. He would also state: “He that wasteth his father, and chaseth away his mother, is a son that causeth shame, and bringeth reproach” (Pro. 19:26). It is impossible to show the proper respect when one is causing such shame to his/her family. We must be ones who are concerned with the reputation we carry and the way we treat our families. For if we are not willing to show them the respect due, how can we think we will be able to lay before God the respect he deserves? Truly, godly mothers are to be respected: both for their role and work within the home and for their work in the kingdom of God as well.

All of these things and more are given in Scripture as instruction concerning mothers. Let us be truly thankful for godly mothers; for the work they do and the love they show for their children. May it ever be our prayer that God will continue to bless us with mothers who seek after his will and will train their children to seek after it.

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The Relationship between Fathers and Children

Sadly, we live in a society that finds nearly half of all its children in homes without a mother and father together. In most of those instances, it is the father that is missing from the picture. No matter how hard one may try, it is impossible for one parent to adequately fill the role of two. The responsibilities and impacts on the life of the child are different and cannot be fully engaged without both parents.

In consideration of fathers and their role in the home, there are three basic attributes that a father has the responsibility to present to his children. If these three attributes are present, the child will have a distinct advantage in overcoming the trials and struggles of this life. They are among the greatest responsibilities the father will ever undertake, but they are also among the most rewarding experiences of this life. Consider the relationship God expects to find between fathers and their children.

A relationship of love. There should never be any doubt in a child’s mind that he or she is loved and important in the life of the father. True love is a love of sacrifice (1 Cor. 13; John 3:16). Sometimes that sacrifice is one of time: time spent helping, playing, or enjoying life with that child. Sometimes that sacrifice is one of pleasure: doing something you do not particularly like because your child enjoys it. Sometimes that sacrifice is one of protection: having to tell the child no about something they want to do or have, because it is wrong or harmful to the child’s development and relationship with God. Fathers must love their children enough to do far more than tell them they love them, but to show them every day, by the decisions they make and the time they take, that their children are the greatest treasures in life and the greatest joys in their world.

A relationship of instruction. Fathers have the distinct responsibility of instructing and preparing their children for life. The word “instruction” means, “a spoken or written statement of what must be done; teaching in a particular subject or skill; the act, process, or profession of teaching.” Fathers are to be teachers. Paul wrote, “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). The responsibility of preparing our children to serve God lies squarely on the shoulders of the father. This is a responsibility that has often been placed on the already laden shoulders of the mother, but it’s time to put it back where it belongs. Dads, it’s time to be teachers again.

That instruction may come in a variety of areas. It may be teaching your child to build a fort, to ride a bike, to challenge the mind to further inquiry. But the greatest area of instruction needed is found in what is necessary to obey God and serve him acceptably. Fathers, if our children do not know, both from experience and instruction, what it means to love, serve, and worship God; if they do not know what God’s Word proclaims as necessary for a life of righteousness and why those things are the case; the blame falls directly upon us. God said of Abraham, “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him” (Gen. 18:19). Could God say the same of us?

A relationship of discipline. It is unfortunate that, in today’s society, discipline is considered a dirty word. It is seen as negative and derogatory. But consider the definition of “discipline.” It is, “Training to act in accordance with rules; activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops a skill; punishment inflicted by way of correction and training; behavior in accord with rules of conduct.” When we speak of discipline, it should not just be in the form of punishment presented for misbehavior. Rather, discipline should be approached from the perspective of positive training and preparation for that child’s development into an adult. The rules that are placed in the home should not be to cause the children to be the least possible distraction to the father’s course of life; but rather to prepare that child for a life of love, service, and dedication to God and his righteousness.

In the Scriptures, fathers such as Eli (1 Sam. 2) were held accountable for not showing discipline, either positive or negative, to their children. For a father to adequately fulfill his role, he must engender a relationship of discipline with his children. It must be based in love, God’s Word, and the child’s welfare, but its necessity is unquestionable.

The greatest example of fatherhood a man can have is God himself. John describes us as the sons of God (1 John 3:1-2), and when one considers God’s interactions with man all three of these relationship attributes are readily evident. God has shown his love for mankind in the greatest way possible with the death of Jesus for our sins (John 3:16; 1 John 4:7-19). He has shown his instruction for mankind through the delivery of his covenant in the New Testament. He has shown the discipline necessary for mankind through his rules and his promises of reward and punishment depending upon our actions (Mat. 25:31-46). He is the ultimate example of fatherhood.

Fathers, let us make sure we are building the correct relationship with our children. Many men can father children, but there are few in our world today who are willing to take on the responsibility of being a father to their children. May God bless us with more godly fathers who are willing to raise their children and guide their families in service to God.

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“One Mind”

In Philippians 2:1-4, Paul exhorts the church at Philippi to be of “one mind.” The word translated “mind” comes from the Greek word which means, “To direct one’s mind toward a thing, to seek, to strive for” (Thayer). Therefore, we are to all have the same goal in mind. It is not a matter of having a robotic personality where we all think the same things and do everything alike in every way. Instead, it is the focus which envelops us to work toward a singular goal: Heaven. However, there are requirements to be able to have this one mind-set. Consider three things that we must have if we are to have “one mind.”

Love. Paul writes that if they are to fulfill his joy they needed to be like–minded, “having the same love” (Phi. 2:2). This love is two-fold in nature. It is a love for God. God loved us enough to send His only begotten Son on our behalf (John 3:16). In light of this, our love for God should be of such a nature that we are willing to do whatever He requires of us.

However, we are not to end with a love for God. That love must spill over into our love for one another. John wrote, “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love” (I John 4:7-8). Paul told the Corinthians, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal” (1 Cor. 13:1). Our love must be exemplified, not just toward God, but one another as well.

Humility. Paul writes, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves” (Phi. 2:3). It is disheartening to see members of the body of Christ who are more concerned with their own prestige and placement among the brethren than they are the work of the church. Paul emphasizes the need for all things to be done with “lowliness of mind.” The term “lowliness” is also translated “humility” (Thayer). James emphasized the useless nature of strife and vanity when he wrote, “But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work” (Jam. 3:14-16). If we do not have an attitude of humility in our service to God, it will destroy our influence and reputation. As James wrote later in the same letter, “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble” (Jam. 4:6).

Deference. One of the biggest problems that arise in the church is that individuals feel things must be done their way; but if we are going to truly have one mind, we must be willing to consider, weigh, and at times defer to, the ideas of others. In matters of doctrine, there is only one opinion that matters: the opinion of God. He has told us what He would have us do and there is no room given for our input or “interpretation.”

However, in matters of opinion there is leniency given for us to use judgment and wisdom in making such decisions. It is unfortunate that some in the church are like Diotrephes. He “loved to have the preeminence” (3 John 9). With those like Diotrephes it is their way or the highway. But Paul wrote, “…let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others” (Phi. 2:3-4). There is to be enough care, concern, respect, love, and humility in us to both find out, and take heed to, the things of others. There must be an attitude of deference in matters of opinion.

We must always endeavor to have one mind; one common goal we are collectively pursuing. But if our pursuit is to be acceptable and profitable to all, it must include these attributes. Otherwise we have become nothing more than a number of people claiming to be trying to get to the same place by our own devices, and such an approach are truly folly.

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