THE LOVE OF GOD
Date: October 20
Category: Faith Expressed Through Actions
2 Thessalonians 3:5a
"May the Lord direct your hearts into [realizing and showing] the love of God."
This is the desire that Paul has for the church in Thessalonica. In the German translation, Hoffnung fuer Alle, (which means, ‘hope for all'), this verse says, "We pray that the love of God will determine your life." So when somebody looks at our lives, they should see that we are people of love. In Galatians 5:6 we read, "For [if we are] in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision or uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith activated and energized and expressed in working through love." In other words, the full and proper expression of faith is love. We can read the same thing in James 2:26, "For as the human body apart from the spirit is lifeless, so faith apart from [its] works of obedience is also dead." So faith without works of love cannot account for anything. Based on this passage that Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica, let's study from the Word about what it means to have, realize, and show the love of God.
The Apostle John was an apostle of love. In 1 John 3:10b we read, "No one who does not practice righteousness [who does not conform to God's will in purpose, thought and action] is of God; neither is anyone who does not love his brother (his fellow believer in Christ)." In other words, if you do not love your brother then you are not of God. If you're not of God, then it could only mean that you are of the devil if you don't love your brother. Then in verse 11 we read, "For this is the message (the announcement) which you have heard from the first, that we should love one another." So loving one another is a commandment from God.
Then in verse 17 John teaches us how we should show our love. "But if anyone has this world's goods (resources for sustaining life) and sees his brother and fellow believer in need, yet closes his heart of compassion against him, how can the love of God live and remain in him?" This was written at a time when Christians were persecuted for their faith and as a result, they lost their homes. So when you and I see people in need like this, we are supposed to help them. If somebody needs food, we are to give him food. If somebody needs clothing, we are to give him clothing. If somebody needs shelter, we are to help him with shelter. But if we see people in need but we don't help them, then the love of God is not in us. So in other words, we show our love by helping others.
Actually James wrote something very similar. In James 1:27 we read, "External religious worship [religion as it is expressed in outward acts] that is pure and unblemished in the sight of God the Father is this: to visit and help and care for the orphans and widows in their affliction and need, and to keep oneself unspotted and uncontaminated from the world." So helping the poor is a sign of God's love residing within us.
Then it says in 1 John 3:23, "And this is His order (His command, His injunction): that we should believe in (put our faith and trust in and adhere to and rely on) the name of His Son Jesus Christ (the Messiah), and that we should love one another, just as He has commanded us." God has commanded us to believe in Jesus Christ and that faith in Christ is supposed to lead us in love. So it's not enough to just say that you are a believer. You have to show you're a believer through your actions of love towards others, especially towards other believers.
Then in verse 24b we read, "And by this we know and understand and have the proof that He [really] lives and makes His home in us: by the [Holy] Spirit Whom He has given us." God has given us the Holy Spirit. The first fruit of the Holy Spirit is love. Since you and I have the Holy Spirit within us, we are supposed to love one another.
The reason why we love one another is found in 1 John 4:16b. We love one another because "God is love, and he who dwells and continues in love dwells and continues in God, and God dwells and continues in him." So in order to continually dwell in God and have God continue to dwell within you, you have to love others with the same love that Christ has for you. That's what it means to realize and show the love of God in our lives. So today, let's not just say we're believers. Let's show that we're believers by being people of love because just as Paul wrote to the Thessalonian church, as believers our hearts and lives should now be directed by the love of God.