Summary: “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law”. (Romans 13:8)
Theme: Love one another
Text: Ezek. 33:1-9; Rom. 13:8-14; Matt. 18:15-20
A frequently asked question is why there is so much suffering in the world and why God is doing nothing about it? Why are there sickness, poverty, hate, violence and war? Why are there loneliness, emptiness, depression and suicide? How can we take comfort in the love of God when we do not feel loved? Circumstances may seem to be telling us that God is ignoring us but the truth is that much of the pain and suffering that exists in the world today is the result of conflicts that began with us. History has taught and continues to teach that we do not have to be involved in a conflict to be affected by it. The reasons behind most conflicts are twofold. Another person has something we want and will not give it to us or we have been offended and must do something about it. Conflicts take up most of our time and energy and prevent us doing what is really needed. They can, however, be avoided and would have no place in the world today if we loved one another.
Godly love is of God and can only come from God because He is love. “Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love”. (1 John 4:7-8) Love is the distinguishing mark of the believer for “whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him”. (1 John 4:16) God loves us and “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins”. (1 John 4:9-10) God has demonstrated His love in such a way that we can never doubt His love. Christ’s sacrifice of love made it possible for “God's love to be poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us”. (Rom 5:5)
Godly love is the most powerful weapon in the world as every act of love has the full support of heaven. This love is not only concerned about what happens to us but about what happens to everyone else. Love makes us responsible for our families, our relatives, our friends, our colleagues and our neighbours. It is love that compels us to share the good news of the gospel of grace. As believers we are duty bound to warn the sinner of impending destruction and convincingly share the message of salvation. If we have been doing this but the people are not listening we need to find out the reason. Could it be they are not listening because the love of God cannot be seen in us? Are we sharing the good news about the gospel of grace or are we too busy with our own lives to worry about anyone else? Are we so busy pleasing ourselves that we have no time to love the hurting and the lost around us?
Godly love reflects the love of Christ. Christ loved us and in love paid the penalty for our sin that we might be forgiven and be reconciled to God. Love forgives and if Christ could forgive us while we were yet sinners, what could possibly prevent us from forgiving others. Godly love is visible and loving one another is seen as we forgive each other. Loving one another is seen in our fellowship with each other. When Christ paid the price for our sin we were reconciled to God and could fellowship with Him. We cannot be reconciled to someone and not fellowship with that person. It is impossible to love and still lead separate lives. Loving one another fulfils the Law. When you love you cannot do any harm to another person and therefore cannot do any of the things the Law forbids. “Love does no wrong to a neighbour; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law”. (Rom 13:10)
Love does not allow any room for hatred, conflicts or quarrels. The solution of conflicts is best done in an atmosphere of love. If someone sins against us we should confront the person and point out their fault in a loving manner. Love always initiates the first step to the solution. When this approach fails to have the desired effect another people can be brought into the situation. When this also fails the problem can be brought to the church. Hopefully, the offending brother or sister will recognize the authority of the church and be more ready to listen and more receptive to the solution of the problem. If this also fails sanctions are applied. These sanctions are to make them see the disastrous effects of their separation from God and eventually lead to their restoration. The Church is duty bound to continue loving them, praying for them and asking for the Holy Spirit’s intervention in their life. Adam and Eve were sent out of the Garden of Eden for their own good. This sanction prevented them from eating of the tree of Life and living forever in sin separated from God. God, however, met the necessary requirements through His Son for their restoration. How are we relating with one another and with those who for various reasons are no longer fellowshipping with us? Are we relating with them in love? Love makes it so easy for us to visit and exchange kind words with them. Let us reflect the love of Christ.