Love One Another Series

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(Part 3)


November 5, 2009

Our relationship with each other has to do with our relationship with God. This is important to understand, because it is easy enough to know that we should do right by God, but we often do wrong to others. But as Jesus commanded, we are to love God and our neighbor, and the two go together. If we say we love God but we hate our brother, then we are liars.

In today’s reading, Paul expounds on the reality of such interrelationship.

First, Paul emphasizes who we are and what our proper relationship to God is, as this is the starting point. “None of us lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself. For if we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord; so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.” (Rom 14:7-8). Jesus has purchased us on the cross by the shedding of his precious blood. We now belong to him.

Next, Paul connects this reality of belonging to God to our relationship with our brethren. “Why then do you judge your brother? Or you, why do you look down on your brother?” (Rom 14:10). If we belong to God, then we are to reflect His image and likeness, we are to follow in Jesus’ footsteps, we are to live in the Spirit. As such, those who belong to God deserve respect and love. Thus we are to love others as Jesus has loved them. No matter how bad they might be, we are not to look down on them, because they too are made in the image and likeness of God, they too are loved by Him, they too were saved by Jesus on the cross.

In loving our brethren, we are not to judge them. Does this mean we can never make a judgment on the wrongness of an action? No. We do recognize sin and wrongdoing. We have the commandments to guide us in this. However, it means not judging their heart in the things they do. If they do wrong, we certainly can recognize that objective reality, but we do not impute motives. We condemn the sin but not the sinner. We hate the sin but love the sinner.

How about justice? We are to leave judgment to God. Only God truly knows what is in the hearts of everyone. And God indeed is a God of justice and righteousness. Sin will be punished, and virtue will be rewarded. “For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God” (Rom 14:10c). 

“So then each of us shall give an account of himself to God.” (Rom 14:12). We stand before God responsible for our own actions, or for our inaction. In the end, God will hold us accountable for how we have loved.

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(Part 2)


November 4, 2009

We are called to love one another. This is the bottom line in human relationships. Paul in today’s reading continues to teach us about love. “Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” (Rom 13:8).

The law refers to the commandments of God. And Paul says that “the commandments ... are summed up in this saying, namely ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Rom 13:9). Love fulfills the law, that is, when love directs one’s moral decisions, then the intent of the law, which is the good of people, is fulfilled.

The law is concerned about right marriage and family relationships, about respect for the sanctity of life, about security of property (Note: First World nations are now assaulting such rights and using law to enforce their distorted positions). If one truly loves, then one desires the best for the other. If one truly loves, then the purpose of the law is fulfilled. “Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law.” (Rom 13:10).

Jesus’ commandment is that we love our neighbor as we love ourselves. So a good way of examining if we are loving is to look at how we ourselves would like to experience love from others. Think about what hurts us; then resolve not to do such. Consider what we would not like to happen to us; then do not do such to others.
Do you want to be the object of destructive gossip? Do you want to be maligned? Do you want lies to be told about you? Do you want to be deprived of what is rightfully yours? The obvious answer is NO. Then do not do the same to others. In sum, do no evil to your neighbor. In a word, love.

Another word for loving our neighbor is justice, which interestingly is associated with “law.” Justice is giving to the other person what is his due, or not depriving one of what rightfully belongs to him.

If we love others, if we practice justice, if we do unto others what we want done to us, then we will be blessed. Today’s reading of Psalm 112 tells us about the blessings of the just. “All goes well for those ... who conduct their affairs with justice.” (Ps 112:5).

These blessings include family and children (Ps 112:2), prosperity (Ps 112:3), security (Ps 112:6), not being afraid (Ps 112:7-8), honor (Ps 112:9), and virtues (Ps 112:4).

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(Part 1)


“love one another with mutual affection”
(Rom 12:10a)

November 3, 2009

Love is the hallmark of a Christian. God calls all Christians to love. If we do not love, then we are not being Christian. But what does it really mean to love? Everyone talks about love, but not everyone really knows what true love is. 

Today’s reading from Romans (Rom 12:5-16) gives us a lot to consider.

A basic consideration is that we are all parts of the one body of Christ. The reality is that “we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another.” (Rom 12:5). Now notice what Paul says: we are parts of one another. We are not only the different parts of the one body of Christ, but we are parts of one another. We are all intimately interconnected with each other.

Second, as the one body of Christ that God intends to use for His purposes in the world, we have all been given gifts with which to serve. These gifts are different, but taken all together, provide a full resource that can truly be effective in doing God’s work. Thus, “since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us exercise them” (Rom 12:6a).

Thus, in who we are and in what we are called to do, we are one. The binding force is love.

Paul then talks about love. He gives very practical aspects of what it means to love (Rom 12:5-16). Let us look at some of these.

First, love has to do with our righteousness as a child of God. Sincere love has to do with choosing good over evil. “Let love be sincere; hate what is evil, hold on to what is good” (Rom 12:9). If one persists in wrongdoing, then one does not love.

Second, love has to do with our relationship with our brethren in community. We not only avoid doing wrong to our brethren, but we are to “anticipate one another in showing honor.” (Rom 12:10b). Further, we empathize with the situation of our brethren. After all, we are parts of one another, so that whatever happens to our brethren also happens to us. As such, we “rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” (Rom 12:15).

Third, love has to do with our relationship with our so-called “enemies.” Jesus tells us to love our enemies. Practically, Paul expounds on this. We are to “bless those who persecute (us), bless and do not curse them.” (Rom 12:14). We are not to “repay anyone evil for evil” (Rom 12:17a). We “do not look for revenge” but leave it up to God to exact justice (Rom 12:19). Very difficult, but that is what love means. In fact, it goes even further. We are challenged: “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink” (Rom 12:20a).

Fourth, love has to do with enduring and persevering with joy. “Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer.” (Rom 12:12). There will always be trials and crosses in life. We may face situations of hopelessness. We will be afflicted. In all these, we trust in Jesus, remain committed to a deep personal relationship with God, and maintain our joy in Christ whatever our circumstances in life.

Finally, love has to do with serving God who is love and serving others by becoming instruments of God’s love for the world. “Do not grow slack in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.” (Rom 12:11). We must be zealous in proclaiming the good news of salvation in Jesus. We must be keen to serve God by serving others.

Love is defined by different people in different ways, and thus is often misunderstood. Love is a very difficult posture, even for a Christian who has already experienced the love of God. Love is challenging, as it involves all that we are, reaching deep down into our innermost being. Love touches all of our relationships--with God, with Christian brethren, and with everyone else.

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Renewing the Family and Defending Life