April 8, 2021
It is not argument, knowledge, zeal, or even rigid adherence to the law of God that most draws souls to Jesus, gives our life meaning, and pleases God, but rather the person of a loving and lovable Christian, one that emulates and reflects the love of Jesus that he or she has so deeply experienced, and bestows that love upon others. Such a Christian shows kindness and warmth to others and opens up their heart in friendship to others. Such a Christian is lovely to be around, one whose company we would desire.
Why is this important?
The Bible tell us that God is love and that love is of God. It tell us that everyone that loves is born of God and knows God. Conversely, it tells us that if we love not, we know not God. The Word of God admonishes us to love one another in response to God’s great love to us (1John 4:1-11):
If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and His love is perfected in us. 1John 4:12
It is not enough to have the right knowledge, even the knowledge that there is one God:
You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe — and tremble! But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? James 2:19-20
Rather, there must be an outworking of love in our lives. Otherwise, we are missing the point. This is how the Bible puts it:
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. 1Corinthians 13:1-3
This means that we may very well speak beautifully, prophecy even, understand the Bible inside and out, have faith, and even give everything to the poor and lose our lives for the cause, but miss the point.
Men may combat and defy our logic, they may resist our appeals; but a life of disinterested love is an argument they cannot gainsay. Desire of Ages, p.141.5
It’s All About Love
Love is a word often thrown around these days. To the world, it is a sort of lovesick sentimentalism, a blanket covering all sorts of vice, or a fleeting emotion that changes with the circumstances. However, sometimes, in an effort to steer clear of these things, we as Christians can go too far the other way, overemphasizing a sterner version of love than exists in the Word of God, taking all the emotion and compassion out the principle, making it a cold and lifeless theoretical concept.
So What does a lovable Christian look like? A Practical Exercise
Since God is love (1John 4:8), He embodies all the qualities of love. In other words, if God is love, then it follows that anything that love is, God is also. Thus, when we read 1Corinthians 13, everywhere we see the word “love” or the qualities of love described, we can ascribe those to God and get an image of who our Heavenly Father is. It’s rather beautiful.
God is patient. God is kind. God does not envy. God does not boast. God is not proud. God is not rude. God is not self seeking. God is not easily angered. God keeps no record of wrongs. God does not delight in evil but rejoices in the good. God always protects. God always trusts. God always hopes. God always perseveres. God never fails.
Indeed, we saw all these qualities in the life of the only-begotten Son of the Father, the express image of His person (Hebrews 1:3), as recorded in the gospels. But here is where it gets a bit uncomfortable. Can we now replace the word “love” with our name? Am I love? Are you love? If so, we should also embody these qualities. I like to do the following exercise every once in a while to see how near I am to Jesus and whether my heart is close to Him. Try reading the above passage now, putting your own name into the places where we have put the name of God. Or, simply try answering the following questions:
Am I patient?
Am I kind?
Do I envy?
Do I boast?
Am I proud?
Am I rude?
Am I self seeking?
Am I easily angered?
Do I keep a record of wrongs?
Do I delight in evil or rejoice in the good?
Do I always protect?
Do I always trust?
Do I always hope?
Do I always persevere?
Do I ever fail?
It’s a high standard, isn’t it? And a sobering exercise. And yet the Bible invites us: Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:48).
Some Closing Thoughts
Those who love God cannot harbor hatred or envy. When the heavenly principle of eternal love fills the heart, it will flow out to others…. Possessing it, we cannot but be happy, let fortune smile or frown.1MCP 209.2-3
Christlike love places the most favorable construction on the motives and acts of others. AA 319 (1911)
A Christian must have a sanctified tenderness and love, in which there is no impatience or fretfulness; the rude, harsh manners must be softened by the grace of Christ. TC 5:335 (1885)
Love cannot live without action, and every act increases, strengthens, and extends it. Love will gain the victory when argument and authority are powerless. Love works not for profit nor reward; yet God has ordained that great gain shall be the certain result of every labor of love. 1MCP 210:1
It is through the social relations that Christianity comes in contact with the world. Every man or woman who has tasted of the love of Christ and has received into the heart the divine illumination is required of God to shed light on the dark pathway of those who are unacquainted with the better way.… Social power, sanctified by the Spirit of Christ, must be improved to win souls to the Saviour. TC 4:555 (1881)
Are we loving? Are we lovable? Let us seek after these qualities for they are the strongest arguments in favour of the Gospel.