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No Greater Love than this!

Copyright © Andrew J. Shreeve 2015

 

Jesus said; this is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends

John 15:12-13

 

We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren… Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren

1 John 3:16

 

Having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you

Philippians 1:23-24

 

I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory

2 Timothy 2:10

 

The Spirit of love, as revealed in the bible, is one of caring for the well being of others, even at one's own expense. Jesus and the early church leaders were prepared to lay down their lives for the cause of the gospel.

 

The most important aspect of the gospel is that it promises the gift of eternal life to those who will believe in the Lord Jesus (1 John 5:11-13). Conversely those who have never heard about Jesus, and those who reject Jesus, are eternally condemned (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9). The spirit of love is prepared to sacrifice our life on earth so that others can also receive this precious gift of eternal life.

 

This sacrifice of our lives can be expressed in many ways: through not being afraid of persecution, rejection, imprisonment and even death due to our bold declaration and preaching of the gospel to unbelievers; and through the giving of our time, energy, and resources to seek out and go to those who are weak and unlearned in the gospel. This may require leaving house, brethren, sisters, father, mother, wife, children, lands, business or work opportunities (Mark 10:29-30). It may also be expressed in the sacrificial giving of our finances, resources and prayers to support, the Lord's ministries and, those who have gone as missionaries to distant lands.

 

Jesus' love

There is no doubt that Jesus was the greatest teacher of love that this world has ever known. Jesus didn't just teach with words, but also demonstrated His great love through His actions. Jesus laid down His life so that we could live. Jesus did what was necessary to give us the opportunity to be free from condemnation, which is due to our sins, and free from the oppressive devil' spirits. Jesus is indeed our champion of love!

 

Jesus has set the ultimate example of what it means to love the people of this world. Firstly, Jesus understood the truth of the predicament humanity was in. He knew that we were condemned to an eternity separated from His love in hell (John 3:18). He knew this was the worst possible outcome for any human - to spend eternity separated from their creator's love in hell. Jesus also knew that our sin needed to be justly punished, before we could be reconciled back to God (Romans 6:23). He knew that we were incapable of paying the penalty for our sins, as only holy, human blood could sufficiently pay the price for our sins (Hebrews 9:22). Jesus knew that only He could pay that price. Without God, the Son, putting on human flesh, in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, we would remain eternally lost and condemned (John 1:1, 14, 1 Timothy 3:16).

 

Jesus did was what necessary to reconcile us to God. Even though it was at great risk to Himself, and He would have to suffer greatly. But true love is prepared to deny oneself, and to undergo suffering for the wellbeing of others. Think about what Jesus gave up for us. He gave up His life at the age of thirty three; He never married, never had a wife and family, and never fulfilled a financially rewarding career or accumulated wealth. Jesus never explored the evil indulgences of sin, but kept Himself innocent and pure (Hebrews 4:15). But even greater than this was what Jesus suffered. Jesus was made a curse for us, was made sin for us, and also bore the wrath of God as He was punished for all the sins of the whole world (Galatians 3:13, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Romans 3:25, 1 John 2:2).

 

No. 1 Priority of love

So how should we respond to Jesus' example of love? Firstly, we need to consider the predicament of people in this world. What is the greatest need of humanity? The greatest need of any eternally condemned man is to meet his Lord and saviour - Jesus Christ. So the greatest need in the world is for people to be born again, to receive the gift of eternal life, and to be added to the true church of the Lord Jesus Christ (John 3:3-7, 1 Peter 1:23). Humanitarian work is good and important but it is not the number one priority:

 

For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?

Matthew 8:36

 

You can take a man out of poverty and disease, give him good food, medical attention, education and social skills, but if that man doesn't receive the preaching of the Word of God, meet Jesus and get saved, he will spend his eternity in hell (1 Peter 1:23).

 

So the message of salvation must be proclaimed, and is the most important loving action we can do. People need to be born again into Jesus' kingdom and then nurtured and discipled in the Lord's church (Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15-18, Luke 24:45-49, John 21:15-17, Acts 1:8).

 

No. 2 Priority of love

The next step, in responding to Jesus' example of love, is to consider our own gifts, talents and resources. In addition to our general calling into the ministry of reconciliation, we also have specific talents to contribute (2 Corinthians 5:19, Matthew 25:14-15). What can we do to advance the growth of the Lord's kingdom and church? How can we contribute? This is something we need to earnestly pray about. Let the Holy Spirit reveal to you His plan for you! This is a blessed work of the Holy Spirit, to lead and guide us into the area where we are best suited to contribute (Romans 8:14, 16, 1 Corinthians 2:9-16, 1 John 2:27, John 16:13).

 

Our specific individual ministry is not a job, it is a calling. It is not to be task orientated, but rather fellowship orientated. It is a disciplined walk with the Lord. It is learning to hear from, and walk with, the Holy Spirit. It is yielding to the voice of the Lord. 

 

There are some pastors, missionaries, and humanitarian aid-workers, who view their ministry as a job, or as a way of making a living. This is the wrong attitude. It's not about money, it's about love. Love for the Lord, and love for people.

 

The ministry is yielding to the Holy Spirit of love, laying down our lives for others, and putting the wellbeing of others before ourselves. That's what Jesus did. He put our wellbeing before His own. He did what was necessary to save us. This should be our attitude also. 

 

As Christians, we are saved. All we have to do is hold onto our faith in Jesus until death and we are assured of eternal life with God in heaven (Hebrews 3:6, 14, 1 John 2:24-25). So what should we do with our life? We should ask the Lord how He wants us to contribute towards the expansion of His kingdom. How can we best use our gifts and talents to build the Lord's kingdom? This is the purpose of life. Not what we can get from the world but what we can give to the world, under the leadership of the Holy Spirit.

 

This gives our lives purpose and meaning. It is walking with God and walking in love. Helping God and helping our fellow man. This is how we will find real life.

 

Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever shall save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?

Mark 8:34-36

 

Prayer

Dear Lord, thank you that you are love. Thank you that Jesus loved us so much that He willing laid down His life that we might live. Please open the eyes of our understanding to see the greatest need in this world, which is for people to hear the gospel and be saved from eternity in hell. Please reveal to us your personal calling for our lives, how we can contribute to this great mission of love. Lord, how can we lay down our lives for our friends? We pray this in Jesus Christ name, amen.

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Andrew Shreeve Ministries is led by the Holy Spirit, committed to the integrity of the Word of God, walking by faith and focused on preaching the gospel to all nations...

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