For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:14
Yesterday I shared a quote from Paul David Tripp’s book: “Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands.” The quote was pretty hard to grasp and today I want to take it a step further. Tripp said, “There is no neutral ground between love and hatred.”(pg. 205).
I think most of us think we live on a broad expanse between love and hatred. Love is reserved for our dear friends, family members and spouses or perhaps the woman at church we are trying to help. Hate is reserved for the acts of murder, trafficking, and other appalling actions. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I hate anyone. So that leaves this middle ground where I don’t love but I also don’t hate.
If you read yesterday’s post about Tripp’s quote you know biblically there is no middle ground. Either we are loving or hating. If that is true, then hating looks like anything that is not loving. Forgive my circular reasoning but if love is a discrete thing, then anything that is not-love is hate.
We think of love and hate as emotions, strong emotions, and indeed they can be but love is not necessarily those warm fuzzies or butterflies in the stomach kind of feelings. Biblically, love is mostly depicted as action not emotion.
That means that even when I don’t have warm fuzzies or butterflies in the stomach, in other words when I don’t FEEL love, I can still love. I can still act in a loving way towards the individual. It’s called obedience. This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 1 John 3:16; Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.1 John 3:18
“This is a very serious matter. It is not something we can take lightly because Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.” 1 John 4: 20-21
Honestly, I have struggled with this verse. If I don’t love others, I cannot love God. It’s not that I am not allowed to love God; it means I don’t love God. That is a very serious issue. I’m not sure I understand it, but it is pretty clear. I must love others because I want to love God. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to arrive in glory and hear my Creator, Father God say, “You do not love Me, because you did not love others.” Crushing.
Lord, teach me to love others genuinely. Teach me to love others more than I love myself. Show me specific and practical ways for me to love those I have failed to love.
Love today and be a blessing to others.
Written by Diane Hunt: Diane Hunt serves on the board of America’s Keswick and is the Executive Director & CEO of Changed Choices, a Christian non-profit in North Carolina. She is also a biblical counselor and women’s event speaker. For more information about having Diane speak at your next event please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.