by David Brandt Berg
As Christians, we believe in love!—Love for God and others, for “God is love” (1 John 4:8). That’s our religion—love!
Love is everything, for without love there is nothing: no friends, no caring families, no loving fathers or mothers or children or happiness or Heaven. There could be none of these without love! And none of these could exist without God, for God is love.
Love is the primary solution to all of man’s problems of today, as well as those of the past—true love, the love of God and the love of fellow man. This is still God’s answer, even in such a complex and confused society as that of the world today.
It is people’s rejection of the love of God and His loving laws that causes them to be selfish and cruel to their neighbor—man’s inhumanity to man, which is so apparent in today’s weary world with all of its enslavement by oppression, tyranny and exploitation. Hundreds of millions suffer needlessly from hunger and malnutrition, disease and ill health, poverty, overwork and abuse, not to mention the tortures of war and nightmares of perpetual fearful insecurity. All of these evils are caused by people’s lack of love for God and each other, as well as their defiance of God’s laws of love, faith, peace, and harmony.
The solution is so simple: If we truly love God, we can love each other. We can then follow His rules of life, liberty and the possession of happiness, and all will be well and happy in Him!
This is why Jesus said that the first and greatest commandment is to love—to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” And the second is “like it”—it’s almost equal, almost the same: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37,39).
“Who is my neighbor?” a lawyer of religious law asked Jesus, wanting to justify his own lack of love for certain people. What he really meant was, “Tell me exactly who I have to love, so I know who I don’t have to love.” Jesus then responded with the story of the Good Samaritan, in which He showed that our neighbor is anyone who needs our help, regardless of their race, creed, color, nationality, social position or ethnic background:
“A certain [Jewish] man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite [temple assistant], when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
“On the next day, when he [the Samaritan] departed, he took out two denarii [two days’ wages], gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’ So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves? And he [the lawyer] said, ‘He who showed mercy on him.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise’” (Luke 10:30-37).
If we have real love, we can’t face a needy situation without doing something about it. We can’t just pass by the poor man on the road to Jericho. We must take action like the Samaritan did. Many people today say of those who need help, “Oh, I’m so sorry, how sad.” But compassion must be put into action! That’s the difference between pity and compassion: Pity just feels sorry; compassion does something about it!
We must demonstrate our faith by our works, and love can seldom be proven without some tangible manifestation. To say you love someone and yet not try to help them physically in whatever way they may need—food, clothing, shelter and so on—this is not love! True, the need for real love is a spiritual need, but it must be manifested physically, in works—“faith working through love” (Galatians 5:6). “For whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:17-18).However, we must always remember that the greatest manifestation of our love is not the mere sharing of our material things and personal possessions, but the sharing of ourselves with others, along with our love and our faith. Jesus Himself had nothing material to share with His disciples, only His love and His life, which He gave for them and for us, that we too might have life and love forever.
“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13). So we consider that the sharing of ourselves, our love and our life with others, is the greatest of all sharing and our ultimate goal.
This is why God created us to begin with: to love and enjoy Him forever, and to try to help others do the same. It was God who created love and gave us the need to love and be loved, and He alone can satisfy the deepest yearning of every human soul for total love and complete understanding.
Although the temporal things of this earth can satisfy our bodies, only God and His eternal love can ever fill that aching spiritual void in each of our hearts, which He created for Himself alone. While human love is a wonderful part of God’s plan and partially satisfies the heart, the human spirit, that intangible personality of the real you that dwells within your body, can never be completely satisfied with anything less than utter union with the great and loving Spirit that created it.
God is the very Spirit of love itself, true love, everlasting love, love that never ends from a Lover who never leaves, the Lover of all lovers, God Himself.
He’s pictured in His Son, Jesus, who came for love and lived in love and died for love that we might live and love forever. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
Jesus came to love the people of the world, and He calls us to do likewise in every facet of our lives.
True happiness is found not in personal pursuit of selfish pleasure and satisfaction, but in finding God and giving His love to others and bringing them happiness. Do that, and then happiness will pursue, overtake and overwhelm you personally, without your even seeking it for yourself!
“For whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” (Galatians 6:7). If you sow love, you’re going to reap love. If you sow friendship, you’re going to reap friendship. So obey God’s laws of love—unselfish love, love for Him and others. Give others that love which is their due, and so shall you also receive. “Whatever measure you use to give—large or small—will be used to measure what is given back to you” (Luke 6:38 TLB).
Find out what wonders love can do. You’ll find a whole new world of love you have only dreamed of! There are wonders of love that you can enjoy along with some other lonely soul—if you will only try! If you give love, you will get love.
Love wasn’t put in your heart to stay.
Love isn’t love till you give it away!
The Samaritans were inhabitants of Samaria, a territory in central Palestine neighboring Judea (Judah). Because they were of mixed race, orthodox religious Jews despised and shunned them.
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