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John Calvin puts forward a very simple reason why love is the greatest gift: “Because faith and hope are our own: love is diffused among others.” In other words, faith and hope benefit the possessor, but love always benefits another. In John 13:34–35 Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Love always requires an “other” as an object; love cannot remain within itself, and that is part of what makes love the greatest gift.
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theophilus

Paving the road to Hell

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Christianity is based on love. It was love that made God send Jesus to die for our sins.

 

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 ESV)

 

All that God wants from us can be summarized in two commands.

 

And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”(Matthew 22:35-40 ESV)

 

We are saved through faith but love is more important than faith and is the only acceptable motivation for what we do.

 

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

 

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogantor rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

 

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

 

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13 ESV)

 

Since love is an essential part of the Christian faith shouldn’t it be the sole criterion of whether an act is good or bad be whether or not it is motivated by love? No, because there is something else that is just as important as love.

 

Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ. (Ephesians 4:15 ESV)

 

What we say must be motivated by love but we must also be sure that we speak truth. Love motivates us to do good to others; truth tells us what acts really are good for them. Love without truth can lead us to hurt those we love. The history of medicine provides an example of this.

 

At one time it was believed that some illnesses could be treated by bleeding. Physicians who practiced bleeding actually weakened and even killed their patients. They sincerely wanted to help their patients but because they believed something that wasn’t true they hurt them.

 

Today we know more about how to treat illnesses and we realize that bleeding the patient doesn’t help him. But while our knowledge of medical truth has advanced we have lost ground in another area. In the past many believed the truth revealed in the Bible and acted accordingly. Today most people either don’t know what the Bible says or don’t care because they don’t believe it is inspired by God. As a result their love for others often does more harm than good.

 

One group that is being harmed by this attitude is gay people. Some people hate gays and harass and persecute them. This is clearly wrong and we should oppose those who do this. Unfortunately many whose love is not based on truth think that loving gays means approving of their lifestyle. They advocate the legalization of same sex marriage so gays can enjoy the same benefits straight people do while continuing to practice sin. You have probably heard the saying, “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.” Advocates of gay rights are busy paving this road so gays will have a smooth trip to Hell without encountering any obstacles. (If you don’t see anything wrong with same sex marriage I suggest you read this: Why Christians oppose same sex marriage.)

 

This is one of many areas where people are being harmed by love without truth. Sometimes even Christians are guilty of hurting others because we don’t know the Bible well. It is important that we study the Bible so know how to express our love in ways that will help others.

 

The world has so little regard for truth that when we speak the truth they think we are speaking hate. They will hate us and try to silence us. Some have lost jobs and had their businesses ruined because of their stand for the truth. Yet in spite of this we must speak out and warn those who are in danger of Hell. Jesus has told us that we will be compensated for whatever suffering we endure.

 

Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:11,12 ESV)

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