Basic Battle Training
Chapter 13: Motivations: Love
Why does a man or woman pursue full service in God’s kingdom, especially to the extent of sacrificing marriage, career, and the trappings of "worldly living?" In the following four Chapters we will deal with motivations for such service as they are taught in the Bible.
Within Scripture there are eight basic motivations taught that are designed to motivate us to serve The Father. These are:
The love of God. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, soul, and strength" (Deuteronomy 6:5)
Compassion. "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" (Leviticus 19:18).
The fear of God. "The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom" (Proverbs 9:10).
The truth. "Jesus Christ: the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6).
Anger. "God is angry with the wicked every day" (Psalm 7;11).
Faith. "Faith without works is dead" (James 2:20).
Rewards. "Labor not for the meat that perisheth" (John 6:27).
Your debt. "We love him because he first loved us" (1 John 4:19).
As you can see, God has gone to a great deal of trouble to give us every impetus and encouragement to serve Him!
In this chapter we will be focusing on the two great commandments left us by Christ as He distilled all that had come before. These are that we should:
"love God with all our heart, mind and strength", and "our neighbor as ourselves". (Matt. 22:36-40)
Love for God
"We love him, because he first loved us" (1 John 4:19)
Certainly when we think of God’s love for us we should need no other motivation to serve Him with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30)That this does not always happen as originally intended is caused by a variety of clearly defined reasons. One of the more important of these is that the mode of expressing that love has been distorted, and needs to be re-defined
So how does God wish us to express our love for Him? We believe it is not found in today’s euphoric Church services with their over-emphasis on music (at the expense of solid verse by verse Bible teaching), shallow emotionalism, "mountain-top experiences," and mindless attempts to duplicate the "Pentecostal experience".
Many Church services today dwell far too long on music and emotionalism as "worship," with very little emphasis on training the troops for battle with intense Bible study. (Followed by leading those troops out on the battlefield to have an impact on society for Jesus Christ.)
Certainly God works through music, "worship," and genuine miracles, but much of this has been replaced with cheap counterfeits and misguided emphasis. As things stand today most Churches are more interested in keeping their members busy—inside the church—with activities geared to providing entertainment and substitutes for worldly events. Most of this is just “busy work” and has little to do with fulfilling of the Great Commission and original intents of God (Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:47-48; John 20:21; compare Acts 1:8; Colossians 1:28).
What then should our love for God move us to do and be? Above all, the truest definition of loving God and His Kingdom is found in the reality of service: tangible, real time, real money, real life service that advances the goal of God’s will and Kingdom on this earth.
We who live in America have opportunity above virtually all who have come before us: Freedom of Religion, wealth beyond most of the world, much disposable time, literacy, and the availability of Scripture. As the Lord clearly taught:
"For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required." (Luke 12:48)
It is noteworthy that in the King James Bible "love" is often translated "Charity": an obvious action word. Our Churches are full of people who say that they love God, and love Him with all their heart, but as stated, there is often little outside service for Him to verify this boast.
Many think that weekly attendance and worship constitute service. The simple truth is that the Church was designed to serve and equip the believer for service, not the other way around! That we should love Him in response to His great love for us is not a mystery. That we fail in this should provide a place of humility and repentance in us all.
With this assessment of how our lives are and should be, we will now focus on Christ’s second commandment:
Compassion for the lost.
"Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the Lord." (Leviticus 19:18)
The two great commandments, on which all the law and the prophets can be fulfilled, are to love God, and to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-40; Mark 12:29-31). This second citation (to love our neighbor as we love ourself) is from Leviticus 19:18 and is quoted in the New Testament more times than any other OT reference (see Matthew 19:19; 22:39; Mark 12:31; Luke 10:27; Galatians 5:14; James 2:8).
Probably the most famous example in the Bible of compassion for the lost is Jesus Christ: "And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it" (Luke 19:41). Likewise, perhaps no one has ever expressed a more gripping passion for souls than the apostle Paul, when he wrote: "I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, that I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: who are Israelites. Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they might be saved" (Romans 9:1-4; 10:1).
Before we can effectively express love for the lost, we must first understand Biblically what Godly love truly is, and how to show it.
God’s Love is not defined as giving someone what they want, but rather what they need. Deciding and communicating to people what they need, in place of what they want, will not often be received with open arms….indeed, virtually all within Scripture and Church history lost their lives practicing this Biblical form of Love!
To understand this in more specific terms, we return to Leviticus 19:18. As with most of Scripture, the importance in understanding this verse is found in the context, which starts at verse 17:
"Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbor, and not suffer sin upon him. Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the Lord."
Notice in this passage that love for your neighbor is tied to, manifested by and defined as: “not allowing sin upon” and "rebuking your neighbor". Love, the truth and rebuke clearly and consistently go hand in hand throughout the whole Bible
"Open rebuke is better than secret love." Proverbs 27:5
"Rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee." Proverbs 9:8
Jesus said, "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore and repent." Revelation 3:19
"For whom the Lord loveth he chastiseth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons…." Hebrews 12:6-11 (see also Proverbs 3:11-12)
"My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue); but in deed and in truth." 1 John 3:18 (see also 1 Corinthians 13:6)
God’s instruction in this can easily be defined within the contemporary term of "Tough Love". This is often shown necessary with a father disciplining his children in order to break them of bad habits and instill proper behavior (Proverbs 13:24; 22:15; 23:13; 29:15). Love once again, often means being willing to tell people what they may not want to hear, regardless of the consequences!
Limits to Love?
It should also be noted that there are Biblical limitations to love...indeed God, as well as some of those that loved him, had this perspective.
“Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate thee? And am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? I hate them with a perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies." Psalm 139:21-22
Ahab, confronted by the prophet Jehu: "Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the Lord? There for is wrath upon thee from before the Lord!” 2 Chronicles 19:1-2
Proverbs 6:19 records that of the six things that God hates, two are the actual people doing them (Lying and sowing discord among the brethren)
God’s unconditional love?
Our modern society needs to be delivered from the delusion that we are supposed to unconditionally love everybody or that God Himself does. Clearly, from the Word of God:
UNCONDITIONAL LOVE IS AN OXYMORON. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS UNCONDITIONAL LOVE AND GOD DOES NOT “UNCONDITIONALLY” LOVE ANYBODY.
"He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him. (John 14:21)
“If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him”. (John14:23)
“As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. (John 15:9-10)
“For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me! (John 16:27)
"I love them that love me." (Proverbs 8:17)
For those who tell you that "agape" is unconditional love, the Greek word in the above verses is Agape! Once again, look to the context... it will clear up the Greek and Hebrew every time! "Unconditional love" is nowhere to be found in the Bible!
John 3:16 and God is love?
In clear, unmistakable terms the Bible also tells us that God does not love everybody, and in some instances even hates the sinner as well as the sin.
"As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I HATED." Romans 9:13 (see also: Malachi 1:1-4)
"Thou HATEST all workers of iniquity, The Lord will ABHOR the bloody and deceitful man." Psalm 5:5-6
And I will destroy your high places, and cut down your images, and cast your carcases upon the carcases of your idols, and my soul shall ABHOR you. (Lev 26:30)
And when the LORD saw it, he ABHORRED them, because of the provoking of his sons, and of his daughters. (Deu 32:19)
For the wicked boasteth of his heart's desire, and blesseth the covetous, whom the LORD ABHORRETH. (Psa 10:3)
The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul HATETH. (Psa 11:5)
I have HATED the congregation of evil doers; and will not sit with the wicked. (Psa 26:5)
These six things doth the LORD HATE: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren. (Pro 6:16-19)
Some “scholars” try to argue here that the Greek and Hebrew words for hate really just means to "love less”. Following their reasoning, does this mean that God wants us to love sin ”less” as well? In God’s definition of "hating Esau" his judgment involved ‘laying his heritage waste’ and calling them ‘the people against whom the Lord hath indignation forever.’
Many criticize us for our approach, but then have no rebuke (read: love) for rebellious sinners. Accurately then, and as commanded, we should love God with our service and our neighbor in like fashion. This love however, must reflect God’s values and clear instruction…not man’s!
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