How do we love one another?

II John 1:4-6
“I rejoiced greatly that I found of your children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father. And now I beseech you, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto you, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another. And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it.”

There is a some disagreement over whether the lady mentioned in John’s second letter is a literal person or a group of Christians making up the local church. For the purposes of this devotional study it doesn’t really make a difference. Rather, what I want to focus on is the children of this lady, be they literal children or individual church members who have come to Christ and are now part of a congregation. What’s important is that John finds these people walking in truth.

Truth is something that is so terribly lacking in modern society; so much so that it is almost frightening. As an example, my wife referred me to an article on education today which I read just a few snippets of (I plan to read the entire article later this evening). But the point of the article is how modern education has failed to teach children properly because we are not allowing kids to fail, to learn to overcome adversity, and so on. Instead, we’ve taught our children that pleasure and happiness is the goal in life rather than one of the benefits of reaching a more important goal.

One of the examples cited by the author of the article was a student who gets a poor grade on a paper and then asks the instructor if the grade can simply be overlooked. What the student is demonstrating is that the goal he’s looking at is a specific grade rather than making sure the content of the work he produces meets the requirements.

It’s supposed to be that great content earns great marks. It’s not supposed to be that any content earns great marks in order to make kids feel good.

In contrast, the children mentioned in this text are walking in truth because the elect lady has taught them as such. She did not teach them to feel good about themselves; she did not teach them that “learning should be fun”; she did not teach them “I’m okay, you’re okay.” She taught them the truth. And as we know, the truth often hurts — a lot. But when we accept it, embrace it, and let it change who we are the results are phenomenal.

A person who walks in the truth understands his place in this creation, both in relation to his Creator and other people. A person walking in the truth understands that life is one full of challenges, disappointments, obstacles to be overcome, sacrifices to be made, and hard work requiring hands put the plow. He also understands there are joys and happiness, but that those things are the result of overcoming the hard things. For people who walk in the truth the goal is to receive the commandments of the father and respond accordingly. Joy and happiness are a result of reaching that goal.

The Question of Love

Next you’ll notice John mentions the new commandment he wrote to this lady (or church); it was a commandment we’ve all had from beginning: to love one another. Now, did you notice how John defined love? He didn’t define it as being non-judgmental; he did not define it as being tolerant of sin; he did not define it as glossing over the truth so as not to hurt anyone’s feelings. John defines love as “walking after his commandments.”

Whose commandments? Jehovah God’s commandments.

If we are to truly love one another as Christ loved the church, we will obey the father. What did Jesus do if he did not obey? He clearly said in the New Testament that he came to do his father’s will and that he didn’t always those things that pleased his father. Notice:

“For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.” (John 6:38)

“And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.” (John 8:29)

Somewhere along the line the Church of Christ has completely missed the boat concerning love. We seem to think that to love one another means to be apathetic when it comes to the truth of God’s word. Yet that’s not truly love. It is actually condemnation because failure to learn and yield to the truth leads to sin and, according to James Chapter 1, sin brings forth death. When we refuse to yield to the truth of the word we are bring upon ourselves our own judgment.

For example, the fundamental truths of Genesis chapter 3 are systematically refused in the modern church. First off, like it or not, God told Eve that her desire would be subject to her husband’s and he would become the leader of the household because of her actions in eating the forbidden fruit and giving it to her husband. Try telling the modern American woman in 2012 that she needs to step back and let her husband be in charge.

Likewise, Genesis chapter 3 also demonstrates that man would have to work hard and eat by the sweat of his brow. The implication of what God says to Adam is that nothing in this life is going to come easy. The earth will not yield as much as God intended it to; furthermore, figs and thistles would spring up and choke the man’s work. But try telling today’s modern male that hard work is what God intends for him. Laziness in work and apathy in his leadership role is commonplace among the men of today.

If you and I, as Christians and members of the Church of Christ, truly want to be like Jesus and love the father like he did, we must put away this emotional definition of love and refer to the Scriptures. John clearly says that love on our part is to walk in God’s commandments. Until we do so the church will continue to weaken, it will become more and more of a social atmosphere, and it will require greater entertainment to get people to come.

And no one’s life will change.

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