The Grace of God

That Brings Salvation Has Appeared to All Men (Titus 2:11)

Greater Love

Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. (John 15:13)

This is a profound statement by Jesus, but like most of His profound statements, it is being twisted today in order to justify disobedience to Him.

I have been told that a person who kills other people “for his friends” is demonstrating this “greater love.”

But is this what Jesus meant by His statement? Is this the example He demonstrated in His own life? It is not.

Jesus claimed the Father would have sent Him twelve legions of angels to protect Him from physical harm, had He but asked! (Matt. 26:53). He rebuked his own friend Peter for using a carnal sword on a man, saying, “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.” (vs. 52)

Simply put, the Word does not say “Greater love has no one than this, than to take other men’s lives for his friends.”

It says (my paraphrase), “Greater love has no man than this, than to LAY DOWN HIS OWN LIFE for his friends.” There is a huge difference between the two statements.

And let us not forget that He laid down His life for those who would become His friends at a future time, and He did it while they were still His hateful enemies!

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom. 5:8)

The question before us is this: Are we willing to demonstrate this kind of love to people while they are still sinners? Christ desires this in us, for He wrote,

But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. (Lk. 6:32-36)

Worldly love is meted out only to those who seem to be deserving. It is shallow, easily offended, and retractable whenever “self” feels threatened.

The love that God can shed abroad in our hearts is a love that is willingly given to those who aren’t deserving. It is willing to be spent for the souls of others, even if the love is never returned (2 Cor. 12:15). If we want to be sons of the Most High, we must have this love while “hoping for nothing in return.” If we want to be sons of the Father, we must bless those who curse us, do good to those who hate us, and pray for those who spitefully use and persecute us (Matt. 5:44-45). These are deliberate acts of love done in spite of whatever wounded feelings and heavy sorrows we might have. Though this sounds very difficult, and it is (for the flesh), when we die to ourselves, Christ makes us alive and well able to operate in this kind of unselfish benevolence.

This kind of love is the most powerful force on the earth. This kind of love plundered the devil’s kingdom, and is still plundering it today. This kind of love changes people from the inside out. If we see any lack of this in our lives, let us pray that God in His mercy will help us to be more like Him, and to walk exactly as Jesus walked.

Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. (I Jn. 4:17)

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