Real love, genuine agape love is unconditional, period. If you doubt this truth, re-read Paul in his first letter to the church at Corinth. He boldly tells the church – a church battling crippling sins – that “love is kind” and “keeps no record of wrongs.”
And in his first letter, John writes:
And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him.
John doesn’t write, “The one who remains in God remains in love.” Rather, he turns it on its heels and states emphatically that “the one who remains in love remains in God.” You cannot hate people who you are able to see and touch while you claim to love God. You can not refuse to forgive others while expecting God to forgive you. Frankly love and hate are like oil and water – incompatible in the mix.
You can not be a Christian and hate people.
Solomon strongly suggests teaching your child early “about the way he should go.” He says:
Teach a youth about the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
The pertinent questions, however, are:
1) What to teach?
2) How to teach it?
Solomon readily answers the first question by imploring the parent to teach wisdom. And for the second question, Solomon implies the work is primarily that of the child who must willingly listen to instruction. If the child refuses to listen, no amount of words will matter. Solomon implores the child to listen to instruction so that “wisdom will enter your mind, and knowledge will delight your heart.” ( Proverbs 2: 10 )
Solomon says to his own child:
My son, don’t forget my teaching,
but let your heart keep my commands;
for they will bring you
many days, a full life, and well-being.
Never let loyalty and faithfulness leave you.
Tie them around your neck;
write them on the tablet of your heart.
Then you will find favor and high regard
in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths. Don’t consider yourself to be wise; fear the Lord and turn away from evil. ( Proverbs 3: 1-7 )
What Solomon does not offer is advice to model the behavior you expect from your child. He knows better than that. Instead, he calls on the parent to speak truth, write truth, think about truth and “trust in the Lord with all your heart” and “not rely on your own understanding.”
Solomon wisely says not to “consider yourself to be wise.”
Instead, “fear the Lord.” For awe of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
Like a baby in the arms of a loving mother, so we – as Christians – rest in our trust of God who loves us. If we fully trust a perfect God, then we are kept in perfect peace, for we are trusting in the God who is perfect. Hence we have a perfect peace.
You will keep the mind that is dependent on You in perfect peace, for it is trusting in You.
Paul writes to the church at Philippi, telling them in no uncertain terms, “I’ve got it rough!” Then he says his rough times benefit the gospel of Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, Paul finds himself torn between two strong desires – the better desire is to depart this life and go to Christ; the lesser is to remain behind; “to stay on in the flesh.” Unfortunately for Paul, his remaining alive “is more necessary for” the sake of the church.
That Paul is more desirous of death is obvious. He writes to the Philippians:
For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain. But if it is to live in the flesh, this is fruitful work for me, and which I will prefer I do not know. But I am hard pressed between the two options, having the desire to depart and to be with Christ, for this is very much better. But to stay on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. And because I am convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that what you can be proud of may increase in Christ Jesus because of me through my return again to you.
Yet, Paul is obviously not suicidal. Once again, he puts others above himself. He is convinced that it is more necessary for him to remain alive, so he knows he will “continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith.” And so, Paul can readily say, “To live is Christ and to die is gain” without any hint of self-pity or drudgery. He does not threaten the church; he only reminds them that he remains alive for their sakes.
In the corporate world, we are encouraged to “blow our own horns.” Look at Linked-In sometime; and marvel at the self-aggrandizement.
On the other hand, God (through the Apostle Paul) says:
But “the one who boasts, let him boast in the Lord.” For it is not the one commending himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.
The Word of God is clear – all people are created by God in His image. The Word is equally clear that people are created a second time “in Christ Jesus for good works.” ( Hence Jesus’ mention to Nicodemus that he must be born again. ) These good works are ones designed specifically for us as individuals; they are “prepared beforehand, so that we may walk in them.” If even our good works are planned, how is it that we are not planned? Of course we are. What creator doesn’t mold his or her work according to plan? Nevertheless, as an artist renders his or her work, spontaneity surely plays its part. Perhaps God, the ultimate Creator, shows a touch of His own creative spontaneity when He allows His creations to stray off plan. Ever played with your car; ever taken your hands off the wheel briefly to see which way it might head? Ever dropped the reins on a horse and allowed it to go whichever direction it will? Yet, you remain in control of your car or your horse. The steering wheel is right there; so are the reins. God is in control; never fear.
For we are his creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, so that we may walk in them.
People look at the outside; they judge others by their appearances. God never does this! Instead, God looks at the heart. How often do you find yourself measuring a person? Often? I suggest you not do this, for you can’t see that person’s heart. Yes, you can tell something about the person by his or her actions, but even that is subject to your biases. Instead, I recommend leaving the judgment to God. He’s the only One qualified to judge other people.
6 When they came, he saw Eliab and said, “Surely his anointed one is before Yahweh!” 7 But Yahweh said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For God does not see what man sees, for a man looks on the outward appearance, but Yahweh looks on the heart.” 8 Then Jesse called Abinadab and made him pass before Samuel, and he said, “This one also Yahweh has not chosen.”
And, we need to recognize that God makes choices; sometimes, His choices are difficult for us to understand. He does not select a person for a particular task or mission based on human reasoning. Rather, He knows the motivations and the outcomes. He knows what is best. Trust Him more to make the perfect decisions.
So much of the good news is contained in the first ten verses of the fifth chapter of Paul’s letter to the church at Rome. He says clearly that we are “declared righteous,” that “we have peace with God,” that “we have obtained access” to “this grace in which we stand.” We may know with certainty that “this hope will not disappoint us.” Why? “Because God’s love has been poured out.” We have been given the Holy Spirit. And all this was given to us “while we were still helpless.” “Christ died for the ungodly.” That’s you and me! This willing death of God’s Son “proves” God’s love for us. “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us!” Therefore, “we will be saved through Him from wrath.” After all, says Paul, if Christ died for us while we were His enemies, “how much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by His Life!”
Since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 We have also obtained access through Him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only that,but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance,4 endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. 5 This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.6 For while we were still helpless, at the appointed moment, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For rarely will someone die for a just person—though for a good person perhaps someone might even dare to die. 8 But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us! 9 Much more then, since we have now been declared righteous by His blood, we will be saved through Him from wrath. 10 For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, then how much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by His life!
David, an adulterer and murderer, boldly claims:
I am ready, and I am not troubled; to keep thy commandments. (I am ready, and I have not delayed, to obey thy commandments.)
What gives David his confidence? Is his confidence in himself? Is he honest when he claims he is ready? Does he correctly assess himself when he says, “I am not troubled; to keep thy commandments”?
In what, in whom is David’s confidence?
Jesus’ blood, shed to save the world, cleanses us from all sin – not from some, but from all. As we join with God where He dwells, “we too live and move in Light” and we have “fellowship between us.” Living within Light overshadows the darkness that surrounds us; therefore we are clean despite living in a dirty, fallen world. Our fellowship is with the Holy Spirit and with each other. We live and move in Love.
God dwells in light; if we too live and move in light, there is fellowship between us, and the blood of his Son Jesus Christ washes us clean from all sin.