Celebrating 25 years online! 1996-2021
Recently, I posted the following verse on Facebook:
Beloved, let us love one another for love is of God and anyone who loveth is born of God. He that loveth not knoweth not God. Beloved, let us love one another.
~ 1 John 4:7-8
A Christian brother posed a question that prompted persons to consider the verse more deeply. He mentioned that there are many non-Christians who are wonderfully kind and warm-hearted people, and there are many Christians who are angry and bitter. He then asked, "How would you reconcile that fact to the verse?"
That's a good question that warrants a good answer. I would reconcile the dilemma mentioned this way:
Some Christians fail. Actually, all Christians fail to love at different points. My hope, however, is that generally speaking, most Christians would be characterized by a life of true agapao love and not characterized by sin. Christians still sin (we are humans after all), but should not be characterized by sin (though I know that sometimes, some Christians may go through times of dryness, minimal growth, backsliding, or even bitterness). Yet, Christians actually have the option to truly love. Only One loved perfectly - Jesus Christ. All the rest of us have a love that is tainted.
However, Christians are called to love and at times may walk in the Spirit to demonstrate agapao love and may at times walk in faith so as to truly love. That is not an option for one who does not believe in Jesus, even if the behavior is kind or warm-hearted. Without faith, whatever the behavior is, it's sin. Refer to Romans 14:23b: "and whatever is not from faith is sin." This does not mean that God cannot use it. He can use even the most horrific event. Consider the Cross. The motive for kindness and warm-heartedness may be selfish at the root. It may be more of a "Look at me, how good I am or how I serve." Meanwhile, Matthew 6:3-4 says, "But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you" (Hey, there may be quite a lot of Christian loving going on that we don't hear about for that reason). And 1 Corinthians 13:4 says, "Love is patient. Love is kind....It does not boast..." and further, Isaiah 64:6 says, that our righteous deeds are like filthy rags, which fits with Psalm 53:3, Romans 3:23 and other verses that declare that none are righteous. Only Jesus is righteous.
When one becomes a Christian, s/he is justified and declared righteous. That is what a Christian is positionally. However, we still live in fallen bodies in a fallen world. That is where Christians are conditionally. So, unless Christ is doing the work through the believer, then the "love" is tainted. Yet, that is what Christians are called to do. We are called to do many things and don't fully fulfill them. We all have room to grow. I guess we have to get our eyes off of the failures of men and look to God. Even if others are doing one thing, what is it that God calls us to do? He calls Christians to love just as He calls us to be holy as He is holy just as He calls us to be perfect. We aren't going to do any of it perfectly and it just reminds us how we desperately need Him day by day. I hope this speaks to the question well even though we observe the brokenness in this broken world - even among Christians. We need Jesus daily.
Ichthus Library: Personal Works