Feb 7th, 2021
Hello and welcome to season 3 episode 16 of The Berean Manifesto, 10 minutes or so a week of Faith, Hope, and Love for the modern Christian. This is Pastor Bill of The Ekklesian House and in this installment we are going to be talking about love.
If you’ve been tuning in at any point in 2021 then you know that we’ve been going over the basics, and there is nothing more basic to The Ekklesian House than love. And while the Old Testament was all about the futility of mankind’s efforts to be righteous under our own strength, love is the resounding principle of the New Testament.
1 Corinthians 13 CSB, says “ If I speak human or angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so that I can move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing.  And if I give away all my possessions, and if I give over my body in order to boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.  Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not arrogant,  is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not irritable and does not keep a record of wrongs.  Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth.  It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end.  For we know in part, and we prophesy in part,  but when the perfect comes, the partial will come to an end.  When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put aside childish things.  For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, as I am fully known.  Now these three remain: faith, hope, and love – but the greatest of these is love.”
Let’s take a moment and rewind to Leviticus 19:18a CSB, “ Do not take revenge or bear a grudge against members of your community, but love your neighbor as yourself…” I’m sure you’ve heard that statement before about loving your neighbor as yourself. And the reason I’m bringing it up is because the Gospels record Jesus referencing this part of the law as being one of the greatest commandments. Mark 12:29-31 CSB says, “ Jesus answered, ‘The most important is Listen, Israel! The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.  The second is, Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other command greater than these.” There are those who have argued that the designation of neighbor there lets them off the hook for loving outside of those who dress like them, think like them, worship like them, and all other kinds of arbitrary differences like race or color that are used to create “enemies,” but in Matthew 5:43-47 CSB Jesus says, “ You have heard it said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.  But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,  so that you may be children of your Father in heaven. For he causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  For if you love those who love you, what reward will you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same?  And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what are you doing out of the ordinary? Don’t even the Gentiles do the same?”
I’ve heard the argument for love, but against loving sinners because they say it would be sending the message that their sin is acceptable. However, James 2:8-13 CSB says, “ Indeed, if you fulfill the royal law prescribed in the Scripture, Love your neighbor as yourself, you are doing well.  If, however, you show favoritism, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.  For whoever keeps the entire law, and yet stumbles at one point, is guilty of breaking it all.  For he who said, Do not commit adultery, also said, Do not murder. So if you do not commit adultery, but you murder, you are a lawbreaker.  Speak and act as those who are to be judged by the law of freedom.  For judgement is without mercy to the one who has not shown mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”
“Mercy triumphs over judgment,” and in Galatians 5:13-15 CSB Paul wrote, “ For you were called to be free, brothers and sisters; only don’t use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love.  For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement: Love your neighbor as yourself.  But if you bite and devour one another, watch out, or you will be consumed by one another.” There is no sin or error in loving everyone, no matter what. In fact, Romans 13:8-10 CSB teaches us, “ Do not owe anyone anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.  The commandments, Do not commit adultery; do not murder; do not steal; do not covet; and any other commandment, are summed up by this commandment: Love your neighbor as yourself.  Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Love, therefore, is the fulfillment of the law.”
What I really want you to take away from this is that you are loved and for you to go out there and love others. 1 John 4:10 CSB says, “ Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.” And remember 1 Corinthians 13 we read earlier? Verse 12 told us that we are fully known by God. You are fully known and fully loved by God.
This is Pastor Bill saying, “Until next time…”