We first see the truth of love in the New Testament and also mention that God is love, but not an indulging love. We need the action of faith like what described in Book James. Secondly, we use the Book of Philemon as an example to talk about how Paul lived out love. In it, Paul took the burden to repay what Onesimus did in the past. This is like what Jesus did in the cross to achieve our salvation. Today, what we owe is taken into the account of Jesus. In this event, Paul was conformed to the image of Jesus. Thirdly, we talk about the plea of Abraham to God not to destroy Sodom and nearby cities if there were ten righteous men in the city. However, there is only three of the family of Lot saved. Fourthly, we mention the event that Jesus called a young man, and said that it was not easy for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. The money itself is neutral, but having the love of money is absolutely not. Lastly, we mention some verses to show that the God is love but not an indulging love.
The Bible talks about the truth of love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, “Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails; …”
In the Lord’s prayer, it says, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.”(Matthew 6:10) Love absolutely is in heaven. On earth, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”(John 13:35) Christians have the abiding Holy Spirit. As the result, we have already had Agape love in us “…because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”(Romans 5:5) But merely knowing the fact is useless. In James 1:22, it says clearly, “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.” We must have the actions in faith. We have to live out love. Please notice. God is love, but not an indulging love. About this point, the Bible says very clearly in Hebrews 12:5-6, “and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, Nor faint when you are reproved by Him; For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, And He scourges every son whom He receives.””
Secondly, we briefly talk about the Book of Philemon which is a good example regarding how Paul lived out love, the Agape love. The background of this event is as follows. Onesimus is an escaped slave from Philemon. In Rome, he met Paul and became a Christian. Now he had to go back to Colossae to face with the mistakes he made in the past. In the book, we see that Paul plead to Philemon for Onesimus as said in Philemon 1:8-9, “Therefore, though I have enough confidence in Christ to order you to do what is proper, yet for love’s sake I rather appeal to you -since I am such a person as Paul, the aged, and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus- Plea for Onesimus, a Free Man.” Apparently, this is something proper. And he said also, “But if he has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge that to my account; I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand, I will repay it (not to mention to you that you owe to me even your own self as well).”(Philemon 1:18-19) Paul plead in love, not due to his old age or being a mature Christian. From these verses, we can deduct that Onesimus told Paul what happened at the time when he fled. And Paul repaid everything. In this event, we see that Paul was conformed to the image of Jesus, manifested the life of Jesus Christ, since living out love is a manifestation of the life of Christ. This is like what achieved in the cross by Jesus. Nowadays, God accepts us like that He accepts Jesus, since all we owe are in the Lord’s account.
Thirdly, let us see one example regarding how Abraham lived out love. The background of this event is said clearly in Genesis 18:20-21, “And the Lord said, “The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave. I will go down now, and see if they have done entirely according to its outcry, which has come to Me; and if not, I will know.”” At that time, Abraham entertained three people. Then two of them “…turned away from there and went toward Sodom, while Abraham was still standing before the Lord. Abraham came near and said, “Will You indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; will You indeed sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous who are in it? Far be it from You to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?” So the Lord said, “If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare the whole place on their account.” And Abraham replied, “Now behold, I have ventured to speak to the Lord, although I am but dust and ashes. Suppose the fifty righteous are lacking five, will You destroy the whole city because of five?” And He said, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.” …Then he said, “Oh may the Lord not be angry, and I shall speak only this once; suppose ten are found there?” And He said, “I will not destroy it on account of the ten.” (Genesis 18:22-32) By this way, Abraham plead the God several times not to destroy them if there were fifty righteous people down to ten. “As soon as He had finished speaking to Abraham the Lord departed, and Abraham returned to his place.”(Genesis 18:33) Doesn’t the God know how many righteous people? He just gave Abraham a chance to plea. Only after Abram did what was done, we can truly know that he really cared about those people, loved their souls. He hoped that they didn’t perish, and he didn’t ask anything for himself. In the Book Genesis, we can see that the God gave him a step-by-step training. Eventually, he obeyed the God completely, and was able to offer Isaac.
Let us take a look at what finally happened to Sodom and nearby cities. In Genesis 19:12-13, it says, “Then the two men said to Lot, “Whom else have you here? A son-in-law, and your sons, and your daughters, and whomever you have in the city, bring them out of the place; for we are about to destroy this place, because their outcry has become so great before the Lord that the Lord has sent us to destroy it.”” So, there were only four persons saved from the cities. Among those four, “But his wife, from behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.”(Genesis 19:26) There were only three saved as the result.
Finally, we’ll take a look at one example regarding how Jesus lived out love. This is “As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?””(Mark 10:17) “And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments, ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.'”(Mark 10:18-19) “And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.””(Mark 10:20) At this point, we would say that he really made an effort and thought so. “Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.””(Mark 10:21) “But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.”(Mark 10:22) Jesus loved him, gave him a chance, called him. But He didn’t want to convince him to change his decision, which had to have willingness from the heart as said in Proverbs 4:23, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.” Like what Jesus said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”(Mark 10:25) “For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”(1 Timothy 6:10) Money itself is neutral, and we need it to live. It depends upon how we use them. The love of money is absolutely not allowed.
What we want to emphasize is that the God is love, but not an indulging love. As said before, the Bible says clearly in Hebrews 12:6, “For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, And He scourges every son whom He receives.” And even says in Jude 1:22-23, “And have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.” The God is love, but there is righteousness in love. We get to fear the Lord in love, and acknowledge that He has the absolute authority. We must put Him on the right place where He deserves.
(Verses refer to those in NASB unless otherwise specified.)