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Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Testing love!

In the Tuesday Group at which I share the Word of God, we are working our way through the first letter from the apostle John.  This morning, we continued to look at three tests by which we may receive assurance that we are truly disciples of Jesus.  One of those concerns love - the "agape" that is the very love of God, and that should be seen in the lives of those who claim to be His children.

Of course, when we think of the pure, all-embracing, love of the Lord Jesus we realise how far short we fall of keeping the "new commandment" of which John writes; the "new commandment" that Jesus Himself gave us: "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:34-35).

When we moved into our current home in France, I realised that I would need a chain-saw in order to deal with some of the trees in the garden, that required severe pruning.  It works well - as long as there is sufficient oil keeping the mechanism in good condition.  However, that mechanism is fully encased - for the protection of the user as much as for any other reason.  So how may I know that there is sufficient oil inside?  Well, there is a "window" - a gauge - on the outside of the casing that shows me the level of oil within.  If the level in the window is high, then I may be assured that there is sufficient oil in the system.

Do you ever say to yourself, as one who claims to be a disciple of Jesus, "I love the Lord - but I wonder how much I love Him."?   John would tell you to "look at the gauge".  He writes: "He who says he is in the light and hates his brother is in the darkness still." (I John 2:9).  Later, he writes: "By this it may be seen who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not do right is not of God, nor he who does not love his brother." (3:10).  The extent of my love for God may be measured by the extent of my love for my brother, or sister, in Christ!

Again, John makes, and emphasises, the point.  "We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death." (3:14).  In what we know as the fourth chapter (but, of course, John didn't write his letters, or his account of the Gospel, in chapters and verses any more than any other Biblical writer - or indeed, than you or me!) he writes: "If any one says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God Whom he has not seen." (4:20).  Indeed, the apostle exhorts us that, if the need arises, "... we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren." (3:16).

Until you and I are able to pass this stringent test, we have no cause to brag!  All that we can do is to ask the Lord for His forgiving grace in order that we may display a right attitude towards others! Remember, God gauges our love for Him by our love of "the brethren"!

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