Love Don't Come Easy

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Love Don't Come Easy

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Love Don't Come Easy

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A popular 1967 Beatles song was titled “All You Need is Love.” The lyrics were “All you need is love… it’s easy.” It is easy when our love is simply an expression of what we want to do. But when our love is a true expression of love, real outgoing concern—the kind of love that Christ prayed we would have for each other—that takes effort. It goes against our natural tendencies of protecting and nurturing self to put God and others above our own needs, yet it is exactly this kind of love that God expects from us.

Love: a nature, not an idea

There are many types of love, and many definitions or ideas about love, but love must be defined by its source. We are told in 1 John 4:8 1 John 4:8He that loves not knows not God; for God is love.
American King James Version×
who that source is; “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”

“...love summarizes and epitomizes the ultimate nature of God,” says Don Hooser in a Good News article entitled “Love: the Ground from Which Spiritual Fruit Springs.” You can’t understand love apart from God. God defines and reveals the concept by His words and actions. We don’t learn about God because we know what love is; we learn about love because we know who God is. Love isn’t some human contrived concept we idealize; love is a nature that we must take on.

God’s nature, codified

In 1 John 5:3 1 John 5:3For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
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we read, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.”The word “keep” means to attend to carefully, take care of, guard, observe, preserve. Note how in Matthew 5:21-30 Matthew 5:21-30 [21] You have heard that it was said of them of old time, You shall not kill; and whoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: [22] But I say to you, That whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whoever shall say, You fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. [23] Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has ought against you; [24] Leave there your gift before the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. [25] Agree with your adversary quickly, whiles you are in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver you to the judge, and the judge deliver you to the officer, and you be cast into prison. [26] Truly I say to you, You shall by no means come out there, till you have paid the uttermost farthing. [27] You have heard that it was said by them of old time, You shall not commit adultery: [28] But I say to you, That whoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart. [29] And if your right eye offend you, pluck it out, and cast it from you: for it is profitable for you that one of your members should perish, and not that your whole body should be cast into hell. [30] And if your right hand offend you, cut it off, and cast it from you: for it is profitable for you that one of your members should perish, and not that your whole body should be cast into hell.
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Jesus Christ clarifies “keeping” the commandments given in Exodus 20:13-14 Exodus 20:13-14 [13] You shall not kill. [14] You shall not commit adultery.
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“You shall not kill. You shall not commit adultery.” Jesus Christ “magnified” the law. He moved the definitions beyond simply the constraints of physical activity into the mind and heart. Logically, if love defines God’s nature and the commandments define love, God’s commandments define His nature.

What commandments?

A man well versed in scriptural law, who was trying to test Jesus, asked Him which was the great [most important] commandment in the law. Jesus answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:36-37 Matthew 22:36-37 [36] Master, which is the great commandment in the law? [37] Jesus said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.
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). This is the answer the lawyer probably expected, since Jesus was quoting from Deuteronomy 6:4-9 Deuteronomy 6:4-9 [4] Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: [5] And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. [6] And these words, which I command you this day, shall be in your heart: [7] And you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up. [8] And you shall bind them for a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. [9] And you shall write them on the posts of your house, and on your gates.
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, a passage known as the Shema (after the first Hebrew word in it), which had become the Jewish confession of faith that was recited twice daily by the pious. But Jesus then went beyond what was specifically asked saying, “And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39 Matthew 22:39And the second is like to it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
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). This was not a “new” commandment, since Jesus was quoting Leviticus 19:18 Leviticus 19:18You shall not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.
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. But it seems the Jews had not coupled it with Deuteronomy 6:5 Deuteronomy 6:5And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.
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as another “great” commandment. Jesus raised “love your neighbor” to a much higher level of importance (GN).

In John 15:13 John 15:13Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
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, we read, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” Notice here that the “greater love” is primarily directed toward man. Do you find it easier to get angry or upset with man, or with God? Do you find it easier to admire God or man? It is perhaps “harder” to show love toward flawed people, especially those that have or will hurt you; but again, God sets the example; “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8 Romans 5:8But God commends his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
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).

It is usually easier to feel lovingly toward God than toward man. God does no wrong and loved us first (1 John 4:19 1 John 4:19We love him, because he first loved us.
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). Because we are so driven by feeling, it can be easier to act on love toward God. When the Bible speaks of love, note that love has more to do with what we do than what we think or feel. For example, consider the Golden Rule of Matthew 7:12 Matthew 7:12Therefore all things whatever you would that men should do to you, do you even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.
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, usually paraphrased as “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

The examples

Consider the love of the Father. Imagine that your child or dearest loved one came and told you they needed to help someone. But you knew that the people they were going to help would treat him miserably, and torture and kill him. Would you allow it? The thought of losing a child is horrifying. Yet God allowed all this for the sake of the very type of people that would kill His Son, because He loves us so dearly.

Consider the love of Jesus Christ. Imagine that you are offered two opportunities:

1) All of the finest things in life, a good home in a quiet beautiful town, plus unlimited wealth and power to carry out whatever you desire.

2) Spending the remainder of your life taking care of people in a tribal village in an impoverished country hostile toward you where they’d probably beat and kill you.

Jesus Christ gave up everything He had going for Him to save us because He loves us so dearly. It is God’s nature to show an abundance of love toward indifferent, flawed, or even hostile individuals. We need to take on that nature daily. “Don’t forget every day to pray, ‘Father... more than anything... help us to grow in Your love so that we do not fail’”(GN).

Love must be sustained 

For those of us who have received God’s Spirit, “God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit” (Romans 5:5 Romans 5:5And hope makes not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given to us.
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, NIV). We begin with a little love, but God helps us to keep growing until we have a lot of love. In fact, the previous verses outline the step-by-step growth process made possible by God’s love and Spirit (verses 1-5).

By His Spirit, God offers us a continual supply of His limitless love. He continually fills our wells so that we have plenty to give to other thirsty people. Christ’s example of love and sacrifice was so profound that the promise of salvation that flowed through Him would flow through those who believed in Him (John 7:38 John 7:38He that believes on me, as the scripture has said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.
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).

God will keep His love flowing into us as long as it keeps flowing out from us. It must flow back to God—a grateful, reciprocal, responsive love for God—and it must flow out in love and service to other people. “The more you give it away, the more you will have. And the more you love others, the more you will be loved” (GN).