Sabbath, May 28, 2016

“One of the strongest evidences of true conversion is love to God and man. Those who accept Jesus as their Redeemer have a deep, sincere love for others of like precious faith. Thus it was with the believers at Thessalonica. ‘As touching brotherly love,’ the apostle wrote, ‘ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another. And indeed ye do it toward all the brethren which are in all Macedonia: but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more….’ ” –The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 262, 263.

The sole source of love

1. What is the source of love? Who planted the seeds of love in man?

1 John 4:10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

2 Corinthians 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

“In the contemplation of Christ we linger on the shore of a love that is measureless. We endeavor to tell of this love, and language fails us. We consider His life on earth, His sacrifice for us, His work in heaven as our advocate, and the mansions He is preparing for those who love Him, and we can only exclaim, O the height and depth of the love of Christ! ‘Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.’ ‘Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.’ 1 John 4:10; 3:1.

“In every true disciple this love, like sacred fire, burns on the altar of the heart. It was on the earth that the love of God was revealed through Christ. It is on the earth that His children are to reflect this love through blameless lives. Thus sinners will be led to the cross to behold the Lamb of God.” –The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 333, 334.

2. Therefore, when is one able to love others? Who has to live and reign in him before love can be produced?

1 John 4:12; 2:5 No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us…. 2:5But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.

“The attributes which God prizes most are charity and purity. These attributes should be cherished by every Christian. ‘Everyone that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.’ ‘If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and His love is perfected in us.’ ‘We shall see Him as He is. And every man that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure.’ ” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 85.

“There is among us a very limited amount of real, unselfish love. The Lord says: ‘Everyone that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.’ ‘If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and His love is perfected in us.’ 1 John 4:7, 8, 12.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, p. 137.

Dealing with offenses and weakness

3. In case of offense or mistreatment, how does divine love respond?

Romans 12:17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.

1 Thessalonians 5:15 See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men. 

“It hurts you when one for whom you have done much becomes your enemy, having been brought under an influence opposed to you. But do you not do almost the same thing to Jesus when you turn away from Him? He has been your best Friend. He has done everything He could to win your love. He has invited your confidence. He has asked you to come to Him with all your burdens and all your griefs, and has pledged His word to give you rest and peace if you will wear His yoke and bear His burdens. He declares that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Show that you believe this. Take God at His word. You never could have stood where you now stand, bearing the responsibilities that you have borne, unless Jesus had given you special help. Acknowledge this. Praise God for the help that He has been to you, and trust Him still.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, p. 129.

4. Facing shortcomings in others, what attitude will we have if God’s love is in us?

Luke 6:36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.

James 3:17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.

“God is always giving; and upon whom are His gifts bestowed? Upon those who are faultless in character? ‘He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.’ Matthew 5:45. Notwithstanding the sinfulness of humanity, notwithstanding that we so often grieve the heart of Christ and prove ourselves most undeserving, yet when we ask His forgiveness, He does not turn us away. His love is freely extended to us, and He bids us: Love one another as I have loved you. John 13:34.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 284.

Other indications of God’s love in us 

5. What should be done when someone practices sin and clings to an improper attitude? What will a genuine brother in Christ do, and what will he not do, in such a situation?

Proverbs 17:18 A man void of understanding striketh hands, and becometh surety in the presence of his friend. 

Galatians 6:1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

1 Thessalonians 5:14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.

“If one of these little ones shall be overcome, and commit a wrong against you, then it is your work to seek his restoration. Do not wait for him to make the first effort for reconciliation. ‘How think ye?’ said Jesus; ‘if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.’…

“Do not put him to shame by exposing his fault to others, nor bring dishonor upon Christ by making public the sin or error of one who bears His name. Often the truth must be plainly spoken to the erring; he must be led to see his error, that he may reform. But you are not to judge or to condemn. Make no attempt at self-justification. Let all your effort be for his recovery. In treating the wounds of the soul, there is need of the most delicate touch, the finest sensibility. Only the love that flows from the Suffering One of Calvary can avail here.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 440.

6. What instruction is given so we can keep from causing a fellow brother to stumble in the faith?

Romans 14:13 Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.

1 Corinthians 10:32 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

“He bids us, in dealing with the tempted and the erring, consider ‘thyself, lest thou also be tempted.’ Galatians 6:1. With a sense of our own infirmities, we shall have compassion for the infirmities of others.

“ ‘Who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive?’ ‘One is your Master;… and all ye are brethren.’ ‘Why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother?’ ‘Let us not therefore judge one another:… but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.’ 1 Corinthians 4:7; Matthew 23:8; Romans 14:10, 13.

“It is always humiliating to have one’s errors pointed out. None should make the experience more bitter by needless censure. No one was ever reclaimed by reproach; but many have thus been repelled and have been led to steel their hearts against conviction. A tender spirit, a gentle, winning deportment, may save the erring and hide a multitude of sins.” –The Ministry of Healing, p. 166.

7. What should characterize our actions and speech in our daily intercourse with others?

Ecclesiastes 10:12 The words of a wise man’s mouth are gracious; but the lips of a fool will swallow up himself.

Colossians 4:6 Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

1 Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.

“The chief requisite of language is that it be pure and kind and true–‘the outward expression of an inward grace.’… The best school for this language study is the home.

“Kind words are as dew and gentle showers to the soul. The Scripture says of Christ that grace was poured into His lips, that He might ‘know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary.’ And the Lord bids us, ‘Let your speech be alway with grace,’ ‘that it may minister grace unto the hearers.’ ” –The Adventist Home, p. 435.

For further study

Colossians 3:12

Proverbs 6:1, 2

Hebrews 3:12, 13

Hearing and sharing the message

A huge truck crashed into the back of a small vehicle, causing it to plunge 75 feet down into a ravine. The owner of the vehicle was a paralyzed woman who operated the car with special controls. The woman, Linda Myers, tried to call for help on her car radio. For hours, no one paid any attention to her calls for help. Finally, after fourteen hours, she cried: “Lord, let somebody come and help me!” At that moment, a truck driver heard and answered her call and called the police by radio. This led to immediate intervention, and the woman was rescued. Linda said: “When you lack human communication, the Lord is still ready to hear your cry.”

This woman and the man in the Bible who was attacked on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho are not the only ones who fall into serious difficulties. There are millions who are trapped in sin and desperation; they are calling urgently for emergency help, and we can give them the message of love and hope that the Lord has entrusted to us. Will we do differently from that helpful truck driver, or will we go quickly to help by giving the message that can save a life? –Adapted from the Christian calendar Più che vincitori in Cristo (More than conquerors in Christ), January 5, 2011.