Love is the signature of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, in the lives of those whom He has redeemed. The breadth of God’s love for mankind is repeatedly on display within the pages of the Bible. His love is alive and well within His children; we are marked by the love we have for all. That love has no boundaries and knows no restrictions.
44“But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; For He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust. 46For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even tax collectors do the same? 47And if you greet your brethren only, what do you more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? 48Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” Matthew 5:44-48
Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith. Galatians 6:10
And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. 1 John 4:16
However, there are commandments in God’s word that guide and direct His children as they share His love with others. Godly love is expressed with compassion and discretion, seeking God’s glory and the well-being of the recipient. God’s Word tells us that He is love and His love prompted Him to send His Son Jesus Christ to be the propitiation for our sins and this is the same love we should have for other believers. God’s life in us drives us to love one another, and have compassion on all. If we share His love without wisdom though, we could join in the deception of false brethren and so confirm them to the judgment of God and shield them from the need to repent of their sins and place their belief in Jesus Christ. In 1 John 4 the apostle John begins this love chapter with a warning about false prophets. False prophets confound and confuse God’s love and so lead others astray; they teach falsehood about God and His love for mankind, relying on their lying hearts and minds rather than God’s Word for the truth about God and His love for us. If we follow false prophets it is impossible to have genuine love for others, and instead hate will be directed towards those who believe in Jesus Christ rather than love because the world hates God and His children.
1Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, 3and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world. 4You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 5They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them. 6We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. 1 John 4:1-6
The Holy Spirit will always lead those who belong to Him to believe, preach and teach the truth about Jesus Christ that is found in the Bible. They will reject the lies of men which always contradict what the Scriptures say about Jesus Christ and what He has done for us. However, the world will embrace and promote the lies, spreading falsehood about Christ Jesus that condemns people to hell. The false prophets and those who follow them prove that they belong to the spirit of error because of their love for worldly wisdom and their rejection of God’s Word written by the prophets and apostles appointed by Christ; they are not of the spirit of truth. Those of the spirit of truth will have the true foundation for showing God’s love to others because they believe and receive the truth of the Scriptures written by God’s prophets and apostles.
7Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 10In this is love, not that we loved God, but the He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 1 John 4:7-11
Our love for God and other believers is generated by God’s love for us which He proved by sending His Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for our sins, taking the judgment and wrath we deserve, and then rising again from the dead, victorious over sin, death and the devil, guaranteeing our victory and granting us the power to live for Him and His glory. Jesus Christ has secured our redemption and reconciled us to God through His shed blood and bodily resurrection. If we truly belong to God through faith in Christ Jesus then we will bear His family resemblance and love other brethren. Our love will be marked by speaking the truth in love and meeting the needs of our brothers and sisters; it will be sacrificial just as Christ’s love was for us. The world will never exhibit the love of God in their lives.
12No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. 13By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 14And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. 15Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. 1 John 4:12-16
The Holy Spirit will produce God’s perfect love in us which will encourage our hearts that He abides in us and we abide in Him. Whoever confesses that Jesus, the biblical Christ, is the Son of God does abide in God and God in Him, and knows His love experientially and so loves others with that same love that they have received. Those who have faith in Jesus Christ know that love that God has for them and so, by the indwelling Holy Spirit, are empowered to love others. That includes sharing the gospel with the lost so that they too may believe in Jesus Christ and be recipients of God’s love and grace.
17Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. 18There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. 19We love Him because He first loved us. 20If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? 21And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also. 1 John 4:17-21
God’s love that sent His Son to die on the cross for our sins and rise again from the dead for our justification reassures our hearts so that we have no fear of coming judgment. This wonderful love leads us to walk worthy of the calling of Christ. Those who do not know the love of God given through Jesus Christ do not have confidence regarding God’s judgment and so are fearful. Their fear and hatred for the brethren proves they do not know Christ and are not partakers of God’s love. We who love God will keep His commandments and love the brethren in general and love their brothers in particular. This particular love will motivate us to obey God’s Word to love our brothers for their good and for God’s glory.
14Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. 15See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all. 1 Thessalonians 5:14-15
5Now may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the patience of Christ. 6But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us. 2 Thessalonians 3:5-6
9I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. 10Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner-not to even eat with such a person. 1 Corinthians 5:9-11
Just as God our Father corrects and disciplines us for our good, so too, we should always strive for the good of our brothers even if that means we must obey these commands so that the erring brother will turn from sin and return to godliness. The passage in 2 Thessalonians refers to traditions, that word encompasses all that the apostle Paul had taught the Thessalonians about their faith in Christ and living for His glory. Paul referred to the traditions in the second chapter after he warned the Thessalonians about those who would apostatize because they love unrighteousness.
Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle. 2 Thessalonians 2:15
We can extend this to biblical doctrines on faith and practice; those who live contrary to these doctrines while claiming to be brethren must be dealt with in a manner consistent with the Scriptures so they will repent and turn back to obedient living and holding fast to the truth. In love, we must correct our brethren even if that means avoiding them until God grants them repentance. Sloppy love based upon the precepts and doctrines of the world will only confirm the erring brother or sister in their sin, they will not repent. However, godly loving correction given through obedience to God’s Word for these difficult situations gives room for the work of God in the heart of the disobedient child to bring about repentance and reconciliation. We should pray for God to work in their hearts and be restored to Him and to us. May God be glorified as we love our brothers and sisters in Christ biblically by the power of the Holy Spirit.