Monday, January 26, 2009

When Love Grows Up

Please read I John 4:17-5:5. The prospective bridegroom was extremely nervous. "I'd like to see a copy of the wedding vows. That won't do there's nothing written in there about her obeying me! Her answer, 'Honey, the word obey doesn't have to be written in a book. it's already written in love in my heart.'" This is the truth that is in view in this portion of I John. The key word is perfect. The word carries the idea of maturity and completeness. The Christian life is to be a daily experience of growing in the love of God. Mature Christian love is the great universal need among God's people. How can a believer know that his love for the Father is being perfected? This paragraph of I John suggests four evidences. I. Confidence. Two new words, fear and torment appear. Fear is the fear of judgment and torment is the Greek word Phobos, acrophobia and hydrophobia (among other phobias) come from this root. If people are afraid, something in the past haunts them, the present upsets them, or the future threatens them. Could be a combination of all three. Satan is still the accuser of the brethren. The Christian need not fear. There is no need to fear the future because our sins were judged in Christ. We should not fear the past because God "First loved us" when we were outside the family and disobeying Him. We need not fear the present because "Perfect love casts our fear". As we grow in the love of God we cease to be fearful of what He will do. Fear is the beginning of torment. We torment ourselves as we contemplate what lies ahead. I know a person who is afraid of the dentist. The torment he suffers before an appointment is much worse than the actual experience in the dentist's chair. God wants His children to live in an atmosphere of love and confidence, not fear and torment. When we were lost we lived in fear know nothing of God's love. An immature Christian is tossed between fear and love; a mature Christian rests in God's love. A growing confidence in the presence of God is one of the first evidences that our love for God is maturing. Confidence always leads to other moral results. II. Honesty. Fear and pretense usually go together. Adam and Eve hid from God and tried to cover their nakedness. "I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid." An immature Christian, not growing, may think he has to impress others with his spirituality. This mistake turns him into a liar. Take as an example Ananias and Sapphira, their sin was hypocrisy. Pretending is not a mark of maturity in adults. Confidence toward God and honesty with others, are two marks of maturity that are bound to show up when our love for God is being perfected. a college student, Jerry was commenting about his poor grades for the semester. "I've worn myself out acting and haven't had enough energy left for living." III. Joyful obedience. Not simply obedience-but joyful obedience. Everything in creation except man obeys. In Jonah's case the wind, waves and fish obeyed their creator. It was Jonah who was disobedient. What is the secret of joyful obedience? It is to recognize that obedience is a family matter. The world needs some good old-fashioned practical love. D.L. Moody said "Every Bible should be bound in shoe leather." We are children obeying a father, not slaves obeying a master. One test of maturing love is out personal attitude toward the Bible. The maturing believer reads the Bible as a love letter. The burden of religion (trying the please God in the flesh) is a grievous one, but the yoke that Christ puts on us is not burdensome at all. Perfecting love produces joyful obedience. IV. Victory. A Soldier in Alexander the Greats' army was not acting bravely in battle. The soldiers name was also Alexander. Alexander the Great said "Soldier change your actions or change your name." Victorious faith is the result of maturing love. Our relationship to Jesus Christ grows by stages. We must cultivate friendship with Christ. Abraham was the friend of God. As we read the Word, pray and fellowship with God's people, Christian graces start to show up. The change will be a gradual process. Our friendship with Christ and our becoming like Him will lead to a deeper love for Christ. Christian love is not a passing emotion but a permanent devotion. The more we know Him the better we love Him and the more we become like Him. The growing believers life will be marked by confidence, honesty, joyful obedience and victory. Dr. Ken Copley is available for counseling, conferences, and local church meetings.

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