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by Aaron Crawford

What is love? Webster’s dictionary defines love as a “Strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties” an “affection based on admiration, benevolence, or common interests. Jesus speaks of love quite often in the Bible.

In Mark 12:30 Jesus, when asked what was the greatest commandment? “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. 31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.”

Jesus was straight forward, explaining to love God in every way possible and to love your neighbor as if it were your own self.

In Matt. 5:44 Jesus says, “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? 48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”

Being perfect takes lots of practice. There’s an old saying, “Practice doesn’t make perfect, Practicing perfect makes perfect.”

When we think about Christ and our obedience to his word, we can’t “Leave well enough alone”. We can’t be complacent. In Acts 2:42, “And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.”

The first century Christians didn’t just obey God’s word and end it there. They “continued” “Steadfastly” meaning they were “Fixed or unchanging; steady. 2. Firmly loyal or constand” as Webster’s Dictionary would define.

Jesus said in Matt. 6:24, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and wealth.”

Here, Jesus makes the distinction between worldly things and Heavenly things, as in the rich young ruler in Mark 10:17-26. Highlighting verse 21, “Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” In verse 22, “But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.” Here this young ruler did everything right, but his heart was in the wrong place. He loved his possessions more than anything else and so he was “Saddened”.

Paul wrote of love in 1 Corinthians 13, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. 4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. 13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

Jesus said in John 14:15, “if you love me, you will keep my commandments.”

So what did Jesus command anyway? In the “Commission” Mark 16:14-20 Jesus told the apostles what to do. Specifically in Mark 16:15-16, “And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 He who has believed and has been baptizaed shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.’”

In John Chapter 3:1-21 Jesus is talking with Nicodemus about being “born again” Jesus specifically says in verse 5, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”

Paul talks about this more in Romans 6:1-14, explaining in verse 4, how “we have been buried with him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised form the dead through the glory of the father, so we too might walk in newness of life.”

Jesus said to be ready!! Matt. 24:44, “For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.”

So are you ready? Will you be ready? It’s never too soon to be sure. Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 5:2-11, “For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they say, "Peace and safety!" then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. 5 You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. 8 But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. 11 Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.”

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