Speaking the Truth in Love
Do You Love God? Prove It!
When Jesus was asked, “Which is the first (or greatest) commandment of all?”, He responded that it is to “love the Lord your God with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:29-34)
This love that Jesus is talking about is an all-encompassing love, not merely a verbal expression of love. Many people today will say that they love God, but their lives in no way reflect this. Is it enough simply to say that you love God, or do you need to prove your words by your actions?
Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary pp. 381-382 states that “Love can be known only from the actions it prompts. God’s love is seen in the gift of His Son, 1 John 4:9,10. But obviously this is not the love of complacency, or affection, that is, it was not drawn out by any excellency in its objects, Romans 5:8.”
Let us examine this love by looking at two conversations that Jesus had with Peter, one prior to His death and one after His resurrection.
Prior to His death, Christ had told Peter that he would deny Him three times. Peter had strongly objected saying that he would die with Christ rather than deny Him (Matthew 26:31-35). These are admirable sentiments, but did Peter carry through with them? We read at the end of Matthew 26 verses 69-75 that he did not. He wound up denying Christ three times, just as Christ had said, rather than suffering with Him. Did Peter have the kind of love here that Christ had for him? At this point in His life, did he have the kind of love that God requires of us in order to be pleasing to Him?
After Jesus was crucified and resurrected, He had another interaction with Peter. He questioned Peter three times concerning his love for Him (John 21:15-19). Jesus asked him the first time, “ do you love (agape) me more than these?” Peter responded, “You know that I love (phileo- have affection for) You.” Jesus then told him, “Feed My lambs.” Again Jesus asked Peter if he loves (agape) Him and again Peter responded by saying that he loves (phileo) Him. Jesus said, “Tend My sheep.” The third time Jesus asked Peter if he loves (phileo) Him, and an upset Peter said, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love (phileo) You.” Jesus said, “Feed My sheep.” Jesus then indicated to Peter what he eventually did for God and He summarized the whole conversation with Peter about love with a command consisting of two simple words, “Follow Me.”
What point was Jesus trying to make with Peter in this conversation? He knew, of course, that Peter considered himself His friend and had great affection for Him. Peter had the “phileo” kind of love for Jesus, but what Jesus was asking for was the “agape” kind of love; the kind of love that produces action and sacrifice. Each time after Peter responded to his question with “phileo” love, Jesus showed Peter by His response that a deeper “agape” love was expected of Peter in order to prove his love for Him. Jesus said, “Feed My lambs”, “Tend My sheep”, “Feed My sheep”, and finally “Follow Me.” Obedient action was what would prove to be the proper kind of love that Jesus wanted from Peter.
Jesus expects that same kind of obedient love from us. Let us look at some scriptures which show us how we can prove our love for God and for Christ. We can prove our love by:
1. Not loving the world or the things in the world (1 John 2:15, James 4:4)
2. Loving your brother (1 John 4:12, 20-21)
3. Help a brother in need (1 John 3:17-18)
4. As Christ loved us (John 13:34-35). Love must be shown through action (2 Cor. 8:24)
5. Loving our enemies (Matthew 5:43-48)
6. Accepting Jesus as the Son of God and confessing Him (1 John 5:1,5, 4:15-16)
7. Having faith in Jesus (1 Peter 1:7-9)
8. Keeping the commands of Jesus/God (John 14:15,23-24, 1 John 5:2-3)
Having looked at the things we need to do to show our love for God, let’s go back and look at Peter’s example again. Prior to Christ’s death he said that he would willingly die for Christ; but instead of confessing Christ when he was questioned he wound up denying Him three times, cursing, and swearing. Did he prove his love for Christ then?
After Christ’s resurrection, Peter could not seem to make a full commitment of sacrificial “agape” love for Christ. Did he prove his love for Christ then?
After Christ’s ascension back to heaven, Peter, along with others, were in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost. He courageously stood up, with the eleven apostles, in the middle of a huge crowd of people and preached Christ as the Son of God and condemned those who had killed Him (Acts 2:14-40). He publicly confessed Jesus as the Savior sent by God. Later, he risked his freedom, his physical safety, and even his life to carry out the will of God for Jesus (Acts 4:18-20; 5:17-32, 40-42).
Finally, Peter had matured in his love for the Lord to the point that he proved it to God and to all. We have an expression today, “Put your money where your mouth is.” We can say that Peter finally came to know what loving God truly is when he was willing to back up his words with actions. Can this be said of you? Do you truly love God? God tells us that if we truly love Him, we will believe in His Son, confess Him as the Son of God, and keep His commandments. We urge you to prove your love for God. If we can help you with this, we would love to do that. We have various ways for you to contact us that we have already mentioned. We also hope to see you next time on, “Speaking The Truth In Love”.