A Misinterpretation of Love

Love is not passive, love is active.

Imagine that one of your friends called you up and had something really important to tell you. As you listen, your friend reveals  how he has decided that he wants to rob a bank. He goes on to tell you that he doesn’t really consider it to be wrong or immoral and that he deserves to be able to just do what makes him happy. In your mind, you know what the law states, and you know that your friend will indeed be arrested and stand before a judge to be penalized for his crime.

But you love your friend, and you want him to be happy. And you conclude that if robbing banks makes him happy, it would be unloving to plead with him and warn him of the dangers of breaking the law. Besides, everyone needs to just be accepted for who they are, even if you see that their decision could harm them.

For most rational people, this is a scenario straight out of the Twilight Zone. No person in their right mind would not plead with a friend to reconsider if they were thinking of breaking the law! Let me give another example. I tend to have what most drivers would call a heavy foot. I have a need for speed, especially on long trips. Sometimes, I get it in my head that its ok to go a few miles over the speed limit…..like maybe 10 or 15! But even though the heart of a NASCAR driver is in my blood and speed is what I want, my wife is always the voice of reason telling me to slow down.

Now if she loved me, she would just let me drive as fast as I want….right? Or maybe, because she loves me and desires for me not to total my truck and stand before a judge to get a ticket or worse, she urges me to obey the law.

The word love has been misinterpreted in our world today.

To many people, love is acceptance of sin. And when Christians plead against sin, the world calls it intolerant and unloving. Even many professing Christians have this mind set regarding sin. That real love is acceptance of sin. When in reality, people who walk as a practice in a lifestyle of sin are breaking the law of God and in danger of standing before the judge of the universe. And his fine will not be a ticket, but eternal punishment.

The most unloving thing we can do as Christians is to not warn others of the dangers of walking in lifestyles of sin. The norm has become when someone does not like one of God’s laws, they will twist it in some way and say that God didn’t truly mean what he said. Therefore making focusing more of life on what they want rather than what God wants. 

The church in Corinth had fallen into this trap. They had heard the Gospel preached, but shortly after began tolerating sin. There was a man in the church who had sexual desires for his fathers wife, and so he began sleeping with her!  Paul wrote the church to confront this problem.

“It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife.” 1 Corinthians 5:1.

Not only was this sexual immorality going on in the church, but the church was aware and accepting of it!! Im sure the man and the wife of his father (his mother!!) pleaded their case before the church, and said that this is what makes them happy! And the church of Corinth thought of love as acceptance, regardless of what God’s law stated. The church was so accepting that they were celebrating their happiness in sin! But because Paul loved them so, he continued to point out their folly.

“And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.” 1 Corinthians 5:2.

Paul basically says, “You guys are almost flaunting how accepting you are of this sexual sin! You should be mourning that this man is currently abiding under the wrath of God instead!!” Furthermore, Paul points out that if a person has been shown the truth in love and still continues to mock God’s law and cling to their sin, they should be removed from the church body! And even this is an act of love!!

Case in point; When I was in college, I was taught a similar lesson from my dad. My parents were paying for my schooling, and I would come home on the weekends. One night while I was visiting home, I went out with a few friends and came in really late. My father confronted me and told me that I needed to be home at a certain time. I knew the house rules, but I thought my way was better, and I told my dad that I was a grown man and could stay out as long as I wanted.

Wrong move.

Dad proceed to treat me like a grown man. He said, “As long as you are under my house, you operate by my rules. If you dont like my rules, then I want everything Ive given you back. Your car, and even the clothes on your back. Then you can go pay for your schooling and find a new place to live.” 

Needless to say I was begging for his forgiveness, and his point was well made. Was my dad threatening to kick me out because he was unloving? Absolutely not!! In fact, it was quite the opposite!! His rules were not to hinder my life or ruin my fun, but instead to keep me safe! Even though I couldn’t see it at the time, that was an act of great love from my father!

When Paul told the church in Corinth to remove those practicing sin from the church, it wasn’t to be unloving, but in hopes of the offenders realizing the error of their ways so that they could be brought back into the church once they had repented!

Now as it pertains to sin, everyone sins and everyone is a sinner. Romans 3 is clear on this. But there is a difference between a Christian who falls into sin and a person who choses to live in it. A true believer will at times sin, but because of their love for Christ, their offense will break their heart. They will seek to put sins in their life to death as Colossians 3 says instead of justifying and coddling them. It is when a person begins to justify their sin and chose that over God in a practice or lifestyle that the problem arises.

“No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.” 1 John 3:9.

The church in Rome had this same problem. The question arose “Since God is loving and he is forgiving, can’t we just keep our pet sins?” To which Paul responded;

“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. Romans 6:1-4.

Christianity is dying to ourselves and being conformed into the image of Christ. Paul’s argument is clear. How can you call yourself a Christian if you are choosing to hang onto the sins you supposedly died to? The Christian life is to walk in newness of life, not clinging to our former sins.

As Christians we are to love all people, regardless of their life choices. In fact, we should love people so much that when we see them living in sin we cant help but have a heart to share Christ with them! We are to invite those living in sin into the house of God. And we are not to judge others, because but by the grace of God, we ourselves were saved from our sins. But instead, we are to cover them with the Gospel of Jesus. Love is not celebrating another persons sin. Love is pointing them towards a better way in Jesus.

“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” 1 John 5:3.

Sin, although enticing, does not have the power to eternally satisfy. Obedience to Christ offers a joy far greater than any earthly sin could ever produce! The whole point of the church is to invite people to come as they are, but for them to leave a new creation in Christ. True love is not passively accepting a persons sins that may separate them from Christ, it is actively warning them of the deceptions of Satan. True love is not accepting sin, but pointing to greater life in obedience to Jesus.

“Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live;” Isaiah 55:2-3.

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