With those two words Alexander Strauch opens his book, Love or Die: Christ’s Wake-Up Call to the Church Revelation 2:4, and begins by discussing the problem of lost love. He focuses on this verse in Revelation because:
“It addresses the issue of love, particularly the problem of love that has grown cold. This issue is of utmost importance because love is vital to the survival of our churches today”1
As the Lord Jesus told the church at Ephesus, in so many churches it is obvious we have abandoned the love you had at first. We must heed His words to the Ephesians and know that we must “Love or Die.”
In the second section Strauch gives us his thoughts on how we learn love—and we begin by turning to God’s Word. Each week I’m posting a passage Strauch considers to be a key text on love. I may include verses to provide context or combine some or even add a few. Ask God to transform your heart through His Word to know Him and His love, and to love Him and others.
Here is this week’s text.
Oh give thanks to Yahweh, for He is good;
For His lovingkindness is everlasting.”
As you read through the psalm you learn why the writer gives thanks to God, and why he says God’s lovingkindness is everlasting. From verses 6–39, he recounts Israel’s acts of rebellion and evil. Beginning in verse 40, he writes:
“Therefore the anger of the LORD was kindled against His people
And He abhorred His inheritance.
Then He gave them into the hand of the nations,
And those who hated them ruled over them.
Their enemies also oppressed them,
And they were subdued under their power.
Many times He would deliver them;
They, however, were rebellious in their counsel,
And so sank down in their iniquity.
“Nevertheless He looked upon their distress
When He heard their cry;
And He remembered His covenant for their sake,
And relented according to the greatness of His lovingkindness.
He also made them objects of compassion
In the presence of all their captors.”
They brought judgment upon themselves. but God looked upon their distress, heard their cry, remembered His covenant and relented according to the greatness of His lovingkindness. He made them objects of compassion.
Think about that. The psalmist began by saying God’s lovingkindness is everlasting. Then his long history of Israel’s sins established she deserved only judgment and no mercy, so that when the psalmist’s comes back to God’s lovingkindness we comprehend and know more of the depths of its greatness.
In Luke 7:36–50, Jesus is eating at the home of Simon the Pharisee. Their meal is interrupted:
“And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume, and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume. Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner.”
Jesus tells Simon a parable of two debtors. If you’ve never read it, go to Luke 7:36–50, and finish the passage. Jesus has some pointed remarks for Simon, and He tells him:
“For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.”
Kent Hughes explains:
“The thought is not that her great love for Christ earned her forgiveness. Such a sense is impossible and goes against the entire context. The Jerusalem Bible brings out the meaning of Jesus’ words: “For this reason I tell you that her sins, her many sins, must have been forgiven, or she would not have shown such great love.” Her passionate display of love was a result of Jesus’ forgiveness.”
“Some people whom we would not touch with a ten foot pole, if they met Christ, would put us to shame with their fervent love. Such people love much because they have been forgiven much—and they cannot get over it.
“However, this does not mean that unless one falls into the depths of sin he or she cannot love God deeply. What is necessary is a consciousness of sin. The depth and passion of our personal Christianity depends on how clearly we see our personal guilt—and then our forgiveness in Christ.”2
We know the great and everlasting lovingkindness of God through His Son Jesus Christ, and His love brings forth from us our love for Him.
May God’s mercy and peace and love be multiplied to you in 2012.
Posts in the series:
1. “Love or Die”
2. “The Sermon On The Name”
3. “Love Your Neighbor As Yourself”
4. The Great Commandment
5. “The Love That Will Not Let Go”
6. Trusting God’s Love In The Darkness
7. His Everlasting Lovingkindness
Heart-[foto & Concept by paul b. toman], Plismo: Creative Commons Attribution
1Alexander Strauch, Love or Die: Christ’s Wake-Up Call to the Church Revelation 2:4 (Lewis & Roth, Littleton CO) 4.
The first two parts of the book are, “The Problem of Lost Love: Revelation 2:4,” and “How to Cultivate Love: Hebrews 10:24.” The chapters on cultivating love are: “Study Love”, “Pray For Love,” “Teach Love,” “Model Love,” “Guard Love” and “Practice Love.”
2R. Kent Hughes, Luke, vol. 1, 283.
R. Laird Harris writes, “The word “lovingkindness” of the KJV is archaic, but not far from the fulness of the meaning of the word.” R. Laird Harris, “698a חֶסֶד (ḥesed),” Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament,R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Jr., Bruce K. Waltke, eds. (Moody Press, Chicago: 1980) vol. 1, 307.
Leonard J. Coppes writes that this Hebrew word for compassion or tender mercy, “recalls in various situations that God’s tender-mercy is rooted in his free love and grace….God’s mercy is often combined with his ḥesed “love,” “kindness” and ḥēn “grace,” “unmerited favor.” Leonard J. Coppes, “2146b רַחֲמִים (raḥămîm),” Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament,R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Jr., Bruce K. Waltke, eds. (Moody Press, Chicago: 1980) vol. 2, 842–843.
In “The Sermon On The Name” I explain the use of Yahweh rather than LORD.
Original content: Copyright ©2012 Iwana Carpenter