I PETER 1:22-23: “Now that you have obeyed the truth and have purified your souls to love your brothers sincerely, you must love one another intensely and with a pure heart. For you have been born again, not by a seed that perishes but by one that cannot perish—by the living and everlasting word of God.” (ISV)
OBSERVATION: What is love? Have you ever stopped to ponder this question? We talk so much about love, we sing about it, we preach about it – but what is it? Love is not something that is only known and expressed by Christians. Love is a universal language that is spoken by every nation, creed, and ethnicity. Yet, there is one thing that is different about love between a believer in Jesus Christ and a non-believer. This is the motivation to love.
Peter calls those who have obeyed the truth and purified their souls (through faith in Jesus Christ), to love their brothers sincerely. This must mean that there are two expressions of love. There is love that is sincere, and love that is insincere. Love that is sincere is given freely, without any strings attached. Love that is insincere is love that has conditions, and that can be taken away as quickly as it was given – if those conditions are not met.
Peter doesn’t stop there. He then calls us to love one another intensely, and with a pure heart. This is the essence of the difference between the love that the world knows, and the love that is only possible through faith in Jesus Christ. We all have the capacity to love, since we all have been created in God’s image. However, sin has marred that image and the pure motivation of love. Our love before Christ is anemic. Only through Jesus Christ can we learn to love one another intensely, and with a pure motive. Only in Christ can we learn to love sacrificially!
There are two great verses on love that the Apostle John wrote. It is interesting that they are in two different books, but with the same chapter and verse. And, understanding that the original writings did not have chapter and verse, it is even more remarkable as we look at these two verses together.
- “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 NKJV
- “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” I John 3:16 NKJV
God gave us His best – His only Begotten Son. Jesus laid down his life for us willingly so that we might not perish but have everlasting life. In light of this – we should be willing to lay down our lives for one another. Now that is love that is intense!
How do we learn to love like this? Peter goes on to tell us – “For you have been born again, not by a seed that perishes but by one that cannot perish—by the living and everlasting word of God.” The only way we can learn to love like God loves, is to continually have our hearts and minds renewed and transformed by the living and everlasting word of God!
This is not a call to simply read the Bible. This is a call to know God!
Again, the Apostle John writes in the opening verses of the Gospel of John:
- “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1 NKJV
To grow in God’s Word is to grow in God! It is through the Word of God that we have been born again as we heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ and embraced His death and resurrection as our own! And, it is through the Word of God that we are being transformed by the Holy Spirit into the very image of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
Is it any wonder why the enemy of our souls tries in every way he can to keep us from reading, meditating, and memorizing God’s Word?
- The enemy wants our love to be meager and selfish.
- God wants our love to be supernatural, sacrificial, and intense!
As I am writing this, the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey is still playing out. Flood waters are still rising, and homes, lives, and dreams are being threatened and destroyed by this deluge. This is a call for everyone to love sacrificially and intensely. It is a call for us to pray, to give, and to get involved in whatever way we can. And when the rebuilding has finally ended, we need to fan the flames of our love so that we are living this life of sacrificial and intense love each and every day of our lives. The Christian’s call to love is not seasonal, or just for a crisis or an event. The Christians call to love is to be our way of life!
Lord, transform me by Your Word. Remove anything within me that is conditional or selfish. Help me to love like Christ loved me. Help me to love You and others – sacrificially and intensely.
In Jesus Name!