By Glendol McClure
If you ask anyone who is the least bit religious the question: What is the one thing that is needed most in the world, the Lord’s church, among brethren, in families, and in our society today in general?, most would likely reply that we need more love. In general, I would agree, but I will qualify my answer and say that we need more of the godly sort of love that is taught in the Bible.
The purpose of this article is to call your attention the fact that we need less love! And the need of less love is taught in the Bible! There is just too much love for some things in the lives of people in the world and especially Christians.
The apostle John wrote, “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another” (1 John 4:7-11).
In contrast to the passage just cited, Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:1-5, “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!” (NKJV)
In this passage, the apostle mentions those who were “lovers of their own selves” and “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.” Notice that Paul said these had love! But, is this love the kind approved by God? With these opening thoughts in mind let us consider together just how it is that we need less love.
First, we need less love for self! When people, especially brethren, think of themselves more than highly they ought, trouble lies ahead as surely as you and I live. In Romans 12:3, Paul wrote, “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.”
A great deal of harmony and unity could be restored and maintained in families, the church, and the world in general, if all would esteem others better than themselves, as Paul directed the Philippians to do saying, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others” (2:3-4).
Today, you hear a lot about “self-esteem,” “felt needs,” and building up egos. Many want their egos stroked when really they need a big dose of self-denial that the Lord taught in Luke 9:23, where he said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” When you read the Bible you will find self-denial taught, not ego inflating, “self-esteem” and “felt-needs” teaching and preaching!
Second, we need less love for the pleasures of the world! Some pleasures can be very deceiving. We live in a time of prosperity, having and enjoying many conveniences — nice homes, nice cars, nice clothes, etc! The world is at our fingertips — there’s the Internet, computers, cell phones, fax machines, pagers, and all manner of automatic appliances for this and electronic gadgets for that. Truly, we live in a fast paced, push-button, technological, pleasure mad age!
God’s book warns of the dangers of pleasure. The teaching of Christ in the parable of the sower in Luke 8 is a lesson all need to heed. In verse 14 Jesus said, “And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.” It is not uncommon for brethren to be overcome and overburdened with various pleasures and be unconscious of the spiritual danger. All too often, more time is spent attending to job responsibilities, homes, recreation, and various material matters, while spiritual needs are completely ignored. As a result, the love of many has waxed cold and their faith has become shipwrecked due to the cares and pleasures of this life (Matt. 24:12; 1 Tim 1:19).
Many congregations suffer from slack or lax attendance by its members because of their desire for pleasure. Forsaking the assembling of the saints is common with some (Heb. 10:25). One is considered overbearing and narrow minded who suggests that pleasure trips be avoided if arrangements cannot be made to assemble with faithful saints on the Lord’s day and mid-week Bible study. Such an attitude is the fruit of this sort of love.
Third, we need less love for material wealth! The apostle Paul taught Timothy the truth about money. Paul said, “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Tim. 6:10-11). At the root source of all evil, is the love of money. Murder, illegal drugs, alcoholism, pornography, gambling (including state lotteries), the love of money is the driving force behind all of these sins.
While money is good and needed for the necessities of life, when properly used, money can bring about much and everlasting good. After all, the Corinthian brethren were commanded in 1 Corinthians 16:1, 2 to lay by in store on the first day of the week, and that involved giving money! The love of money is the problem, especially with some who wear the name Christian. Some brethren have trouble finding any time or money to give to the Lord’s work because they are too busy selfishly laying up treasures for themselves. Jesus commanded, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matt. 6:19-21).
Fourth, we need less love for the wages of unrighteousness! All un- righteousness is sin (1 John 5:17). Sin is transgression of the law of God (1 John 3:4). Sin is universal, in that all have sinned (Rom. 3:23; 5:12). Even though there is pleasure in sin, the pleasure of sin is only for a “season” or short time (Heb. 11:25); but, the ultimate wages of sin is eternal spiritual death and possibly physical death (Rom. 6:23). Many enjoy these wages to their own eternal destruction!
In the Bible, “. . . the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unright-eousness” (Rom. 1:18). In this chapter Paul clearly taught about unrighteousness from a moral standpoint, saying in verse 29, that some are “filled with all unrighteousness”; and in verse 32 he said, “Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.” Paul also wrote, “Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.” Paul also taught against unrighteousness from a doctrinal standpoint saying, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God” (Rom. 10:1-3).
Sadly, false teachers and some so-called “gospel preachers” receive wages of unrighteousness while teaching false doctrine and perverting the truth of the Gospel. Paul commanded such men to be marked and avoided. “For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple” (Rom. 16:17, 18).
Finally, we need less love for the praise of men! This was a problem with many during Jesus’ personal ministry (John 12:42, 43). The love for the praises of men more than the praise of God is so prevalent today. Many religious leaders and some gospel preachers desire to be politically correct and fail to teach with boldness and plainness the truths of God’s word that all sinners need to hear, because they desire to be popular and love the praise of men!
Men who desired this sort of love were condemned by Jude in Jude 16. Jesus said, “Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets” (Luke 6:26). Paul exhorted in 1 Corinthians 4:6, “. . . that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.” Of the corrupt prophets of Isaiah’s day, he wrote, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink: Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him!” (Isa. 5:20-23).
With many, righteousness has given way to political correctness and the desire to be popular and pleasing to men. Some gospel preachers who once stood boldly and firmly in God’s truths have drifted into compromise on important moral and doctrinal questions and no longer “declare all the counsel of God.” Is it any wonder why unfaithfulness, spiritual softness, and religious division are so prevalent in the Lord’s church today?
In conclusion, we have seen that we need less love for self, the pleasures of this world, material wealth, the wages of unrighteousness and the praise of men! But, what we need more of is love for God’s truths found in the Bible. Dear reader, where is your love focused, on things we need less love for or on the truths of God’s word that all need to love more? Which?
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