Subjectivism (V): Forgotten Aspects of Love

C. G. (Colly) Caldwell, III
Temple Terrace, Florida

A constant diet of discussion concerning the tender aspects of love leaves a perverted picture of what "love" really is. The subjectivist does not really know what it is to love his brother in Christ. It is true that love involves "strong personal attachment induced by sympathetic understanding." It even seeks communion and turns from the appearance of disharmony. But there is much more involved in love. When Jesus said, "This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you," he was talking about more than just being fond of each other and agreeing to get along. In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul explains some aspects of love we often forget.

Love is Sincere

First, Paul explains that love is sincere and true. It is not forged nor is it forced. A man may speak like the angels but be insincere. He then becomes harsh and crude. He may know about Gods word and be capable of proclaiming it or he may be willing to sacrifice for others and for God but still be void of love (verses 1-3). What is Paul saying? He is saying that affected sincerity is not the mark of God-like love. The outward appearance may be deceiving.

It is the view of some that love is not being shown unless those involved are speaking softly and have a smile on their faces. Even some preachers seem convinced that the way to show their piety and love for their fellowman is to preach with their hands folded, never raising their voices, and never diminishing the sweet little smile upon their faces. I affirm that when the situation demands serious discussion, such soft words and sweet smiles are hypocritical.

The subjectivist cannot associate sternness with love but sometimes sternness is the very mark of love. A parent cannot love his child truly without properly disciplining him and Jesus could not love the Pharisees without pronouncing "Woes" upon them (Matt. 23). Jesus "love" called for a strong stand on Gods message. He did not speak out of the blazing passion of white-hot temper but I cannot imagine that he spoke with his hands folded and a big smile on his face.

Love Respects Truth

Second, Paul affirms that in any relationship based upon love, truth must be respected. You will notice that verses four through six again assert true rather than affected sincerity, but they end with the phrase, " rejoiceth not in unrighteousness but rejoiceth with the truth." Love is not shown in any relationship by lying or by compromising truth. Neither is love shown by passing over or letting alone serious errors in the lives of the ones we love. Again, the case of the parent who overlooks serious conditions in the attitudes and actions of his children shows that he is not demanding enough of the child to supply his own good. He does not love him.

It is amazing then, that many Christians seem to think that they show love for others in walking with them in error or in condoning their right to believe error. We may stand and say all day that we are glad we are brethren and that we love each other but when there are serious differences concerning principles of truth, we lie in saying we love while compromising our convictions. Love does not demand union where there is no real unity. Love may demand refusal of fellowship!

The Christian must necessarily be first a lover of the truth (2 Thess. 2: 10) and then at all times he can speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15). One of Pauls most consistent connections is the relationship between love and faith (the reaction to truth). In Ephesians 6: 23, Paul prays that the people may have faith with love. In Galatians 5:6, he speaks of faith working through love. Faith can only come through the hearing and reception of the word of God.

Perhaps the question raised by the subjectivist is really the great question of the priorities in objects of love. Do we love God and his will first, or do we start with our relationships with men? I go with God first! (cf. Gal. 1:8-12). I will build my fellowship with men around our mutual fellowship in Christ. . . and that means more than just the fact that we have both been baptized.

Love Recognizes Reasonable Guidelines

Third, Paul says in verse seven that "Love beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, enduretb all things." In this and the closing verses of this great chapter Paul suggests that there are two reasons why God-like love is enduring: (1) because it is thinking and reasoning as well as emotional; and (2) because this love is responsible and mature.

When Paul says that love "beareth," "believeth," "hopeth," and "endureth" all things, is he teaching that love is blind and forces communion or fellowship without agreement? Or is he, in fact, saying that our love is to exercise conscious effort based upon scriptural rationale?

But someone says, "You take all the emotion out of love." No, no more than we take all the feeling out of religion when we say that the Holy Spirit does not act directly upon us to move us to speak in tongues. Love involves emotion, passion, and feeling, but it also involves reason. Pure passion is simply that. Blindly saying, "I want to love," and then building a relationship upon that desire is not enough on which to base your "I do until death do us part," and it is not enough on which to base meaningful spiritual fellowship. God did not do that with man. He said, I must establish some basis for reasonable relationship. He did that through Christ and the Gospel. Love alone does not save. Response to love is required.

These facts then must be true for genuine love to exist: (1) the love must go deeper than the outward affected insincere words or actions of the one claiming love; (2) the relationship based upon love must be founded upon truth; and (3) the love must recognize reasonable, mature guidelines in maintaining its, relationships.

January 11, 1973