Love; December 23, 2019

Matthew 22:40 “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

It is of great interest and extreme importance that Jesus said that all the commands in the Bible, whether delivered by Moses or by any other prophet, depend on something internal that cannot be seen by human eyes. We can certainly see the effects of love, but we can’t see love itself. Since He said this in Aramaic, so the Greek record that we have is a translation, we can’t place any special importance on which of the Greek words for love is used here. Like English and Japanese, Aramaic and Hebrew just have one word each for love. Seeing the usage in the Old Testament, however, there’s no question that it includes not only emotion but commitment. Since it is an intangible, we are brought back to what God said to Samuel: “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7) This also fits the English proverb, “Handsome is as handsome does.” Our hearts control our actions, which is again why Jesus said, “By their fruit you will recognize them.” (Matthew 7:20) It all hinges on the reality that God, as invisible Spirit, created everything that is material, and thus visible. We tend to fixate on, or at least be distracted by, external appearances, but God says that it’s the invisible things that are more important. That’s why Paul said, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18) All of that said, the love that Jesus is talking about, that God requires of us, makes itself evident. He also said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” (John 14:15) You can’t get any more clear than that.

As a pastor, a marriage counselor, and someone who’s been married over 50 years, I think and talk a lot about love. Precisely because it’s so vitally important, the devil does all he can to cheapen it and distort our understanding of it. Much of what the world means by love fits the Greek word eros, rather than anything else. In Japanese they even have expressions like “love car,” referring to physical possessions! I am constantly battling world view issues, not only in others but also in myself. When we fail to see everything as the creation of God who is love, it all becomes distorted. Perhaps Cathy’s and my greatest task in Omura is demonstrating God’s love, so that people may have their eyes opened to see God who is love. I think she’s better at it than I am. We had a good friend essentially drop dead yesterday, and right now Cathy is baking shortbread cookies to take to the home. The friend was in church on the 15th, but she hadn’t been baptized, so we can only yield her to God with the hope that she had cried out to the Jesus she had heard about from her younger daughter and from us. The news she had died came in on the answering machine during our service, and after I listened to the message and reported it to the members, everyone was quite sobered. As someone commented at that point, we indeed never know about tomorrow. That’s why it’s so vital that we walk in love today.

Father, thank You for Your love. We have no hope of loving properly apart from Your love flowing through us. Help us indeed love You and love our neighbors, so that Your will may be done for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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