The great commandment in the law, as described by Jesus, is to love God with all your heart, mind and strength. He then adds that there is a second commandment that goes with this one, which is to love your neighbour as yourself.
The foundation on which both of these commandments are built is love, and indeed all of the commandments of God were based upon love, either love for God or love for our fellow man.
So we see that if we are to emulate Jesus Christ and be transformed into His image, we must learn to love as God loves us. To do this we need to develop love as the base attitude of the heart and so be guided by love as we live out the love of God.
What Is Love
The simple answer to this is that God is love. The love of God is one of the few things that will last into eternity and so we must learn to love as God loves us. All the good works and even many of the things we do as Christians today will not last forever. But it is important to do the things we must do to follow Christ until the love of God is formed in us. We need to use the “tools” and the spiritual weapons of this war we are fighting to develop the attitude of the heart that is the love of God.
For example, when we look at the words in 1 Corinthians 13:8-11, we see the temporal nature of some of the gifts of God. But we also see the permanent nature of love, specifically the love of God.
8 Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect; 10 but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways. (1 Corinthians 13:8-11)
These words tell us clearly that knowledge as we know it will pass away. Prophecies will pass away, and you would expect that to be the case for once a prophecy is fulfilled, it is no longer needed. Speaking in tongues will pass away because it will no longer be needed for the purposes it was given, which was to enable us to walk in the Spirit and gain control over the flesh through the working of the Holy Spirit in us. When we are perfect, (and that has not yet happened), then these things will not be needed anymore because to be perfect is to be perfected in love as God is love.
Does this mean we don’t need these things? Do we not need prophecies, tongues and knowledge seeing that they will all cease and pass away?
No! On the contrary we need these things even more today because it is through the application of these things that we will become perfected in love. It is these “tools” that enable us to learn the ways of God and to understand what God’s love is, so that we can become like Him through Jesus Christ.
Most of the rest of 1 Corinthians 13 shows us examples of the love of God, and what we see is that His love for us is not an emotional love, but an active love. As someone once said, “Love is a verb.” Specifically the love of God is active and working.
All of the descriptions of what love is in 1 Corinthians 13 are things that we can and must do. Look at what it says closely.
4 Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; 5 it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends…
We can DO all of these things and we can hold these attitudes in our heart to drive our actions and behaviours. We can be patient, we can be kind, we can not be jealous or boastful, and so on with all these other attitudes and behaviours. All of these are things we can and must learn to DO if we are to show the love of God in our lives and to live and act in love towards God, our neighbours and brethren, and all mankind. And when these things become an attitude of the heart in us, they will drive us forward into the love of God and the life that awaits all who belong to Christ.
Attitude Of The Heart
So how do we get this attitude of the heart? How can we have the attitude of love formed in our hearts so that we can be perfect as God the Father is perfect?
This is where those weapons of spiritual warfare and the “tools” of the Spirit come into play, along with the basic requirements we have in Christ to hold fast our faith and to live a life that is in harmony with the teachings of the Lord.
We need to walk the road to salvation according to the processes and along the path set by God. We must follow Jesus Christ, not as distant fans like people who follow football, but as active participants on the field with Christ following His lead as our captain. And to help us God gives us the Holy Spirit as coach to teach, guide and assist us, especially when we are in times of difficulty. He teaches us how to walk in the Spirit so that the attitude of the heart that is love is formed in us as Christ is formed in us.
So what is this pathway to salvation? Well it is too lengthy to cover in this one post, but you may have seen a pop-up window on my blog that offering a free eBook called “Salvation Road.” If you want more information about the path and the five walks we all need to take, grab a copy of that booklet. But for now, let me describe it in a few words.
We all start with some small measure of faith as we come to Christ seeking a saviour. We recognise our failures and our sin and repent, accepting Christ as the Saviour who will set us free from the bondage of sin. We are baptised into the death of Jesus Christ and accept His death as our own so that we die to sin and die to the laws of Moses that condemn all mankind and through God’s almighty grace this faith is accepted and He gives us the free gift of righteousness so that we can stand before Him without blemish. At this point we are ready to receive the Holy Spirit and we must ask for the Holy Spirit and have hands laid upon us by the elders of the church to receive. This is a most important step because the Holy Spirit is our guide, teacher, comforter, spiritual protector and much more for the rest of our life. As we study the word of God we gain knowledge of His ways and through the working of the Holy Spirit this word becomes active in our lives, transforming how we live and bringing us gradually into the image of Jesus Christ. We learn to walk in the Spirit, which is all about learning to overcome the passions, deeds, and desires of the flesh in our selves. Through this we then learn how to walk in love, which is about learning how to live with others. Walking in the Spirit is about internal change, whereas walking in love is about external change and relationships with others.
That is quite a lot of words to summarise a process that lasts a lifetime, and is not nearly detailed enough to give more than a few pointers along the path. But if we are to change the attitude of the heart, this is the pathway we need to take so that our teacher is God, through the Holy Spirit, not man. Man does not understand the perfection that is the love of God because His mind, His ways and His thoughts are different to ours. That is why we must learn from God and not man if we are to change the attitude of the heart from the ways of man to the love of God.
So seek His ways. Learn to follow according to the ways God set forth in Jesus Christ. Jesus said “I am the way,” so we must follow according to the pattern He laid down and not think we can follow the ways of men and expect to receive the blessings of God. Do not be deceived and do not be fooled. God’s way is the ONLY way we will receive life and the only way you can change the attitude of the heart to be like Him.
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