Love is more than being nice to people. It loves God above all else so that you love people as he commands you to. Paul David Tripp
As I read the August 9 devotional in the book New Morning Mercies, God impressed upon me again the importance of the vertical relationship before the horizontal.
One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ Mark 12:28-30
In the devotional, it states that Paul is onto something. He knows that only vertically correct people will be able to love their neighbors.
Matthew 22:37-40, "And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
If the vertical must come before the horizontal, then what is shared to the horizontal is a direct reflection of the power of the position we give to God in the vertical. If we do not love God as we should, then in the vertical we will find self-love. Self-love is what will move into the horizontal and onto others. This may be seen as a kind and good reflection of the person, but with the limitation of unfulfilled love.
When God is the vertical, then what radiates from the horizontal will be a 'lay down my life for you' love. Christ did it for us. We are the light expected to share His love on our mission field. We are all missionaries! Call us the True Love Troop.
What is the first picture that comes into our mind as we are talking to another person? Is it I can one-up you? Does what come to our minds have more to do with us and filling our emotional tank or do we see the other person first above ourselves, as Christ sees them, and recognize their beautiful created self as God's masterpiece?
Are we anxious to help? Are we encouragers? Is the motivation of our heart transferring pure Love from the vertical through to the horizontal?
1 John 4:20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.
Hate is a powerful word. We would tiptoe and say dislikes. A liar? That's pretty harsh, too. It is what it is, right?
The bottom line is to Agape. Agape is divine love, which makes it perfect, pure, and self-sacrificing.
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:8
So, we can be kind day in and day out, but when we take God out of the vertical and insert self (because by all means, we know what is best), then we haven't completed the first obstacle of Christian living and are not following God's command.
This, my friends, is what is wrong with our Nation.
Loving as Christ loves allows us freedom.