Soon, our Sunday morning bible class will start once again and we will pick up where we left off in our study of Willard Tate’s book, Learning to Love. Study booklets have been updated and new books for those who need them have been purchased. Those will be on the back counter by the bulleting board. If your family already has a book, please do not take a new one for there are only a few available. We left off in chapter three entitled Experiencing God’s Love. If you have the chance, I encourage you to read up to chapter 3 to refresh your mind and get us ready for some discussion time in class. The first class will be a review of what we covered up to this point.
But above all these things put on love…
So, why learn to love? Listen to how the ETRV translates the above verse, “Together with these things, the most important part of your new life is to love each other. Love is what holds everything together in perfect unity.” Love is so crucial! Notice, it is understood to be above the other virtues just mentioned. Things like mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering, even the often-challenging act of forgiveness. You might be thinking, “Aren’t those things love?” I would suggest that those things are the result of love, not love itself. Paul said, “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.” He would encourage the church in Ephesus to be “grounded in love” (Ephesians 3:17). That word “grounded” means to fix firmly. 1st John, so rich with thoughts about our love for one another, puts is simply, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1st John 4:11).
As Christian, we are exhorted to pursue this idea of putting “to death your members which are on the earth” (Colossians 3:5) and “put off” (3:8) those things which the old man would do: that person who died with Christ. At the same time, we seek to “put on the man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him” (3:10). This is our quest! This is our goal! To be a reflection of Jesus our Lord and Savior.
…which is the bond of perfection.
Okay, back to our need to learn to love. What does Paul mean by the above thought concerning love? The Greek word used here means that which binds together; a band, bond. By extension is means uniting principle. We are familiar with the love chapter of the bible, aren’t we? Paul’s words that stand out to me in that chapter are, “but have not love” (1st Corinthians 13:1, 2, 3). The things I have done over the years, gestures of outward kindness, driven by guilt or obligation, are nothing of true value if love is not their source.
Therein is the challenge for me at least, and the reason for my need to grow in my understanding of God’s love. Sometimes I struggle with those things listed in v12, kindness, humility, longsuffering, forgiveness. Could it be that the struggle is not with them alone, but with my understanding of love? Maybe I have learned some things over the years that fight against what God calls me to do. The only way past it is to earnestly seek to know His love, a love that is not simply for the world, but for me. Help me Lord to understand Your love so that it can live through me and be offered to others.