On Sundays at 6pm we’re continuing our series in 1 Timothy.
Last week on the blog we considered the importance of defending gospel teaching, the aim of which is love (1 Timothy 1:5).
It can be easy to throw around a word like ‘love’ and think that the nice, positive vibes it produces are all that it entails. However, if we do that, it becomes not much different from the words ‘rainbow’ or ‘sparkle’. Happy words that belong on a birthday card, but with little concrete meaning.
So what does it mean that the aim of the gospel is love? And what will it look like to be people of love?
Timothy was fighting for gospel truth in Ephesus, a city where Christians had already received a letter from Paul which spells out the nature of this gospel-shaped love—both God’s love for us and our love for each other.
God’s love for us
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.” (Ephesians 2:4-5)
God’s love is shown to people who really, really don’t deserve it. Left to ourselves we follow anything but God; instead we chase after the all that the world offers and try to satisfy every craving our body can muster. In fact, by ourselves, we can’t even do anything to merit that love. We can’t just form some new, sinless habits. It’s a grim picture, but Paul says we’re no different to a corpse—dead in our sin. Lifeless, helpless.
God’s kindness towards us is so overflowing that it is ‘immeasurable’ (Ephesians 2:7). You can’t contain it or put a number on it.
And his love is shown to us definitively in his Son’s death for us. Jesus’ death, his blood, is what brings us redemption, forgiveness, adoption, inheritance, salvation, peace, citizenship, unity, and purpose.
This is love that was shown at the greatest cost but realises the greatest blessings. It really is love that surpasses knowledge (Ephesians 3:19)
Our love for each other
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us…” (Ephesians 5:1-2)
It is the radical nature of God’s love for us – overflowing in mercy and grace towards people who don’t deserve it – that shapes our love for each other.
Love is more than a feeling.
In the letter to the Ephesians, it is marked by action. And those actions are not occasional, movie-moment, big dramatic gestures. Active-love gets involved in the minutiae of daily life. In the way I speak to you when I’m tired and grumpy. In the way a husband loves his wife, in a daily, Christ-like way. In the way we strive for sexual purity in a world enveloped in darkness. In the way we bear with one another in our shortcomings. In the way we show humility, gentleness and patience at every opportunity.
It is love that will feel costly, and often undeserved. It is love that seeks the good of other people. It is love that reflects the Father's love for us.