Monday, April 2, 2012

Unlovely Love

“And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind…” (Mark 12:30)

            “Love is the sin for which we find it almost impossible to repent.” When I read these words Dinesh D’Souza in his book, What’s So Great About Christianity, several years ago, my knee-jerk reaction was, “Love a sin?” But, of course, anything good can be perverted, and just because God is all love, it doesn’t mean all love is of God, any more than all beauty is of God. If all love were a reflection of God’s love, we could safely use it as a basis for all relationships and reality in our lives. But it’s not. In fact, we often confuse emotion with action, and desire with devotion. We equate love with deep feelings within, forgetting that within lies a sinful nature, seeking only to please itself. Unless God’s love and law govern our love, it will always have an ulterior motive. And if we don’t understand or believe this, love can falsely claim for itself Divine Authority. Here are a few biblical examples of what I call unlovely love:


         “And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison: but Rebekah loved Jacob” (Gen. 25:28). What grief came to this home of divided affection! Each parent had a favorite for different reasons. It clouded Isaac’s judgment and made his as blind in his perceptions as he was in his sight (Gen. 27). And the son Rebekah adored—and dominated—was lost to her for the rest of her life. As parents, the child for which we have a more natural affection may end up being the one for which we will have the least respect. When our love is even-handed, our regrets will be fewer.


         “And Amnon said unto him, I love Tamar, my brother Absalom’s sister” (2 Sam. 13:4). There may not have been a blood relationship between these two young people, but neither were there any marital ones. Part of Tamar’s plea to Amnon before he forced her into his bed was that their father would allow them to marry. It’s easy to argue that because one is overcome with feelings of love for another, he or she is not responsible for the resulting sin. “To deny love is to deny our true selves, blah, blah, blah!” No doubt this is one reason Jesus said that to serve Him we would have to do just that—deny ourselves.


“For the love of money is the root of all evil…” (1 Tim. 6:10) Whew! That’s a heavy indictment. Notice it didn’t say money is the root of all evil, just the love of money. Nor did it say that the lack of money was the cause of all bad behavior in society, as some politicians would have us believe. One of the old axioms for women is that there is no such thing as being too rich or too thin. I couldn’t comment on either of these from experience; but from observation, and more importantly, from the Word of God, I would argue that neither one is a prescription for happiness. The verse goes on to say, this sin comes as easy for a believer as an non-believer: “…which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith…” It’s all right to have money, but it should not have any place in your love life.


“And make me savoury meat, such as I love…that my soul may bless thee….” (Gen. 27:4). Here’s Jacob again, asking the son he loved to fix him food that he loved, and promising him a blessing him if he did. Jacob’s inordinate affection for food was a picture of his undisciplined life. As you read his story in the Bible, you will find that his heart often ruled his head, and sadly, he passed this inclination on to his favored son (Gen. 26: 29-34). For another example of undisciplined love, go to 1 Kings 11:1. “But king Solomon loved many strange women…” This was one man who loved the women! He shows us that great wisdom and “largeness of heart” do not guarantee spiritual success. That takes a disciplined will. Both of these examples of undisciplined love have to do with the appetite; and I would contend they are often seen together (cp. Heb. 12:16). I once heard my pastor say, “If you want to reach your spiritual potential, learn to tell your body it can’t have everything it wants.”


         “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world” (I John 2:15) Some people seem to love everything and everybody, because, after all, isn’t love everything? I once read this: “When you love you should not say, "God is in my heart," but rather, ‘I am in the heart of God.’ And think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.” This is the kind of gobbledy-gook that passes off for love nowadays. It’s non-biblical, nonsensical, and non-practical. If love is controlling your life, you’re at the mercy of romantic quacks, erratic emotions, and inspirational motivation. No, love doesn’t make the world go around; but it sure can make you go…round and round and round.

         The verse in Mark says we are to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. That only leaves enough to be proportioned out discriminately to those people and things within God’s will for our lives. Watchman Nee said, “It’s impossible to kiss two people at the same time,” and it’s impossible to love God and this world’s systems and values at the same time. It’s more important for our love to be deep than wide. It can be so expansive that it’s shallow.

         How’s you love life? Is there any part of it from which you need to repent?

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