ON LOVE; PART MCCCI
FIRST IS THE GREAT COMMANDMENTS: “The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:29-31).
WHAT THEN IS LOVE? In a general sense love is benevolence, good will; that disposition of heart which inclines men to think favorably of their fellow men, and to do them good. In a theological sense, it includes supreme love to God, and universal good will to men. While this IS from an older definition of Charity, which IS rendered in the King James Bible from the same Greek word agape which IS generally rendered as Love, we should amend our own definition here to include the idea that in the reality of Love a man will accord to ALL men ALL things that he would accord to himself and to say that Love IS our thoughts and attitude of the equality of ALL men regardless of their outward nature or appearance…that ALL ARE equally children of Our One God.
PLUS THE EVER IMPORTANT AND HIGH IDEAL TAUGHT TO US BY THE CHRIST: “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them” (Matthew 7:12).
We ended the last essay with some additional thoughts on our trifecta. We discussed the way that the doctrinal Christian believes that he has access to the rewards that come through the Master’s words, rewards as the Truth that frees, entry into the Kingdom of God and the True Presence of the Lord in one’s Life, and how that few actually DO their part in the individual quid pro quo scenarios that Jesus shows us. The trifecta IS the Master’s word, words that ARE ALL framed in ways that show that the reward IS the result of the action that a man must take and, in the final part of the trifecta, Jesus DOES show us this reality by giving us the opposite view….the view of the man that DOES NOT DO his part. Repeating our trifecta we read:
- “If ye If ye continue in my word , then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32).
- “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).
- “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me” (John 14:21-24).
Since we DID NOT get to the third part of the trifecta, we will begin with that here and first focus upon the negative ending that Jesus includes for us. He tells us that “He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings” and while this ties us to the positive ideas of Loving the Lord, a Love that IS ONLY possible through keeping His words, we have as well the reward that comes to those that Love him, His Presence. Throughout the New and the Old Testaments we have reference to the idea of Loving God and while the most specific IS framed as a commandment, most other references ARE tied to a reward thereby forming a quid pro quo. This idea of a quid pro quo IS from the Latin and means: literally, something for something* according to today’s dictionary which otherwise defines the idea as: something that is given or taken in return for something else*. While Christians deny the idea of reward through their doctrinal view that ‘salvation‘ IS a “free gift“, the reality of the quid pro quo runs throughout the bible. The idea of this exchange IS offered first in Deuteronomy where we read “Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations” (Deuteronomy 7:9). In these ancient words we have the most basic view of the reward; here the Lord promises to “keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments” and in the reality of the history of the Jews we should be able to see what eventually happens. We should understand here that it IS NOT God who causes their demise over the many centuries since these words were given, it IS but the natural action of their vanity as a group of people; the result, the reward if you will, for their national attitudes and actions. We should understand here that the Lord DID NOT “keepeth covenant and mercy with them“, nor did they DO their part which was to “love him and keep his commandments“. We should see here in these words the link between Loving the Lord and keeping His words, a link that Jesus also shows us in the words of our trifecta. These same words ARE repeated by Nehemiah as part of a realization that those things that befell the nation were based in their failure to DO their part as a people and while Nehemiah IS instrumental in rebuilding Jerusalem, based perhaps upon the willingness of the people to change, those who come to inhabit the city fall back into disfavor by their national attitudes and actions. This IS of course history and we should understand that history CAN NOT be changed and in the 400 or so years between this rebuilding and the advent of the Christ, Israel remained under various foreign rulers.
History IS NOT our point however save to establish the idea of the quid pro quo in the same terms that ARE used by the Master and then by His apostles. This same sense of reward IS offered in Jesus’ words above and then later by Paul who tells us “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). Doctrinal thinkers take to themselves possession of those “things which God hath prepared for them that love him” as they claim to Love the Lord in the absence of keeping His words which IS their part of the equation. While Paul DOES NOT say here that one should keep His words as he repeats what cross-references attribute to the Prophet Isaiah, we should understand that this IS an underlying theme throughout Paul’s writings, a theme that IS overshadowed by the doctrines of men. Paul’s words here lead into his discussion of the “natural man“, the man whose focus IS upon himself and the things of the self and here again we find the doctrinal assertion that the ‘believer‘ IS NO longer the “natural man” but IS elevated above this by conforming to doctrinal precepts. Paul tells us that “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14). If we should see these ideas together, see the spiritual discernment and “the things of the Spirit of God” as part of what “God hath prepared for them that love him“, we can then see that these things come to the man who DOES “love him“. It IS when we see these ideas through Jesus’ words saying “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me“, that we can then understand the greater Truth and see how that doctrines in themselves fail to bring the full message of True ‘salvation‘.
The Apostle James shows us a similar idea as he tells us that “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him” (James 1:12); here we should see James presentation in much the same way….that to “endureth temptation” IS to be in accord with His words. James offers us another view of this idea which IS little understood by the doctrinal thinker; he asks “Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?” (James 2:5). There ARE two ways to see the apostle’s intent here; first that the idea of poor IS NOT merely in regard to wealth or possessions but rather those who DO NOT seek such, ARE content with their place, and ARE focused upon the things of God. Here we should see the idea of being poor in regard to one’s focus being NOT on the things of the world as that this IS to be “rich in faith” and to be among “them that love him“. Can we see the point here? The second view of this idea IS tied to James’ continuing words on Love as he tells the ‘average’ man that in looking at the poor one CAN NOT tell the reason for being such….is it because one did Truly “Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on” (Matthew 6:25) or because of the man’s circumstances or his folly? The point here IS that those who ARE poor in Earthly goods according to His words ARE the “heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him” and in so living according to His words these ARE those “that love him“. Any idea that merely being poor entitles one to be among the “heirs of the kingdom” CAN NOT be of itself True but, at the same time, such sayings as this and Jesus’ own Beatitude saying “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3), or Luke’s version “Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God” (Luke 6:20) have NOT stanched the search for wealth among doctrinal believers and especially among those of the antithesis to these words….those of the prosperity gospel. Jesus teaches us the idea of focus as He speaks about such ideas as wealth and the focus of one’s thoughts on the means of wealth but His lesson IS diluted and changed because it IS in conflict with the carnal attitudes of men. We should NOT think that this idea of carnal attitudes IS restricted to those who the church deems unredeemed; this idea of carnal IS ALL men whose focus IS NOT fully upon the things of God. This may seem a high bar and indeed it IS but, at the same time it IS in accordance with the Master’s words and those ancient words from the Lord through Moses….the words of the Great Commandment which so clearly shows us this fullness. Jesus’ version of this says “thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength” (Mark 12:30). Can we see the point here? Can we see the fullness of focus upon the things of God by commandment and can we see how that the fullness of the reward comes to those with such fullness of focus. It IS this same idea of focus that we should see in Jesus’ words from the Sermon on the Mount where we read that:
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?” (Matthew 6:19-25).
While the idea of “treasures upon earth” IS self explanatory, the idea IS NOT heeded by Christian doctrinal teachings which encourage the success of men in this world and which, contrary to the ideas above on the poor, eschew the very idea of being so….especially intentionally. Most DO NOT understand the idea of “treasures in heaven” as they view this carnally and view both ideas of treasure as riches and wealth and possessions. John Gill shows us a bit of the doctrinal approach to “treasures in heaven” as he says: lay up your earthly treasures in heaven; that is, put them into the hands of God in heaven; and this is done, by liberally communicating to the poor; by which means men “provide themselves bags which wax not old, and a treasure in heaven that faileth not”, (Luke 12:33)8. In this we see the idea of having “treasures upon earth” but sharing them liberally and in such ideas the whole context of the Master’s teaching IS changed. If the idea of treasure was properly understood in Jesus context as whatsoever one values and focuses upon, perhaps the resultant teaching by the church would be different. We should understand that while doctrines tend to allow men to think that their existence in heaven will be largely similar to their existence in this Earth, save for the unidentifiable idea of ‘glorified bodies’, this IS NOT the case as the very idea of heaven takes us to spiritual realms which ARE a formless existence as we identify the idea of form. From this we should be able to see and understand that “treasures in heaven” CAN NOT be physical things but rather the same rewards that we see in our trifecta: the Truth, the Kingdom and the realization of the Presence of God in one’s Life. These ARE the treasures, the rewards of one’s focus upon the things of God. This IS of course contrary to the doctrinal ideas engendered from Jesus; words saying “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10) which ideas ARE parried against the Truth offered by the Master’s saying that “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also“.
That the idea of Life “more abundantly” IS attributed to carnal things is unfortunate and this idea IS used frequently in some parts of the church where the comparative idea IS lack. While an integral part of the teachings of the prosperity preachers, the idea IS NOT Truly useful without leaning upon the ideas of the Old Testament where some measure of material benefit was offered to those who keep the commandments. Most of these benefits however ARE also NOT in regard to personal material wealth and possessions but rather in ideas of national success which IS of course intimately tied to the lead in idea that “it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God” (Deuteronomy 28:1-2). Most ALL of the prosperity teachings ARE built as houses “upon the sand” (Matthew 7:26) as they twist and manipulate the words of the Old and New Testaments to suit their own way of thinking about the nature of their own lives and their own desires to live “more abundantly” in their own carnal relationship to the world. It IS in their assumed authority that they bewilder their followers and lead them in ways that ARE quite contrary to the most basic idea of focus upon the things of God. This teaching IS also contrary to the words of the apostles; the Apostle John tells us clearly to “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever“. John offers us this just before telling us of the presence of antichrist which idea should be understood as those who teach contrary to the Truth; and this just before telling us that “ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things” (1 John 2:15-17, 20) through which we should understand that everyman has the ability of discernment when he will focus upon the Truth of the Master’s words rather than the pronouncements of men. We should note here that the Master’s words to the Jews regarding the ideas that they follow were repeated from the words of the prophet and here we should see that the same ideas of the pronouncements of men were True some 700 years earlier, True in the days of Jesus and ARE True yet today. The Prophet Isaiah tells us “the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men” (Isaiah 29:13). We should try to see the better translation in Jesus’ words saying “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:8:9) and understand that this IS as True today as it was 2700 years ago and IS as unrecognizable to those who DO teach so as it has ever been. This IS the effect of the vanity of men, their illusion and their glamour, which afflicts ALL men and ALL religions where their doctrinal approach to God IS but their own vain attempt at worship on human terms.
We speak here of ALL doctrine that dilutes and changes the Truth to suit the carnal thoughts and attitudes of men; doctrines which create ‘promises‘ that ARE NOT written but ARE presumed from the machinations of men through out of context, misinterpreted and misapplied texts. These ARE then funneled to the masses under the authority of the religious leaders….their self assumed authority to be clear. While the Apostle John writes clearly about the relationship of a man to the world, his words ARE NOT understood by most as they use the idea of “love the world” to artificially protect themselves from the offence….to say that they DO NOT “love the world” when by their actions it IS clear that they DO. The apostle James gives us an equally clear view of this relationship saying “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4). And what IS it to be “a friend of the world“? While John uses agape to frame his words as “love the world” showing us perhaps a close pseudo spiritual relationship, one that believes that the relationship IS based in a spiritual perspective, James uses the idea of philos which IS a close personal relationship with the world. Both however ARE showing us the fallacy of such a relationship; whether one sees their relationship as based in the things of the Spirit or merely see this as it essentially IS, a personal fondness by which one associates familiarly 9 which IS a part of Thayer’s defining ideas for philos. Both show us that such a relationship that causes men to focus themselves for whatever reason upon the things of this world IS at “enmity with God” and “the love of the Father is not in him“. The Apostle Paul shows us these same ideas as he speaks about the motivations of men, motivations that ARE the result of that vanity of which he tells us “the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Romans 8:20-21). These motivations ARE what he calls the “works of the flesh” which he defines for us in terms that ARE misunderstood and misapplied resulting in the doctrinal ideas that such works ARE “Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like” (Galatians 5:19-21). When we see these things in strictly carnal terms we see ONLY the lascivious man, the man whose focus IS upon sex and some purely carnal endeavors. If however we look upon the Greek words as we have done in previous essays with an eye toward the totality of their meaning, both literal and implied, we can see the conduct of everyman who IS “a friend of the world“, everyman who DOES “love the world“. Everyman who, as the Apostle Peter shows us, has NOT “escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust“. It IS these who have NOT escaped by their own personal effort that DO NOT have what the doctrinal Christian presumes that he has while still being “a friend of the world“….while still having that hidden Truth that they DO “love the world“.
While many DO believe that they have those “exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4) while still being in this relationship with this world, their sense of reality IS based in the doctrines of men which promote such a relationship although it IS contrary to the Master’s instructions that one “take no thought“. In His words above the Master tells us rather clearly that “No man can serve two masters” yet men ARE ever trying while at the same time disparaging those who DO NOT have a relationship with the world that they deem appropriate. In this, as in the idea of treasure, we have the reality of focus; focus upon the world and then focus upon the things of God and here we have a real dilemma and this especially for the doctrinal thinker. As men believe that they can prosper here in this Earth and serve this purpose diligently, they DO at the same time portion out specific times for focus upon the Lord as their doctrines dictate; this IS exactly what Jesus means in His saying that “No man can serve two masters“. And He gives the most logical of reasons as He shows us that a lack of singular focus causes a constant situation where “either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other“. We should of course temper the idea of hate here from the Greek word miseo as we remember that this same word IS used in Jesus words according to Luke where we read that “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26). Clearly the idea here IS NOT hate as that idea IS understood; the idea IS seen in terms of Loving less by many and IS rendered as such by a few. Using the idea of hate as this word IS understood DOES NOT agree with the whole tenor of Jesus teaching while the idea of Loving less surely DOES. Applying this same idea to Matthew’s use of miseo, we can see then more of the Master’s intent: that in sharing, in trying to “serve two masters“, one IS destined to Love one above the other and, in this world of vanity, it IS generally the world that wins. We should note also that the Greek word kataphroneo which IS rendered as despise IS taken in this light because of the previous word rendered as hate; the word means: to think against according to Strong’s and in this there IS opportunity to understand kataphroneo simply as the second choice where the harshness of hate and despising ARE NOT a factor. We can see this idea in Jesus words saying “Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 18:10). Here the idea can be plainly understood against this exchange between Jesus and His disciples; we read “Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said,Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:13-14). While there IS NO hatred nor despising in these words, there IS the idea of thinking against the children as a bother and there IS a great lesson here. Our point here IS simply that the Master’s intent IS more toward the idea that the man whose focus IS dual will “will hold to the one” and will Love one above the other and, as we say above, it IS generally the self in this world that will win….that will retain the majority of the focus of one’s Life.
The gist of Jesus’ words on treasure and on trying to “serve two masters” IS simply to teach us that we must focus upon the Godhead if we ARE to attain those “treasures in heaven“. However as long as men see this idea of treasure ONLY as wealth and possessions and see mammon in the same way, they will NOT understand the Master’s point which IS summed up in His saying that “Ye cannot serve God and mammon“. Many millions of men pretend that they DO NOT serve mammon as wealth while they spend the vast majority of their time focused upon their careers and ways to materially ‘succeed’ in this world and, in fact, this IS encouraged by most ALL of the church. The Greek word mamonas became the English word mammon in most ALL older translations of the bible and this likely because the translators DID NOT see a suitable single English word. This however changed over time and most later bible versions render mamonas as riches, wealth and money. Strong’s and Thayer’s both tell us that mamonas IS a Chaldean word; Strong’s says that it means confidence and they add wealth, personified 9a as their example. Thayer’s tells us that mamonas means: what is trusted in 9 and here we should try to see the vast implications of this idea apart from the ideas of wealth and possessions. It IS in compounding the idea of what is trusted in with Jesus’ previous words on treasure and His following words that tell us to “Take no thought for your life“, that the fullness of His intent can be fully seen. Against our subject verse Thayer’s tells us that mamonas means riches and adds the idea that this IS: where it is personified and opposed to God 9 and here if we could apply these ideas of personification and opposition to the generality of men’s thoughts and attitudes we could perhaps see the necessary idea which James offers us in his saying that “the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God“. The greater point here IS missed in the tendency of men to see the individual verses of our modern bibles separately rather than to as a whole series of ideas that ARE intended to be strung together as a unified point. In Jesus’ words above from His Sermon on the Mount as reported by Matthew we have a unified idea of focus, a unified idea that one should NOT focus himself on the things of the world, which things include his thoughts, his attitudes and his actions much more than they include his wealth or possessions. Jesus’ message IS simply that a man should focus his attention upon the things of God, upon the Truth, the Kingdom and the True Presence of God in one’s Life. Here we should remember that the Master Himself tells us that these things come to the man who will keep His words and, as Paul shows us rather clearly from the perspective of the times, it IS in one’s expression of True agape that we satisfy the idea of DOING so.
There IS yet another part of Jesus’ message from the Sermon that we cite above and while this seems to be a rather obscure idea as it IS generally translated, it DOES have the same intent as His words on treasure, His words on mammon and His words that tell us to “take no thought“….focus. Jesus saying that “The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!“. Here we must see the idea of eye as more than the physical organ much as we understand that the idea of being blind IS more that one’s ability to use that organ. When Jesus addresses the Jews’ religious leaders saying that “they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch” (Matthew 15:14), He IS speaking of their spiritual blindness, their blindness to the Truth that they DO NOT see. Similarly the Master ask a parabolic question saying “Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?” (Luke 6:39) as he again speaks against the doctrinal approach to God that IS the way of the Jews. Perhaps the Apostle Peter captures the idea best as he speaks of the virtues that ARE the Way of the man who Truly has those “exceeding great and precious promises” that places him among those that ARE Truly “partakers of the divine nature“. Peter tells us about these virtues that “if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins” (2 Peter 4, 8-9). As we can see spiritual blindness in these words from the Master and Peter, we should at the same time see the spiritual eye in Jesus words which tell us that “The light of the body is the eye“. The word eye IS rendered from the Greek word ophthalmos which idea IS most always used in regard to the physical eye. There IS however a deeper reality here that IS NOT clearly seen by doctrines and which IS more than the idea that: The light of the body is the eye; Or, the “candle of the body is the eye”; for the eye is that in the body, as a candle is in the house; by the light of it, the several members of the body perform their office; and what is said of the eye of the body, is transferred to the eye of the mind as John Gill paints this 8.
We will continue with our thoughts in the next post.
- 8 Bible commentaries on BibleStudyTools.com
- 9a The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible on blueletterbible.org
- 9 Thayer’s Greek Lexicon on blueletterbible.org
- * Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Those who walk on the well-trodden path always throw stones at those who are showing a new road.
Voltaire, Writer and Philosopher