The Apple Of God's Eye

August 2, 2009

The Love Of God Versus Fake Love

www3.uakron.edu

www3.uakron.edu

Love – perhaps no word in the English language is used more often or is more misunderstood. When people in this world talk about love, it usually comes from an emotional standpoint, or a feeling. But God’s love is vastly different. In large part, the people of this world lack love – any love. Think about it. How many today openly exhibit outgoing concern for others? How many are willing to give of themselves — to sacrifice — for the benefit of others around them ? Most human relationships do not exhibit this kind of love. They are damaged by the “get as much for me as I can” philosophy that has prevailed throughout history.

From the beginning we have been subject to these selfish pulls, authored by the fallen archangel Satan the devil. Cain murdered his brother Abel because he lacked brotherly love. His heart was filled with jealousy because he wanted to get rather than give to his brother.

The story of Sodom and Gomorrah also reveals a breakdown in human relationships. The angels visiting Lot in the form of men were threatened with homosexual acts by Lot’s neighbors! Why did this situation exist? The citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah lacked love. Their problems went much further than homosexuality — the moral, social and spiritual fabric of their society was ripped beyond repair (Ezek. 16:49-50). There were not even 10 men of good character in Sodom (Gen. 18:32).

The end time — the time in which we now live — is compared to Sodom and Gomorrah (Luke 17:28-30). We see the same breakdown in human relationships. One in three U.S. marriages ends in divorce, and the surviving marriages are often unhappy. Homosexuality is increasing. Child abuse is a serious problem worldwide. Labor unrest abounds. Wars divide the nations of our planet.

All these conditions indicate a lack of love. They show that the world is going the way of the get philosophy rather than the give way of life. All these breakdowns in human relationships produce the same thing — unhappiness! Unhappiness for the person failing to show love, and misery for the person experiencing the lack of love.

Educators, sociologists, psychologists, philosophers and religious leaders vainly attempt to determine the underlying reasons for the present state of man. But only one source strips away human reason and gives us the true answer: God’s Holy Word. The Bible reveals the cause of breakdowns in human relationships: “From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?” (Jas. 4:1). The conditions in the world persist because man has rejected the way of God! People cut off from God are subject to the lusts of the flesh (Rom. 1:18-32).

What about the Church of God?

But can God’s Church lack love? God calls this Church age the Philadelphian era (Rev. 3:7). The word philadelphia means “brotherly love.” However, Christ warned that because of the sinful environment around us, even true Christians may be affected by this world. We as Christians live in a modern Sodom and Gomorrah. This environment weakens our ability to love one another.

The environment of ancient Corinth was extremely corrupt as well. It was notorious for sexual looseness. Christians in that city were adversely affected.

Paul wrote that the Corinthian church was full of envy, strife and division (I Cor. 3:1-3). One man committed incest with his stepmother; this was not a hidden sin but one that was freely accepted by other members (I Cor. 5:1-2). Church members were unable to resolve their problems among themselves, and foolishly went to the judges of the world (I Cor. 6:1).

What love produces

These problems reveal a church lacking proper love. In response, Paul showed them how love should work in the Church — what it should produce among Church members.

The Church is one spiritual Body made up of many members, each of them important — just as a physical body is made up of different but equally important parts. With this established, Paul showed the need for appreciating one another. In fact, those who appear the least deserving of appreciation are to be shown the most! The purpose for this attitude among Christians is to produce unity and empathy for each other (I Cor. 12:13-26). Furthermore, this atmosphere of brotherly love stimulates the love of God.

What, then, is love? Love begins with the keeping of God’s law. Many people today think God’s law is done away. But the Bible reveals that it is only through the knowledge of God’s law that we know what sin is (Rom. 3:20, I John 3:4). We enjoy the fruits of God’s love by putting His law to work in our lives (Rom. 2:13, Jas. 1:22). God’s law doesn’t harm your neighbor — it helps him. Keeping God’s law shows him love (Rom. 13:8-10).

More than that, God’s love is a product of God’s Spirit working in us (Rom. 5:5). By utilizing His Spirit and the tools of prayer, Bible study, meditation and fasting we produce obedience to Him and develop right attitudes and approaches to life. Then those around us are affected by the godly love that flows through us.

These character traits of godly love are beautifully described in I Corinthians 13, where love is broken down into the attributes it produces in Christians and the benefits it offers people around them. Each part is worthy of careful consideration. For our purposes we will substitute the word love for the King James term charity.

  1. Love suffereth long (I Cor. 13:4). Patience is needed when things go wrong, so we will suffer without anger or discouragement. It comes from understanding the other person’s weaknesses, just as God understands our weaknesses and exhibits great patience toward us. How much happier we all are if this trait is practiced, because it produces a more relaxed feeling within ourselves and others. God expects us to have the same mercy for others as He does for us (Rom. 2:1-5).
  2. Is kind (I Cor. 13:4). Kindness is responding to the needs of others. Much of Christ’s life was spent meeting the needs of others through healings and other miraculous events. He performed miracles out of compassion (Matt. 9:36, 14:14, 15:32), which is a combination of sympathy for someone in distress and a desire to alleviate his or her problem. Jesus acted out of deep sympathy and sorrow for the plight of those around Him (Isa. 53:3-4). So ought we.
  3. Envieth not (I Cor. 13:4). Envy prevents us from rejoicing at the successes of others. It cripples personal relationships (Prov. 27:4). It led to Christ’s death at the hands of the Jews (Matt. 27:18). How much better it is to be grateful for the accomplishments of others! It builds much warmer and more secure relationships. It helps others reach their full potential without fear of hurt. Aren’t you happier when your successes are appreciated? When envy is removed, appreciation is possible.
  4. Vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up (I Cor. 13:4). Love eliminates pride, which separates us from others because we feel superior. Feelings of self-superiority should warn us that love is missing in our lives; this separates us from God and men (Prov. 16:18, 29:23). When pride is eliminated, love replaces it and draws us together, because we hold other people in higher esteem than ourselves. We see our own weaknesses more clearly and focus on the strengths of others. We can share our fears and failures with others (Jas. 5:16). Humility is an important ingredient in producing godly love.
  5. Doth not behave itself unseemly (I Cor. 13:5). Good manners are an expression of love. They show our concern for others when we act out of humility. We should question our actions to see if they are done in good taste. God tells us to show honor and follow the rules of custom (Rom. 13:7). Our society has faltered in this trait and discarded etiquette and proper behavior.
  6. Seeketh not her own (I Cor. 13:5). God’s love acting in us will make us more generous; we will have the give attitude that motivates God Himself. We will think as much or more of others as we do of ourselves. The way of selfishness and get has caused all this world’s evils, but a Christian will not demand to have his own way at the expense of others.
  7. Is not easily provoked (same verse). Love eliminates wrong anger. When God gave us His Spirit at baptism, He intended that we conduct ourselves according to His character and that we be of the same mind as Christ (I Tim. 1:7, Phil. 2:5). Christ was compassionate, sympathetic, slow to anger (Neh. 9:17). Should not we be so in dealing with the unconverted and even our brethren? There is a time for righteous indignation (Eph. 4:26). Christ Himself was angry on occasion, but He channeled His aggression perfectly. Wrong anger results from our lack of patience, kindness, generosity, courtesy and unselfishness. One who controls his anger is better than the mighty (Prov. 16:32). Remember that a soft answer eases the tension of an angry confrontation (Prov. 15:1).
  8. Thinketh no evil (I Cor. 13:5). God’s way is one of forgiving and forgetting the evil deeds of others, when repented of. It replaces unnecessary suspicion with trust. This approach builds friendship. Stop and analyze how much this world suffers because of evil thought.
  9. Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth (verse 6). A person filled with love doesn’t like to see others sin and suffer the consequences. Instead he enjoys the truth that frees a person from sin and unhappiness. As Jesus said, “The truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).
  10. Beareth all things (I Cor: 13:7). Love doesn’t avoid obligations. It is willing to take on responsibilities. Bearing one another’s burdens fulfills the law of Christ (Gal. 6:2). Jesus gladly took upon Himself the burden of being our Savior (John 10:17-18). It required a tremendous sacrifice, but His love for us made it possible. We need the same love for others.
  11. Believeth all things (I Cor. 13:7). Believing all things doesn’t remove us from reality. It makes more real to us that God is about to usher in His perfect government to replace today’s pitiful societies. History has shown that we cannot believe in man’s ways, but we will soon all believe God. We are frequently too negative — we doubt instead of believe.
  12. Consider God’s optimism. He said that, for a rich man, entering the Kingdom of God was harder than a camel passing through the eye of a needle. True, with men this is impossible. But, Christ said, with God all things are possible (Matt. 19:23-26). When you are burdened with trials and troubles ask yourself, “Do I believe God?”
  13. Hopeth all things (I Cor. 13:7). Christian love is filled with hope for the future. There is the hope generated by God’s presence in our lives and in the lives of others. There is the ultimate hope of God’s Kingdom being established and having a part in it. We are to lay hold of this hope (Heb. 6:18) — when we are filled with it we will radiate happiness.
  14. Endureth all things (I Cor. 13:7). Love endures hardship. It helps us have the right attitude when things are difficult. True Christianity causes all things to work for good (Rom. 8:28). Endurance is essential for salvation (Matt. 24:13). We must have it to face the frightening events to precede Christ’s return to earth.

God is love

Relationships work well when love is present in them. When it isn’t, unhappy relationships exist. This is true among marital partners, family members, friends, casual acquaintances, fellow employees and members of God’s Church. We all need love to make our relationships work.

God is love (I John 4:8)! Love literally emanates from Him. Everything God has created for us and is doing through us is done in love. What greater example of love is there than the fantastic plan God has designed to change humans into literal members of the God Family?

By following Christ’s example and obeying God’s laws, we can have the right relationships among ourselves. By submitting ourselves to God we can be prepared to enter His Kingdom. The Kingdom of God will be based on love — and we must grow in God’s love to be there! “And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment” (Phil. 1:9).

Source: Good News, 1981

Does God Hate The Rich?

You’ve heard of “God’s poor.” You’ve heard that “money is the root of all evil,” and that God hates the rich man, making it harder for him to get into God’s kingdom than for a camel to go thru a needle’s eye. But here’s what you probably have not heard!

EVERY big city has its Skid Row. Uncounted thousands of derelicts pass away lonesome, hopeless days and years in these districts of beaten men, where a 60c per night six by four cubicle covered with chicken wire is a luxury, with privilege to sleep on a soiled, knotty mattress, perhaps damp, and without sheets or suitable covers.

Every city has its slums and its blighted district adjoining or surrounding the downtown business center.

“The poor,” Jesus said, “you always have with you.  Why?

Does God Hate the Prosperous, and Love Only the Poor?

There are a lot of false ideas in circulation. One is that God is angry at the man who becomes successful and prosperous, and wants all people to be poor. The common assumption about this thing we call “sin” is that “sin” is the forbidden fruit which is the sweetest and most desirable of all, but which an unjust God forbids us to enjoy.

But in reality, all the world’s ills, all suffering, all inequality and injustice has come from transgressing the law of God. Sin is the transgression of the Law (I John 3:4). In other words, to transgress the ways that lead to prosperity, health, peace, happiness and joy, is SIN! To sin, then, is to cause suffering, unhappiness, and death.

God Prospers Those Who Serve Him

Does God hate the successful and the prosperous?  “I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health,” says God thru John.

“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the council of the ungodly, . . . but his delight is in the law of the Eternal; . . . whatsoever be does shall prosper.” (Psalm 1:1-3).

“And the Eternal was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; … the Eternal made all that he did to prosper in his hand.” (Gen. 39:2, 3). Joseph served God! (verse 4).

“For the Eternal God is a sun and shield: the Eternal will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from them that walketh uprightly. O Lord of Hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee.” (Ps. 84:11, 12).

“The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.” (Ps. 92:12).

But God warns, thru David, when we are prospered, against setting our hearts on the prosperity. If all men would put their lives under the government of God and live by God’s laws, all men would soon be prosperous! Conversely, then, poverty is the result, directly or indirectly, of transgressing God’s laws.

Jesus, however, put the matter in its true relationship when he commanded us to seek first the Kingdom of God —  that is, to submit our lives to the government of God — to obey His commandments! — to live the kind of life He directs in His Word — and He promised that when we have first done this, the material prosperity shall be added.

Finding True Riches

What we behold in the world now, both in fields of labor and capital, as now organized, is organized competition and greed. This has produced only friction. It has impeded progress, and robbed both employer and employee of much material gain, as well as the real spiritual happiness they have vainly sought.

What’s wrong?  Men are governed by human passions, and not by God!

Happiness is something one cannot reach out and take! It is something you have only by giving. It comes only by finding God’s basic inexorable spiritual law — the way of love — of giving — of serving — of doing good.  The true basis of happiness is spiritual, not material.

Seek ye first the “Kingdom of God”  — the government of God — government in your life by the great spiritual law of God! If you do this, you will have to actually LIVE by every Word of God —  by the Bible!

If you do this, you’ll be filled with a dynamic power from without — the very Spirit of God — the Spirit of LOVE, and of understanding and wisdom —  of faith — of patience — of power for self-mastery! Your life will be energized, successful, full and complete —  HAPPY!

You will STUDY, and USE YOUR GOD-GIVEN MIND — studying first, to show yourself approved unto God — to find the true way of life! You will devote yourself, secondarily, to your job or work or profession. What you set your hand to do, as God commands, you’ll DO WITH YOUR MIGHT! You’ll be industrious. If you work for a man, you’ll serve him to the very best of your ability. If men work for you, you’ll be as interested in their welfare as your own. You’ll free your mind from all anxious concern and worry and fears  — for you’ll have the Spirit of FAITH  — relying upon the guidance and help of God. You’ll do your best, and TRUST GOD WITH THE RESULT, — and you’ll find real PEACE, and HAPPINESS and JOY first of all — and to this will be added MATERIAL PROSPERITY within God’s reasonable due time!

That’s the recipe for success, usefulness, prosperity, and REAL AND LASTING HAPPINESS!

Getting the Cart Before the Horse

Very few people follow Jesus’ formula. Nearly everyone seeks first the material prosperity. And people become so engrossed in the cares of this life, and the deceitfulness of riches — IF they succeed in acquiring them — they never seem able to find much time for seeking the Kingdom of God — to be governed by God’s laws.

Most ministers who profess to be ministers of Jesus Christ preach exactly the opposite of the Kingdom, or government, of God. They teach that God’s laws are done away. They teach there are NO WORKS to Christianity. They pervert God’s truth.

And most people, consequently are in ignorance of the true formula for success, accomplishment, prosperity —  and the happy, joyous life!

Most people seem to believe that HAPPINESS is something that comes from material possessions. Their chief concern in life, therefore, is to earn a better living — to seek dollars — to find happiness by GETTING material things.

In this chase for the elusive dollar, the large majority find the pursuit so difficult they become overcharged with the CARES of earning a living, trying to make ends meet, and this over- whelming majority never realize their goal They remain either poor or in the worried middle-class, and the happiness they seek becomes as elusive as the dollars. They slave away their lives  — empty, worried, unhappy lives.

But a FEW of these who seek first the material riches of this world — -and only a very few — do have the talents and qualities for material success and the accumulation of money. They pay the price, usually. They generally have ability, and they are the ones who study, prepare themselves, exercise vision, industry, perseverance, determination, and pay a heavy price for the material success they acquire.

Those who are prospered by God, because they sought first the Kingdom of God — that is, to diligently live under the laws of God’s government — are not the only ones who prosper materially. The few successful ones who seek first and (usually only) the material riches also prosper in the world.

There are two kinds of material prosperity — that acquired by those who seek first and only material assets — and those who seek first God’s Way of life. David noticed this, and became envious — until God chastened him and caused him to see his error  (Ps. 73).

And thus David repented of his envy of the evil rich, and came to see their miserable end.

Stop This Envying the Rich!

In this world, a common pastime of the poor is to envy the rich — to grumble and complain, and hate the rich. What does God say about this?

“Fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way . . . cease from anger, and forsake evil,” commands God (Ps. 37:7-8). “For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the Eternal shall inherit the earth” — (not heaven) — “For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be.”

Yes, what shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? That kind of riches is false, soul-harming and soon left behind.

But some of these worldly rich have been unjust — they and their big corporations have taken advantage of their position, and paid their laborers too little. Ought not the laboring man, then, to organize and FIGHT BACK?

No, and even tho the tactics of labor unionism have gained higher wages, employers have simply raised prices, so that today’s highest wages of all time actually purchase little more than the lower wages of the pre-unionism era.

WHAT DOES GOD SAY ABOUT THIS?

“Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted … Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. Behold, the hire of the laborers who have reaped down your fields (or factories), which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped (worked for you) are entered into the ears of the Lord of Hosts. … BE PATIENT, THEREFORE, BRETHREN, UNTO THE COMING OF THE LORD.”Jas.5:1-7).

God’s instruction is not to organize in labor unions, which in themselves have brought on additional evils — but to BE PATIENT — and wait until God restores justice!

Source of Economic Ills

By seeking first only material acquisitions, the majority have failed to acquire them and worn away their lives in the vain pursuit, while the FEW have, even at cost of hard work, study, application, and perseverance, succeeded — and neither have found happiness, because material wealth is NOT THE SOURCE OF HAPPINESS!

But God has set laws in motion — laws of success, economically, which even the material-minded, if they apply them, gain wealth by practicing. The only difficulty is, they have defeated the very purpose they sought by setting their hearts solely on material gain, instead of seeking first GOD’S WAYS, finding the true SOURCE of happiness first, and then becoming materially prosperous in a manner that would INCREASE a happiness already found.

But what has happened, economically, in America?

A few leaders, by practicing these laws of material prosperity, built large industries which employed large numbers of men. True, it was their determined PURPOSE — their study, industry, vision, planning, determination, perseverance, fighting their way to the top in spite of all obstacles, which finally put them on top of the economic heap.

True, it was their industry and enterprise which created jobs for their employees. But, by the same token, this very fact put them in position to take advantage of their laborers. Granted that they were entitled to a far greater financial reward from the enterprise than those men who were willing to do only what they were told. BUT TOO MANY OF THESE WORLDLY SUCCESSFUL TOOK FOR THEMSELVES FAR MORE THAN THEIR FAIR SHARE OF THE PROCEEDS OF THEIR BUSINESS.

Result — as mass production developed in America, labor was held in meek submission, underpaid and underprivileged. Thus employers themselves created the fertile field for labor leaders  — leaders who have preached to laborers the gospel of laying down on the job, giving less work and demanding more pay, creating friction between employer and employee — who OUGHT to be partners!

Those tycoons of big business who have thus taken selfish and unfair advantage of their position have injured themselves, as well as their employees and their country. They have brought down on their own heads the evils of a labor unionism which preaches and practices friction instead of happy co-operation, thus reducing production and profits for all.

Worse, they have limited and reduced the market for their own mass production. Since mass production is production for the masses, the vast employed class form the big part of the mass market. By holding down real wages, they have limited the ability of wage-earners to buy.

In the World Tomorrow

Now look at the changed picture when all men seek first the kingdom —  the way of life — of God.

Employers living God’s way will love their employees as themselves — will be as zealous for employees’ welfare, prosperity, working conditions, as their own. Workers will put their hearts into their work, and find a new joy in producing perhaps twice as much as now.

Production will mount, prosperity will increase for all, the masses will have the money to supply a ready market for a greatly expanded mass production.

Both employer and employee will enjoy greatly increased incomes. Society as a whole will be benefited beyond belief.

But, most important, we shall have found that inner happiness, and joy, which will supply the dynamic spark that will produce this material abundance. And economic plenty and security will add to a joyful, abundant happiness, already found.

You can start traveling that road now. It’s the only way to the happiness all desire.

Source: The Plain Truth, October 1951

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