Saturday, February 13, 2010


1 Thessalonians 4:9, "You yourselves are taught by God to love one another."

I suppose that over the years I have been taught by hundreds of teachers and have sat through countless lessons on a variety of subjects. Many of those lessons, especially those related to my past nuclear training, have long since lapsed into utter irrelevance. We have here in this passage a matter of instruction that transcends all others in virtue and importance.

It is taught by the best of teachers--God Himself. God is love (1 John 4:16). The Scriptures declare it to be so. But if we demand evidence we need look no further than the cross. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son" (John 3:16). "We know love by this, He laid down His life for us" (1 John 3:16). That He would send His Son to die for us--"while we were enemies" (Rom. 5:10)--is proof positive that He is a God of love and that His love transcends our experience and ability to comprehend (Eph. 3:19).

Oftentimes earthly teachers struggle to prepare lessons that nevertheless transcend their knowledge. God teaches according to the fulness of His nature and the perfection of His works. His classroom is our very lives as the Spirit of God applies the Word of God to our hearts in the context of our experience. The flesh pursues sinful and selfish choices that undermine our intimacy with God and our relationships with others. The Spirit raises us up to a higher plane of living, where God’s love--having been shed abroad in our hearts--is demonstrated in self-sacrificing ways .

No more important lesson is every learned on earth than this one. Higher institutions of learning espouse lofty subjects taught by eminent professors. These subjects work to prepare students for earthly ventures and profitable careers. God teaches us how to love one another. There is no higher virtue to be learned. Love is the "fulfillment of the law" (Rom. 13:10). It identifies the believer in Christ as one of God’s own children (1 John 4:7, "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God."). As the fruit of the Spirit, love comes first (Gal. 5:22). It is the greatest of virtues--"Now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love (1 Cor. 13:13). Spiritual maturity is ultimately measured not by how much we know, or how much we are willing to sacrifice, but by the measure of our Christlike love for others (1 Cor. 13:1-3).

Chaos in the classroom is commonplace in our day. We hear stories of students having no desire to learn. They talk in class, show disrespect towards their teachers, and get bad grades. The believer in Christ has the best of teachers and the grandest of subjects. How attentive are we to what is being taught? It is as we walk in the Spirit, and look to the inspired textbook, the Word of God, that we learn. The opportunities to put into practice the lessons we are taught are countless. God stands ready to teach us, let us be eager to learn.

Pastor Jerry

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