What We Need Is LESS Love!
If you ask anyone who is the least bit religious the question: what is the
one thing that is needed most in the world, the Lord’s church, among brethren,
in families, and in our society today in general?; most would likely reply that
we need MORE love. In general, I would agree, but I will qualify my answer and
say that we need more of the Godly sort of love that we can read about in the
But, the purpose of this article is to call your attention to the fact that we need less love! And the need for less love is taught in the Bible! There is just too much love for some things in the lives of people in the world and especially some who claim to be Christians.
The apostle John wrote, “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another” (1 John 4:7-11).
In contrast to the passage just cited, Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:1-5, “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!” (NKJV)
In this passage, the apostle Paul mentions those who are “lovers of their OWN selves” and “lovers of PLEASURES more than lovers of God” (Emp. mine, gm). Notice that Paul said these had some LOVE! But, is this love the kind of love approved by God? With these opening thoughts in mind let us consider together just how it is that WE NEED LESS LOVE.
First, we need LESS LOVE FOR SELF! When people, especially brethren, think of themselves more highly than they ought, trouble lies ahead as sure as you and I live. In Romans 12:3, Paul wrote, “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.”
A great deal of harmony and unity could be restored and maintained in families, the church and the world in general, if all would esteem others better than themselves, as Paul directed the Philippians to do in Philippians 2:3-5 where he wrote, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”
You hear a lot about “self-esteem,” “felt needs,” and building up egos. Many want their egos stroked, when they really need a big dose of self-denial that our Lord taught about in Luke 9:23, where He said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” When you read the Bible you will find self-denial taught, NOT ego inflating, “self-esteem” and “felt-need” teaching and preaching!
Second, we need LESS LOVE FOR MONEY! The apostle Paul taught Timothy the truth about money. Paul said, “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Tim. 6:10-11, emp. mine, tgm). At the root of all evil, is the love of money. Murder, illegal drugs, alcoholism, pornography, gambling (including state lotteries) you name it, the love of money is the driving force behind all of these sins.
While money is good and needed for the necessities of life, when properly used, can bring about much and everlasting good. After all, the Corinthian brethren were commanded in 1 Corinthians 16:1 & 2 to lay by in store on the first day of the week, and that involved giving money! But the love of money is the problem, especially with some who wear the name Christian. Some brethren have trouble finding any time or money to give to the Lord’s work because they are too busy selfishly laying up treasures for themselves. Jesus said in His sermon on the mount, “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” (Matt 6:19-21). Yes, we need LESS LOVE for money and MORE LOVE for the cause of Christ.
Third, we need LESS LOVE FOR THE PLEASURES OF THE WORLD! Some pleasures can be very deceiving. We live in a time of prosperity, having and enjoying many conveniences – nice homes, nice cars, nice clothes, etc! The world is at our fingertips – there’s the Internet, computers, cell phones, fax machines, PDA’s and all manner of automatic appliances for this and that, and every kind electronic gadget one could imagine. Truly, we live in a fast paced “push button” technological age!
God’s book warns us of the dangers of pleasure. When we read the parable of the sower recorded in Luke chapter 8, in verse 14, Jesus said, “And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.” The spirituality and faithfulness of many has been strangled and chocked by the pleasures and riches of the world.
Also, it is sometimes pleasant to remain in a relationship that is wrong rather than bearing the responsibility of doing what is right. For instance, it is unthinkable by some to expect one who is unscripturally married to give up the pleasure of their unscriptural mate. Many think this to be cruel, and unusual punishment, but Godly repentance demands it. To be truthful, the real problem lies in the love for pleasure and pleasing self.
Many congregations suffer from slack or lax attendance by its members because of their desire for pleasure. One is considered overbearing and narrow minded who suggests that pleasure trips be avoided if arrangements cannot be made to assemble with faithful saints on the Lord's day and for mid-week Bible study. Forsaking the assembly is the rotten fruit of the love for pleasure and self!
Fourth, we need LESS LOVE FOR PREEMINENCE! In 3 John 9 & 10, Diotrephes caused problems because of this kind of love. Of Diotrephes, John wrote, “I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church. Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.” Diotrephes did evil! He had the desire to be first, or the “top dog”! In some congregations, there may be one or more members who have the desire to unlawfully rule over others and be the “top dog,” like Diotrephes. Sometimes preachers, elders, deacons or other members are guilty of this kind of love.
The scribes and Pharisees of Matthew 23:1-13, loved the preeminence of men and loved to exalt themselves and be exalted. Jesus commanded the people not to follow their works or traditions, because they said and did not! Yet, many blinded religious people today fall into the trap of worshiping men by calling their religious leaders (who wear their notable dress, some seemingly wearing their collars backwards) by such titles as “Reverend,” “Very Reverend,” “Right Reverend,” “Father,” etc. The only one who is reverend is God, or Deity – God the Father who is our Heavenly Father (Ps. 111:9). Religious titles are worn by mere men, are worn because of the love for preeminence. This sort of “name calling” was denounced by Jesus in this text!
Fifth, we need LESS LOVE FOR THE WAGES OF UNRIGHTEOUSNESS! All unrighteousness is sin (1 Jn. 5:17). Sin is transgression of the law of God (1 Jn. 3:4). Sin is universal, in that “all have sinned” (Rom. 3:23; 5:12). Even though there is pleasure in sin, the pleasure of sin is only for a “season” or short period of time (Heb. 11:25); but, the ultimate wages of sin is spiritual death and possibly physical death (Rom. 6:23). Many enjoy these wages to their own eternal destruction!
In the Bible, “... the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom. 1:18). In this chapter, Paul clearly taught about unrighteousness from a moral stand point, saying in verse 29, that some are “filled with all unrighteousness;” and in verse 32 he said, “Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.” Paul also wrote, “Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God” (Rom. 6:13).
Paul also taught against unrighteousness from a doctrinal standpoint, saying, “Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God” (Rom. 10:1-3).
Sadly, false teachers and some “gospel preachers” receive wages of unrighteousness while teaching false doctrine and perverting the truth of the Gospel. Of these Paul commanded, “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple” (Rom. 16:17, 18).
Finally, we need LESS LOVE FOR THE PRAISE OF MEN! This was a problem Jesus’ address during His personal ministry. In John 12:42 and 43, the text reads, “Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” The love for the praise of men more than the praise of God is so prevalent today. Many religious leaders and some gospel preachers desire to be politically correct and thereby fail to teach with boldness and plainness the truths of God’s word that all sinners need to hear, because they desire to be popular and they love the praise of men (Eph. 6:20; Col. 4:3)!
Of men like this, Jude wrote, “These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage” (Jude 16). Jesus said, “Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets” (Lk. 6:26). Paul exhorted in 1 Corinthians 6:4, “...that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.” Of the corrupt prophets of Isaiah’s day, Isaiah wrote, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink: Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him” (Isa. 5:20-23).
With many, righteousness has given way to political correctness and the desire to be popular and please men. Some gospel preachers who once stood boldly and firmly in God’s truths have drifted into compromise on important moral and doctrinal questions, failing to “declare all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). This attitude is contrary the teaching of Paul in Galatians 1:10 where he wrote, “For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” Is it any wonder why unfaithfulness, spiritual softness, and religious division are so prevalent in the Lord’s body today?
In conclusion, we have seen that we need LESS LOVE for, SELF, MONEY, THE PLEASURES OF THIS WORLD, PREEMINENCE, THE WAGES OF UNRIGHTEOUSNESS, and THE PRAISE OF MEN! But, what we need MORE of, is love for God’s truths found in His written word, the Bible. Dear reader, where is YOUR love focused? On things we need less love for, or on the truths of God’s word that all need more love for? Which?