“Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.” 1 Peter 1:22-23
There are many verses of Scripture that call Christians to love. Since God is love, we should expect love to be the way believers conduct their lives. In 1 Peter 1:22-23, the apostle makes the case for fervent love as the fruit of all who have been born again “through the living and enduring word of God.” If you haven’t read or listened to the Live to Love blogs for 2023 yet, I hope you’ll do so now. This month’s blog is the fourth part of a series of articles on these verses. In January, we discussed how believers are called to obey Jesus Christ because they are holy—united with Christ as one. In February, we learned from Peter that our holiness with Jesus motivates us to purify our souls. We want to remove anything that defiles or hinders the love of Jesus from flowing through our lives. Having purified our souls, we learned in March, that believers can love each other sincerely. As fellow partakers of the atonement and the life of Jesus, we have a familial love for one another. Having laid the foundation, Peter focused on the bullseye—all out love for one another.
Peter’s line of reason is interesting. Believers have been chosen to obey Jesus and be holy as He is holy. They are one with Him, therefore they purify their souls for a sincere love, a phileo love, of the brethren. They love each other as fellow recipients of the sprinkled blood of Jesus. But they have the life of Jesus, the living Word, dwelling within them. They have been born again by the imperishable seed of God, and therefore they are to fervently love. This is God’s agape love, an all out love.
Fervent love is of greater quality and character than a brotherly love. Having phileo love for brothers and sisters is natural. Family relationships are naturally special and warm. Peter called those who have been chosen by the sanctifying work of the Spirit to obey Jesus and be sprinkled by His blood, to the same love with which they have been loved by God. God revealed His love for them in that He sent His Son to die for them while they were sinners, not family members or friends. This love is an all out love. There is nothing held back. No performance is required before it is bestowed. This love is sin-conquering, death-defeating, offense-removing super-natural love. All out love—agape love—is the sustained direction of the will toward the highest good of another, no matter what the cost. That is the bullseye of holiness—fervent love. That is how God has loved them, and therefore, nothing less is expected from them. So Peter call us, whom God has loved and called into fellowship with Himself, His Son, and the Holy Spirit, to love each other with the same kind of all out love.
All out love, fervent love, must be from the heart. It isn’t meant to be an obedience that comes from cold, calculated, intellectual knowledge of the right thing to do. There’s a sense of wholeness entailed in loving from the heart. It helps to understand from the Scriptures the functions of the heart. The heart thinks. The KJV of Proverbs 23:7 says, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” Faith is a function of the heart. Romans 10:10. “For with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” The conscience is another aspect of the heart. 1 John 3:20-21. “In whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God.” Condemnation is a function of the conscience. So Peter called his readers and us to fervently love with all that we are. Our thoughts are to be loving. Faith works through love, and because we have purified our souls of anything that might hinder love, we can love from a clean conscience and with sincerity. Here’s how the apostle Paul put it in 1 Timothy 1:5. “But the goal of our instruction is love (agape) from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.”
These verses are Peter’s call to live to love with Jesus. Fervent love from the heart flows out of our union with Jesus, our holiness or oneness with Him. When I think about loving someone for the glory of God, I realize the love must be from Him. It’s like the fruit which hangs on the branches of the grapevine. As in the image above, the branch doesn’t produce the fruit, it merely displays the wonderful life of the vine. I remind myself that Jesus loves that person fervently from the heart—to the degree that he would do whatever it takes to bring about their highest good. Then I gladly receive what He gives me to love them with His love.
Have you read or listened to Live to Love: Experience Freedom and Joy in Relationships? If not, I invite you to join the Live to Love Adventure by taking advantage of the free offer of resources at www.livetolovewithjesus.com. Jesus started this movement when He suffered and died on the cross and then was resurrected from the grave. It was as if a reservoir of love burst and a tsunami of the love of God poured out into the rest of history through His followers. That wave of love continues today in this generation through men and women like you and me. I hope you are encouraged and prepared to love those God puts in your path with a fervent love for the glory of God.
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