About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

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The Boundaries Of Love


The word "love" is one of the most spoken but least practiced words in our English vocabulary.  The Beatles sang "all you need is love" and then they broke up.  A hasty spoken "love ya" seems to have replaced a heart felt "I, love, you."  The 1960's sexual revolution sabotaged the foundation of family and society by its practice of free sex.  In the 1970's we demanded government to get its legislative authority out of our bedrooms.  Now, as seen in pride parades, we have swung the doors of our bedrooms wide open by taking sex to the streets.  Tolerance of all kinds of sexual expression is the new meaning of love.    


The Bible speaks to the true meaning of love in 1 John 3:18.  You don't notice it in our English Bible but the Greek text defines love in this verse as requiring sacrifice.  The Apostle John tells us that our words of love must be demonstrated in sacrificial action and in truth.  If we claim to love but do not demonstrate our claim with sacrificial actions, we fail to love.  Although this is easier said than done, it is easily understood.  What is not so easily understood is what love in truth means.


In John 18:38 Pilate asked Jesus the age old question.  "What is truth?"  Our western culture insists that there is no absolute ultimate universal truth.  Truth varies from person to person, from place to place, and from time to time.  Christians maintain that the God of the Bible is absolute ultimate universal truth to whom everyone everywhere must submit.  We must, therefore, both know and uphold God's truths in all we do.  It forms the boundary line in which we live, including the way we love.  If we step beyond the boundary in the process of love, we no longer love. 


Jesus demonstrated love within the boundaries of truth when after He forgave a prostitute He told her to stop sinning (John 8:11).  Jesus had no choice but to uphold truth in the process of love and forgiveness by pointing out this woman's sin and commanding her to stop sinning.  He could not let her sin slide by the wayside without compromising the truth He represented.            


The Apostle Paul spoke to this when he told his readers to "speak the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15).  Sometimes love demands we speak the truth to someone, even if it hurts.  James Dobson calls it "tough love."  It's tough on the one expressing truthful love and it's tough on the one receiving truthful love.  Paul demonstrated tough love when he publically confronted Peter with his hypocrisy (Galatians 2).  I have no doubt that Paul loved Peter, but when the truth of the gospel was being publically disgraced by his hypocrisy Paul had no choice but to publically confront Peter with the truth of his sin.  Paul could not let Peter's hypocritical actions slide by the wayside without compromising the truth of the gospel.      


Biblical love cannot be separated from Biblical truth.  Love has boundaries and if we step beyond these boundaries in the process of love we no longer love. 


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