Some of you might know that my wife and I have dumped Facebook. Now, please don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that you should also dump Facebook; such a decision is between you and the Lord. For us, however, it was the right thing to do. Why? Well, the newsfeed always seemed to be a constant stream of the anti-love entanglements—malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander. In casting off Facebook, I can say, in all honesty, that I actually feel better physically, mentally, and spiritually. This passage helps explain why. It’s because I removed a source of poison in my life.
When we gaze upon such anti-love sentiments, they infect our health. They hurt us. We drink them in; we ingest the poison. It steals our joy, fuels our envy which fuels malice, leading to hypocrisy and slander. This is why Paul says in Phil. 4:8,
“whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
And what is more honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise than love in truth of heart and action?
The Lord is love in truth of heart and action—that’s the gospel. As the Lord’s people, he empowers us to love one another. It is his command, after all (John 15:12): “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”
This is why Peter can say in 1:22 …
22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart,
Obedience to the truth is to believe the gospel (Gal. 5:11-7; Eph. 1:13; Col. 1:5-6). Believing, our souls are purified, made holy by the Spirit of God. He enables us to follow Jesus in obedience to his commands. Thus, in his power we can truly love one another.
Such supernatural love from a pure heart is not tainted with the poisons of anti-love. The word “love” used here, is agape love, meaning it chooses to love someone.
Love is an act of will, expressed in action
Love is truly sought after and obtained.
Love is sincere, not feigned—a true thing.
Love is affectionate and heartfelt.
Love is brotherly, seeking the beloved’s best interests.
Love is not calculating or self-serving, but selfless.
Love is earnest, deep;
Love goes the extra mile;
Love is enduring.
Agape is how God loved us, and his love is our example in how we are to love one-another.
It takes both discernment and self-discipline to help us perceive how we can express agape love. Discernment comes from the Lord’s Word and Spirit. Self-discipline comes from a gospel purified heart deliberately following Jesus.
When we actively seek to love someone, it is like light ruthlessly and violently driving away darkness. There are all kinds of ways to do this. One example is to turn envy to praise. Try this, you will surely get the opportunity. Rather than succumb to the temptation to envy a person for some blessing in their life, praise the Lord for his blessings on that person instead. And stubbornly keep at it. Make it heartfelt. Love is a sincere, selfless act of the will that goes the extra mile. God did this for you. He enables you to do it for others.
That is following Jesus my friends. Casting off those things that easily entangle us, we deny ourselves (rejecting malice, envy, etc.). In humility we put our neighbor’s welfare before our own. We take up our cross and kill our sin upon it, putting it to death. And we follow Jesus as he leads the way. We do this every day. We do it each step on the road of righteousness—showing our love for God and our neighbor.
Therefore, let us love one-another. Let us avoid poisoning ourselves. Let us avoid poisoning others. And let us avoid needlessly entangling ourselves, as we follow Jesus. True Christians must love one another.
Take a look again at vv. 23-24
23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 24 for [and Peter quotes from Isaiah 40 here] “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, 25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.
It is a great comfort that, when we are born again, we know the poisonous entanglements of anti-love cannot kill us with the final death. For, not only have we been born again, we have been born again according to the seed that is imperishable. The fruit of perishable seed withers and falls, but from imperishable seed springs forth life eternal. Our conception came through hearing the living, abiding, eternal Word of God, the gospel. Its promises and revelations are true and never die. The Word of God promises that those who believe in Jesus, even though we die, will live forever (John 11:25-26).