Friday 6th November 2020
ENTER INTO SACRIFICIAL LOVE WITH GODLINESS AND CONTENTMENT.
TEXTS:-IJohn 4:15; ITim 6:9-10.
“Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.”
1 John 4:15 KJV
“But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. 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 Timothy 6:9-10 KJV
John returns again to the idea of “confessing” Jesus from verse 2 and 3. Earlier in the chapter, John taught that the spirit that confesses Jesus is from God. Here, he teaches that the person who confesses that Jesus is God’s Son has God living in him, and that person lives in God. John has now shifted from recognizing Jesus in others to re cognizing Jesus in one’s own life.
First John 4:2 also emphasized that only false teachers deny that Jesus came in the flesh. Here, the truth also requires a person to believe that Jesus is divine—that He is God’s Son. Both aspects are essential to knowing God. Jesus is both fully human and fully divine. We may not fully understand it, but we must recognize Jesus as both human and divine. Without His humanity, He could not die and rise again. Without His deity, He could not be without sin and offer Himself as a perfect sacrifice. Both aspects of His being are essential to His work and to our salvation.
How God’s love is presented to us
The first thing is to take a look at today and as to how the text answers the question of “How is/was God’s love presented to us?” There are two verses in particular that sort of address that question today:
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he first loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4:10)
We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19)
What is so special about these two verses? They both show the initiative of God. Who loved first? God loved first. This isn’t meant to be a dive into predestination or whatever, but to really take a look at the initiative that God takes in his love. And it’s significant, because it shows that God is not passive. He doesn’t just sit back and leave us alone to figure this sin problem out, but rather, he takes and is taking an active role in the redemption of his people. Let’s think back to the first couple of the books of the Bible and recall some of the events and characters there.
Noah and the ark. Who initiates there? It was God.
Abraham and his covenant. Who initiates there? Again, it was God.
Moses and the burning bush. Who initiates there? Once again, God.
And once we realize this pattern in the Old Testament of God initiating and taking an active role, we can recognize that it doesn’t end there. As we keep flipping through the pages, God’s active role continues in the sweep towards the sacrificial work of Jesus on the cross.
How God’s love was displayed through Christ Jesus
And now, with God’s initiative in mind, let’s head into the second topic. We are able to really appreciate how God displays his love through Jesus. Let’s take a look at the text:
9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4:9-10)
How was God’s love displayed and made known to us? Through the death through which Jesus paid, and in return, the life that was given to us. His atoning death has led to the forgiveness of our sin. But what makes that love so grand and almost baffling? It’s that God is not obligated to send Jesus for the forgiveness of sin, he doesn’t have to do it, but he does willingly. He takes the initiative and loves first, even if it is for a people that do not––and may not––love him back.
God’s love transforms and changes us
The last thing I wanted to take a look at regarding this passage is how God’s love transforms and changes us. At the beginning of this post, I mentioned how powerful God’s love is, and this entire passage really brings that into focus:
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 John 4:8)
Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. (1 John 4:11-12)
This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. (1 John 4:17-18)
Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. (1 John 4:20-21).
Again, God’s love is not a passive love. And in that same way, God’s love does not act passively in us. It drives us, it transforms, and it changes us. It drives us to love one another (v.11), to care for our brothers and sisters (vv. 20-21), gives us confidence towards God even in judgement (vv. 17-18), and transforms us to be more like Christ (v. 17). If God was willing to take the initiative to love and sacrifice Christ for these people, then surely I can go out of my way to love them as well.
God’s love does not act passively in us. It drives us, it transforms, and it changes us.
WIth a better understanding today of how God takes initiative in his love, how can we, today, take initiative in our love? What does it look like to take initiative to love a fellow brother or sister? A neighbour? A family member? Maybe it’s something small, like asking someone how they’ve been doing. Or maybe it’s something a bit bigger, like apologizing to a brother or sister, asking for forgiveness. Regardless, we do not love because it’s something we have to do, or because we are obligated, but because God’s love drives us to do it. If we follow Jesus, we serve a God who decided to take initiative to give his one and only Son as a ransom in exchange for many. And that should change us, and transform us, to take some initiative of our own.
Like an old, wrinkled dollar, 1 Timothy 6:10 has been bent, folded, and flattened in every way to purchase mental real estate in the minds of believers. It’s been forced on the wealthy to squeeze out their offering, and slipped in by others to justify their thirsty savings accounts. Was the Apostle Paul getting ready to ask for money? Was he trying to make himself feel better about his own lack of a nest egg? Was he saying money is bad and we should do everything possible never to have much of it?
Let’s hunt for some context surrounding Paul’s first letter to his first son in the faith, Timothy (1 Timothy 1:2). Many scholars believe Paul wrote this letter on his third missionary journey, a few years prior to his arrest. Paul had long abandoned comfort and steady income for life as a nomadic leader of the early Christian church. In fact, Paul spread God’s word without requiring payment (1 Corinthians 9:14-15), and at times made tents to support himself (Acts 18:1-3). So, we know Paul was sharing a deeply held, lived-out belief with Timothy.
What will Paul’s words to Timothy speak to us? Paul began chapter six with a servant-and-master theme. Later, he described false teachers who think godliness is a way to secure financial gain (1 Timothy 6:5). One verse later, he flipped the coin by claiming godliness paired with contentment are great gain. Paul continued to make his case by reminding us what we get to take with us when we die. He called the desire to get rich a way to destruction (1 Timothy 6:9). Then finally, he explained all this with 1 Timothy 6:10. Paul was not denouncing wealth, he was denouncing the lack of contentment. A condition which dethrones God as master and enslaves people to the pursuit of money. Jesus also used servant-and-master imagery to discuss money. In Matthew 6:24 NIV, our Savior plainly stated, “You cannot serve both God and money.”
Let’s think about it this way. Why do we all want to win the Lotto? Somewhere in our sinful nature is a whisper that says more money will mean more security, happiness, significance, generosity, and even godliness. But where do those things actually come from? God, our true master. What Paul and Jesus were warning against is this: the evil that promises good life through any currency other than crowning God your only King. Is money bad? No. Can it be put in submission to God to accomplish great things for Him? Yes. Is that an easy pursuit? No. How should we start? Godliness with contentment. How should we finish? Godliness with contentment.
Consider: Have you replaced the peace, satisfaction, comfort, love, strength, and direction that comes from God with any other “master”? How will you re-instate God as King?
Compassionate God, grant that we do not replace the peace, satisfaction, comfort, love, strength, and direction that comes from You with any other “master”,even at this pandemic period.
Your son Jesus, my Savior,all-powerful and profoundly personal is the giver and sustainer of life, and have allowed us to have a personal relationship with Him.Please help us to hold fast to these truths forever in Jesus Name