Do Not Love?

I probably do not have to tell you that God expects His people to be loving people. From the beginning, God commanded His people to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength” (Deut. 6:5), and from the beginning, God commanded His people to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev. 19:18). When Jesus was once asked what the greatest command was, he pointed back to the command to love the Lord as the greatest (Matt. 22:37, 38), and the command to love one’s neighbor as the second great law (Matt. 22:39), and then said, “On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 22:40). The apostle Paul wrote, by Divine inspiration, that of faith, hope, and love, love was the greatest (1 Cor. 13:13). It should be evident that love is important to God, and should be to us, too.

      But did you also know that God has commanded us to not love? As strange as that may sound, it is true; we just need to see the context of where He says this so we may understand that, while love is most certainly important, we must love the right things and people to be pleasing to Him. The fact God says, “You who love the Lord, hate evil!” (Psa. 97:10) proves this.

      Do Not Love Sleep. The wise writer has much to say about life that is still relevant today, and will always be relevant, because life doesn’t really change from generation to generation, or even from culture to culture. And one of the things he wrote, relevant to today’s study, is this: “Do not love sleep, lest you come to poverty” (Prov. 20:13). While there is nothing wrong with sleep, per se, [we all need to sleep], his point is about laziness.

      Several times throughout the book of Proverbs, we get a picture of the consequences of laziness, and it is never good. He notes, “As vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes, so is the lazy man to those who send him” (Prov. 10:26); a lazy man is irritating to all around him! He also notes, “He who is slothful in his work is a brother to him who is a great destroyer” (Prov. 18:19); while the result may take longer, the end result of laziness is the same as if someone willfully destroyed something. There is much more that could be said, but let’s just note that laziness is not a positive attribute and certainly not for the people of God.

      God’s people are expected to be diligent and productive, at the very least. In the parable of the talents, we find the lazy servant was chastised severely by the master when he was called in to account for what he had done, with the master calling him a “wicked and lazy servant” because he merely hid the talent. Toward that end, Paul admonished the early disciples to be “not lagging in diligence, [but] fervent in spirit” (Rom. 12:11).

      If we recall, the wise writer said the one who loved sleep would come to poverty, and he was right, of course. When we become lazy in our lives, we become physically impoverished because we will soon have no strength built up; we become intellectually impoverished because we haven’t used our brains to think beyond the superficial, and we no longer think logically or reasonably; we become compassionately impoverished because we make no effort to love others; and we become spiritually impoverished because we have not exercised ourselves “toward godliness” (1 Tim. 4:7) and we lose out on salvation itself.

      Do Not Love the World. The apostle John put it very bluntly: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15, 16). For those who follow God, this should be an obvious point, but it is often ignored and deemed ‘unimportant.’ God does not think so. He has told us that the worldly one “cannot please God” (Rom. 8:8) because their thinking — their mindset — “is enmity against God” (Rom. 8:7). It is contrary in every way to the direction God would have a man to go, yet the worldly man seeks out those ways and indulges in them. Why would we love that?

      Let us not fool ourselves into thinking we can love the world and love God, too. Jesus plainly stated, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matt. 6:24). Love of the world, John said, means “the love of the Father is not in” us (1 John 2:15), and we are not of the Father if we do love the world and the things of the world. We cannot walk in both darkness [with the world] and light [with God], and walking in darkness means we cannot have fellowship with Him (1 John 1:6, 7).

      Do Not Love Family…More than Jesus. While many see Jesus as one full of love and peace and devoid of any condemnation, Jesus Himself dispelled such a notion when he walked this earth, telling His audience, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” (Matt. 10:34-37). Those are some tough words, and many will unfortunately turn away from Jesus when they hear them because they simply love their family more than they love Jesus.

      In my experience, this is the one factor that prevents more people from obeying the truth than any other. Time after time, I have sat down and studied with individuals who have recognized that they had been taught error, and that what they had believed was not what the Bible teaches, only to hear them tell me they will not give it up because, if they acknowledged it was wrong, it would mean their relatives [living and dead] were wrong, and were not saved.

      Friends and brethren, let us acknowledge the truth, but let us also acknowledge the reality that our deceased ancestors have chosen their path and nothing we do now is going to change that. If you know the truth, it is your responsibility to obey it, regardless of what others have done or will do. If you truly believe your parents or grandparents are/were good people, don’t you think they would tell you to obey the truth if you found you were in error? No one in their right mind would tell you, “Don’t follow the truth and save yourself; keep following the path to eternal punishment!”

      Friends and brethren, if, in our study of God’s word, we find that what we have been taught, or what we have always believed to be true was shown to be error, what will we do? Will we choose our parents over Jesus? Will we choose our husbands or wives over Jesus? Will we choose anyone over Jesus? Keep in mind that Jesus said this: “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.” If we choose family over Jesus, we have just declared ourselves unworthy of being disciples of Jesus. Choose Jesus!

            I don’t know where you stand in the sight of God, and I don’t know what you love, but don’t love these things! Don’t be lazy; be diligent! Don’t love the world and the things of it; love God. And don’t love your family more than Jesus. Put Him first in all things. You won’t regret it.  — Steven Harper