Loving Others - The Acid Test Love the Lord your God - and love your neighbor as yourself
How are we to love believers, and do we love unbelievers in the same way? Read on to see what the God has to say about this.
The Acid Test
The most precious gift God has given those who follow His Son Jesus Christ is the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has many functions in the heart of a believer. Not only does He save us from the pit of hell, He reveals truth, He is our comforter, our guide, our healer, the One who empowers us to fulfill God’s plan for our life, and ultimately the One who will bring us to heaven when we leave this earth. Without the power of the Holy Spirit, we would be no different than an unbeliever, unable to accomplish God’s plan in the earth or bring us to heaven. As such, the Holy Spirit is the most precious gift that God has given to the Body of Christ.
Christ set the example for His followers when He laid down His life by shedding His blood on the cross of Calvary for the forgiveness of our sins. As such, Jesus asks of us, through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, should it be required, to lay down our life for another Christian brother or sister as well. While that probably will not happen, Jesus also asks of us that if we have the means and another believer is starving, we are to give to other believers who are in need. The acid test of our faith, by which we know whether we are following the example of God’s love to others, allowing the Holy Spirit to work in our lives, is whether we are willing to give of material goods to other believers in need. The reality is - if we cannot, how would we be willing to lay down our life for them.
I John 3:16-18 We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion, how can God’s love be in that person?
We can say with our mouths that we love other Christians, but are we backing up our words with our actions? In other words, does our actions show that we are true believers, by listening and obeying the indwelling Holy Spirit as He asks of us to help other believers in need? Will we stand confidently before God with a pure heart when faced with that question?
We will all stand before God one day at the Judgment; however, God desires of us to live a repentant lifestyle on a daily basis here in this life, checking the purity of our hearts on a regular basis. The acid test comes as we come before God, hopefully in our personal time of prayer, that as we answer that question, our hearts do not condemn us, and we can stand clean before God as the acid test confronts us. Can I, having the means to help other believers, stand confidently before God with a clean heart and not feel guilty if the Lord asks of me to give to that person? If your heart does not condemn you, you have then pleased God. If, however, your heart does condemn you, you know then that God is telling you that you have failed the acid test, needing to repent, and then change your actions to match the words of our mouth of your love for other Christians.
Are Christians required to love unbelievers?
Again, we must follow the example of Christ and His love for humanity. We must always remember, God IS love. His love, however, is demonstrated in many forms toward people – from grace to even judgment. While God sent His Son to die for the sins of the world, which includes unbelievers, not all unbelievers accept and believe in Christ as Savior and Lord. As such, God’s love is demonstrated differently toward unbelievers. In the same way, Christians need to treat unbelievers in the same way God treats them.’
God’s first desire is that all men be saved and come to the knowledge of His truth. I Tim 2:4. God loves everyone in the world and so desires everyone to be a part of His family and be able to spend eternity with Him; however, only believers in Christ Jesus qualify for those privileges.
- Christian’s attitude toward unbelievers should be to love the sinner but hate the sin. Our goal should then be to reach out to them in evangelism, with the intention of bringing them into the family of God.
- That means to have compassion on them, pray for them, but always with the purpose of leading them to the Lord.
While the Bible tells us that Jesus dined with prostitutes and other unbelievers, He sat with them for the sole purpose of winning their heart to Him. We do not see Jesus fellowshipping with anyone but His disciples – those who believed in Him. That should be our example toward unbelievers as well.
- Loving unbelievers with the sole purpose of evangelizing can come in many forms, as the Holy Spirit directs a believer. Often these forms can take on similarities of how believers treat other believers as well.
- Befriending unbelievers for the purpose of winning them to the Lord can be of great benefit in the building of trust. This is where believers need to be guided by the Holy Spirit so they don’t get too involved with the things or people of this world that would pull us away from the things of God.
2 Cor 6:14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness.
Our fellowship, on the other hand – those whom we share ourselves with should only be with believers, where our commonality is our faith in Christ Jesus. If we share ourselves with unbelievers, many will not understanding where we are coming from because they do not have the indwelling Holy Spirit living within them to understand the ways of the Lord. Often their thoughts are ones of judgment and condemnation toward believers. We, on the other hand, need to guard our hearts so we don’t become judgmental toward them. We look at the action, not the person. While we will know them by the fruit of their lives, or lack of it, we should always love the sinner, but hate the sin. Once they come to Christ, then that relationship can grow into a fellowship where you share of yourself to them, and you treat each other like a brother or sister in Christ.