Nobody likes being in debt. We try to avoid it, and for good reason. But there is one debt that the Bible says we can never fully eradicate, and that is our obligation to love. As long as we live, we must love. In Romans 13:8-10, the Bible explains how the heart of God’s law – even those moral rules that we most often refer to as “commandments” – has always been love. When God gave the commandments, He was expressing His covenant love for us.
Bona fide obedience to Jesus Christ always produces genuine love. If we live by the “perpetual law of charity” (to rob a term from the old Geneva Bible), then we will find ourselves loving as we should. And thus living as we should. Hmmm. Not always easy, but our high calling nonetheless.
Biblical love is most often a verb. Action. Doing the right thing in regard to another person. Feelings of love may or may not be present. Feelings of love often follow right behavior, but not always. We’re obligated to love anyway, because we’re followers of the Lord Jesus. We love because He first loved us (First John 4:19).
If you and I are truly honoring God’s revealed moral law, we’re not only living as we should, but we’re loving as we should. John Wesley said: “The same love which restrains us from all evil incites us to all good.”
If we’re not behaving in loving ways, we can rest assured that we’re ignoring (somehow, somewhere) God’s standards. A lack of love is a clear indicator that God is being disobeyed.
How can you know that God is producing His love in you?
When you’re loving in spite of yourself!
Cornelia Johanna Arnolda ten Boom, known by most as Corrie ten Boom, was a Dutch Christian Holocaust survivor who helped many Jews escape the Nazis during World War II. By 1942, Corrie and her family – known in their Holland community for their gracious hospitality toward all people, and especially toward the handicapped – had become very active in the Dutch Underground hiding refugees. The Jews hid in a room built into Corrie’s bedroom in the family home, a room the size of a medium wardrobe with an air vent on the outside wall. It was “the hiding place.” The ten Booms fed and cared for many out of their own small weekly war-time rations.
The Germans arrested the entire ten Boom family on February 28, 1944. They were first sent to the Scheveningen Prison where Corrie’s father died ten days after his capture. Later Corrie and her sister Betsie were imprisoned at the horrific Ravensbrück Concentration Camp in Germany, where Betsie later died. Betsie told Corrie shortly before her death: “There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.”
Corrie was released on Christmas Day 1944. She later learned that her release had been a clerical error. All the women prisoners her age in the camp were killed the week following Corrie’s release. Corrie reflected: “God does not have problems. Only plans.”
In her book Tramp for the Lord (1974), Corrie told the story of how, after she had been teaching in Germany in 1947, she was approached by a man who had been listening to her speak. As the man made his way in Corrie’s direction, she recognized him immediately. He was a former camp guard at Ravensbrück. One of the cruelest among them in fact.
At least in her mind and heart, Corrie froze. She was reluctant even to touch this man. But God called her to something even higher. She was to love him.
In sheer desperation, Corrie prayed with eyes wide open.
Somehow, as only the Holy Spirit can accomplish just when you and I need Him most, Corrie’s heart was warmed. She could not love on her own, but she recognized in that instant that Christ could love through her.
Corrie ten Boom recorded the memory of their reunion like this: “For a long moment we grasped each other’s hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God’s love so intensely as I did then.”
For God so loved the world that He gave.