Tag Archive: love


What Love Is via How to Train Your Dragon

To me, the most beautiful virtues are humility and selflessness. In watching my favorite movie, How to Train Your Dragon, I realize that it is the characters’ incredible self-denial that keeps me coming back to them time and time again. In the music videos I create and in the stories I make of them, it is these virtues I want to express, because it is this character that forms the foundation of all other beauties: kindness, understanding, and love.

I invite you to read of the excellency of what true love is, via Paul, and to see how that is done, via How to Train Your Dragon:

I Corinthians 13:1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8 Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. 11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. 13 But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.

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Judge Not Lest You be Judged?

“Don’t judge me! That’s what Jesus said.”

Have you ever been confronted by this statement? Were you trying to share the Good News of Christ or the fact that we are all sinners before God? Or did you use this statement yourself when someone was unjustly accusing you? Are we never to judge?

Many in the modern world repeat this statement. It’s become the mantra of accepting everyone and everything. It is said that no lifestyle or action should be criticized, since judging another person is above one’s calling. But before we accept this belief, we should examine more closely what Jesus actually said about judging:

Matthew 7:1-5:

“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

Recently as I read these verses, I noticed the particular type of judging Jesus was talking about: hypocritical judging. Jesus is warning against people who judge others while they themselves are doing the same actions that they claim to loath. Notice that Jesus tells you to first “take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Jesus is saying that if we are, say, sleeping with another man’s wife, then we would be hypocrites to judge another man for playing around outside of marriage. “Reform your life first,” He says, “before you even think of judging someone else’s life.”

This is a very important point to remember. Too many of us criticize someone else’s pride, vanity, love of money, etc., without actually applying the judgment to our own lives to see if we are practicing these same things. In this we should be ashamed. Whenever we read a commandment of God, we first must see if we are obeying it before we go off and criticize someone else for disobeying it. Hypocritical judging is exactly what Jesus is warning against.

However, does this mean that we never judge? Are we never supposed to judge an action or lifestyle as wrong or harmful, or tell someone the dangers of it? Just recently I was debating the issue of abortion and the right of life for the unborn, and one commenter was saying we should not judge others. “It’s their decision,” was the general theme. Does Jesus’ injunction on judging cover this type as well?

If you watch Jesus’ actions and words throughout the Gospels, it is clear that some types of judgment are good. For example, Jesus Himself sensed the wickedness of the Pharisees (who were outraged that Jesus cast out a demon from a man), and He made these very judgmental comments:

“You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil” (Matthew 12:34-35).

Calling religious leaders a “brood of vipers” is just about as judgmental as you can get! Yet we hear Christ saying these very words! So was He not following His own injunction against judging?

Of course not! As we examined earlier, Christ warns against judging done in hypocrisy. If you are going to judge, you have to make sure that you yourself are not committing the offense. You must be able to have judicial judgment. Other Godly men besides Jesus practiced this proper judging, such as the apostle Paul:

“Become sober-minded as you ought, and stop sinning; for some have no knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame” (1 Corinthians 15:34).

 

Here Paul, one of the original missionaries of the faith, whom Jesus appeared to Himself, specifically states in his letter to the Corinthian people that they are sinning and that this is shameful behavior. They should not be sinning, since they have knowledge of God. Paul makes proper judgment here, because he is not being hypocritical, but he is being kind in alerting them to the dangers to their souls and their walk with God in continuing this behavior.

 

Thus, if we are to judge anything, first we must know that we ourselves are not committing the offense. We must be holy just as our standard of judgment is holy. And second, we must do it in a spirit of love for the other person. The purpose of pointing out the error of another’s ways is to bring that person safely to a new frame of mind. We care about this person – that’s why we would risk offending him in order to tell him the truth of God that he so desperately needs. Just as a father would lovingly chide his child about the matches he is playing with, so we are to tell others in love the truth of God, even when it hurts. We do this not to hate, but to love as God loves.

The God of Love

Yes, God is certainly loving. The most loving Being in the universe, for He is the only One Who would give Himself for avowed enemies. No man was His friend, for no one seeks after Him: “There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God” (Romans 3:10-11).

Yet by His sheer grace, He offered salvation. Now that is love. But His love has many facets, and like we know, His is not a condoning “love” — the “love” that accepts everything, right and wrong, the “love” whose god is personal happiness (temporal, at that).

No, God’s love is mature and holy. He hates sin with a passion: “The LORD tests the righteous and the wicked, And the one who loves violence His soul hates. Upon the wicked He will rain snares; Fire and brimstone and burning wind will be the portion of their cup. For the LORD is righteous, He loves righteousness; The upright will behold His face” (Psalm 11:5-7).

Thus, God will not tolerate sin. He cannot stand sin, and it is with great pain that He allows Himself to endure the sin of history, it is with grace He allows this. He could have — should have! — obliterated us first chance He got. We disgrace Him constantly: “every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5).

We would never love Him, except by the grace He gave us to open our eyes to the glory that is His. Yet He cannot just let sin slide. And this was love: That He absorbed all our sin on Himself and paid the penalty required of disgracing the God of the universe.

He paid it Himself. The God of Heaven humbled Himself as a man to pay our debt so that we could find true happiness, the happiness that could only be achieved by filling our souls with His glory.

Praise the Lord.

“For the love of God!” Ever said this? You probably weren’t thinking about God’s love or your love for God – in fact, maybe you don’t think God is much of a great guy anyway. Who does He think He is, telling me what to do as He lords over the cosmos? What has He ever done for me? What’s so great about God?

Maybe He doesn’t exist. That’s what I was wondering in my early teen years. I began to doubt God, Jesus Christ, the Bible, Heaven, and my own state as a Christian. Did these really exist? Was I a real Christian, or did I just believed these things because my parents did? It was strange: Often when my father, mother, or my sister had other personal troubles, each would not be afraid to talk about the trouble with me. Yet I shut my own agony within myself. Normal activities became escapes from the troubling thoughts, but even these did not always help. A murder mystery could stir up thoughts of death and the fearful unknown behind it. My every joy was dampened, for how could I be happy when my eternity was uncertain?

Yet God rescued me. He instilled in me a drive to investigate the factual foundations for my faith. I read books on the awesome complexity of God’s creation, the scientific foundations of the Genesis Flood, the historical accuracy of Christ’s resurrection, and the prophetic reliability of the Bible. I read about these proofs in the car and while eating lunch. I wrote research papers on their topics. And they became my comfort and joy. No matter how much I reasoned, the huge weight of evidence could not be doubted away. Christianity was not just the religion I happened to be born into; it stood on a foundation of evidence like no other. God’s Word could be trusted like no other word.

But what truly transformed my life was not a defense of Christianity. It was when I realized how great God really is. In April of 2006, I read Knowing God. As I learned about God’s sovereignty and perfect right over all His universe, I wondered in awe at His supreme greatness, righteousness, and glory. He is eternal; I am mortal. He is Creator; I am created. He is Sustainer; I am sustained. He is infinite; I am finite. He is everything; I am nothing.

Then I realized just how much this God had done for me. This great God, who answers to no one, suffered for my sins on the cross of Calvary. The God of infinite worth actually suffered for me. The thought brought tears down my cheeks. Surely my every deed and thought and breath should be devoted to the One who gives me all motion and mind and breath, for is not this my life’s purpose, to glorify God? Then I knew the love of God.

Do you not feel the greatness of God? Is it not strange that many hate God and many love Him? Such a paradoxical attitude towards God results from a fundamental, willful misunderstanding about God – and ourselves. God is very, very holy; we are very, very not. If you believe that holiness, and thus goodness, is not so important to God, then you will never understand why He must judge evil people, including ourselves. If you believe that we are good inside, then you will never understand the depth of the love of God. For God’s love is displayed at its greatest at the height of God’s judgment – on the cross of Calvary. Here God places judgment on Himself to pay the penalty for our evil deeds – death. How can we deserve such a punishment?

Just think – we as human beings are tiny creatures on a planet on the outskirts of a galaxy among a billion galaxies. We are the dust on a mountain, yet we rebel against God our Maker like we were big shots. We go about our lives as if He was nothing. Why didn’t He just wipe away the dust dirtying His pottery work of the cosmos? He had every right as Maker. He has every right to cast justice upon us who lie, cheat, hurt, and hate thousands of times in our lives. We have no excuse: We are guilty of evil countless times. We have become like a poisonous mold infecting a twig on a tree in God’s forest – why shouldn’t we be wiped away to rid the world of evil?

Yet He suffered for this bit of mold on a twig in the forest – He suffered for the cancerous mold that is us! He suffered and died to wipe away our evils and restore us to Himself – how wondrous, how glorious, how Loving! O, I cannot imagine a greater love than the Love of God. When you know just how holy He is and how He had every right to wipe us out in one second, then His mercy and love is made infinitely sweet. I stand in awe of God – I cry at the thought of His cross and its beauty. Praise the Lord! Praise His holy name! We have hardly an idea just how much God LOVES us!

O how God is everything to me. He is Creator, yet He clothed Himself as a creature like me. He is King, yet He became a criminal in place of me. He suffered poverty in life, ridicule in trial, and agony in death, to save me from my own evil. He is my Hero of heroes – for not even a hero dies for his enemies to save them. He didn’t have to suffer anything. But He did.

That’s what God has done for me – that’s why God is so great. And He has done the same for you. Though you may smirk at Him and laugh at Him and use His name as a curse word, He gave His life for you. He is like the President of the United States giving his life for Osama bin Ladin. O how we hate God and wish Him dead – yet He gave His life for us so that we could live.

This is why I worship Him – this is why I adore Him and devote my life to Him. He is my Lover and I am His beloved. Do not look strangely upon me as I love Someone I cannot see, hear, or touch, for His love letters He has handed to me in His perfect Word that has stood the test of time. To revere Him is sweetness and true delight. No other joy on earth can match the magnitude of loving Him. For the love of God, I long. For the love of God, I live. For the love of God is life. It is my battle-cry and my peace, my hope and my love.

For the love of God – love Him back! Make Him the love of your heart as He is the Lover of your soul. There is nothing greater in life than to know, cherish, praise, and love the God of heaven and earth, the God who came down from His throne to love you:

He is the Father, yet He became a babe.
He is Creator, yet He became a man.
He is wealthy, yet He became poor.
He dwells in Heaven, yet He lived on earth.
He is happy, yet He became “a man of sorrows.”
He is good, yet He “became sin for us.”
He is life, yet He met death for us.

We hate Him, yet He loved us. How great He is.

See now that I, I am He,

And there is no god besides Me;

It is I who put to death and give life.

I have wounded and it is I who heal,

And there is no one who can deliver from My hand.

Deuteronomy 32:39

What a hard, awesome statement declaring the absolute sovereignty of God. What a sobering thought, that the Lord has the right to wound me or to heal me, to give me life or to take it away. The Scriptures, especially the Old Testament, abound with such declarations of His absolute rulership over all in the universe. No other doctrine stirs such fear and awe and humility.

Yet how often have people shied away from this Biblical concept of God, concentrating only on His attribute of love, praising only the soft, friendly image of deity. But of course never, ever, is love bad, for “God is love.” Yet He is more than just love; He is the King over all heaven and earth. He is not just the Savior we befriend, but the Sovereign we revere.

Yet many revolt at the idea that God kills or causes suffering. “Would not He in all His all-powerful sovereignty be no better than a murderous tyrant?” they say. And if God were just another human being, puny and corrupt, a being not worthy to destroy what he cannot even create, the objection would be correct.

But God is not a man. And therein lies the chasm of difference extending to infinity. For God in a sense is infinitely higher than man: He is the Creator. Does not the One who makes have a right to do whatever He pleases with His handiwork? This very point upon God’s rightful sovereignty is what Paul stresses in Romans 9:18-23 when discussing why God hardened Pharaoh’s heart:

So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires. You will say to

me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?” On the contrary, who are you,

O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you

make me like this,” will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the

same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? What if God, although

willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience

vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so to make known the riches of His glory

upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory . . .

In answering the objection to God’s absolute sovereignty, that man would have no responsibility for his sins, Paul could have used the argument that though man is a slave to sin and cannot help but sin without God’s changing his heart, man loves his wickedness and desires to do it with all his will. Man knows full well that he is transgressing and rebelling against God and His order; and since no one forces man to sin but man loves to sin with all his heart, he is fully responsible for participating in his own pleasure, sin.

But Paul did not use that argument. Instead, Paul under the guidance of the Holy Spirit replied, “Who are you, O man, who answers back to God?” We do not have a right to question! Who are we but clay pots in the Potter’s hands, made as we are for His own good pleasure? Why should we complain if He makes some ceramics as the pinnacle of His creation and loves them and sets them upon His mantlepiece in glory, while others He fashions to hold the scrapings from the plate? Paul in his reply was not so much concerned with satisfying our need for explanations as he was with setting firm our conviction of the grand, absolute sovereignty of God. He owes no one any blessing or any explanation.

Yet this God, this Fashioner of worlds and heavens and stars and atoms, is infinitely good and infinitely love. This very God enthroned beyond the galaxies came down to earth, was born with the lowing cattle, lived without a place called home to lay His head. How every dust particle must have rejoiced at their Creator’s touch when He walked the roads of Judea! He died agonized and humiliated, the death of a criminal. O, how the sky and the earth mourned with lightning and quaking in that hour, as the Sovereign suffered for mere creatures!

But they are, we are, His creatures, the ones He chose before the foundation of creation to love with everlasting love. How love is praised when one lowly man sacrifices his life for another, but how much more is this love glorified when a King sacrifices His life for the lowliest of His people? When He loses His life for those who hate Him! Some would call it foolishness, but is not the wisdom of God the foolishness of the world? For God in His perfect sovereignty will bring all that He loves, all those of His who hate and despise Him, to faith in Him. Not one can be lost from our sovereign God’s arms until each one enters into glory and worships Him in heaven.

And so, the sovereignty of God glorifies His love. The fact that this awesome God stooped down to love us and suffer to save us makes His love so much everlastingly more incomprehensible in depth and width and breadth! What an ocean of mercy extending to infinity! O, now we can begin to grasp the sheer magnitude of the simple phrase, “God is love!” Now we can know why the Old Testament so stressed the sovereignty and power of God, so that when the New Testament revealed the love of the cross we will fall to the ground and cry and rejoice, “Our Creator came to us! Our holy Judge became our Savior – our Sovereign has become our Friend! Glory be to God in the highest! Glory in His mercy and grace!”

Now we can rest with confidence upon His promise that “all things work together for good for those who love God,” for God in His sovereignty will bring His perfect plan to fruition. If He has granted us disease, goodness is there. If He has granted us persecution, goodness is there. If He has granted us death, goodness is there. All the good and evil of the world He is working to a glorious goal in perfect sovereignty:

No eye has seen,

No ear has heard,

And no mind has imagined

What God has prepared

For those who love Him.

I Corinthians 2:9

May we all glory in the sovereignty of God.