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The christian love /agape 2: Meditation for the 15th Sunday after trinity

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Princewill O. Ireoba

Introduction

The theme of love, which we started last week, continues this week with the prayer (Collect) that we may love God with our whole heart and our neighbour as ourselves. Loving God is not exactly the same thing as loving man.

Whereas loving man is more of bearing with him, even when most undeserving, loving God is more of appreciation and submission to Him as most deserving.

We love God in reciprocity and out of gratitude (1Jn 4:19), but we love man as an expression and identification with the nature of God, Who is Love Himself (Matt. 5:43-45, 1Jn 4:20-21).

Loving God and man, therefore, go together. We love God, Who owns and loves us, by honouring and obeying Him and reaching out to other men with His love.

Love Fulfils God’s Requirement For Man

“And now, O Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, To keep the commandments of the LORD, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?” (Deut. 10:12-13)

“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).

The Bible clearly does not project mechanical and complicated system of rules, ceremonies and rituals as the basic requirement for man’s right relationship with God.

God’s requirement is that His people do what is right in relationship with Him and in their relationships with one another.

As they are motivated by love, their actions will be tempered with justice, mercy, and humility.

God’s people are not to oppress others, but to do what is just, righteous, and honest toward one another.

This is the fear of God and keeping of His commandment, which is the whole duty of man and way to life.

This is love, which, as contained in the Collect for the day, is the fulfilling of the law.

Love Spurs Action

Not to love may not mean to hate, but failure to show love.

It is not necessarily when people hate out rightly that they are not loving, but when they fail to do what love demands. Love always shows in action.

Many people offend God and incur His judgment by what they fail to do or take for granted.

A case point is the rich man and Lazarus, a parable in the Gospel for the day (Lk 16:19-31).

The parable illustrates a theme common to several of Jesus’ parables: the treatment of the least of society is the true measure of piety.

The rich man was indifferent to the needs of the poor, and it landed him to hell fire. His offence was “not doing anything” for the poor.

The OT passage (Deut. 15:7-11) is part of the Lord’s ordinance on “Release” (15:1-18), which prescribes a time of total release of debtors and cancellation of debts.

The emphasis of the text is on the primary consideration of the needy above the interest of the helper/lender. No one should refuse to lend to the needy on account of nearness of the release time.

Such a thought is considered wicked and selfish.

The statement: “There will always be poor people in the land” (Deut. 15:11), is neither acquiescing in the permanence of poverty nor intended as an excuse for complacency, but as an incentive and injunction for sympathy and generosity as a result of which “there should be no poor among you.” (15:4).

Love is in action. We are indebted to God for what He has done and is doing for us and should, therefore, obey His commandments, the summary of which is that we shall love God with all our hearts and our fellowmen as ourselves.

Ven. Dr Princewill O. Ireoba is the Rector,
Ibru International Ecumenical Centre,
Agbarha-Otor, Delta State.
princewillireoba@gmail.com


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