God's Plan and You: It's All About Love

by COGwriter

What is the faithful Christian Church of God really all about?

(Note: any statements within the following type of brackets { } were added by me and not part of the actual quotes of various writer.)

Is it simply a group or some corporation who thinks it follows the right rules?

Within 25 hours of the formation of the Continuing Church of God, I posted that it was really all about love (see The Philadelphia remnant: it is really all about love). The ‘give way’ of life.

While rules are important (cf. John 14:15; Matthew 23:23), what is most important?

According to the Jesus, the apostles, and the late Herbert W. Armstrong, and the Continuing Church of God, love is what is most important.

Many people do not understand about the love of God or how to develop more of it.

But YOU can develop more love and compassion if you are willing to do what God wants you to do.

Here is a link to a related sermon: You Can Develop Love.

God's Plan is Based on Love

God's plan involves love. Notice what Jesus said:

16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. (John 3:16-17)

Now that we see some of God's attributes, such as He is good, is a planner, and is love: this should help us better understand Him and His basic motivations as to why He made anything.

You are important. You matter! God loves YOU personally. And does have a plan for you personally.

Do not think that your tests and trials happen because God does not love you:

11 My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor detest His correction; 12 For whom the Lord loves He corrects, Just as a father the son in whom he delights. (Proverbs 3:11-12)

5 And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; 6 For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.” 7 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? 8 But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. 11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:5-11)

Yes, sometimes we have to long endure various matters to better develop love. The Apostle Peter wrote:

5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:5-8)

Patience is a sign of love (1 Corinthians 13:4, BLB). While you may be enduring many trials, consider:

4 Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. ... 7 Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him; 9 ... those who wait on the Lord, They shall inherit the earth. (Psalm 37:4,7,9)

Yes, there is a reward for patient love.

And that should also be considered not just towards God, but of others.

Love God and Neighbor

It is not just God who is you are to love. Notice some of what Mark recorded:

28 Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, “Which is the first commandment of all?”

29 Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. 31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

32 So the scribe said to Him, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth, for there is one God, and there is no other but He. 33 And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

34 Now when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” (Mark 12:28-34)

How do you love your neighbor? The old Worldwide Church of God published the following:

The godly perspective is that we must want the best for our neighbor as well as for ourselves. The best for our neighbor is that he or she also become a member of the Family of God.

With this perspective, we are going to be determined not to hurt or harm our neighbor. We will not be in competition with him or her. Jesus Christ, who gave God's commandments to physical Israel, magnified these spiritual laws in the New Testament.

Take, for example, the Sixth Commandment, "Thou shalt not kill" (Ex. 20:13), and think of how it applies to loving your neighbor. As magnified by Christ, the commandment to not kill means that we must not hate, detest or compete with our neighbor (Matt. 5:21-24). It means that we should express love toward our neighbor in every way in everything we do. We must always keep in mind our neighbor's potential in God's plan. The Ten Commandments continue, "Thou shall not commit adultery" (Ex. 20:14). Spiritually neither are we to even lust after our neighbor (Matt. 5:27-28). Consider: Can we break God's commandment concerning adultery with our neighbor, when God is preparing that neighbor, just like us, for His Family? The other commandments follow (Ex. 20:15-17).

All of these commandments, magnified by Christ Himself, reveal how we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. Keeping the commandments hinges on remembering that membership in the God Family is intended for every human being. And every human being is our neighbor.

Our neighbor's needs

Our neighbor has the same desires and needs that we have. Do we get hungry? So does our neighbor.

How many people do you know who cannot provide essential food for their families? The distress may be caused by unemployment, sickness or some other problem.

If we have food, we must learn to share with those in need. This is loving our neighbor. The same applies to other basic needs such as shelter and clothing. We must learn to share the blessings God gives us. What are other ways in which we can manifest true Christian love toward our neighbor?

Are you ever aware of someone in pain or agony? Do you know someone who is suffering from a sickness or disease? Do you know anyone who has suffered an injury in an accident? Their physical needs may already be taken care of. But what about their spiritual needs? God expects us to care, to give comfort and solace.

When we comfort others we express God's love.

We all need the love of others expressed to us, and we must express that same love toward others. When our neighbor is honored by being appointed to some office or rewarded for some accomplishment, we are to be honored as well (I Cor. 12:26).

What a contrast to the comment by the executive referred to earlier, who stated that his neighbors are competitors who want him to fail. Trials and tests are common in all our lives. We have trials, and so does our neighbor. While Christ was undergoing the trial of His life, He was praying for Peter, a key disciple whom Satan wanted to destroy. And yet Christ Himself was about to be sacrificed. What a selfless love!

Christ instructed Peter, "When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren" (Luke 22:31-32). This is the type of love we must manifest toward our neighbor. The same as loving God God actually puts Himself in the place of our neighbor. Whatever we do to our neighbor, we are actually doing to God (Matt. 25:31-46).

Do we always consider, as we deal with another human being, that we are doing to God whatever we do to that person? This knowledge should have powerful impact when we consider our relationship with our neighbor! In addition, God says: "If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also" (I John 4:20-21).

Our neighbors — each and everyone of them — are made in God's likeness and are to become God (Ps. 82:6).

Do we begin to see the importance God places on relationships between human beings made in His likeness? Every human being is a potential member of the God Family, and we must not do anything to deter our neighbor from fulfilling God's purpose in his life. This must be the underlying premise upon which we base our every thought and deed toward our neighbor. Christ taught, "And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise" (Luke 6:31).

The apostle John wrote, "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren" (I John 3:14). If we can do this, we are perceiving our neighbor from God's point of view. This, then, is loving our neighbor as ourself. (LaRavia EE. 'Love Thy Neighbor' - Just What Does That Mean? Good News, July 1982)

The Apostle Paul wrote:

4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

4 Love is patient, love is kind, love is not envious, it is not boastful, it is not puffed up. 5 It does not act unbecomingly, it does not seek the things of its own, it is not easily provoked, it keeps no account of wrongs. 6 It does not delight at unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth. 7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails ...

13 But now these three things abide: faith, hope, love; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a, 13, Berean Literal Bible)

The Apostle John wrote:

7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

12 No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.

17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. 19 We love Him because He first loved us.

20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? 21 And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also. (1 John 4:7-21)

The importance of love is confirmed by many in the New Testament. Notice the following statement from the Apostle Paul:

13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)

Love is the greatest attribute.

Love Between Men and Women

The Apostle Paul discussed love and gave some other spiritual lessons related to the marital state:

4 … admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children (Titus 2:4).

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.

28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. 30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 31 "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." (Ephesians 5:22-31)

Continuing, we see that he ties this is with the Church:

32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. (Ephesians 5:32).

This points to the fact that the relationship between Jesus and the Church is also based on love.

Notice also:

39 And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, 40 God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us. (Hebrews 11:39-40)

16 The Spirit itself bears witness conjointly with our own spirit, testifying that we are the children of God. 17 Now if we are children, we are also heirs—truly, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if indeed we suffer together with Him, so that we may also be glorified together with Him. (Romans 8:16-17, AFV)

Both men and women had faith and were heirs to the promises—equally. And both men and women are to be made perfect. And this will be better for us.

For what purpose?

To give love in a unique way throughout all eternity. As the Apostle Paul wrote to Christians (and not just married couples):

12 And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all ... (1 Thessalonians 3:12)

Whether male or female, humans are intended to give love. Increasing love to all will make eternity better.

And loves needs to be within the church.

True Christianity is Based on Love

David wrote the following in Psalm 119:

47 And I will delight myself in Your commandments, Which I love. 48 My hands also I will lift up to Your commandments, Which I love, And I will meditate on Your statutes.

97 Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. 98 You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies; For they are ever with me. 99 I have more understanding than all my teachers, For Your testimonies are my meditation. 100 I understand more than the ancients, Because I keep Your precepts. 101

I have restrained my feet from every evil way, 113 I hate the double-minded, But I love Your law. 126 It is time for You to act, O Lord, For they have regarded Your law as void. 127 Therefore I love Your commandments More than gold, yes, than fine gold!

159 Consider how I love Your precepts; Revive me, O Lord, according to Your lovingkindness.

163 I hate and abhor lying, But I love Your law. 164 Seven times a day I praise You, Because of Your righteous judgments. 165 Great peace have those who love Your law, And nothing causes them to stumble. 166 Lord, I hope for Your salvation, And I do Your commandments. 167 My soul keeps Your testimonies, And I love them exceedingly.

You should love God's commandments as well.

Notice something written by the Apostle John:

1 Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. (1 John 5:1-4)

The following is from a disciple of John, Polycarp of Smyrna's Letter to the Philippians:

I have greatly rejoiced with you in our Lord Jesus Christ, because you have followed the example of true love [as displayed by God] ...

He who raised Him up from the dead will raise up us also, if we do His will, and walk in His commandments, and love what He loved, keeping ourselves from all unrighteousness ...

if you carefully study, you will find to be the means of building you up in that faith which has been given you, and which, being followed by hope, and preceded by love towards God, and Christ, and our neighbour ...

let us teach, first of all, ourselves to walk in the commandments of the Lord. Next, [teach] your wives [to walk] in the faith given to them, and in love and purity tenderly loving their own husbands in all truth, and loving all [others] equally in all chastity ... (Letter to the Philippians)

The following is from Herbert Armstrong’s book The Mystery of the Ages:

True religion–God’s truth empowered with the love of God imparted by the Holy Spirit…JOY UNSPEAKABLE of knowing God and Jesus Christ–of knowing TRUTH–and the warmth of God’s divine LOVE! ...

“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” ... And what was Jesus’ appearance? It was that of a human man, for he also was the Son of man ...

Most important of all however is what is God’s nature–his CHARACTER–like? One cannot know what God is unless he know what his CHARACTER is!

THE CHARACTER of both God the Father and Christ the Son is that of spiritual holiness, righteousness and absolute perfection.

That character might be summed up in the one word LOVE, defined as an outflowing, loving concern. It is the way of giving, serving, helping, sharing, not the “GET” way.

It is the way devoid of coveting, lust and greed, vanity and selfishness, competition, strife, violence and destruction, envy and jealousy, resentment and bitterness ...

God’s law is spiritual and can be summed up in one simple but all-inclusive word–love. His law for the guidance of human conduct is subdivided into the two great commandments, love toward God and love toward neighbor. These, in turn, are subdivided into the 10 Commandments. Jesus magnified this law by showing how its principle expands to cover virtually every possible human infraction ...

Bear in mind the government of God is based on the LAW of God, which is the way of life of outflowing LOVE, cooperation, concern for the good of the governed ...

Full comprehension of God’s LAW (his way of life) is imparted by God through the Holy Spirit. But the law of God requires action and performance, and LOVE is the fulfilling of God’s law (Rom. 13:10), and it can be fulfilled only by the love of and from God (Rom. 5:5) ...

In the plagues God caused against Egypt, God was turning the Egyptian gods and objects of worship against them to show them that these were not gods. Even the plagues were sent in LOVE for the Egyptians ...

A Christian must grow and develop in grace, spiritual knowledge and godly character… showing more love or outgoing concern toward others ...

The very basic teaching, belief AND DOCTRINE OF God’s true Church therefore is based on the righteousness of and obedience to the law of God. That law is LOVE. But it is not human love. Human love cannot rise above the level of human self-centeredness. It must be “the love of God ... shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy [Spirit]” (Rom. 5:5). Ancient Israel could not really obey God’s law–they could have kept it according to the strict letter of the law. But since love is the fulfilling of the law and they had only human self-centered love, they could not have kept the law according to the spirit–because the Holy Spirit had not yet been given.

This basic teaching includes, therefore, all the “fruits of the Holy Spirit”–love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, etc.

The teachings of God’s true Church are simply those of “living by every word” of the Holy Bible…

Men shall turn from the way of “get” to the way of “give”–God’s way of love.

A NEW CIVILIZATION shall now grip the earth!

Proclaiming that new civilization is to come and be based upon love is a major part of what the true gospel of the kingdom is all about.

Getting back to the Apostle John, he also wrote:

4 He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. 6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. (1 John 2:4-6)

18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. 19 And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. (1 John 3:18-19)

We walk in love by doing things that demonstrate love.

The Apostle Paul referred to part of it in one place as “gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24).

The Apostle Paul also wrote:

1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)

Many think that they have knowledge, faith, etc. and think that they are fine. But most Christians in the end times do not have Philadelphian love. They do not have the work that God expects them to have.

Jesus warned that the Laodiceans thought they needed nothing, but He said that they needed to change (Revelation 3:14-22). Paul says love, however does not puff up (1 Corinthians 13:4).

The Apostle Paul wrote:

10 For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. 11 For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies. 12 Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread. 13 But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good. (2 Thessalonians 3:10-14)

Many Laodiceans think they do not have to be all that concerned about what, if any, work to support. Many are weary and, for example, see no need to provide support to many Africans.

They seem to not think that the following is applicable:

14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. 15 Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

16 By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? (1 John 3:14-17)

Let me add that the CCOG spends a higher percentage of its income on helping the poor brethren than any other COG that is in the top ten or twenty xWCG groups.

Helping poor brethren is not a priority for most of the Laodiceans or their churches. Paul wrote:

5 Now may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the patience of Christ. (2 Thessalonians 3:5)

That being said, many Laodiceans say that they have endured enough, hence do not wish to risk making the type of changes that those with Philadelphian love would make.

Love is never fails and is more important than what many in the last days are focused on.

8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.

11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:8-13)

To learn about your own role, please check out the article What is the Meaning of Life?

Why Is There a Philadelphian Remnant?

Jesus warned:

12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:12-14)

Yes, love has waxed cold among many in this century.

The Laodicean Church is the last one mentioned in the book of Revelation (Revelation 3:14-22). As the last, it is the one that will be the most dominant at the time of the end.

The late evangelist Raymond McNair wrote the following for the old Radio Church of God:

Why did Jesus Christ forewarn that during our time, many — even in His Church — will become calloused, hard, unsympathetic? Will you be one who will let your love grow cold? How can you make certain this doesn't happen to you?

IN THE Olivet Prophecy, Jesus foretold the world-shaking events leading up to His Second Coming. He showed that worldwide hate would lead to wars (climaxing in World Wars), famines, pestilences, and widespread earthquakes! Then Christ sounded a fearful warning! "All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to he afflicted, and shall kill you [referring to the terrible end-time persecutions, culminating in the Great Tribulation!]; and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. And then shall many be offended and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.... And because iniquity shall abound, THE LOVE OF MANY SHALL WAX COLD" (Mat. 24:8-12)!

Have YOU taken this warning from your very Saviour personally? Have you made an inventory of your life lately to be sure you are not guilty of this charge? Christ also solemnly promised the overcomers: "He that shall ENDURE unto the end, the same shall be saved" (verse 13).

Speaking of His Second Coming, Jesus gave another solemn warning in this Olivet Prophecy: "But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My Lord delayeth his coming: And shall begin to smite his fellowservants and to eat and drink with the drunken; The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, and shall cut him asunder..." (Mat. 24:48-51)!

Is it possible for a "servant" of God to get careless and begin smiting his own fellowservants?

Whether or not this means that such an "evil servant" would literally smite his fellowservants, or whether it refers to him smiting his fellowrervants with his tongue — one of the cruelest kinds of injury — this warning is, nonetheless, very explicit in pointing out the lack of true, deep love which some will exhibit toward their brethren!

Don't Lose Your First Love!

The Church at Ephesus (typifying the Apostolic Church era) made the sad mistake of letting its first spiritual glow grow faint. And this happened to the very people who heard the inspired messages from the lips of Christ's chosen Apostles! Christ rebuked the Church of Ephesus for only one sin — "because thou hast left thy first love!"

It grieved our Saviour very much to see those early New Testament Christians let their spiritual love — for God, for the brethren and for God's Work — diminish! He wanted to see them keep up their first love — and increase it! The same applies to us today! What did Christ point out as the solution to this serious problem? "Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else, I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent" (Rev. 2:5).

This divine counsel points out the real answer to the problem of all those who have left their first love!

Do you remember the love, zeal and warmth toward God, His people and His Work, which you had at the time of your conversion? Repent! Get back to the beginning. Confess your wretched condition to God!

Ask Him to mercifully forgive you for letting yourself get into this hardened condition; then pray for divine strength and guidance so that you may become an overcomer — and eventually inherit a place of rulership in the soon-coming, glorious Kingdom of God!

Universal Lack of Natural Affection

What are some of the reasons why people become hardened in a cold, unmerciful attitude — totally lacking in compassion? Today's widespread lack of "natural affection" is a worldwide, cancerous-like spiritual affliction {abortion, LGBTQ, etc.}!

And the seeds of this lack of love and compassion often take root early in our lives! Truly, we are living in the perilous times — the latter days — foretold by the apostle Paul: "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves... without NATURAL AFFECTION... fierce" (II Tim. 3:1-3).

This prophecy clearly reveals that in our time men would be self-lovers. But they would be woefully lacking in the natural affection which a normal person should possess toward his fellowman. They would have extreme hostility (fierceness — verse 3) toward their neighbours, instead of loving their neighbours as themselves. Paul also showed that this world's leaders, both religious and secular, do not like to retain God in their knowledge (Rom. 1:28)!

This is certainly true of most of today's churches, colleges and other man-made institutions of learning! Man's religious organizations and his secular institutions of higher learning are primarily responsible for producing this blighted, bumper crop of hardened minds! Since this world's leaders don't wish to retain God in their knowledge, God has given them over to "a reprobate mind" (verse 28).

Such minds are destitute of the real truth — "Being filled with all unrighteousness... maliciousness... murder... malignity... despiteful... without NATURAL AFFECTION, implacable, unmerciful..." (Rom. 1:29, 31).

Such hate-filled minds often display open hostility not only toward their fellowmen, but also toward their very Creator (Rom. 8:7)! There are other important reasons for this universal lack of "natural affection."

Stop! — look carefully around you for the real answer.

The seeds of ruthlessness are planted early in life! In today's topsy-turvy world, little tots are brought up playing with "killer toys." They figuratively "mow down" their own brothers, sisters, playmates. In the typical home, these same children are often subjected to constant family bickerings between various members of the family — between husband and wife, parents and children — between members of the family and the outside community. Then, in addition, today's children are often not shown the right type, or the right amount, of real love and affection by their parents and other members of the family.

Such children, reared in this dog-eat-dog society of ours, soon conclude that, if they are to survive, they will have to look out for number one — and let the devil take the hind-most!

But this isn't all! Modern children from infancy on up, are subjected to a continual, insidious barrage of horror and violence via TV, the cinema and other forms of mass entertainment.

Such little children (potential sons of God!) are also the victims of their nation's propaganda — which conditions their little pliable minds to hate the supposed enemies of their country — the Germans, Japanese, Russians, Chinese, Jews, Arabs.

Worldwide Hate and Violence

Remember, Jesus Christ foretold that these days immediately preceding His return to this earth in supernatural splendour would parallel the days of Noah. And in Noah's time, "the earth was filled with VIOLENCE" (Gen. 6:11).

But never before in mankind's 6,000-year history has he been subjected to such unprecedented hate and violence: hot and cold wars, race riots, family brawls, rapes, muggings and other types of bodily assaults — not to mention the vicarious "enjoyment" of ready-made violence through our entertainment media.

In this heartless world, human beings often have more concern for their pets than they have for their fellow human beings. When the Russians first shot a dog into space, countless Britons loudly voiced their protests! But when a man was later sent up into space, there was hardly a murmur!

... When will human beings come to their senses?

The 40 million human beings (including over 6,000,000 Jews) killed during the terrible carnage of World War II offer mute testimony of this world's cold, cruel, heartlessness! You and I, members of God's Church, grew up in this harsh, competitive world.

Whether we realize it or not, we have imbibed all too freely of this world's ideas and attitudes. Without realizing it, we have become tainted with this worldwide lack of natural compassion! But, are we doomed to remain shackled with this world's dog-eat-dog attitude of mind?

Certainly not!

God has solemnly promised: "For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the [death penalty of the] law, but under grace [pardon]" (Rom. 6:14).

Our Creator has bound Himself to provide a means of deliverance from every temptation we will ever face: "God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it" (I Cor. 10:13).

How to Overcome this Hardness

There are three vital steps we must take if we want to overcome a hardhearted attitude. First, we need to recognize the fact that many in Gods Church ARE sadly lacking in natural affection! This is the first step in overcoming this spiritual disease.

Next, we must admit our lack, confess it to God, and ask our loving Creator to help us overcome this universal lack of compassion for others. Then, we must do our part to overcome this character weakness — by drinking in of the mind and character of God through prayer and diligent Bible study.

We can learn how to overcome this lack of natural affection by carefully studying God's Word to see how the great men of the Bible (Christ, David, Joseph) thought and acted — how they exhibited great love and compassion toward others. And we can see how these men of God showed real godly affection. By diligently studying, and carefully following, their examples, we can and will overcome this universal spiritual affliction — this gaping lack of natural compassion!

Christ's Infinite Compassion

Christ's earthly life was a perfect, shining example — revealing His deep love, mercy and compassion for all men. He continually taught men to have a forgiving, merciful attitude toward their fellowmen. "Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy" (Mat. 5:7).

God hates cruelty (Prov. 11:17; 12:10)!

God disinherited two of Jacob's sons (Gen. 49:5-7) because of their cruelty in slaying all the men of a certain town — when only one man was guilty (Gen. 34:25). Jesus further admonished us: "For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses" (Mat. 6:14, 15).

The person who is unmerciful toward others will be judged harshly by God! "For he [the unmerciful person] shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy" (James 2:13). Christ not only taught mercy and compassion; He also practised it! And His ultimate, supreme sacrifice upon the cross was the final capstone — proving His boundless love and compassion for all humanity!

Notice carefully the following examples of the deep compassion which Jesus Christ felt for ordinary, erring people. On one occasion, Jesus noticed the milling throng, and was deeply touched at the thought of their spiritual wretchedness. "But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd" (Mat. 9:36).

Christ then told His disciples that they should pray that God would send more labourers into the harvest (verses 37, 38).

On another occasion, "Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and He healed their sick" (Mat. 14:14).

Christ performed His miracle of multiplying the loaves and fishes — because of His deep feeling for the people: "I have compassion on the multitude," said Jesus (Mat. 15:32).

Two blind men, sitting by the roadside near Jericho, cried out to Jesus: "Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou son of David" (Mat. 20:30). ...

"So Jesus had compassion on them, and touched their eyes: and immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed Him" (verse 34).

On still another occasion Christ was deeply moved by the sorrow of a widow who had lost her only son: "And when the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not..." (Luke 7:13). Jesus then raised her dead son to life — out of sheer pity for this desolate widow!

One of the most moving examples of Christ's deeply felt emotion was shown through His profound concern over the awful calamity about to befall the inhabitants of Jerusalem — the very ones who would later cry out for His blood! Jesus stood upon the Mount of Olives, surveying the rather peaceful-looking city of Jerusalem, lying below: "And when He was come near, He beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace.... For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies [the Romans] shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children with thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another..." (Luke 19:41-44).

And His prophecy was fulfilled with dreadful accuracy, as recorded by Josephus. The Romans razed Jerusalem, butchered and slaughtered many thousands of Jews inhabiting the city. The victors carried the rest of the Jews to the far-flung corners of the Roman Empire — as bond slaves!

And then, after Christ had spent three and one-half years "going about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil," He obediently, willingly gave Himself in the supreme sacrifice on the stake at Golgotha. Jesus, even in His agonizing death throes, was so filled with love, mercy and compassion that He was able to summon up enough pity to exclaim: "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34)!

Those were the words of the most noble, self-sacrificing and compassionate man ever born of woman! What an example for us to follow! Christ certainly never let His love for people "wax cold"!

Joseph's Natural Affection

Another shining example of one who possessed great "natural affection" — was Jacob's son, Joseph. His brethren, because of envy, sold him into slavery. Later, after he had become the Prime Minister over all of Egypt,

Joseph revealed his love and compassion for his guilt-ridden brethren. For some time Joseph purposely concealed his true identity from his brethren; nevertheless, he supplied them and their families with plenty of food to nourish them. Finally, however, Joseph could contain himself no longer. In one mighty burst of love and compassion, he revealed to his startled brethren that he was in fact their long-lost brother, Joseph, whom they had sold into slavery many years previously!

"Then Joseph could not refrain himself before all them that stood by him; and he cried, Cause every man to go out from me... and he wept aloud: and the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard. And Joseph said unto his brethren, I am Joseph" (Gen. 45:1-3). Joseph, revealing great mercy, asked them not to be grieved because of their past sin against him in this matter: "And he fell upon his brother Benjamin's neck, and wept; and Benjamin wept upon his neck. Moreover he kissed all his brethren, and wept upon them" (verses 14, 15). Any lack of "natural affection" here?

Any false modesty against a man shedding tears here?

Certainly not!

The Bible does not teach that a real "he-man" should never show his emotions! Merciful David David, of all men mentioned in the Bible, was spoken of as being a man after God's own heart (I Sam. 13:14). Does God have human-like emotions? Yes, the Scriptures reveal God has emotions — love, hate, sorrow — very similar to those possessed by a balanced, emotionally well-adjusted person. David was a robust, whole-hearted, likeable person. He made a number of serious mistakes; but when these sins were pointed out to him, he bitterly repented. (See II Sam. 12:13 and Psalm 51.) He learned the real meaning of mercy!

David cried out to God: "Have mercy upon me, O God... blot out my transgressions. Wash me throughly... cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions... Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil... Purge me with hyssop... wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow... Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me" (Ps. 51:1-10).

Yes, David really repented of his adultery, and subsequent murder! Just what kind of a man was David? He was a man of considerable emotion, and he possessed a lot of natural affection. On many occasions during his life, David showed his loyalty to God and to King Saul, by repeatedly refusing to take Saul's life! But Saul's envy and cruelty drove him to seek David's destruction!

David's depth of natural affection — his great compassion — was perhaps best revealed in his behaviour at the death of his rebellious son, Absalom. Absalom committed insurrection against his father. By flattery and deceit he "stole the hearts of the men of Israel" away from loyalty to his father, David (II Sam. 15:1-6). Absalom's high treason finally culminated in his proclaiming himself king instead of his father, David. David and his loyal servants had to flee to keep from being slain. In spite of Absalom's treachery, David loved this son so much that he sternly charged his soldiers not to harm him. This command, however, was not obeyed. Joab "took three darts in his hand, and thrust them through the heart of Absalom, while he was yet alive in the midst of the oak" (II Sam. 18:14).

When David was informed that Absalom had been slain — what was his reaction? "And the king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept: and as he went, thus he said, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!" (II Sam. 18:33.) David's grief was so bitter that he "covered his face, and the king cried with a loud voice, O my son Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son!" (II Sam. 19:4.) Yes, David was a man who had a tremendous capacity for compassion.

Many of the Psalms David wrote are filled with deep emotion. They reveal the mind of a merciful, compassionate person! David could never praise God enough for the limitless mercy and compassion which God had personally granted him. "The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.... Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.... But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear Him... to those that remember His commandments to do them" (Ps. 103:8-18).

Learn to Be Compassionate!

Can you, brethren, now see the importance of learning to express more compassion — especially in this age when there is so little natural affection in the world? If we don't naturally have sympathy and compassion for people, then God will give it to us — if we ask Him for it in faith! "And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, BELIEVING, ye shall receive," said Jesus Christ (Mat. 21:22).

We must learn to be SOFT-HEARTED. But this does not mean we should be SOFT-HEADED!

Two of Christ's disciples, James and John, seem to have been rather uncompassionate, hard-boiled men by nature. Christ "surnamed them BOANERGES, which is, The sons of thunder" (Mark 3:17). Their hell-fire-and-damnation approach to life is revealed in an incident as recorded in Luke 9:51-56. On this occasion, the Gentile Samaritans would not receive Christ and His disciples. This angered James and John, the Sons of Thunder! "And when... James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and CONSUME them, even as Elias did?" (Luke 9:54.)

They were ready to teach these Samaritans a lesson or two! "But He turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of Spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them" (verses 55, 56).

A careful study of the epistles of the apostle John will lead you to the conclusion that he later became filled with much more love and compassion — after he was filled with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. His epistles reveal a great deal of love. So, we see that it is possible for God's Spirit to give His children added love and compassion.

"Bowels of Mercies"

In this competitive, cut-throat, dog-eat-dog world in which we live, there is very little compassion, mercy or even natural affection. But, even though we may not have been born with a lot of natural affection, we can receive God's supernatural love, mercy and compassion — after we repent, are baptized and receive His precious Holy Spirit. This is the vital "power from on high" (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8) which changed a cowardly, cringing Peter into a man of boldness (Mat. 26:69-75; Acts 2:14-40).

Some members of the very Body of Christ let themselves get upset because of something which one of their brethren says or does (or supposedly says or does)! Instead of ignoring, overlooking and forgiving the insult (or the supposed wrong) such people develop a hard, unmerciful attitude. They let some disappointment, some grievance (or imagined grievance) disturb them so much that they finally let a "root of bitterness" spring up in their heart — thereby becoming defiled; and they sometimes contaminate others with their hard-hearted, bitter attitude!

We are commanded: "Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any ROOT OF BITTERNESS springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled" (Heb. 12:15).

Yes, brethren, we need to be very careful not to let hate fill our hearts. Don't ever let your love and compassion grow cold! We must learn to follow Christ's example: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!" For this reason we are commanded: "Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, BOWELS OF MERCIES, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on CHARITY, which is the BOND OF PERFECTNESS" (Col. 3:12-14). {Note: The NKJV refers to these as "tender mercies," not bowels of.}

We are further admonished by James, the brother of Jesus Christ, to be very careful to show pity and compassion: "If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what cloth it profit?" (James 2:15, 16.)

James shows that faith without works is dead! And the apostle John was inspired to add: "But whoso bath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his BOWELS OF COMPASSION from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?" (I John 3:17, 18.)

We All Need God's Mercy!

How do you react to the suffering of others? Have you become so calloused or hardened toward suffering that you no longer feel any real sympathy (or empathy) toward those who suffer deprivation or physical pain? We must all beware lest we become so hardened in sin that we let our love grow cold — lose our first glow of love, warmth and spiritual zeal! I am sometimes appalled to see the hard, critical attitude of some members of God's Church — toward their own brethren, or even toward people in the world.

We should never say or think: "It served him right!" "He had it coming!" We are commanded not to even so much as rejoice when our enemy stumbles or falls (Prov. 24:17).

One of the best ways to learn compassion is to develop the habit of putting yourself in the place of the other person who may be suffering deprivation, embarrassment, shame, physical pain. Don't judge too quickly, and don't ever condemn! You can't always know the motives behind a person's actions. We are commanded: "Speak not evil of one another, brethren" (James 4:11).

How can we make sure that our love doesn't grow cold? How can we learn to have more compassion and natural affection for people? Here's how:
(1) Realize that we are lacking in affection.
(2) Confess our lack to God, and ask Him for His love, mercy and compassion (imparted by His precious Holy Spirit) to help us overcome our lack.
(3) Diligently search the Scriptures so we can note and follow the examples of the holy men of God — men who did have a lot of natural affection — men who did show a lot of compassion toward their fellowmen.

We can Overcome!

Through God's help we can overcome any lack of natural affection! With His help, we can learn to have more compassion for people! We can really overcome our character weaknesses! And if we keep close to God in study, prayer and fasting, we will overcome! Brethren you have seen Christ's warning — that "the love of many shall wax cold!" You now know what God requires of you.

It is up to you, with the help of God, to overcome any lack of natural affection — any lack of compassion — which you have developed through the years! Your love will not grow cold — if you willingly let God's Spirit mould within you God's very character — His love and compassion! (McNair R. Will Your Love Wax Cold? Good News, April 1967)

In the time of the end, most real Christians will have their love grow/wax cold.

Laodiceans do not have enough love for others, but much too much on themselves.

The word "Laodicea" can be rendered "the people rule," "judgment of the people," or the "people decide." Laodicea is characterized by a rejection of the governance accepted by the Philadelphians--the acceptance of church leaders in accordance with scripture (1 Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 4:11-16), and by a general lukewarm attitude. Thus governance can be seen as a key distinction between Philadelphia and Laodicea. Laodicea places emphasis on self (of the individuals or the leaders as opposed to proclaiming the whole truth including the Gospel), thus it also waters down the Truth-and so is "rebuked and chastened" and counseled "to buy from Me gold refined in the fire" (Revelation 3:18-19).

Because Laodicea is dominant at the end of the age, Philadelphia cannot be predominant in numbers then. However, a portion of Philadelphia must still exist.

We know this because Jesus told the Philadelphians: "Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. Behold, I am coming quickly!" (Revelation 3:10-11). The Philadelphians, those of the Philadelphia remnant of the Church of God, are the only ones promised protection! The Philadelphians are "given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent" (Revelation 12:14).

Now what does love have to do with the Philadelphia remnant? Notice the following passage:

1 Let brotherly love continue. (Hebrews 13:1)

The Greek word translated as “brotherly love” is the word Philadelphia. The writer of the Book of Hebrews may have been inspired by God to convey two concepts:

  1. That brotherly love needs to continue amongst those who believe that they are Christian.
  2. And perhaps that Philadelphia itself needs to continue, and it can do so, because of its emphasis on love.

It is important for all to realize that despite flaws of Christians, including those of us of the Philadelphia remnant, that love is what God’s way of life and His kingdom are really all about. And that spreading that message of love and all of God’s ways is what the Continuing Church of God wants to be about.

This message was subject the first Sabbath service of the Continuing Church of God.  It was also the first message that I gave in Kenya when I visited there in 2014.

Strong's Exhaustive Concordance shows that Philadelphia means "love of brethren" or "fond of brethren."

When Jesus used the term phileo with Simon Peter (translated as "love"), what was Peter to do to show this type of love? He was to do the work.

17 He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?" Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, "Do you love Me?" And he said to Him, "Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You." Jesus said to him, "Feed My sheep" (John 21:17).

A trait of Philadelphians is that they love the brethren and will sacrifice to do so. While some may argue that this only means taking care of those already in the Church, this is inconsistent with Matthew 28:18-19 as well as Jesus' words in John 10:16: "And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd."

Philadelphians love others, not just themselves. As Herbert W. Armstrong wrote:

This era of the Church was to produce fruit (Mystery of the Ages, p. 290).

True religion--God's truth empowered with the love of God imparted by the Holy Spirit...JOY UNSPEAKABLE of knowing God and Jesus Christ--of knowing TRUTH--and the warmth of God's divine LOVE! (Mystery of the Ages)

As Jesus taught: "For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it" (Mark 8:35). Philadelphians will give their all to proclaim the Gospel.

Philadelphians have "a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name" (Revelation 3:8). They are not part of an especially strong church (or a large church by the world's standards). They have kept God's word without watering it down. They have not denied Christ's authority (which is essentially how Strong's defines the word translated as "name").

The Philadelphians accept that "Christ is head of the church" (Ephesians 5:23), and accept authority within the Church:

11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head — Christ (Ephesians 4:11-15).

Philadelphians are organized and they need to keep preaching to the world until the end comes, since they will be around until the end comes. Philadelphians have the love of God and their neighbors to do the proclamation work.

They will also assist in the preparation for the short work God will accomplish (Romans 9:28; see also Preparing for the 'Short Work' and The Famine of the Word).

Your Part

The old Worldwide Church of God published the following:

Your part

Outgoing love requires work along with willpower and determination. It is an uphill pull because human nature is not naturally outgoing. Human nature, as influenced by Satan the devil, the "prince of the power of the air" (Ephesians 2:2), is selfish.

To be outgoing in love cuts against the grain of what we have been absorbing through Satan's influence all our lives.

Wisdom to try — wisdom to correctly guide your efforts, wisdom to keep trying in spite of all adversity, wisdom to discern God's will — is an absolute necessity in learning to exercise true love.

"If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting" (James 1:5-6).

In faith, you must stand unwaveringly on your trust and conviction. In hope, you guide your action expecting to receive the desire you have set your heart on. This hope adds the spiritual motivation to go forward. In love, you must act with unselfishness, with initiative and genuine concern for everyone.

These three important ingredients are added to your gift of wisdom through effort on your part. They are all important, but the most important, and the one that takes most effort, is love (I Corinthians 13:13).

Love and godly character

This is what life is all about.

This is how you have your part in your own salvation. This process of creating godly character in us is God's plan of creating children.

It is His doing, but we also have our part.

Besides our willpower and determination, it takes our resourcefulness, perseverance and drive {and His Spirit}.

It requires breaking old habits — habits of thinking and acting selfishly. It then requires building new habits — habits of thinking and acting in outgoing love. The old habits are deeply ingrained, just as the new habits must become deeply ingrained if they are to become part of us. To build a habit you must do a thing over and over until it becomes automatic behavior. It has been said that we are what we habitually are, and you become godlike when you become habitually and consistently godlike.

God is love and He acts habitually and consistently in outgoing love. That is what we are learning to do through His Holy Spirit.

The basic laws of God are given for the purpose of developing godly love and goodwill.

They are laws of love (I John 4:8).

The meaning I Corinthians 13 makes it clear what true love is. The word translated "charity" in the Authorized Version does not mean "giving to the poor." Verse 3 clearly demonstrates that — read it yourself. The Greek word translated "charity" is agape, not phileo, which is more commonly used to denote emotional love.

Agape and phileo have similar meanings, but phileo "comes chiefly from the heart," explains Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, while agape "comes from the head."

It means to think and act toward others with genuine concern and tenderness. It means having goodwill — feeling it deeply but intelligently.

While either word can be translated "love," the Authorized Version translators used "charity" to distinguish this intelligent, heartfelt concern (outgoing love or goodwill {agape}) from the kind of emotion that the word love conveys to the average person.

What true love is like Verse 4 shows that this agape, this intelligent outgoing love or goodwill, is always patient with others, suffering long with any grievance received from them. It is kind — unfailingly kind — as you will see by comparing verse 4 with verse 8. Love never compares itself with others (II Corinthians 10:12) so that it is never envious (jealous), never vaunts itself (boasts) to get self-acclaim. It is never puffed up (arrogant, self-important). Such puffed-up ego only shows that you have compared yourself with others and found them beneath you. Goodwill will never behave itself unseemly (unpleasantly, unbecomingly).

Philippians 4:8 also adds information on the pleasant things we should do instead: "Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things."

True love seeks not its own — is not self-centered, not carnal (I Corinthians 13:5). It is not easily provoked (aroused to anger). It thinks no evil — does not dwell on the ugly, wicked side of others' behavior, nor is resentful or bitter.

And it never rejoices in hearing or seeing iniquity. Instead, it rejoices in truth — in wholesomeness (verse 6). If a person belittles or insults you, real love never causes you to rail back, but it bears all things (forbears in all provocations). It never inflicts harm for harm, evil for evil or insult for insult. This agape believes the best in all matters.

It does not show unpleasantness and ill will by doubting or causing dissent, but hopes for the best in all things — is not negative. God's love endures all things. Trials, unpleasant episodes, differences of opinion, misunderstandings do not send it off in a corner to mope or to turn away in bitterness.

It does not lose friends over them. It does not give up. It never fails! When everything else has failed, true love — genuine goodwill and outgoing concern for others — will still be going strong.

Jesus Christ's example while on the cross is the one we should strive to follow. He said of all His scowling, bloodthirsty, hate-filled tormentors, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do" (Luke 23:34).

Can you still be a friend to those who hate you? Can you still have goodwill toward them? Can you still be concerned for their welfare? You must, you know! And, you must come to have it habitually and consistently.

How to have true love

If you want to live and act in love and goodwill, go to the Author of all that is good. Ask Him prayerfully to give you this attitude and show you the way. Expect Him to answer and to keep on giving it to you as long as you are trying to give up your old self-centeredness and striving to live God's way.

Then follow God's biblical instructions on how to behave toward others in love and goodwill. Live by the laws of love. Your selfish human nature has always had its way in the past and will continue to crop up, so you must continue to resist self-will while you step out on faith to do God's will — goodwill!

Like a baby's first steps, your first attempts may not be very skillful. You may stumble — you may even fall. But dust yourself off, ask forgiveness and try again and again, until you habitually come to have goodwill — God's will — toward all people.

Romans 13:8-9 says: "Owe no man anything, except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, 'You shall not commit adultery,' 'You shall not murder,' 'You shall not steal,' 'You shall not bear false witness,' 'You shall not covet,' and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'"

It takes work to be outgoing. You won't even think to do it without effort, and it won't be successful even then if you don't stay close to God. This also takes effort of will and energy. Yet, this love is absolutely required by God. It is a wonderful thing to have. No one will enter His Kingdom without it (Matthew 25:31-46).

Now is the time to marshal your energy to make certain you have God's great love. Develop it and radiate it all the rest of your life. The time is short. It is later than you think! (Elliot J. Are You Expressing True Love? Good News, June-July 1984

Love is good for you in this age and the age to come:

19 I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; 20 that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.” (Deuteronomy 30:19-20) 12 “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to keep the commandments of the Lord and His statutes which I command you today for your good? (Deuteronomy 10:12-13)

37 Jesus said to him, “'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40)

15 If you love Me, keep My commandments. (John 14:15)

9 “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love. (John 15:9-10)

28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)

9 But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9)

14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height — 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:14-19).

5 Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith, (1 Timothy 1:5)

9 But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner. 10 For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister. 11 And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, 12 that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. (Hebrews 6:9-12)

12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. (James 1:12)

8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well; 9 but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. 11 For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. (James 2:8-11)

It is the highly dedicated in the real Church of God that will finish the final phase of the work before (Matthew 24:14; see also the video Implications of Matthew 24:14) and during (Revelation 11:3-14) the Great Tribulation and Day of the Lord--and the final phase will also involve dealing with the ecumenical religion that will rise up (cf. Revelation 13:4,8; 14:9-13)--and this is what the Continuing Church of God is doing (see also The Final Phase of the Work).

Although various ones do not understand, the true Christianity and the true Philadelphia remnant is all about love. 

Love towards God, love towards one neighbor, and possessing a real love of the truth.

Here is a link to a related sermon: You Can Develop Love.

Thiel B. God's Plan: It's All About Love. COGwriter (c) 2021 0130 http://www.cogwriter.com/gods-plan-all-about-love.htm

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