In the days ahead, how will you be described? Will your love grow cold? Will you be naked and ashamed?
Beloved, we will be judged according to how we live these days. Too often, we forget the prophecy spoken by the Lord himself.
Look closely at the Lord's reasoning here. Why will the love of many grow cold? Because of lawlessness...
For something to grow cold, it must first be hot. As lawlessness increases, the heat diminishes.
How can lawlessness decrease our love?
I believe there are two reasons.
1) We can allow the lawlessness of others to affect our own relationship with the Lord, or 2) we can grow in lawlessness ourselves and poison our own love.
Regardless of the reason, the responsibility for our own love is laid at our own feet. In the days ahead, offense will be public enemy number one. Harboring offense, either at another human being or against God himself, will be the reason for love to decrease.
The lawlessness of others...
Look at the consequence of lawlessness, love growing cold. We are commanded to love. The greatest two commandments deal exclusively with love, while the commandment from Christ himself is also to love even as he loves us.
What is the root cause for purposely not loving? Bitterness.
Consider this. When you do not act in love, there is always bitterness. Bitterness is always given justification via an excuse for some offense that is held.
Look at the progression. Holding on to an offense produces bitterness which provides an excuse for unforgiveness. Remember what Paul said to the Ephesians.
The lawlessness that the Lord himself prophesied will cause you to be offended. You must guard yourself against the result of such an offense through quick forgiveness, thereby cutting off bitterness, wrath, anger, wrangling, slander, and malice.
Paul gives us the weapon to fight against bitterness. It is forgiveness. In remembering how God forgave us through Christ, there is strength to forgive even during the hardest times.
The lawlessness of ourselves...
Secondly, we must guard our own souls against the lawlessness to come. The enemy will use every tactic to thwart our allegiance to the King of glory. In so doing, he will accuse our own Father of wrongdoing such that we may blame him for our circumstances if we are persuaded.
Beloved, we must remember that there is no darkness in him, and if we claim to have fellowship with him but walk in darkness, we lie. Remember, the nations will be judged by how they love.
Paul continues after his admonishment against the fruits of unforgiveness with an exhortation to live as Christ.
Remember, beloved, that we will be recognized as children of God by our fruit.
We can be a fragrant offering to the Lord if we love despite the offenses we receive.
Perseverance unto Salvation
How is one saved? By persevering in love.
This verse is directly contrasted with those whose love grows cold. By the Lord's own confession, salvation comes through perseverance in love through lawlessness. Conversely, if you are so offended by wickedness done to you that you cannot love in the midst of it, you have failed to persevere.
To use the Lord's own metaphor, the love of the one who perseveres will remain hot. The Lord uses the same analogy in his letter to Laodicea.
How might one be neither hot nor cold given the context of lawlessness and love? If a person does not show love to the lawless but is neither lawless themselves, then could they still be deemed as hot? The Lord desires that we forgive those who persecute us and even bless them; if we do not, how can we please him?
Clothed and Ready or Naked and Exposed
We know that the Lord is coming like a thief because if the owner of the house knew, he would not let his house be broken into. The Lord beckons us to remember what he said in Luke 12.
We can also remember the parable of the bridesmaids with lamps who are waiting for the bridegroom. Over and over again, the Lord instructs us to persevere through various metaphors and parables.
Those who persevere will not have their love grow cold. Likewise, those that persevere will be clothed and ready, not naked and exposed.
Consider now the clothing that is given to the bride.
The bride's clothing, your clothing, will represent all the righteous deeds done while in the body. How, then, are we to clothe ourselves?
By loving those who persecute and revile us because of his name. Only through this can our love remain hot and not cold. Only through love can we reap eternal rewards.
Can you be unoffendable? Can you love through the offenses you receive?
We must if we expect to recline with our master. Beloved, become a lover of those who offend you and forgive before bitterness rots you from within.
Maranatha. Come, Lord Jesus!
: Mark 12:28-31
: John 13:34
: James 1:19-21
: Psalm 24
: 1 John 1:5-6
: Matthew 25:35-45
: Ephesians 5:8-9
: Luke 6:43-45
: Luke 6:27-36
: Matthew 5:11-12
: Matthew 5:43-48
: Luke 12:39
: Matthew 25:1-13
: Matthew 5:11-12