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Weekly Word

Entries in Word of the Lord (1)


Our Present Life III

Today we will pick up at 1 Peter 1:22-25.  As review, Peter has encouraged them: to keep their Hope in Christ to the end, to pursue holiness, to live with a fear of the Lord, and now today, Peter encourages them to go deeper in their love for one another. 

Love One Another Fervently With A Pure Heart

Verse 22 has a lot to say, but the core of the verse is at the end.  Love one another fervently with a pure heart.  Let’s look first at the word fervently.  The root of this word has the idea of being stretched out, as in stretching out one’s hand to do something.  It can be translated as earnest.  In a sense Peter is asking them to go the extra mile in their love for one another and stretch themselves out.  By analogy, perhaps we can think of a football player who is trying the catch the ball.  Sometimes the quarterback throws it just a bit too far in front of us.  At that moment the receiver has a decision to make.  Do I stretch myself out and risk getting hit to catch that ball?  Or, do I play it safe and not try so hard?  Players who stretch out to make the catch don’t do it because they like getting creamed.  They do it because they are earnest in making that catch.  They are willing to expose themselves for the sake of making the catch.  How about you?  Do you stretch yourself out in love or do you play it safe and only meet out love in small, safe increments?

He also reminds them to love with a pure heart.  This is talking about our motives.  Do I have impure motives?  Sometimes our great successes at love were actually motivated by what we thought we would get in return.  “I’ll love you as long as it makes me feel good.  But as soon as it no longer brings me pleasure, I’m out of here.”  Or, perhaps we do loving things because of the social prestige that it gains us.  Maybe I am just conforming to expectations that I am afraid to try and break out of.  Whatever our motivation behind love, if it isn’t for the right motives then it is for naught.  In any group it is easy to give in to social pressure.  We are not to “act” like Christ.  We are to pick up our cross and follow him.  That takes some sincere and pure motivations.

Peter points out how they had been obeying the truth by sincerely loving each other.  So his main purpose is to call them to a higher level of love—a stretched out love.  If you are going to obey the truth and love then do so with all your heart and all your might.  Notice that he points out that they had been made pure by their obedience.  When we think of obedience and God’s word, a good picture to keep in mind is pruning.  God’s Word points out those dead areas of our life and pursuits of our heart that need to be cut off.  It also points out those areas that need to be cut off so that we can be more fruitful.  This “cleaning” of our hearts is what enables us to stretch ourselves out in love.

However, this cannot just be a surface obedience.  Peter mentions that they obeyed “through the Spirit.”  Their obedience was led, encouraged and corrected by the Holy Spirit.  They were responding to his inner promptings to the Word of God.

He then reminds them of their new birth.  This was mentioned back in verse 3.  This new birth was not a biological birth from the corruptible seed of man.  Biology is impotent to help us.  Even if we could perfect all DNA errors, we are passing away along with this world.  They were spiritually birthed by the incorruptible seed of God’s Word, or Truth.  The verse in Luke 18:11 points out this analogy.  “The seed is the Word of God.”  It cannot perish.  It will never pass away.  The information you start with affects the durability and outcome of what it creates.  No biology can create eternal life.  Only God’s Word can give us eternal life.

Lastly Peter ties this in with the Gospel.  The good news of who Jesus was, what he did, and what he is doing now, was the main Truth of God that they had received.  That Gospel is living in that it is active and powerful.  It is also living in that it is life-giving.  However the Gospel is also eternal.  It has been said that the gospel will never cease, although the need to spread it will.

Peter quotes from Isaiah 40:6-8.  In this verse they are reminded how the things of this world are passing away, but the Word of the Lord will remain forever.  Now Isaiah 40 is an amazing passage within an amazing book.  Scholars through the ages have pointed out that Isaiah is a mini-Bible.  It has 66 chapters like the 66 books of the Bible.  The first 39 chapters deal with Israel’s failures under the law and the judgment of God upon the nations.  However, chapter 40 begins a turning in the book where Isaiah points to the good news of God’s merciful salvation.  Just as they had received the gospel, so Peter quotes from this chapter in Isaiah that is pointing towards that very same gospel. 

It is worth it to look at Isaiah 40 for a brief moment.  It starts out with the cry to “comfort, yes, comfort My people!” says your God.”  Then in verse 10 he points out that the Lord will come with a strong hand and rule for him.  This hand will shepherd the flock of God and gather the lambs into his arms and carry them in his bosom.  This is clearly a picture of Jesus the messiah.  Then the chapter ends with the famous lines, “they that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength; they will mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”  The things of this world are passing away, but God’s Word is going to remain.  No matter what you are hoping in, if it is something other than God’s Word, then it is going to fail you.  Don’t let the failure of the things of this world, religious people included, take your hope off of what is true: God’s word.  We have to learn to wait upon the Lord in faith.

Here is some food for thought.  We need to ask ourselves, “What is hindering my love from being His love?”  Don’t just ask yourself if you love, but do I love like He did?  Lord, help us to remove those things that would keep us from loving like you.

Another thought is a quote that someone came up with.  A coach is someone who makes you do what you don’t want to do so that you can become what you want to become.  Perhaps those difficult things that are causing you to want to quit loving are just God’s way of stretching you.  Is God stretching you?  Have you only saw the reason why you shouldn’t have to love and not the reasons why it is imperative that you do?  May God fill us with a fervent love that comes from a pure motivation: to be like Jesus.

Our Present Life III audio