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

AMID THE WELTER OF OUR SPIRITUAL THOUGHTS, WORDS, AND DEEDS, THE MAIN THING THAT SHOULD BE PRODUCED BY ALL OF THIS ACTIVITY MAY END UP BEING NEGLECTED. Paul wrote that the purpose (in other words, the “goal” or “end”) of the commandment is love. This is the object in view — it is the thing that is supposed to be produced by instruction in God’s word. If we profess to be those who seek God, we need to be aware that one of the truest tests of our seeking is the test of love. If we are missing love, then we’ve missed the “purpose of the commandment.”

The word “love,” of course, means many things to many people, and the kind of love that God desires is no ordinary love. According to Paul, it comes “from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith.” A “pure heart” is clean and wholly devoted to God, a “good conscience” is carefully protected and consistently obeyed, and a “sincere faith” is genuine and without pretense. When these qualities combine, they produce a love that is remarkable. It is certainly distinct from the emotional feeling that is called “love” in the world, but it is also different from the intellectual orthodoxy that is called “love” by many Christians. The love that distinguishes the people of Christ is nothing less than the love Christ had: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34,35).

When we think about it, the reason for love’s importance is obvious. If God is love, how could we possibly draw near Him without growing in love? But what if we’re seeking God and love is not increasing in our lives? We may not like to hear it, but one of two things must be true: either our “seeking” is not a serious seeking or our “God” is not the real God. If we truly seek and it is the true God whom we seek, then real love must result. John’s words are clear and to the point: “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:8). If we lose sight of this fact, then we’ve somehow gotten off the road that leads to God.

“With the knowledge of God comes love” (Catherine of Siena).

Gary Henry — WordPoints.com + AreYouaChristian.com

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