EVERYONE thinks he knows what real outgoing LOVE is — but few do. Even fewer realize the absolutely vital importance of having it.
EVERY human being is just naturally interested in his own things. He knows nothing else! He is interested in his own pleasures. His own happiness. His own profit. His own importance. Charm. Effectiveness. Success. Friends who mean a lot to him. He is concerned for others only when he is reminded that he should be, and then, it is because doing nice things makes him feel like a better person. A small sacrifice, a charitable act becomes a means of self exaltation. To do something nice for others makes him feel good, and makes others admire him. Yet, in his own mind he thinks he has "love." Truly man's heart is deceptive above all things and desperately wicked. (Jer. 17:9.)
A Loveless Generation
One of the saddest commentaries or our time is the lack of genuine love and concern for other members of the human race. Almost everyone suffers from the loneliness of being shut out from the thoughts and actions of others. Loneliness has come to be the number one problem in the American way of life. It has probably been the cause of more delinquency, destructive acts, 2nd desperate behavior than any other single factor. As Norman Roston wrote in the article "The Ones Who Wait," published recently in the Saturday Evening Post; "You can see them [the unloved] in the city or town, men or women, the young and the old, gathering in the late afternoons or evenings, strolling in the streets, or wandering through stores or the parks, or sitting on park benches, or heading for bars. They are in search of others, the unnamed, the yet-to-be-found, the hour-long or night-long companions. And the numberless unseen who merely wait alone in separate rooms, in small, desperate rooms, their hope behind, accepting defeat. These are the ones who have somehow missed the miracle. Passed by while others were chosen. "Perhaps the saddest of these are the aged and ill, betrayed by the world, forgotten by kin. The living turn cruelly and irrevocably away from the dying. And love, the root of life, withers. "'I don't know why they're keeping me alive,' said the man in the sun-filled ward of the hospital, his hands flat upon the sheets, his head turned toward the window where the sun danced. 'I'm not going anywhere if I get better. I've got a sister living in California, but she hasn't written for years, and I never hear from my daughters. No one visits me now except a nun sometimes, who is very nice, but I don't even know her name. It doesn't mean anything.' [Emphasis mine.) "... It is not merely a matter of age. The loveless exist wherever life may be. They are the obviously scarred or the seemingly well, the wounded with the scar hidden; they are married or single, in and out of careers, in and out of marital beds or motel adventures, all touched by that shadow of having been denied, forgotten, unblessed. "...The search for love is [also] the desperate anxiety of youth. Nothing is more frightening to them than the idea that they may remain among the loveless. And so they grope in an affluent, confused society, seeking those symbols that give them an outward proof of desirability. The guitar, the motorcycle, the beard, marijuana, the hip clothes, the sexual pose, and the new 'trip' — LSD..." This a pitiful, sad commentary on real life! Perhaps you feel that you are being left out of the affection and concern of others. But what are you doing for others? How about" you? Do you have any loved ones going hungry for a word of encouragement, a note or visit which says you care about them? Truly, outgoing love is in desperately short supply in this generation. If you and I are not careful, we will fall right into the trap that so many of the unconverted people are in. But if we will begin to exercise outgoing concern ourselves, our own loneliness will evaporate!
Real Help is Hard to Give
Today, even when one sincerely desires to help another, he is often faced with many problems. People who want help don't really want the Rind of help that will enable them to become more responsible or productive themselves. Instead, they want the results of your productivity. They want you to give them their desire,, with no strings attached. In other words, they want the blessings that come from industriousness without doing the work themselves. Welfare and charitable organizations have tried to fill the void of loneliness, but they have met with little success. Professional social workers, no matter how often they visit, cannot fill the void in the heart of the lonely. The aid they give "doesn't mean anything." It is given by persons paid to give it, from persons unknown. There is no individual tenderness, no personal compassion which spans the gap between the donor and recipient.
Love Absolutely Necessary
Even though this Godless generation makes goodwill difficult it is still necessary for human happiness. Life without personal warmth and goodwill is not real living. People need to see a smile and receive a cheery greeting that somehow conveys interest in their welfare, with a willingness to stop and help when necessary. Such love is a vital part of any happy society. And it will be a PROMINENT, PERSONAL, DAILY QUALITY in God's Kingdom. Those of us who are able to see that outgoing love is a part of God's way of life, and who have chosen to come out of this world and to learn and practice GOD'S WAY, MAY NOT EXCUSE OURSELVES from having and practicing outgoing love and concern for others. It is an ABSOLUTE REQUIREMENT for any who expect to enter His Kingdom. Those who have not demonstrated it in their daily lives will not enter at all! (Mat. 25:31-46.) To those who do not aid the stranger, the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the sick and the confined, Jesus Christ will say, "Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." TRUE LOVE is so important that Almighty God warns those without it that they are as worthless as a "noisy gong or a clanging cymbal" (I Cor. 13:1). A personality devoid of outgoing love is a sick personality! It is unpleasant, unwholesome and ineffective. On the other hand, an outgoing personality adds immeasurably to health, happiness and prosperity. It is a delight to everyone, and it will certainly make the lives of those around you much brighter and more worthwhile. The apostle Paul wrote: "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity [outgoing love, goodwill], I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 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, and have not charity [outgoing love, goodwill), I am nothing" (I Cor. 13:1-2). This knowledge comes only from the Bible; and understanding comes from God's Holy Spirit, and no man has it naturally. Without God's Holy Spirit the only genuine interest we have is SELF-interest. Unconverted people are interested in others only in relation to what others mean to them — what they get in return. Since this world's advisers are without God's Spirit, their writings or examples unwittingly advocate "putting it on" in order to receive. But, doing in order to receive is not goodwill! It is pursuing self-profit! All of us have heard about love and goodwill from people who don't really understand it. We have seen other's examples of what it is supposed to be, but we have seen and received WRONG information. Right knowledge was simply not available because of a lack of spiritual understanding.
Some Are Asleep!
Yet even some who are baptized, have God's Spirit, know the plan of God and hope to enter into His Kingdom lack this outgoing love! They just never think about others. Their fruitless lives make it obvious that THEY DO NOT ACTIVELY CARE FOR OTHERS. They intend to do right. They often think to do good works, yet seldom, if ever, get around to actually doing them. They try to be nice. They often say and do pleasant things. They try to be fair. Yet, no one is benefited. No one's life is being changed. No one's hope is lifted up. No happiness is radiated to others, No joy is spread. Instead, they are forced to rationalize, defend themselves, argue or retreat. This kind of behavior falls far short of truly outgoing LOVE. In fact, IT IS NOT LOVE AT ALL! It is merely living up to what we feel is required of us. It is a person's way of demanding credit for being a nice guy. It is selfish! It is carnal! Goodwill or true love must come from a spirit-led heart. Even though the heart of man is not naturally inclined to love his fellows, through God's help WE CAN change. And there is a lot we Must do ourselves!
What Can WE Do?
The formula fur receiving God's Holy Spirit is given by the apostle Peter in Acts 2:38. Peter said to those pricked in the heart and wanting to do something about their condition, "Repent, and he baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Repentance means turning from your human way or self-centeredness and pursuing God's way. It means repenting of breaking God's law and setting your will to obey from here on. God will then give you His Holy Spirit, a spirit of a sound mind — wisdom by which you can intelligently love and consider others. You cannot work up goodwill by yourself. To act like you have it is to be false. Any act, no matter how good the actor, is eventually discovered to be just that — acting! On the other hand, when we receive God's Holy Spirit we do not just automatically and mysteriously become perfect. It is arrived at by much effort on our part — USING THE SPIRIT GOD GIVES! God's Spirit opens our minds to realize the importance of others in our lives and our importance in theirs. The goodwill we give and receive is a vital commodity. We come to realize that fellowship of kindred spirits is most beautiful. God's Spirit also gives us the assurance that this harmonious love and goodwill is worth working for. Outgoing love requires work along with willpower and determination. It is an uphill pull because human nature is not outgoing. Human nature is selfish. To be outgoing in love cuts against the grain of our human nature. WISDOM to try — WISDOM to correctly guide your efforts — WISDOM to keep trying in spite of all adversity and WISDOM to discern God's will is an ABSOLUTE NECESSITY.
This Wisdom is THE WISDOM OF GOD
"If any of you lack wisdom let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and IT SHALL BE GIVEN HIM. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering" (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 which takes most effort, is love (I Cor. 13:13).
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 sons. It is His doing, but we also have our part. Besides our WILLPOWER and DETERMINATION, it takes our RESOURCEFULNESS, PERSEVERANCE and DRIVE. 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 lt has been said, "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. We are developing the CHARACTER of habitually and consistently acting in outgoing love and concern for others — all others! 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).
I Corinthians 13 makes it clear what TRUE LOVE is. The word translated "charity" here does not mean giving to the poor. Verse 3 clearly demonstrates that! Read it! Also, the Greek word translated "charity," is agape, not phileo, which is more commonly used to denote emotional love. Agape and phileo have very 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 King James translators used "charity" in order to distinguish this intelligent heartfelt concern (outgoing love or goodwill) from the kind of emotion that the word "love" conveys to the average person.
What True Love Is Like
Verse 4 shows that this intelligent outgoing love or goodwill is always PATIENT with others; suffering long with any grievance you may receive from them. It is unfailingly kind as you will see by comparing verse 4 with verse 8. Love NEVER COMPARES itself with others (II Cor. 10:12) so that it is never envious (jealous) or never vaunts itself (boasts) to get self-acclaim. It is never PUFFED UP (arrogant, self-important). Such puffed-up ego only causes you to show 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: "... whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." True love SEEKS NOT ITS OWN — is not self-centered, not carnal. (I Cor. 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 it 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 BEARETH ALL THINGS (forbearing in all provocations). It never inflicts harm for harm, evil for evil, or insult for insult. This agape BELIEVES THE BEST in all things. It does not show unpleasantness and ill-will by being a doubter, a dissenter, but HOPES FOR THE BEST in all things — IS NOT NEGATIVE! God's love ENDURES all things. Trials, unpleasant episodes, differences of opinions, 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 concern — will still be going strong! Jesus Christ's example while on the cross is the one we should never fail to follow. He said of all those scowling, bloodthirsty, hate-filled tormentors "Father forgive them; for they know not 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 desirous of giving up your old self-centeredness and striving to live God's way. Then follow His Biblical instructions on how to behave toward others in love and goodwill. PRACTICE living 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 — GOOD-WILL! HIS INSTRUCTIONS are in the Holy Bible. Besides those written instructions God will supply the other vital ingredients you need if you are diligent in prayer about it. The comprehension, the understanding — the WISDOM to desire and apply TRUE LOVE, will be forthcoming. Like a baby's first steps, your first attempts will not be very skillful. You will stumble — may even fall. But, dust yourself off, ask forgiveness and try again. And again. And again, until you habitually and faithfully come to have GOODWILL — God's will — toward ALL men. Romans 13:8-9 says, "Owe no man any thing, but to love [agape) one another; for he that loves another has fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, THOU SHALT LOVE THY NEIGHBOR AS THYSELF." It takes work to be outgoing. You won't even think to do it without taking effort, and it won't be successful even then if you don't stay close to God. This also takes serious effort of WILL and ENERGY. Yet, this love is absolutely required by God. It is a wonderful thing to have. No one — BUT NO ONE, will enter His Kingdom without it. (Mat. 25:31-46.) Now is the time to marshal your energy to MAKE CERTAIN YOU HAVE GOD'S GREAT LOVE! GET IT and KEEP IT all the rest of your life. The time is short, it is later than you think!