MITRA: ‘Love’ is an action verb

By on February 7, 2018
Narayan Mitra is the pastor of Merritt Baptist Church.

Editor’s note: The views expressed in this column don’t necessarily reflect those of the Merritt Herald and its staff. The Herald welcomes qualified writers with views on this or other faiths to submit their work to newsroom@merrittherald.com, to be considered for publication.


Love is in the air, at least the next two weeks, as another Valentines Day rolls around.

The Old Testament story of Abraham’s call to sacrifice his only son Isaac is well-known to Jewish, Christian, and Moslem hearts. Over the ages, it has been used as sermon illustration of loving God over familial love.

Abraham’s love for God was sorely tried by God when He said to him to sacrifice Isaac. God was testing the patriarch’s love at its deepest level.

Abraham had reached a lofty theological position in his life. It was now to be expected that his love for God would commensurate with his confession.

It is one thing to give expression to lofty conceptions, but quite another matter to prove our love to the God we profess to love correspondingly.

I am persuaded that our love for God in proportion to our knowledge of doctrines is the missing factor in evangelical circles today.

Paul warned his readers of it when he wrote: “Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies.” With Abraham, however, it was quite different. His love for God corresponded with his knowledge of Him. Grace and truth were blended.

When God proved Abraham, there was obedience of love. God could say of Abraham: “You have obeyed my voice.”

God told him: “Take now your son, your only son whom you love…and offer him for a burnt offering.”

What would any other father have done in the face of such a command? Only true love for God could respond to such a test.

That is why Jesus closed his ministry with: “If you love me, keep my commandments.” I wonder if we ever think our way through to obedience that true love demands.

 The proof of love goes even further than this because from the narrative we find it was manifested by the offering of love.

God declared: “Now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son from me.”

The point here is that God expected a practical evidence of love. No wonder James, in his epistle, states: “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son upon the altar?”

What about our own self-surrender to God? Can we stand with Abraham and say: “Lo, everything is on the altar — what I am or what I have. Take this offering of unspeakable costliness as a proof of my love?”

In relation to the offering of Isaac, it is important to recognize that, for Abraham, the act of giving not only involved unspeakable costliness but it implied unshakable confidence.

There was no unintelligent resignation or blind surrender. On the contrary, the offering of love was the expression of what Paul calls “the faith which works by love.”

The writer of the book of Hebrews tells us that: “By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac…accounting that God was able to raise him up.”

Isaac without God was nothing; but God without Isaac was everything.

Abraham knew that to surrender his costliest treasure to God was not to lose it but to receive it back in resurrection power and richness.

Such unshakable confidence in God must surely condemn our shameful reluctance to offer our all to Him.

How often we have thought of surrender as something unpleasant and unrewarding instead of the act by which we prove the perfect will of God and enter into the fullness of joy!

May God forgive us for our unresponsiveness and bring us to our own Mount Moriahs where “It shall be seen” whether we do love God with all our hearts, minds, and strength.

We would then find that the proof of our love will be rewarded with a new vision of God’s substitute ram (Jesus), giving his life in sacrifice on our behalf.

And as we gaze upon that bleeding sacrifice of Calvary, we will be reminded afresh that the only reason why we can say “I love God” is because He first loved me.

 

Narayan Mitra is the Pastor of Merritt Baptist Church at 2499 Coutlee Avenue, Merritt. You can reach him at merrittbaptist@gmail.com.

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