When love is not enough

By Not Known

I recently attended a community group meeting where someone declared that ‘love is all we need’. This is an admirable sentiment. However, is a simple call for love sufficient?

‘Love’ is one of those words that means everything and therefore means nothing. ‘Love’ is a word that needs definition. What or who do we love? Why do we love? How do we love?

2 Timothy talks about people who loved much. Trouble was, they switched the tags. They loved what they should not have loved and did not love that which they should. Their false loves were as follows:

● Egotism, or love of self (2 Tim 3:2a). This is the ultimate idolatry – worshipping the image of God (Gen 1:26-27) instead of God whose image we are.

● Materialism, or love of money (2 Tim 3:3b). Money is essential for life and we should not despise it. But, love of money – well that is a root of all kinds of evil that can take us from God, for mammon is a demanding deity (1 Tim 6:10; Matt 6:24).

● Hedonism, or love of pleasure (2 Tim 3:4b). This is a slightly tricky issue. As John Piper says, there is nothing wrong with loving pleasure when it is pleasure in God. Hence his term ‘Christian hedonism’. The problem is that these people did not love God (2 Tim 3:4b) and thus their love of pleasure was in apposition to love of God. We can guess that their pleasure was in worldly delights, not heavenly.

To cap it off, these people did not love God, the ‘good’ or other people (2 Tim 3:2-4). Instead they were proud, abusive, ungrateful, unforgiving, slanderers, brutal and such like. It is an ugly picture and shows the terrible outcomes when our loves are inverted.

These are not only ancient errors, for these three false loves and their consequences are evident all around us today.

Of course, we know the loves that God does call us to. It is a whole-person, whole-of life love of the Lord coupled with a generous love of neighbour, stranger and enemy (eg Matt 22:37-40; 25:40; 5:43-47). This is true love.

Let us hate the evil that God hates and love the good that God loves.

David Burke