"Sound Doctrine" - (Titus 2:1)

No Greater Love

Bryan Matthew Dockens


The Savior once said, "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends" (John 15:13). Had Jesus not made the supreme sacrifice of His body, mankind would be left with an incomplete knowledge of love, for "By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren" (1 John 3:16).

However, in extolling the virtues of love, Paul wrote, "...though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing" (1 Corinthians 13:3). If the sacrifice of one's own life is the greatest expression of love, how is it possible that one could sacrifice his life without love?

The answer is evident in events familiar to us. On September 11th, 2001, three-hundred-forty-three New York City firefighters and sixty New York City and Port Authority police officers laid down their lives in a heroic attempt to rescue their neighbors from death. That same day, nineteen Islamic terrorists literally gave their bodies to be burned for a cause they considered holy. They had not love, for "Love does no harm to a neighbor" (Romans 13:10). Instead, they were filled with hatred, and it profited them nothing.

Absent sincere love, even the greatest deeds are worthless. The right thing done for the wrong reason is not the right thing!

"Let love be without hypocrisy" (Romans 12:9).


"Not Burdensome"

Bryan Matthew Dockens


Jesus promises a light burden. He said, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30). This famous invitation from Christ offers such great comfort.

But what makes the burden light? John explained that when love motivates us to obey God, such obedience is no burden at all. He wrote, "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome" (1 John 5:3).

This principle is well illustrated in the example of Jacob and Rachel. It is written, "So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed only a few days to him because of the love he had for her" (Genesis 29:20). The dowry Jacob paid his father-in-law Laban in order to marry Rachel was seven years of hard labor herding livestock during which his wages were repeatedly changed. That those seven years could seem like just a few days to Jacob can only be explained by one thing: love.

The annals of literature, cinema, and music are filled with the exploits of romance. In the ancient Greek epic The Odyssey, Odysseus fights men, monsters, and stormy seas over a decade-long voyage to return from Troy to Ithaca where his wife Penelope awaits him. More recently, in the 1991 film "Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves", Robin declares to his friend Azeem that maid Marian is "worth dying for", a theme echoed in the soundtrack by Bryan Adams with "Everything I Do, I Do It For You". For the love of a woman, men will do many daring deeds.

But what will men do for the love of God? Some wear shirts claiming that "Real men love Jesus". True enough, but genuine love is more than a slogan. Robin Hood didn't just say that Marian was worth dying for, and then retreat to Sherwood Forrest, leaving her to be ravaged by the Sheriff of Nottingham. Instead, he catapulted himself over fortified walls, dueled with the Sheriff, and rescued his beloved. Odysseus did not remain in Troy, telling of his love for Penelope while her new suitors took over his home. On the contrary, he blinded the Cyclops and endured shipwreck after shipwreck to come home and fight the men who vied for his wife's affection.

Those who truly love the Lord will not be content to just say so. Jesus teaches, "If you love Me, keep My commandments" (John 14:15). He said that the "first and great commandment" is to love the Lord God with every fiber of one's being (Matthew 12:36-38) because the fulfillment of God's law is dependent on one's love for Him (Matthew 12:40).

Without love, there is no obedience. In the presence of love, however, obedience is "not burdensome". To the lover of God, attending multiple assemblies of the church each week is not a chore, but a source of encouragement (Hebrews 10:24-25). To the lover of God, giving of his finances to the Lord's work is a blessing (Acts 20:35), not a burden. To the lover of God, reading the scriptures every day is second nature (Acts 17:11), not drudgery. To the lover of God, prayer is a privilege (Philippians 4:6-7), not an inconvenience. To the lover of God, abstinence from sin is relief (Acts 15:29, 31), not punishment.

When attendance is poor, when the collection is low, when Bibles are dusty from neglect, when prayers are forgotten, and when sin is rampant, lack of love is to blame.

How does one acquire such love? God makes it easy. "We love Him because He first loved us" (1 John 4:19). He has well proven His love for us. "In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him" (1 John 4:9). God never complained about the burden loving us required, so how dare we complain of the light burden and easy yoke that is loving Him in return?

"He who does not love does not know God, for God is love" (1 John 4:8).


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