“You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness,”–2 Timothy 3:10 ESV
The Christian faith depends upon not only faithful discipleship, but on faithful disciples who continue in the pattern they have received. In their last four posts in this series we looked at 5 ways we need to follow (or strive to be) a godly Christian leader:
- Follow the Same Doctrine
- Follow the Same Conduct
- Follow the Same Purpose
- Follow the Same Faithfulness
- Follow the Same Patience
6. Follow with the Same Love
The KJV uses the word “charity” here, which doesn’t mean what you give to less fortunate people, but a selfless act of love that is shown to others in the spirit of God’s love for us. This is that word Greek word for love known as agape.
The best way to define what Paul meant by follow his love, is to define his live by his own words and life. So, I compiled a list of ten features of love as described and modelled by Paul.
- Love is shown at the cross: “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8, ESV)
- Love includes patience: “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant” (1 Corinthians 13:4, ESV); “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,” (Ephesians 4:2, ESV)
- Love must be pursued: “Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.” (1 Corinthians 14:1, ESV); “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” (2 Timothy 2:22, ESV)
- Love must be our motivation: “Let all that you do be done in love.” (1 Corinthians 16:14, ESV); “For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died;” (2 Corinthians 5:14, ESV)
- Love confronts sin: “For I wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you.” (2 Corinthians 2:4, ESV); “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,” (Ephesians 4:15, ESV)
- Love forgives: “So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him.” (2 Corinthians 2:8, ESV)
- Love sacrifices: “I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls. If I love you more, am I to be loved less?” (2 Corinthians 12:15, ESV) ; “But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.” (1 Thessalonians 2:7–8, ESV)
- Love discerns truth from error:“And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment,” (Philippians 1:9, ESV)
- Love unifies Christians: “complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.” (Philippians 2:2, ESV) ; “And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” (Colossians 3:14, ESV)
- Love works hard in service:“remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 1:3, ESV)
That, my friends, helps us put the cookies on the lower shelf when we say, how can I show someone love, doesn’t it? Love is practical, painful and it must be pursued. Paul told Timothy, that he needed to continue to follow his example of loving in these ways, and so do we!
Brothers, we are leading others. The question is, where are we leading them? Are we leading them toward Christ, or away from him? Are we setting examples in our faithfulness, patience and love, or are we showing them instead an example of faithlessness, impatience and selfishness? If we fail we will not only feel remorse over wasted time, but we will also recreate our poor example in others, and worst yet, we will stand before the Lord and give an account for how we led others. May God help us to set the pace for those around us to follow Christ with their whole lives, just as we seek to do the same.