LOVE outside of God’s truth and context can be distorted… in fact it’s not love at all.
“…and that we should love one another, JUST AS He has commanded us.” 1 John 3:23b.
This could be taken as “God commanded me to love you, so I’ll love you (as I see fit)”.
OR “God has commanded me to love you and He has shown me how (and that’s my guideline).
For instance a common reason why some believers water down the Gospel or shy away from witnessing is: “Well I don’t want to be condemning or judgmental… we’re supposed to be loving.” This represents a “love” outside of the truth and context of God. For sure, our approach is never to condemn out of self-righteousness, but depending on the condition of the heart of the one you’re talking to, the great news of the Gospel may be taken badly (see verse below)… but it is the condition of their heart, which we have no control over. But, neither should we manipulate control over the Gospel and resist presenting it in it’s full substance when that was what our Lord did… out of love.
Please understand my heart on this. I’m not speaking of a formula here. Why did Jesus not have to share the judgement of sin and the mandate to repent with some? Because they came already broken with the recognition for their need of a savior. Their heart was prepared. All they needed was the sweet solution. No need to beat the dead horse. And why did He have to confront others? Because they were not broken/broken yet… “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6)
How to get a clue on where their heart might be? Strike up the conversation and structure it around the Word of God because “out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45) Why shield a person’s ego from the truth only for them to never live out their call in God’s Kingdom and end up in hell for eternity? Love should outlast temporary discomfort.
Another thought: Do we use “love” as an excuse for control? Do we seek to control others through toxic emotions?
Last example. Do we sometimes refer to sexual relations outside of marriage as love? A girl once asked me why she couldn’t just express her love to her female partner freely when God has asked us to love one another. This also represents a “love” outside of the truth and context of God.
God is love, and the author of love. We’ll do best to renew our minds and discover love His Way, “just as” He commanded us.
And this is His order (His command, His injunction): that we should believe in (put our faith and trust in and adhere to and rely on) the name of His Son Jesus Christ (the Messiah), and that we should love one another, just as He has commanded us. 1 John 3:23
To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this? You see, we are not like the many hucksters who preach for personal profit. We preach the word of God with sincerity and with Christ’s authority, knowing that God is watching us. 2 Corinthians 2:16-17 (NLT)
A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart. Luke 6:45 (NLT)