“This is love, that we walk …”

What is love? As we read the aged disciple John’s final two short Epistles, his use of the word “love” jumps out at us. He writes how, “I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth … and this is love, that we walk according to his commandments” (2 John:4,6). This is how we show our love in response to God’s love. We rejoice because others do the same.

Remember what we read in 1 John 4:19, “We love because he first loved us”. Paul’s words in Ephesians 2 always powerfully provoke our thoughts, that we “were by nature children of wrath like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses made us alive together with Christ – by grace …” (verses 3-5).

When we talk about our attitude of love we must think of the actions that show our love; a love very different from what most people in the world mean when they use the word! John goes on to write, “everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son” (verse 9). All who do this have a living relationship with the divine every day. The word “abides” relates to the word “walks” – it indicates a settled direction and purpose in life and is a vital foundation for genuine happiness and contentment. In his final epistle, addressed to Gaius, John says, “I rejoiced greatly when the brother’s came and testified to your truth, as indeed you are walking in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (verses 3,4). Love is not self-centred, it is God-centred, then we see life from God’s perspective.

The contrast to this has been so evident in the book of Judges which we finished reading today. The very last verse is a kind of epitaph! “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” – and that is the way in the world around us. Let us do what is right in God’s eyes and walk in love and truth.