Imagine there was a hard-working husband who provided abundantly for his wife. Every day he would send her sweet text messages. Very often he would pick up wild flowers that he found on his way home and surprise her at the door. He was tender to her, kind to her, and never left the house without a good hug, kiss, and gentle pinch.
He was a busy man and worked a job requiring him to be “on call”. Often at night, he would “get called in” and have to leave the comforts and closeness of his beloved wife.
But, faithful as ever, he would always return home, fresh with cutesy cuddles, candied kisses, and cozy words to warm the cockles of her heart. And, of course, they never fell asleep without his primrose whisper in her ear:
“Honey, I love you.”
By all appearances, the neighbors thought that he and she were a happy couple. The men of the town envied how much his wife adored him. The women of the town said that he was the best husband any woman could find. There was only one problem with him.
Secretly, he was a wanton adulterer.
Every other night, his “call in” was an excuse to slip away and visit a slew of different women who had seduced him. His wife never knew about it. She was certainly unsuspecting, and he was an expert at keeping secrets.
For years on end, the husband would visit a different woman for a few hours at night. He would sip from the assortment of champagnes and wines, frolic in the fields of feminine felicity, and satisfy the desires of his feverish flesh. Every time after a visit, before he left the object of his passion, he would delicately hold the woman close and softly say,
“Honey, I love you.”
Isn’t it interesting how love loses its power when compromised?
We live in a time of cheap love. Our society has taken the concept of love and sold it to the devil. The devil’s love is shallow, fragile, conditional, and often selfish.
The culture’s adage, “love wins”, is nothing more than a love without boundaries, a love without
substance, a love without meaning.
If a man “loves” his wife, but also loves his flirtations, flings, and filthy films, he loves no one but himself. Love, by definition, is selfless and holds the object loved superior to the lover.
“Love… does not seek its own.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4, 5 NKJV
“Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another.” – Romans 12:10 NKJV
“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 NKJV
This is why it is a loving thing to not love everything. Loving everything is unloving. Allowing love to have boundaries is true love. We read in the Bible that “God is love” (1 John 4:16). An average person on the street would think that the statement “God is love” means that God loves everything equally. Solomon would disagree:
“There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.” – Proverbs 6:16-19 NIV.
Yes, the Bible actually tells us of something God hates.
If we would transfer this verse to our analogy, it would go like this: There once was a man who loved his wife and hated the idea of cheating on her. He respectfully scorned any other woman’s advances, and every night reminded her of his love for her.
You see how his true love for her is enhanced by the fact that he hates the alternative? This is the same with God’s love. He loves all things good. He hates all things evil. By hating all things evil, it enhances His love for all things good. It would be useless to say that God loves a faithful marriage relationship, and also loves a marriage relationship full of adultery. This kind of love with boundaries is the reason why the apostle John can say:
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” – 1 John 2:15 NKJV
Or why Jesus can say:
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” – Matthew 6:24 NKJV
Our love for God must be a love with boundaries, a love with limits. It must be a love that is without compromise, a love without hypocrisy (Romans 12:9). We must love God and God alone. Any love beyond God Himself must be an offshoot of His love. That is why John says, “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in Him.” Our love for friends and family, the unbelieving world, creation, and all good things, must be intrinsically connected to our love for God, or else it is not of Him, and should not be in our hearts.
Disciples of Jesus Christ are to be the most loving people on the planet, but that love is severely connected to the God of love and doesn’t deviate. No matter how much the world says, “You need to be more loving,” the Christian will never take love out of the boundaries which God established. In the end, a love without boundaries is a love without substance – a fleeting, feel-good vibe of wistful sentiment, which destroys all who come into contact with it.
Consider love as a fire. A fire can be used to preserve life in a fireplace on a frigid cold day. But a fire can also rampage a forest, destroying everything in its path. Fire needs boundaries. Love needs boundaries.
A love without boundaries is a love which whispers sweet nothings into a wife’s ear and then goes out to whisper sweet nothings into the ears of a plethora of other women, or watch the sensual cinemas of perverted pornography.
A love with boundaries, however, knows nothing but faithfulness and freedom. The faithful husband is free to love his beloved wife to the utmost. The Christian who loves God within the boundaries God has laid is set free to pursue intimacy with God. And that intimacy is inexhaustible! A love with boundaries for God is, surprisingly, a boundless love. There is no limit to the depth of oneness we can experience with God.
When we love God, we love what He loves and hate what He hates. His love transfers into our hearts and flows into the lives of others. If someone says that they love God, but advocates for sin and anti-biblical ideas, that love is an adulterous love. That would be like a businessman loving the company he works for, but secretly investing and aiding in his company’s greatest competitor.
But a faithful love for God will cherish the precious Word, advocate for the things of God, and uphold Truth no matter the cost.
Brothers and sisters, let us grow in the abundance of God’s love. Let us allow His love to fill us as a fire fills a fireplace. In doing so, we will show the world that God exists, He hates sin, loves all things good, and longs for an intimate relationship with those who come to Him by faith.
Growing in God’s love with you
– Pastor Alex