It is pertinent to note that all the efforts made by preachers and teachers of the Bible is to produce a result already set and known. The goal of the commandment to teach sound doctrine is to produce in us Christians love that is sincere.
“The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” 1 Timothy 1 vs 5
Isn’t it wonderful! Whereas many will drive the word of God in a manner as to get people to give of their material possessions to the work of God, such giving are useless, if they do not come from a love that is from a pure heart. Whereas some tilt their preaching and teachings to an end to provide miracles, signs and wonders in the life of people, it is an effort in futility, maybe an entertainment at best, if it is not done from a place of love, love from a pure heart. There may be others, who teach soundly to motivate, but a motivation which is not sauced in pure love is exactly the same thing you get in a business school.
Jesus commanded; love one another. It is the only way people will know that you are my disciples. All your loudness, even large giving and welfare programmes which is not borne out of love from a pure heart is not my work. It does not represent me or what I stand for. It could be image laundering or social campaign. The implication of Jesus’ saying is that the underlying principle behind the commandments listed in Exodus 20 is love, from a pure heart. All the while, God has been working hard to bring us to love him with all our hearts, to love ourselves unconditionally and to love our neighbours as ourselves. Love indeed answers all the questions that the failure of man asks. The simple reason you will not take what belongs to another is that it will hurt them and bring them deprivation. The simple reason you will not accuse someone falsely is because it will ruin their reputation and even their lives. You would not want somebody to sleep with your spouse. Such cheating and betrayal will hurt you deeply. The pain may remain for life. Why will you want to do it to another?
Love is the fulfillment of all commandments. Anything not done from love is not done according to God’s pattern. If your service in God’s house as an usher, a music minister, steward, greeter, cleaner, pastor or overseer is not motivated by love from a pure heart you are missing the entire point. If you do music to feel big, or show off your talent or gain followership, or even to please the pastor, you may be one of those that will be told later; I know you not.
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels but have no love…..I am wasting my time. In contemporary Christian culture, many do evangelism to win God’s blessings. Some run house fellowships to move God to give them a job or contract. Some clean God’s house to convince Him to give them a baby. Some sing in the choir to convince God to give them a spouse. It is only trade by barter that they are attempting. I know that the many ‘testimonies’ that attempt to justify these business side of God abound, but it is not consistent with scripture that He is a God of ‘do me I do you’. Service in God’s house must be driven by love, from a pure heart. When we encourage people to give, we must encourage them to give to a God they love, not a God who doubles it and sends it back. Of course we have seen it is not working. I agree that a few people who represent maybe a tiny fraction of a church congregation may come out and testify how they sowed a hundred thousand and landed a hundred million naira contract the following week. But we can all agree that those are usually the exceptions than the rules. If something is an established principle in the house of God, then it follows that whoever operates it in all sincerity will get the result that any other person can get. I perceive that God is not respecter of persons, but in any nation and people, anyone who does what God wants is acceptable to him. If just paying 10% of your income to God translates to automatic riches, we would have an unusual number of stupendously wealthy people in our churches today. If just sowing to a kingdom advancement programme translates to an immediate and sure promotion, then Christians will be occupying all the juice places of the economic and political establishments today. Truth is that our motives for observing some of these worthy kingdom injunctions has trounced the good that are inherent in observing them.
Brethren, even if it be a mighty man of God who does great things but these things are not aimed at the goal God seeks to achieve, it certainly looks misleading. The endgame of the things we seek to do in the kingdom of God is to create in those who come near to worship Him a love that is from a pure heart, a good conscience and a faith that is sincere. Many have tried to talk down the importance of the conscience to a Christian. They talk about confessions of the word of God as though it is meant to push down the voice of the conscience and make it illegal. Scripture says that if our conscience does not condemn us, we stand justified before God. In Hebrews, the Holy Spirit says that God will wash our conscience with the blood so that it will be clean. The first voice we hear when we want to retire a fund that should not be our own is that of the conscience. The first person that rings an alarm in our heart when we start looking at an opposite sex lustfully is your conscience. The first voice that warns us when our motives are wrong is the voice of the conscience. It is unfortunate that so many times because of our constant disobedience to it; it begins to get quieter and quieter and eventually goes to sleep. Then we do as we like without a heavy heart and mumble a few positive confessions to make ourselves feel good. But one of the major goals of Christ’s work in our lives is to achieve a conscience that is good and healthy. We should allow him to do it.
It is unfortunate that a lot of modern day preachers go to the Bible to dig out principles, anecdotes and rhyming quotes which does not have as its aim to produce love from a pure heart, a good conscience and sincere faith among Christians, but rather an attempt at moral education of the hearers. This thing does not work. Those people are at the risk of being called peddlers of the gospel. A man who has been born of the spirit knows that it is an effort in futility to attempt to change fallen man from the outside. If the scripture has been turned to a tool to show how to make money or conjure success principles, then it is being grossly underutilized. It is to produce a changed man from the inside in. A man whose obedience to the whole instructions of God is borne out of love from a pure heart, a good conscience and faith that is sincere. It is this kind of man that will please the Lord. it is this kind of man that wil bring Him pleasure as He desires.
May God put our hearts to wisdom.
Scripture References: John 13:34; Rom. 13:10; 1 Cor. 13:1; Acts 10:34; 1 John 3:20; Hebrews 10:22