John 13:34-35: “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

“Say you don’t need no diamond ring
And I’ll be satisfied
Tell me that you want those kind of things
That money just can’t buy
I don’t care too much for money
For money can’t buy me love”
(The Beatles)

“Old love, new love
Every love but true love

Love for sale!” (Boney M.)

Song lyrics sometimes say it all. Today I want to explore “love for sale” as opposed to “true love”. In John’s gospel Jesus is hammering out a new commandment to His followers, which says, and I quote (John 13:34):

“Just as I [Jesus] have loved you, you should love each other.”

How does Jesus love? A good way to find answers to this question is to delve into the gospel records of the New Testament. In the beginning of Jesus’ ministry He had an encounter with the devil.  In that encounter the devil made Jesus an offer (Matthew 4:8-11):

“Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. All this I will give you,’ he said, ‘if you will bow down and worship me.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Away from me, Satan! For it is written: worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’ Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.”

Jesus’ love to the Father is loyal.  However, Satan is always under the assumption that love is loyal only up to a certain breaking point.  He has to find out through thorough testing, which is why he is also called the tempter.  The tempter’s approach is that love can be bought – with the right price-tag anybody’s love is for sale! One can say that the tempter does not know true love and does not believe in it either. He stares at this phenomenon in his lab work when he puts love under the microscope by putting his test objects under tremendous tests, again and again, as much as God allows it.  Remember Job’s story? Job went through a series of test sessions; and God allowed them to happen to show Satan and the world that there is such a thing as true love, love that cannot be bought.  However, Satan didn’t think so.  His reasoning was (Job 1:9-11):

“Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”

We know how the story ends.  In the end Satan is proved wrong.  Job held on to God for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, which is precisely what we say in our marriage vows – “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.”

True love is not for sale. True love does not cheapen a relationship by objectifying human beings or worse, by objectifying the Eternal One. True love does not treat God like someone who can be bought.

God is true love; and His love is generous, overflowing, compassionate, and free – no strings attached, no conditions asked, no price tag hidden. The love of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit is a powerful change agent.  Just look at all the life stories recorded in the Bible.  Hopefully you’ll see some of those life stories played out in your own life. God’s love is well and alive today!

 

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