When “I Love You” Won’t Be Enough

Do you remember when you were a kid and someone you had never met before, probably a family member, said “I love you?”, and you were told by your parents,Say ‘I love you too.’ Well, I remember. Or maybe now that you yourself are a parent you say to your kids,Say, ‘I love you too.’ Did we, or do we think our kids, have any inkling of what love is? If we answer truthfully we have to come to a resounding, ‘NO!’ So, why do we do it? It’s because eventually we want our kids to love people. We’re getting them in the habit. But, shouldn’t love be more than a habitual saying? Even after Brianna and I were married for quite some time I still had no real clue as to what love was supposed to be. It wasn’t until much later that I realized saying, I love you was not enough.

Do we approach God with the same understanding of ‘love’ we had as a child, a nice thing to say because it’s expected? James is going to outline throughout his letter, to those Jewish Christians who have been dispersed because of persecution, what kind of love we are supposed to have for God.

James 1:12Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

God has promised a crown of life to those who love Him, but those people have to persevere and be approved (pass the test). So, how am I going to persevere to a genuine love for God? Let’s just briefly outline three trials the rich and the poor go through according to James and the alternatives to succumbing to those trials.

  1. Trial – James 2:1-7 – Partiality; Alternative – James 2:8-11 – Fulfill the Royal Law – “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Consequence: Judgment (2:12-13) Blessing: Mercy (2:12-13)
  2. Trial – James 3:13-4:5 – Self-Ambition; Alternative – James 4:6-12 – Submit; Humble Yourself – “Submit yourselves to God… Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord…” Consequence: Judgment (4:11-12) Blessing: Grace, Exaltation, Salvation (4:6, 10, 12)
  3. Trial – James 5:1-6 – Greed; Alternative – James 5:7-12 – Patience – “Be Patient then brethren… You too, be patient and stand firm…” Consequence: Judgment (5:12) Blessing: Compassion and Mercy (5:11)
We will prove that we love God when we persevere these trials, not only realizing the common consequence of judgment, but also looking forward to the blessings of compassion, mercy, grace exaltation, salvation, the kingdom (2:5) and the crown of life (1:12). Just saying, “I love you” will not be enough in the day of judgment. We have to pass the test (be approved) and no one can do it for us. We must love others as we love ourselves, submit to God in humility and be patient if we are going to prove to God that we truly love Him.
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