Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
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No man is worthy to lead, naturally or spiritually, if he fears the people he is supposed to be leading. Consider King Saul. He disobeyed God’s clear command because the people did not like what God told Saul to do, and then denied he had done any wrong. When pressed by the unyielding prophet Samuel, however, King Saul confessed that he disobeyed God because he feared the displeasure of the people (1Sam. 15:24). Later, God rejected Saul as king over Israel, and the poor man died a miserable, tragic death. He gave in to the pressure to please God’s people rather than God, and lost out with God.
God’s children need to be loved with God’s love. But God’s love may move a man to do things that may be interpreted as hate. Moved by the holy love of God, Jesus looked at Peter one day and said, “Get behind me, Satan!” And on another occasion, moved by that same pure love, Jesus sharply rebuked James and John, saying, “You don’t know what kind of spirit you are of!” And yet, in the end, the Lord commanded his disciples to love one another “As I have loved you.” Did Jesus know something about the love of God that carnally-minded men do not know?
Stephen was accused of hating God and His ways, and stoned to death, because he loved men with the love of God. Paul was beaten within an inch of his life by the people of Israel, whom he loved more than his own life. And when the blood-stained apostle, held up by Roman soldiers, tried to explain himself to his beloved people, they threw dust into the air and screamed, “Away with such a man! He is not fit that such a man should live on the earth!”
Martyrs of Christ who have suffered torture and death through the ages suffered only because they were not afraid to live in the love of God, and love others with the love of God. But not many are willing to do the same because, as a rule, men fear men. That is a quality of the flesh that must be overcome if we are ever going to do God any acceptable service. No man can love people with God’s love if he fears that those people may not like being loved that way. And God’s people are no exception. An ungodly minister is one who fears them and, so, tells them only what they want to hear in order to keep their favor.
The love of God is the love of God. It prefers Him and His righteousness above all things; it considers His feelings and His will first. Then it acts. We must love people with God’s holy love, which is full of both mercy and truth, and which is almost always misunderstood and condemned by men, even the children of God. Still, without the motivation of the love of God in our decisions, our words, and our actions, our life is worthless to others.
So, we really only have two choices. We can love men with the love of the flesh and be spoken well of by everyone (and bring a curse on our souls — Lk. 6:26). Or we can love people with the love of God and be misunderstood and “hated of all men for Jesus’ sake” (and reign with Jesus in the end — 2Tim. 2:12). Jesus chose to love us with God’s love, and he asks us to follow his example in dealing with others, no matter how they react to the holy love that we show them.