Love in Operation

“I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
—Acts 20:35

SINCE SIN ENTERED into the world approximately six thousand years ago, mankind in general has been governed by the principle of selfishness. The principle of unselfishness, which is Divine love, has not been entirely erased from the human heart; nevertheless selfishness has predominated so fully that the motive of practically all human endeavor has been to acquire rather than to give. In the future thousand-year reign of Christ, this condition will gradually change until finally the Divine rule of unselfishness will take its proper place in the hearts and lives of all the restored children of Adam.

Before this glorious result of Christ’s kingdom is attained, however, it is the privilege of the followers of the Master now to empty their hearts of unselfishness and to be filled with the Divine quality of love, that thus they may be qualified to share with Christ in the Mediatorial work of his kingdom, by which the Divine image will be replanted in the hearts of men. It is important, therefore, that through the Scriptures we get a proper vision of God and of his love as it is revealed in his plan. It is through the outworking of the Divine purpose toward the children of men that God’s love is revealed and furnishes a perfect pattern which it is the Christian’s privilege to emulate.


The Scriptures tell us about the glorious attributes of God’s character, but it is only as we see, through the outworking of the Divine plan, the practical application of these attributes in the Creator’s design toward his creatures, that we are able fully to appreciate them. The Bible tells us, for example, that “God is love” (I John 4:8); but we would fail to grasp the full significance of this statement had the Bible not also told us what love caused God to do—He gave “his only begotten Son” (John 3:16; I John 4:9; John 1:14,18) to die for the people.

Even this revealing statement would not in itself give us a complete understanding of God’s love, except as we see its relationship to the remainder of the Divine plan. Even those things that have been permitted of God, and which many think to be detrimental and evil because of their effects on humanity, will be seen in the light of his fulfilled purposes to be fully in harmony with his character of love.

God had no beginning. “From everlasting to everlasting, thou art God,” the prophet declares. (Ps. 90:2) While our finite minds cannot comprehend the full significance of these words, they do reveal that there was a time when he was alone. We are not to understand that Almighty God was lonely in that great eternity before creation. The great Jehovah lacked nothing. He was complete in himself; he needed no companionship to complete or supplement his happiness. But it was his pleasure to create and to bring into being other creatures, that might have joy in living and reflect qualities similar to his own.

Thus we see that the Creator’s unselfishness—love—is revealed even in his creative work. It was not necessary that he create the universe for his own happiness, although we are told that all things have been created for his pleasure. (Rev. 4:11; 14:7) His motive was to share his happiness, although in his great wisdom and foreknowledge he was able to foresee the wreck of the human race that would be produced by sin.

Nevertheless, he proceeded with the creative work. He knew that this wrecking of human hopes and the apparent defeat of righteousness on this planet could be turned into a glorious victory for everlasting human happiness. And even though this victory over sin and death would come through great cost to himself, Jehovah proceeded with his creative purpose in order that throughout the endless ages of eternity countless millions of angels and men could rejoice in the privileges of life extended to them.


The Scriptures indicate that God’s first and only direct creation was the Logos. The Apostle Paul refers to the Logos as “the firstborn of every creature.” (Col. 1:15-18) The psalmist similarly refers to him as Jehovah’s “firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth.” (Ps. 89:27) Jesus refers to himself as having had a prehuman existence, saying, “Before Abraham was, I am.”—John 8:13,23,52,58

In John 1:1-3, Wilson’s Emphatic Diaglott, Interlinear, we are told that this only begotten Son of God, the Word, was the active agent of Jehovah in all his creative works. The text declares, “All through it was done, and without it was done not even one, that has been done.” These scriptures fully corroborate the statement that the Logos, who subsequently became the world’s Redeemer, was, long before, the primary Son of God. He also ranked first in honor, dignity, and station above all other sons of God—not one of whom was like himself—the direct creation of God.


Among the highest of the angelic beings created by the Logos was one called Lucifer. (Isa. 14:12-17; Ezek. 28:11-19) God foreknew that Lucifer would become a traitor. He knew also that this one who has now become his adversary and the adversary of righteousness, would succeed in inducing the first human pair to transgress his law. But in spite of this foreknowledge of the tragedy that would mar his perfect creation, God proceeded with the creative work.

God did not cause our first parents to sin. They were themselves responsible for wrongdoing and therefore incurred the Divine penalty of death. Thus, through sin, death entered into the world, and now for approximately six thousand years humankind has been traveling through “the valley of the shadow of death.”—Ps. 23:4

God foreknew all this. He foreknew the suffering it would bring upon himself as he viewed the downfall and afflictions of his human creation. He could have avoided it all simply by remaining alone, but was willing that this tragedy should temporarily mar his creation, bringing reproach upon himself, misrepresentation of his name, and sympathetic suffering on behalf of his creatures. (Isa. 63:9) He permitted it so that, in the final outcome of his plan, there would be billions who would spend an eternity in happiness, secure in that, having experienced both evil and good, they had chosen the good.


The sentence of death upon our first parents was just. There was no necessity, from the Creator’s standpoint, that anything be done about it, except to permit the penalty to be carried out and for the human race thus, finally, to go out of existence. But here, Divine love entered into the picture. There was no necessity on God’s part to provide a Redeemer for the human race; yet, he did it. He gave his own Son, his only begotten Son, his first and only directly created Son, the treasure of his heart, to be the Redeemer of the lost world.

As we review this wonderful story of Divine love, we discover that the Logos also is imbued with the same principles of unselfishness. The Heavenly Father did not force his Son to become the Redeemer of the world. He willingly and gladly did this because, like the Father, he too knew that the greatest cause for happiness is in contributing to the happiness of others.

Concerning Jesus’ motive in being willing to come to earth to redeem mankind, the apostle says, “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery [did not meditate a usurpation, Phil. 2:6, WED] to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”—Phil. 2: 4-8


The motive of love which prompted the Logos to humble himself in coming to earth as a man, continued to be manifest in his activity during the entire period of his earthly ministry. His philosophy is expressed in his words to the disciples: “The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister.”—Matt. 20:28

Every act of his consecrated life displayed his consuming zeal for the well-being and happiness of others. Gladly he served the rich and poor alike. He was always ready to serve, regardless of what the service might cost him, either in weariness or in suffering and the loss of reputation. Truly he was moved by that one burning desire—to give.

On one occasion he said to his disciples, “Come ye yourselves apart … and rest a while.” (Mark 6:31) Physical exhaustion prompted this invitation by Jesus; and yet when they endeavored to find a place to rest, we discover that instead of resting he actually taught the multitude, and toward the close of the day performed one of the most outstanding of his miracles—the feeding of the five thousand.

He had gone to this desert place to rest, but when he found the multitude was waiting for him, his heart was filled with compassion because he saw that they were as sheep without a shepherd. He taught them ‘many things,’ and then gave them temporal food even though he needed rest. There is little doubt, however, that when that day came to a close, Jesus’ heart was filled with a joy unspeakable, greater, perhaps, because he withheld not his strength, but used it for the blessing of these people who were in such great need.


According to the Divine plan, the earthly ministry of Jesus was confined to the Jewish nation. In Matthew 15:24 it is recorded that Jesus said, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” This statement was made in response to an appeal to heal the daughter of a Canaanite woman who had come to him seeking this favor. Jesus told this woman, “It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.” (vs. 26) The woman agreed with this, yet suggested the possibility of Gentile dogs receiving some of the crumbs which might fall from the Master’s table. Jesus was so moved by this demonstration of faith that he said to her, “O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt.”

The account tells us that her daughter was made whole from that very hour. (Matt. 15:28) Here again, Jesus’ wonderful spirit of love is demonstrated. Jesus tried to ignore her because she was a Gentile, but this woman’s faith was so great that Jesus made an exception.


Jesus emphasizes the voluntary nature of his ministry on behalf of others in his statement that he had the power or authority to lay down his life and to take it up again. He was voluntarily laying it down that others might be blessed. In Matthew 16:25, the Master explains that this is to be the viewpoint of his followers. “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.”

This latter statement of the Master was made in reply to Peter’s effort to dissuade him from going up to Jerusalem, where Jesus told them he was to suffer many things and finally be put to death and raised the third day. Peter had rebuked him, saying, “Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.” (Matt. 16:22) Jesus replied to Peter, saying, “Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.”—vs. 23

Jesus knew what awaited him at Jerusalem. Had he used selfish, human reasoning, he might have avoided this trouble. But it was God’s will that he should suffer and die, and Jesus knew this. He knew, furthermore, that the merit of that sacrifice of his perfect humanity on behalf of the sins of the world was dependent upon its voluntary nature.

This principle of giving and serving is further exemplified by what Jesus said to the rich young man who came to him asking what he should do in order to obtain eternal life. This young man asserted that he had kept the Jewish Law as best he could, but this was not sufficient.

Beyond this, the Master explained, “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.” (Matt. 19:21) The expression, ‘If thou wilt be perfect,’ does not indicate that the rich man would be morally perfect if he sold all that he had and gave to the poor. The thought evidently is that of the ideal attitude of those who follow the Master.


In John 13:4-17 is the account of the Master’s service to his disciples in washing their feet. In Eastern countries where sandals were worn and the feet thus exposed to the sand and dust, feet-washing was a regular and necessary custom. This service was considered very menial, and the humblest servants or slaves performed it for the family and guests. Jesus had noticed among his disciples a spirit of selfishness, having overheard them disputing which of them should be greatest in authority and dignity in the kingdom he had promised to share with them.

The Master had previously taught the disciples the necessity of humility, and that the greatest among them would be the one who served most faithfully. He had reminded them of how the Gentiles lorded it over one another, and of how they sought for honor and position, just as Lucifer did from the time that “iniquity was found” in him. (Isa. 14:12; Ezek. 28:15) But the disciples still had not learned the lesson.

When the Passover Supper was finished, Jesus arose from the table and performed for the disciples this menial service of washing their feet. They had not thought of doing it for one another. They had not yet caught the spirit of the Master, in the sense of realizing that love, as represented in service, was to be the motive of the new order he was introducing. Heretofore, all that the world had known of success and achievement had been based upon the idea that the lesser should serve the greater, and that the greater should lord it over the lesser.

Jesus had invited the disciples to drink the cup and eat the bread which represented participation in his suffering and death. By washing their feet he gave a practical example of what that would mean in their relationship to one another. They were to rejoice in the privilege of even the most humble service. If the Master himself, the one who formerly had been the active agent of God in creating the universe, and now had humbled himself to become the Redeemer, could perform this menial service of washing their feet, should they not also see their privilege of serving one another?

That the lesson had its designed effect we can hardly doubt. We note the course of self-denial followed by the apostles later, and how they served the body of Christ of which they were fellowmembers, following the example of the Head, who was the greatest servant of all.

They now could understand the meaning of our Lord’s words to them at the end of his earthly course: “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.”—John 15:12-14

In what better way could anyone demonstrate love in operation more than this?

Dawn Bible Students Association
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