True knowledge of God manifests itself in love for all the saints. Growing maturity in Christ evidences itself in growing love for His people. Does an individual possess a lot of knowledge regarding doctrine and theology? Great, we can never gain enough knowledge of doctrine and theology. Let us pursue knowing God with all our minds. The man who stops growing in knowledge of God ceases seeking God. But here is the essential question, has that knowledge heightened our love for the saints? What does our love for our brothers and sisters in Christ look like? Christians love Christians. And the more we grow in Christ, the more we will love His bride.
In Colossians 1, Paul thanks God for the love that the Colossian Christians have for all the saints (1:4). Agape love—that over-analyzed and still misunderstood word in our Evangelical circles—contains the idea of pro-active care or concern for another. A concern so great that a person willingly sacrifices their own interests for another. This kind of love marks the Colossian Christians.
Such love only flows from union with Christ (Colossians 1:4). If a person is not in union with Christ, they will never have this kind of love. But if a person is in union with Christ, they will be marked by this kind of love. If we asked, “What is that black and white striped animal?” Most would know the answer instantly. If we asked, “What is that animal that has a mane and a loud roar?” Most would reply instantly. A zebra and a lion are known by their respective attributes. They are identifiable. The Christian is identified by his or her love for the saints. “They will know you by your love for one another,” said the Lord Jesus (John 13:35).
If we claim to know Christ but do not love the people He died for, we are simply deluding ourselves. If we claim to love God but harbor disdain for the Church, our proclamation proves vacuous. Paul links love for God and love for His people together. “We thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus AND of the love that you have for all the saints” (Colossians 1:3-4). Christ links love for God and love for His people together, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12).
If a person is a Christian, they love Christians. And that love grows as we mature in the faith. Despite all the trials, we may endure in relationship with other believers; we fall more in love with them because they are Christ’s. He died for them, and we are united with them for all of eternity. We love our Lord, so we love His Church.
It is not always easy to discern where we are at in the Christian faith. Am I more mature today than I was yesterday, last week, or last year? Do I cherish Christ more? Am I storing treasures in heaven? Or is my heart set upon the things of earth and my love for Christ is waning? One of the easiest ways to assess ourselves is to examine our love for all the saints. Do I love God’s people more today? If so, it is assuredly true that I also love Christ more. It is a good barometer of our spiritual health. One that I must seek to employ regularly for it does not lie. If I love God, I will love His people.
This article first appeared at Christward Collective and is posted here with the author’s permission.