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How we relate with one another in the Body of Christ is vitally important to God. In fact, if we say we love God but don't love our brother, we are liars. I didn't say this—the Bible says it!
Can a lack of love stop you from receiving results from God? Can Satan hinder your faith by attacking your ability to love? Can you be labeled a liar for saying you love God when you don't love others? Can you prevent God's blessings from manifesting in your life because of your unwillingness to love? The answer is yes.

You see, love is more than an emotion; it is a force. And when it is in operation it will rearrange things and change people and circumstances. The force of love is like dynamite; it's powerful and explosive in its working. Often, the most difficult challenge is accepting the realization that love is also a decision.

It's not based on a feeling. However, there is a type of love that deals with emotions and romance, which is important. But the kind of love God gives us is so much more. And when we begin to understand God's kind of love, then we'll experience the power that comes as a result of the force called love.

Obedience - God's Definition of Love
Let's look at what the Word of God tells us about love. As Christians, we know that God is love (1 John 4:8). And He desires that we love Him as well. But what does that kind of love require? Jesus gives us the answer in John 14:15: "If ye love me, keep my commandments."

Obedience is the key to experiencing a true love relationship with the Father. By keeping His commandments we demonstrate our love to Him. But how can we keep His commandments if we don't know them?

Now, please understand me; I'm not simply referring to the Ten Commandments found in the book of Exodus, although they certainly must be honored. However, God has given us several guidelines to live by in His Word. And the more time we spend in His presence reading, meditating on, and studying His Word, the better equipped we will become. We can't go by what we hear in church circles.

God calls us to obey His written Word, not the opinions of others. He wants us to spend time reading the Bible and to make a quality decision to do what it says. By doing so, the Word of God becomes the final authority in our lives and a mighty force in conquering the devil's attacks. How will we ever challenge the devil with the words, "It is written," if we don't know what is written? (Matt. 4:1-10).

Child of God, it is vital for us as Christians to assemble ourselves together with other believers, studying and reading the Word in order to renew our minds. This type of obedience not only increases our love for God, but for others as well. Then we demonstrate to God that we love Him. The true indicator of love is keeping His commandments! Quite honestly, it all boils down to plain, simple obedience.

Learn To Love God First
It is vitally important that every child of God diligently cultivate a love relationship with the Father. It is very difficult to learn how to love one another if we have not yet learned how to love God. The love we show for one another comes from Him, through us, and to one another.

Our horizontal relationship with one another is based on our vertical relationship with God. It is a commandment "to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy mind" (Deut. 6:5). And we demonstrate our love for the Father by doing what He tells us to do.

Some Christians love one another more than they love God. But our love for God must be first and foremost. Many people today rely on expressing their love to the Father indirectly through doing good works. "I'm going to show God I love Him by joining the usher board." Or maybe, "I'll sing in the choir." That's good, but we have to be careful not to put the cart before the horse. Jesus said the evidence of our love is in keeping God's commandments, not doing good works.

Continuing to operate in ignorance, rather than doing what God's Word says, puts us in a questionable position concerning our love toward Him. When we know what to do, but procrastinate in doing it, we operate in disobedience. For example, the Word of God says in Matthew 18:21-22 that "we should forgive our neighbor seventy times seven." But if we willingly hold a grudge against that person and later forgive him, we disobey God.

The same is true when we choose to do only part of what God says. If He tells you to hug your child and tell him you're proud of him, and instead of doing so you just hug him without saying a word, you disobey God. Partial obedience is disobedience. Delayed obedience is disobedience.

Friendship is born out of a covenant commitment and a covenant relationship. In essence, if we fail to do what God tells us, the covenant won't produce what it said it will do. If we're to benefit from the covenant that God made with us, we have to do what He tells us to do. Otherwise we put a damper on the covenant and our friendship with God. The covenant is on the line. I don't know about you, but I want His covenant fulfilled in my life! God is not trying to be a bully. He is trying to elevate us to His standards. He is trying to give us a better understanding of His love. He is trying to get us in position so He can do greater things in our lives.

He is trying to bring us into the abundant life His Word promises. However, God will not honor His covenant if we continue to sin by failing to do what He tells us to do. You see, sin does not just include those things we commit but also those things we omit or fail to do. Often, it is the things we neglect to do that result in sin. The Bible challenges us in Hebrews 2:3 not to neglect our salvation.

Many of the real problems in our lives are not from the devil. For instance, when we fail to pray, we cut short the benefits God has so freely given to us - protection, deliverance, soundness, and so forth. They derive from the choices we make - the things we choose to do and not do. We must decide daily whether or not we will obey. God is ready to give us the kingdom, but He can't give it to people who will not sit at the feet of Jesus to find out what to do. We must be willing to obey God at all cost. That's the key.

Obeying God in Our Relationships
God has given us specific instructions on how to cultivate our relationship with Him and with the people He has placed in our lives. Our earthly relationships are very important to God. In fact, He essentially said that we express our love for Him by loving others: "If you don't love your brother whom you see daily, and you say you love Me, whom you have not seen, you are a liar" (1 John 4:20).

In order to express our love to God, we must learn how to love one another without walking in envy or strife. We must have love that endures and covers with silence. We must intentionally learn how to treat one another, avoid offense, and seek God for wisdom and direction in every area of our lives.

The True Measure of Love
You can say, "I love God," but where's the proof of your love? God has a system by which He measures our love for Him: "If a man says, I love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, that he who loveth God love his brother also" (1 John 4:20-21).

God makes it clear that we cannot say we love Him, whom we've never seen, if we have problems with the person next to us. In other words, to the degree that you love others, you love Him. Jesus even said, "In as much as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me" (Matt. 25:40).

How we relate with one another in the Body of Christ is vitally important to God. In fact, if we say we love God but don't love our brother, we are liars. I didn't say this - the Bible says it! We can go around and tell people how much we love the Lord, but if we're not keeping His commandments, God says we're lying. Now, that's serious. It's easy to come to church, lift our hands and talk about how much we love God. But God sets the record straight here. He says none of that counts if we don't love one another.

Love the Whole Body of Christ
It's a poor representation in the kingdom of heaven if, from the neck down, Christians don't love one another. We just love the Head. "Ah, Jesus, we love You." We sing songs about loving the Lord, but many of us have not learned to truly love one another.

We can't say, "I'm going to love the head portion of the body and nothing below the neck. I'll take good care of my face, but I'm not concerned about my under arms. I'll comb my hair and touch up my makeup here, but the rest will just have to do." Christians who practice this form of preferential love, or in better terms, hypocrisy, are often the biggest turn-off to unbelievers. They are a poor representation of the Body of Christ, and many unbelievers are convinced we're all the same.

One reason for that attitude is the way church folk act. They claim to love God, yet people hear them gossiping, being cruel to one another, backbiting. So people figure, I don't want to get involved in that, so I'm just going to tend to my own business. It's sad that it's come to that. It's sad that people would rather come to church, hear the Word, and get out as quickly as they can so they can avoid direct contact with church folk!

Until we straighten out the relationships we have with the people we see every day, we can't say that we love God, whom we've never seen! We have to deal with these issues, because the Bible requires us to walk in love one with another.

The church has congregations of people who have been hurt, abused, persecuted, lied to, and talked about. Yet the thing that should distinguish us from the world is our love for one another. Jesus said, "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" (John 13:35).

I've taught my church leaders what I believe is the most important aspect of leadership: not to get so busy leading people that we forget to love them. And the thing we have to lead people into more than anything else is the love walk. We need to deal with the love issue over and over again, until an epidemic starts. And just as people catch colds, we'll catch this love bug!

Source: Lord, Teach Me How to Love by Creflo A. Dollar Jr.
Excerpt permission granted by Harrison House Publishers

Author Biography

Creflo A. Dollar
Web site: World Changers Ministries
 
Creflo Dollar is the founder and senior pastor of World Changers Church International (WCCI) in College Park, Georgia; World Changers Church-New York; and a host of fellowship churches throughout the United States and internationally. WCCI also has offices in Australia (serving the Asia-Pacific region), South Africa, Canada, the United Kingdom, India, and the Ukraine.
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