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God's Grace Ministries
Relationship Series: True Love
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You can only understand what true love is for another, 

when you can understand the love of Christ.


     Let us look at John Chapter 10, verses 10 through 18. It reads, "(10) The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy; I came that they might have life and might have it abundantly. (11) I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. (12) He who is a hireling, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, beholds the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them, and scatters them. (13) He flees because he is a hireling, and is not concerned about the sheep. (14) I am the good shepherd; and I know My own, and My own knows Me. (15) even as the Father knows Me, and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep (16) And I have other sheep, which are not if this fold; I must bring them also, and they shall hear my voice; and they shall become one flock with one shepherd. (17) For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. (18) No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative, I have authority to lay it down and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father. "  


     Jesus' reference of the sheep represents you and I. We are the sheep of one big flock and within this flock are sheep of different fold. Those who believe and those who do not. But notice, that even the sheep that are not of the fold, Jesus still had a desire to be a good shepherd to them; to continue to love and protect them against the thief, who wants to steal, kill, and destroy.  Lets first look at the hireling. 


Word Study


\Hire"ling\ (-l[i^]ng), n. [AS. h[=y]reling. See Hire, n., and -ling.] One who is hired, or who serves for wages; esp., one whose motive and interest in serving another are wholly gainful; a mercenary.  a labourer employed on hire for a limited time (Job 7:1; 14:6; Mark 1:20). His wages were paid as soon as his work was over (Lev. 19:13).


     The hireling can be related to the enemy which of course is satan.  Satans goal is to tempt you away from God and His will, then leave you to die.   When people are gathered together in unity for a just cause, satan sends temptation in the midst to scatter them.  Once we are scattered, temptation leaves us to be destroyed by the thief that comes to steal, kill, and destroy.  Need an example?  Good, glad you asked. 


     Lets think about when people are having rough times.  For this example, lets say a person just lost his job.  What is the main thing that some people will do in this situation?  Thats right, go and get a drink.  Go to happy hour to drown him/her self or to block out their sorrows.  They are temporarily satisfied because of the controlling substances in alcoholic beverages.  For that moment, the bad times dont seem as bad anymore.  This can become a habitual pattern.  Whenever the storm gets rough, he/she gets weak and then gets drunk.  It is a tactic of the devil to tempt you to take of strong drink, which is against the Word of God, mentioned in various areas of the bible. Numbers 6:3 is an example, "He shall separate himself from wine and strong drink, and shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink, neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat moist grapes, or dried."  Once the devil has "scattered" you from the flock of Jesus, you are then vulnerable as you loose the direct protection from the Good Shepherd. 

     Okay, now what happens?  Bad times keep rolling, and the person keeps drinking.  Its okay, right?  Just a drink here and there when times are rough? How bad can it be?  Well, ask those who are dying because of their liver being thinned; ask those who are lying in the hospital trying everything to hold on.  See, once the devil has you away from Jesus, he doesnt care about you nor does he love you.  He only wants you destroyed; broken down back to the dust from which you came.   Okay, so you say these are long term affects?  Okay, lets look at the short term affect.  When that person wakes up that next morning, they will still be unemployed.  They will still have the same problems. The only thing different is the illness added; the "hangover".  Brain cells can become impaired, damaged, or destroyed from alcohol and drug use.  Brain cells are the only cells in the body that cannot be recreated.  Once they are gone, they are gone.  So this scientific proof supports scripture; "The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy" 

     Now Jesus said that He'd lay down His life for His sheep.  Not because God told Him to or we asked Him to....but because He chose to. "I lay it down on my own initiative."  You may turn to your loved one, look them in the eye, and say "I love you", but does that love allow you to lay down your life for that person? Take a moment and seriously think about it. If you had the chance to give up your life to protect someone you love, would you lay down your life? Would you talk your way out of it in the best interest? Would you run and allow your loved one to be killed? It takes a strong love for someone to do that, and I admit that I would be hesitant in that situation.  But think about this; In these verses, Jesus talked about it, and later He backed it up as He died on the cross. He didn't die because He committed a crime. Jesus had the power of God; Jesus was God in the flesh and could have left the cross and continued to live, if He chose to. But no, being the good shepherd He laid down His life so that you and I shall not perish, but have everlasting life.  He's already done it. He has laid down His life and set the foundation. All we have to do is choose which fold we want to be in. And although His "flesh" life is gone, He still lives to be a shepherd to us. He has the "authority to take [His life] up again". 

     Not only Jesus, but lets take a look at the Love of our Father in Heaven.  His love can be summed up in just one verse.  "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16.  Now, those that are parents, think of this verse for a moment.  Imagine that a doctor told you that your son may not live a full life.  Out of the blue, a stranger knocked on your door saying, "My son is terminally ill and needs a heart as soon as possible, or he will die within 48 hours."  Knowing that your son was diagnosed that he would die, but he is perfectly healthy at the time, and assuming that your child is the perfect child; never gives you problems, helps everyone out, goes to church and is active, makes straight As in school, would you be willing to give the life of your son to save someone elses life in which there is no guarantee that he or she will be saved? 


     That is what God has done for us.  Jesus died so that we may be saved, but there is no guarantee that we will all get into heaven because we must still make the choice to accept Him and to live a righteous lifestyle.  Remember, this is the same Jesus that the Holy Ghost descended, in Luke 3:22, in a bodily shape like a dove, and the voice of God said, "Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased."   Think of all the things Jesus did here on earth.  God was well pleased with Jesus, yet he allowed him to die for us.   These two topics show true love, from Jesus our Shepherd, and God our Father.  And Im sure that we all would hesitate to show the extent of love that Jesus and God has shown for us.  He has shown more love for us and has done more than we could ever show or do to ourselves.   So how do we show that same love to our brother?  Well, when we accept Christ as our Savior, when we are filled with the Holy Spirit, He then lives in us.   At that point, if we allow Him full and total control over our lives, His love can communicate through us to our brother.  And along with that, we must also love God.  We must love Him as stated in Deuteronomy 6:5, Matthew 22:37, Mark 12:30, and Luke 10:27,  thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.  We can take what we learn when we have learned to love God, and apply that when it comes to loving our neighbors.


     When we can do these two things, accept the Holy Spirit and love God with all that we have, it then says in  1st John 4:21, "And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also."  So simply by obeying the commandments of God can we automatically love our brother if we allow God to do that through us.  Through Christ and through obedience of Gods Word can we understand true love, and then and only then can we have true, pure, and divine love for another human being.  I challenge you....find someone who can love you more than the Shepherd and the Father. Inasmuch, in which fold will you be when Jesus rounds up His sheep?  That is a choice that you must make right now, this very instant if you are to be in Jesus fold which He considers His friends.  To be His friend, it is simple.  St. John 15:14, "Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you."  Keep your focus on God and follow His commandments, and all will be given unto you. 


This piece written by Kelvin Pendleton, copyright Jan.1998.  All rights strictly prohibited.  Edited Jan 2003.   Author grants no rights for reuse without permission granted.  This material can be used for personal purposes as long as material is not bought nor sold.