“But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.”
Scripture defines, describes, and exemplifies the goal of love. To define love, look at 1 John 5:3. “For this is the love of God that we keep His commandments, and His commandments are not burdensome.” Here is a straightforward definition. Outwardly, love is keeping God’s commandments. If you love God, you do not take His name in vain and use it loosely. If you love your neighbor, you do not lie to your neighbor. You do not steal from your neighbor. You do not covet your neighbor’s possessions. You do not commit adultery with your neighbor’s wife. This definition of love is straightforward, very concrete, and very clear. Our Lord Jesus Christ exemplifies this definition. He kept the law perfectly; He lived the life of love.
This definition is not enough. Scripture also describes love for us in a very familiar passage. Let’s begin with 1 Corinthians 13:4. “Love is patient.” This statement is a description. The subject is love. We have a linking verb. The predicate adjective describes the subject. “Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” We must present the truth. But we must speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). We must do so patiently; we must do so kindly. We must also do so gently because the goal of our instruction is love.
There’s a third aspect of love that is quite important. I’ve already alluded to the fact that our Lord Jesus exemplifies this love. Philippians 2:5 speaks of this example. “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.” The text speaks about Christ going to the cross and being obedient to the point of death. Have this attitude.
My oldest daughter was a vice-principal in a high school, and she knows first-hand about the attitude of many teenagers. Attitude can be a problem. However, an attitude that is in line with God and with Jesus Christ is a great blessing. Such an attitude is a characteristic of love. I’m quite taken by a concise arresting statement of W. G. T. Shedd. “Love is inclination” (Dogmatic Theology, 2:208). He’s talking about the inclination of the heart or the attitude of the heart. When you love the Lord your God, you have an attitude or frame of mind positively disposed toward God. This attitude, this inclination, is love. Philippians 2:5 says the same thing about Jesus Christ. Have this attitude, this love, in your heart, which is also in Christ Jesus.
When you have this attitude, you embrace the commandments of God. You walk in these commandments as described in 1 Corinthians 13 with kindness, patience, and forbearance. Your life displays the love of God, inwardly, and outwardly. Wrapping together this definition, description, and example, you have what Paul is speaking of in 1 Timothy 1:5, “The goal of our instruction is love.”