Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
Select a thought to read by choosing a collection, the month, and then the day:
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity [the love of God], I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.”
When I was a young teenager, I saw news footage of a man burning himself alive to protest a certain government’s actions. Some years back, a jailed Irishman starved himself to death in a British jail to protest British occupation of Northern Ireland. Since the Bible has been outlawed in American schools, suicide by young people has, according to news reports, skyrocketed. The brother of a friend of mine hanged himself several years ago because his wife left him, and that is similar to tragic stories about which we read now and then from various places around the world. It is to be expected that if the Stock Market crashes again as it did in the early twentieth century, many people will kill themselves. We know that many did kill themselves after the big crash of 1929 and that some killed themselves after the small “crash” of the late 1980’s.
So, there are many reasons that people may wilfully suffer the loss of their property, or possessions, or even of life. Multitudes throughout human history have willingly given their lives for countries, money, rulers (even wicked ones), or for any number of other earthly reasons. And in practically every culture, including our own, such people are admired and said to have been welcomed into Paradise as heroes. But what about the love of God?
Paul declares that without the love of God, all such sacrifices are worthless to the individual. Terrorists around the world are promised immediate access to heaven if they die in the commission of their murders. Is that the love of God? The Popes promised to Christian crusaders immediate entry into heaven if they died fighting the Muslims. Was that the love of God? Everybody wants God to be on his side in a fight, and everybody on earth claims that God is on his side in a war. But that is only to embolden the ones who are being sent out to die, and it is a lie. Earthly wars are all fought by men without the love of God because the love of God directs us to have no part in an earthly war.
The love of God is the love of the things that are of the true God: God’s kingdom; God’s people; God’s gospel; God’s Spirit; God’s Son. These are the things that men are willing to die for who have the genuine love of God. These are eternal things; they are things that are better than earthly life itself, and if a man dies for such things because of the love he bears for God, his soul is especially dear to God, and he is especially rewarded by Him. But there is nothing on earth that will benefit a man’s soul if he dies for it, not a nation, not a loved one, not a ruler, not a cause. All those earthly things will be destroyed by fire when God does away with “the earth and the works that are therein”, and no one motivated by the love of God gives his life for them.