The Four Dimensions of Christ’s Love

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height — to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with the fullness of God.  (Ephesians 3:14-19, NKJV.)

Almost everywhere we hear people talking and preaching about “the love of Jesus.”  Mass media preachers and door-to-door evangelists assure their audiences or “prospects” for “salvation” that “Jesus loves you.”  Invariably they would break out into a spiel about how Jesus died for sinners, how His shed blood cleanses us from our guilty past and evil consciences — about how God’s grace and mercy through Christ covers all our sins, and we are freed from the consequence of sin: death in the “lake of fire.”  We are assured of everlasting life.

This, of course, is all true!  But it is, to be honest, only a two-dimensional picture of the love of Christ! [See: The True Christ.]

As Ephesians 3:14-19 (quoted above) shows, there are four dimensions of Christ’s love.  If we are truly grounded in love, we will be able to comprehend all those four dimensions of the love of Christ.  Paul says that this understanding surpasses — goes beyond — mere human, material knowledge.  It takes the gift of the Spirit of God and of Christ in our inner selves for us to be able to come to this understanding (1 Corinthians 2:10-12).  [See: God’s Spirit and Obedience.]

We need to understand not just two dimensions of Christ’s love but all four dimensions, in order for us to be “filled with the fullness of God.”

With the recent revival of 3-D movies (which I first saw when I was in my teens), we understand better about 3-D: the three dimensions of length, width and height that give us a sensation of the full image, reality, or palpability of physical objects and beings — things we can perceive through our five senses, especially our sight or vision.  [Blind or — to be politically correct — “visually challenged”  persons can also sense 3-D through their highly sensitized touch.]

And we speak about the “4th dimension” as going beyond the physical — beyond our five senses, into the “sixth sense.”  We get into the reality of the “unseen,” the invisible realm of God, angels and spirits.  The apostle Paul said, “…we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.  For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18).

Let me share with you what I have understood about those four dimensions of Christ’s love, by looking at certain Scripture passages from both the Old Testament and the New that give us strong clues.  The unseen things of God are, thankfully, often understood by the physical things God has made (Romans 1:20).  I trust that this exercise will help us to be “filled with the fullness of God.”

The width of Christ’s love

How wide is Christ’s love?  I believe it is as wide as Christ’s grace.  Grace is something given to one who does not deserve it.  Grace means a gift (from the Greek charis) — and a gift is always free.  One doesn’t need to deserve it or earn it in order to receive it.  It would, in fact, be an insult to the giver for one who receives the gift to offer to pay for it!  All that the recipient needs to do is to offer heartfelt thanks — and really show it by loving the giver and being a giving person himself.

By this we know that the grace of God and of Christ is wide, because God loves everyone, including the wicked.  Jesus tells us, “You have heard it said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, love your enemies; bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:43-45).

This is what theologians call “common grace” — because it is available to all, regardless as to the person’s behavior or conduct.  What would God and people think of you as a father if you were to give food and drink only to your “good” children while depriving your “wayward” children of the same benefits?

Then there is also “special grace” — God’s gift to those whom God has especially called and chosen to become a part of His divine Household (starting with those who are His “firstborn” children — His “firstfruits” or “elect”).  [See: Predestination.]

Whereas God showed His special grace on quite a few select men and women in the Old Testament (Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and others  — as we can read about in Hebrews 11), God (through Christ) came to give grace to more people — a whole collection of people He calls out to comprise His Church, beginning with the early Christian disciples and on down through the centuries that followed. [See:  Moses and Jesus — Are They Contraries?]

God’s special grace comes to us by God opening our eyes to see, and opening our ears to hear, His truth — thus healing us of our spiritual blindness and spiritual deafness. [See: About Pool of Siloam.] This way we are able to understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ and of God’s Kingdom, come to repentance, and be baptized for the remission (or forgiveness) of our sins.  And then we receive what perhaps is the greatest gift we can have in this present life:  the gift of the Holy Spirit of God and of Christ (Acts 2:38).  [For an explanation of the distinction between the Spirit of the Father and the Spirit of Christ, see:  The Trinity Doctrine Reconsidered.]

Let’s hark back to how the Jews, in celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles [Sukkot], wave a sheaf made of the branches of “four species.”  This ritual, according to the Jews, pictures the loving sovereign rule of the Messiah when He comes to reign on the earth.  [See: God’s Feasts and the Jews — Part 3.  This article shows what blessing each branch, as commanded by God, symbolizes — and how, through their departure from some of the specifics, the Jews have missed out on some blessings.]

As explained in the just mentioned article above, the Jews have substituted the branch of the citron [Hebrew, esrog], for the Biblical olive branch [Hebrew,  zayith].  The olive tree and olive oil are among the symbols of God’s Spirit.  By refusing to use the inspired word zayith, the Jews picture their having resisted God’s Holy Spirit, as the first Christian martyr Stephen accused them of (Acts 7:51).

Someday — hopefully soon — when Christ returns to earth, the remnant of the Jews will also receive the gift of God’s Spirit, which the olive tree and olive oil symbolize.  Zechariah 12:10 says, “And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication…”

Beginning with Israel, God will graciously give mankind a new heart and a new spirit:  “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you;  I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  I will put My Spirit within you and [the result?] cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them” (Ezekiel 36:26-27).

As God will do to Israel, so He will do to the Gentiles in the Millennium or 1,000 years of Christ’s reign on earth — even as He does in our time today (Romans 2:10-11).  God will also give surviving Gentiles at that time the gift of a new heart, and His Spirit to enable them to obey God’s law.  As we know from Romans 8:7, without the Spirit of Christ and our God, our carnal mind has no power to obey God’s law.  [See: The Higher Law of the Spirit.]

Thus, through God’s grace during the Millennium — and beyond — that prophecy in Joel 2:28 will be fully accomplished: “And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh…” Thus all of humanity will finally learn, and have the power, to obey God’s laws — if they choose to do so.

As oil reduces friction, God’s Spirit of grace will so saturate Christ’s rule that there will be peace, goodwill, and true prosperity (without the ill effects of pollution of all kinds, stress and chaos of today’s world).  [See:The Next Chapter of History.”]

The length of Christ’s love

How long is the love of Christ?  I believe Christ’s love is as long as His mercy.  Mercy is like the reverse side of the same coin as grace.  As defined by some, whereas grace is receiving what we don’t deserve, mercy is not getting what we deserve!  Because all of us humans have sinned, we all deserve to die, since God has decreed that the consequence or ultimate punishment for sin is death (Romans 6:23).

But in His love God, as famously quoted in John 3:16, has given us His only begotten Son, so that, if we believe, we will not perish — we will not get our just desserts, which is death.  That’s mercy!  Instead, all who believe in the Son of God — who will thus receive His Spirit of grace — will receive the gift of everlasting life.  Romans 6:23 says, “…the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Psalm 103:17 says, “But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting.”  Psalm 136 is a litany of God’s mercy enduring “forever.”   Is there anything longer than everlasting and forever?

  • God’s mercy and longsuffering.  Numbers 14:18 says, “The LORD is longsuffering and abundant in mercy …”  Psalm 86:15 says, “But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth.”

As Ezra prayed, God’s longsuffering and mercy moves God to not punish us according to what our sins deserve (Ezra 9:13).  Paul was right on when he wrote in his famous “Love Chapter”:  “Love suffers long and is kind…bears all things… endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:4, 7).

Paul says that the “riches of God’s goodness, forbearance and longsuffering” leads those who are touched by it, to repentance (Romans 2:4).  Because the love of Jesus is manifested in His mercy and longsuffering, many people during the Millennium will turn from their wicked ways and instead turn to God and follow His ways.

  • World’s curse removed.  Recall that after Adam and Eve sinned, God cursed the ground they would till, so that it would bring forth “thorns and thistles” (Genesis 3:17-18).  As God fulfills His covenant — the “sure mercies of David” (Isaiah 55:3) — when Christ rules on earth, here is what Isaiah 55:13 pictures:  “Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress [KJV, “fir”] tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree.”

The myrtle tree (called banaba in most parts of the Philippines) is a lovely tree, with long-lasting paper-like purple blossoms.  And the leaves and bark are used by folks here as a natural remedy for various illnesses.  Here the Jews are right in using a branch of the myrtle tree [Hebrew, hadas] for their wave sheaf during the Feast.  This is something they can hope for from God, and they will not be disappointed!

By God removing the curse that we deserve, God’s  mercy brings us healing and health.  And that is why the “World Tomorrow” (as the original Worldwide Church of God called the Millennium) will be a happy, peaceful and safe place.  Healing and health will be promoted by such a kind and pleasant atmosphere as Christ’s rule of love will bring about.

  • Mercy to those who fear God.  Psalm 1103:7 adds that God’s mercy is from everlasting to everlasting on “those who fear Him…”   Verse 11 says, “…so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him.”  Because God has shown us mercy by not giving us the punishment we deserve, we should have the fear of God so that we will not continue in sin or evil deeds.  Proverbs 16:6 says,  “…by the fear of the LORD one departs from evil.” [See: Can We Fear and Love God at the Same Time?]

Jesus also calls “blessed” or “happy” those who show mercy, for they also will obtain mercy (Matthew 5:7).  We are to remember Christ’s parable about the unforgiving servant (Matthew 18:22-35), whose master had shown him mercy by writing off his huge debt which he did not have the means to pay.  This servant failed to show mercy, in turn, to his fellow-servant who owed him a much smaller amount.  Result?  He was delivered to a torturer till he could pay back what he owed his master.  “…Judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy” (James 2:13).

Horizontal dimensions

We might call the width and length of the love of Christ its “horizontal” dimensions as shown by His grace and mercy.  We might also call them the “attractant” for sinners to come to Christ.  It wafts, as Paul put it, “the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved…the aroma [“savor,” KJV] of life leading to life” (2 Corinthians 2:15, 16).

With His glorified saints, Christ will reach out to the remaining mortals on this earth with His grace and mercy as part of the banner of His love which will be unfurled and will give off a sweet fragrance to attract and invite these mortals to His spiritual banquet.  This is what God’s feast, the Day of Atonement, pictures [see: Two Goats Together].

God’s people who are preparing themselves to get ready as the bride or wife of the Lamb, Jesus Christ, are to heed earnestly God’s encouragement to:

  • “…grow in the grace…of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18)
  • “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one” (Colossians 4:6).
  • “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do” (Colossians 3:12-13).

Vertical dimensions

We come now to what we might call the “vertical” dimensions of Christ’s love: its depth and height.  A visual representation of these dimensions on planet earth would be Mount Everest (the world’s highest peak) and the Marianas Trench (the world’s deepest body of water).

I believe that these two vertical dimensions of the love of Christ — its depth and height — combine with the horizontal dimensions — its width and length — to produce the perfect world on this earth that is the dream of every utopian thinker.

As the width (grace) and length (mercy) of Christ’s love are like two sides of the same coin, so also the depth and height of Christ’s love appear like two sides of another coin.

The depth of Christ’s love

How deep is Christ’s love?  Not just as deep as the Bee-Gees would sing it!  I believe the love of Christ is as deep as His justice or judgment.

Psalm 36:6 (latter half) says, “Your judgments are a great deep.”  The apostle Paul describes the depth or profundity of God’s judgments as “unsearchable” (Romans 11:33).  Yet God’s judgments are to be sought after and learned, even as the psalmist said, “I will praise You with uprightness of heart, when I learn Your righteous judgments” (Psalm 119:7).

We may not be able, in this life, to totally plumb the depths of God’s judgments, but we do have a good sampling of them in Exodus 21-22.  If we ever sit down to ponder these judgments, we will see that they have to do with consequences — mainly penalties or compensations — for some situation, some breach of God’s law or some harm or damage done by one person to another. [See: Law Added to Law Transgressed, Transgressions Under the First CovenantOf Dungeons and Prisons, and The Law of Christ.]

  • Judgment and punishment as love.  The natural bent of the human mind (as opposed to the spiritual mind of Christ) is to look at judgment and punishment as unloving. Today’s age of permissiveness frowns on parents and other authority figures scolding, rebuking, chastising, dressing down, reprimanding, etc. a child or adult.  The buzz word is “unconditional love.”  And this kind of love tends to condone sin. [Let’s be clear, though, to distinguish this from God’s free, unconditional gift of forgiveness (grace) when God forgives us of our sins. God forgives us on the basis or condition of His mercy and grace — not on anything we do to earn that forgiveness.  See: Moses and Jesus — Are They Contraries?]

Grandparents, especially, need to be watchful about this with their grandchildren.  When the grandparents’ children in some way scold or punish their kids (the grandchildren) for some misbehavior, do these kids run to their doting grannies and grampas for “unconditional love?”  That is, do the grandparents take the kids’ side against these kids’ parents and thus condone the kids’ misconduct?  When grandparents do this, I believe they are not showing real love to their children and grandchildren! Grandparents have an important role in developing in their grandchildren true faith in God, as Timothy’s grandmother did (2 Timothy 1:5).

While corporal punishment (a.k.a., spanking) is now illegal in many countries, parents can use their creativity to penalize their misbehaving children in other ways.  In the final analysis, every parent would need to deal with God’s word in such scriptures as:

Hebrews 12:5-6  [quoted from Proverbs 3:11-12]:  “My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the LORD loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.”  Revelation 3:19 resonates this:  “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten.”

  • Sorrow and pain.  Hebrews 12:11 says,  “Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful…”  I believe God’s loving judgment is well symbolized by the willow tree [Hebrew, arava] — the species most popular in song and legend being the weeping willow.  The twigs and branches of the willow tree cascade like tears down to a lake or pond or river, where willows grow well.

The Jews are again right in including branches of the willow tree in the sheaf of the “four species” which they wave during Sukkot.  Psalm 137 is a prophecy (or a memorial) about the Jews’ captivity in Babylon:  “There we wept, and there sat down; hung our harps on the willow trees…”  The captive Jews there could not sing their psalms or songs of Zion as their captors asked them to.  How could they do so while they languished in a foreign land because God had punished them for their sin and they pined for their beloved homeland?

Although humanly speaking it is hard to imagine God’s judgment as an expression of God’s love, God will judge nations through Jesus Christ in order to achieve the peace on earth that men have long sought after but have never found.

1.  God’s chastisement of the nations during Christ’s reign.  While Jesus’ gracious and merciful reign on earth will be received well by most of surviving mankind, there will be some — especially from strong nations — that will need a loving but firm rebuke from Christ (Micah 4:3).  Zechariah 14:17-19 shows, for example, how God will punish, with drought and plagues, those nations that will not come up to Jerusalem to worship Christ by keeping the Feast of Tabernacles year after year.

For the more hard-headed nations during Christ’s reign on earth, Jesus (with us His glorified saints) will rule the nations “with a rod of iron” (Revelation 2:27; 12:5; 19:15).  Yes, there will be rebels even during the Millennium.  But God will give them a fair chance to repent, or else be stopped from disturbing the peace that God will ensure at that time.  We know that those who, after God will have opened their understanding to the gospel, will not repent but choose to remain incorrigibly wicked.  They will have to be put away.  That’s what the lake of fire is for!   While it may sound gross, it is out of true love that God does this — love for wicked people, who would only be miserable living forever in a righteous and godly world that they cannot accept.

And it is definitely love for those who will remain subject to Christ’s sovereign rule and who truly are for peace.  Would a loving God allow the wicked to run rough-shod on the earth forever and bully all those who want to live righteously?  Certainly not!  Wouldn’t it indeed be a wonderful world when all terrorists around us are put away, and we can live life peacefully and not be paranoid about our safety and security?

Isaiah 9:7 says that “…of the increase of [Christ’s] government and peace there will be no end.”  During His rule here, Jesus will not delay executing judgment on the wicked, like it often happens in today’s world (Ecclesiastes 8:11), so wickedness will not proliferate.  Wickedness will be “nipped in the bud” before it can do much damage or disturbance to the peace that will then prevail  worldwide (Isaiah 30:20-21).

2.  Judgment/justice tempered with mercy.  Although Jesus will rule with a “rod of iron,” He will extend His hand of mercy to those who will fear Him, humble themselves and repent of their sin and wickedness.  That has always been God’s unchanging nature (Malachi 3:6-7)!  [See:  Just What Does God Mean — “I Do not Change?”]  God saw just a peep of humility in two of the most wicked kings of Israel and Judah (Ahab and Manasseh — story in 1 Kings 21:17-29 and 2 Chronicles 33:1-17), and He relented from giving them the full force of His judgment.  Because God is faithful to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness when we humbly confess our sins and repent (1 John 1:9), James 2:13 affirms that “Mercy triumphs over judgment.”

The height of Christ’s love

How high is the love of Christ?  I believe Christ’s love is as high as His knowledge and truth.  What is true knowledge or truth?  It is mainly God’s thoughts or concepts put into words.

Isaiah 55:9 says, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”  Overwhelmed by how God knows our every move, our every thought and our every word, Judah’s King David remarked: “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain it” (Psalm 139:6).

Yet we are to seek God’s knowledge, God’s ways, God’s truth — and to grow in it.  As Peter admonishes: “But grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).

1.  God’s Word corrects all error.  God’s Word — the Bible, which includes the true history of mankind, of Israel and of the Church of God painted sometimes in broad strokes and at other times in great detail, God’s laws and prophecies — is, as Paul says, “profitable for doctrine (teaching), for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness…” (2 Timothy 3:16).  Isaiah 8:20 assures us that God’s law and testimony (prophecies) are the “touchstone” or “plumb line” or “straight edge” to correct what is ignorance (darkness and falsehood as against light and truth) and wickedness or “crooked” thinking — unrighteousness and sin.

The Jews are partly correct in including palm branches in the sheaf of “the four species” which they wave during Sukkot.  However, as pointed out [see: God’s Feasts and the Jews — Part 3], the Jews use the word lulav instead of the Biblical tamar for the palm tree.  God’s law, as symbolized by the tall, majestic and generally erect and upright palm tree, is the “true vertical” which, like a plumb line, should tell us when our thoughts are not aligned with God’s thoughts.  By rejecting the God-inspired word tamar and substituting another word [lulav] for the palm tree, the Jews — while professing to have and obey God’s law — reflect their rejection of God’s law!  Well did Jesus tell the Jews in His day:  “All too well you reject the commandment of God, [so] that you may keep your tradition… making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down.  And many such things you do (Mark 7:9, 13).”  [See: Barking up the Wrong Tree and Moses and Jesus — Are They Contraries?]

God is so uncompromising with His Word and truth [Psalm 119:142 affirms that God’s law is truth] that He has condemned false prophets and false teachers both in the Old Testament and the New.  He pronounces “Woe” to them.  God will cast into the lake of fire, among others, “all liars” “and whoever loves and practices a lie” (Revelation 21:8; 22:15). [See: Beware of False Prophets, Fake News. and “Whoever Loves and Practices a Lie.”]

Jesus said that it is God’s truth — God’s Word — that “sanctifies” us (John 17:17) — makes us holy.  God’s Word cleanses our carnal thoughts by the “washing of water by the word” (Ephesians 5:26).  As Jesus has done with the Church, so He will do with those mortal humans who will survive the horrific destruction at Christ’s return.  Christ will make the knowledge of His ways, His laws, and His truth available to all mankind.  And as Isaiah 2:3 and Micah 4:2 prophesy, many nations will come to Jesus in Jerusalem to learn of God’s law and word.

2.  Pain with straightening the crooked.  Who among us has experienced having dislocated an arm or leg bone?  When the hilot (as a chiropractor is called in the Philippines) works to set the bone back, didn’t it feel excruciatingly painful?  But as the saying goes, “No pain, no gain.”  It is humanly painful to be told you’re wrong and you need to change your thinking or concept or idea of what is true and right (see John 3:20-21).

God compares His word or truth to something sharper than a “two-edged sword” (Hebrews 4:12).  A sword cuts, and a double-edged sword cuts both ways — up and down, left and right.  [See: The Flaming Sword East of Eden.]

Christ’s rule of grace and mercy, however, will give humans a change of heart so that they will welcome God’s truth instead of resisting it.  That’s why nations will be going to Jerusalem eagerly to learn of God’s law and ways.  Zechariah 8:23, in fact, prophesies that when Jews are converted during Christ’s rule, they will be sought after by people from other nations (at a ratio of 10 foreigners for every Jew) to learn of God’s ways.  Thus, “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9).

3.   Ignorance and its consequence removed.  Hosea 4:6 says that God’s people, and this world’s society in general, are being destroyed because of the lack of true and right knowledge — spiritual and even material or physical knowledge.  But when Christ rules, gone will be idolatrous worship based on falsehood, myths and distortions of God’s truth.  Gone will be all kinds of superstitions, “old wives’ tales” and faulty theories that have caused sicknesses, accidents, disasters and other kinds of tragedy and death in our world today.  Instead, the knowledge of God’s perfect ways will bring true progress, without its “collateral damage” like pollution of our earth and the “dehumanization” at the work place.  Instead, radiant health and happy, purposeful and peaceful lives will flourish.  Men, each sitting under his own vine and his own fig tree by himself or with his family and friends feeling absolutely safe and secure (Micah 4:4) — this is a wonderful picture of what the knowledge of God will bring upon mankind through Christ’s perfect rule.

The triumph of mercy

Interestingly, the mercy of God and of Christ is not only long and enduring.  King David remarked this of God’s mercy:  “For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him” (Psalm 103:11).  God’s mercy — God’s longsuffering compassion — towers over God’s knowledge, God’s law, and God’s judgment.  As James 2:13 assures: “Mercy triumphs over judgment.”  Thank God for this! 

Another psalmist voiced this praise on our behalf: “If You, LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?  But there is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared” (Psalm 130:3-4). 

It is quite remarkable that, when God commanded Moses to make an earthly representation of God’s throne, from which God spoke to Moses, God called it “the mercy seat” (Exodus 25:17-22). It was from that seat that God judged the children of Israel through His faithful servant Moses. 

 A perfect  balance of all four dimensions

God the Father and Jesus Christ have all the four dimensions of their love in perfect balance and harmony.  They are so well blended that God’s grace and mercy can be both wide and long, God’s knowledge can be both high and deep!  And God’s mercy can be both wide or long — and high!

We humans have been raised by imperfect parents, who themselves have imbibed the imperfections of their parents and their imperfect society and imperfect culture.  We have tended to be people of extremes — either too gracious and too merciful (soft where we need to be tough) or too harsh, judgmental (where we need to cut some slack with those who err, and show mercy and compassion to them).  We need to blend together in perfect balance all four of these dimensions in our dealing with the brethren and with those outside the Church.  “Tough love,” “steel and velvet” or “gentle and strong” kind of capture the idea of this balance.  [See:  Leanings.]

Admittedly this is a daunting challenge for us.  Yet our Lord says, “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).  If this is a command, God help us!  For we always fall short of God’s perfection.  We stumble every day — maybe even every hour or every minute.  But we can always, with God’s help, pick ourselves up every time we fall, and then keep walking towards our goal of perfection and Christ-likeness.  [See:  The Higher Law of the Spirit and God’s Spirit and Obedience.]  As we do, at death our human spirit becomes perfected and is stored with God (Hebrews 12:23).   [See:  What Happens to Man After Death?]  For sure, when we are born again in the resurrection at Christ’s return, we will no longer sin (1 John 3:9).

As God’s people who are preparing to get ourselves ready as the bride or wife of the Lamb, Jesus Christ, let us heed earnestly God’s further encouragement to:

  • “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24).  We should be learning how to judge righteously now, for we are going to help Christ judge the world and even angels (1 Corinthians 6:2-3) through the vital application of God’s perfect laws.  God’s laws and commandments will be the basis or standard for judging the mortal subjects of God’s kingdom, as for all times.  [See:  The Law of Christ and The Great Wall.]
  • “For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged.  But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world” (1 Corinthians 11:31-32).
  • “So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty.  For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy…” (James 2″12-13).
  • “… but speaking the truth in love, [we] may grow up in all things into Him who is the head — Christ…” (Ephesians 4:15).  Let’s not use God’s Word like a sword to beat up or cut up our fellow servants (Matthew 24:48-51).
  • “Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time.  Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one” (Colossians 4:4-6).
  • “In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.  And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us.  And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.  Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it” (Colossians 2:11-15).

As we strive, although haltingly at times, to put in all the four dimensions of the love of Christ in our lives, may the apostle Paul’s prayer be fulfilled in us, that we “may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19).  As we do, may we become more Christ-like and better equipped to serve with Christ in His kingdom, under the banner of His perfect love!


Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.

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