Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 4, 1962

Love For All Men

Gordon Wilson

In the early days of Christianity, during the period of pagan persecutions, one of the most astonishing charges brought against the disciples of the Lord was that they were haters of all men. This charge was grounded in the fact that children of God did not run with worldly companions in the exercise of evil. They maintained an aloofness from the festivals of idolatry; they were not filled with wine, but with the Spirit; their voices were not lifted in songs of ribaldry nor in lascivious tales, but in the singing of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Christians demonstrated an exclusivity toward sinful associations. Yet, the charge that they were haters of men was false in the extreme, for they went about doing good at every opportunity, and in quietness they walked and labored for the benefit of their countrymen.

Indeed, love is a prerequisite of Christianity. Jesus taught that the greatest duty toward others is to "love thy neighbor as thyself." According to the definition given in the story of the good Samaritan, one's neighbor is the individual toward whom he may extend mercy and compassion. This requirement to love men is broadened into a universal application by the precept, "love thy enemies." As a follower of the Master it is my obligation to love my brethren, my neighbors, and even my enemies. Every human being in the whole world is to be the object of my love. But how can this be? How is it possible to love anybody with whom I have no personal association? Certainly such is possible when we understand the nature of love. Obviously a lack of experience with individuals precludes the possibility of personal emotional attachment. Therefore, love must be something quite different.

My proposition is this: Love is defined by what one does, not simply by what he feels. All claims of love for our fellowman must be substantiated by what we do for him. Just as one cannot show his faith without works, so he cannot define love without action. This kind of love contains two aspects: the negative and the positive. The negative is stated, "Love worketh no ill to his neighbor." (Rom. 13:10) If I seek to injure the feelings, damage the reputation, or hinder the happiness, presently or eternally, of my neighbor, all of the protestations in the world of love for him win be lies and mouthings of hypocrisy. The positive aspect is stated by Jesus in His sermon on the mount, "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so to them." (Matt. 7:12) The positive side of love leaves no room for indifference. If I cannot be the robber who falls upon the innocent wayfarer, neither can I be the Levite who passes by on the other side.

God loved all men and gave a plan of salvation. The Old Testament period during which this salvation was being prepared, or rather men were being prepared for it, is full of assurances of God's universal love and longing after man. "The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love." (Jer. 13:3) But Jehovah did not just say that He loved us; He did something on our behalf. He gave the law to condemn sin, and then sent Christ to cure sin's effects.

Christ loved all men, and effected our redemption. "For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commended His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Born. 5:7, 8) The fact that we did not deserve such a sacrifice did not prevent the Son of God from pouring out even His soul unto death for us. Nor can any amount of unworthiness separate us from this love. (Rom. 8:3539) The Lord did not just say He loved us, but He proved it by the gift of Himself, and continues to prove it over and over by His readiness to forgive us our sins when we turn from them.

If we love all men we must work for their good. Love destroys selfishness and laziness, and calls for disinterested labor on behalf of all who stand in need of our help. Oh! how this generation needs to have begotten in us a burning passion for the souls of men! How we need to awake to the opportunities all around us! How we need to be alert to the cries for aid and comfort coming from those who stand in darkness and fear of death! Never would I push a man over the brink into hell, but have I the courage to snatch him back in time? Never would I banish a single soul from the portals of glory, but have I the care to open his eyes to the fact that these portals stand open ready to receive him? Multitudes of faithful Christians are acting for the salvation of all men, but multitudes still stand idle. Brethren, let us think; let us act; let us really and truly love all men.

— 210 Barstow, Clovis, California