Don't Let Your Love Grow Cold

Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.
Matthew 24:12 NIV

Wickedness is increasing before our very eyes. Constant video replays of the deaths of innocent people, the scenes of riots in our streets, reports of fire-bombed police cars, businesses being looted and burned to the ground have resulted in intense emotions erupting across the nation.

Jesus gave us a forewarning in the Gospel of Matthew when He spoke about events in the end times. He said that we would witness a level of wickedness that would result in the love of most people growing “cold.” Righteous anger at injustice can quickly morph into hatred if not constrained by God’s love. This is a dangerous temptation for anyone who hates injustice.

God is the God of justice. He hates injustice in any form. That is clear from even a superficial reading of the Bible.

For the Lord loves justice…Psalm 37:28

But at the same time, God is the God of love according to 1 John 4:8. And He never allows His love to grow cold toward people even when he sees them commit injustice or wickedness in the earth. God never exhibits the “typically human” response to evil - which is to hate the evildoer. Instead, He has a supernaturally loving response, desiring to see the evildoer repent and turn toward God.

‘As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked,
but that the wicked turn from his way and live.
Ezekiel 33:11

What are we to do as followers of Christ when we see wickedness and hatred abounding in our society? Many feel the need to hate the “haters” as a way of showing love to the oppressed. Yet this is not a Biblically based position. We are called to love all people as Christ does. That includes those with whom we disagree and those we feel are sinning against others. Simply, we are called to imitate God – who loves everyone. We know God does not approve of the actions of sinners – yet He stills loves them. And we are called to do likewise.

Therefore, be imitators of God as dear children.
And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us…
Ephesians 5:1-2

God knows that it is humanly impossible to love wicked people with our own human love. That is why God poured His own supernatural love into our hearts when we surrendered our lives to Him. If you have experienced the “born again” life transformation that Jesus described to Nicodemus in the third chapter of the Gospel of John, then you have a reservoir of God’s love within you. You can release that love to others – or you can choose to withhold it. When faced with evil, withholding love seems far more “natural” to our human minds than extending love to a wicked perpetrator. But I want you to consider the following story which I believe demonstrates that it is possible to live a life of supernatural love even in the presence of hate-filled enemies.

When World War II broke out, a young American missionary couple was working in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia). The Japanese invaded the island of Celebes where they were living. All foreigners were placed in prisoner of war camps set up by the invading shock troops of the Rising Sun. Newlywed missionaries, Russell and Darlene Deibler, were separated when the men and women were sent to different camps. Unbeknownst to Darlene, she was never to see her husband again on this earth.[1]

Inside the women’s POW camp which housed over 1,000 women and children, the circumstances were desperate. Little food, unsanitary conditions, extreme heat, and heavy work required by their captors made the living situation nearly unbearable. The commandant of the women’s camp was known for his cruel temper and often viciously beat women who violated his camp rules. He beat a man to death who had been found lurking outside the camp while the women stood watching at rigid attention. It was a warning to his captives against attempting to communicate with anyone outside the barbed wire fence.

Though Darlene had observed the commandant’s cruelty many times, she was determined to pray for him. She looked for an opportunity to speak to him of God’s love. The day came when she was able to speak freely and privately to the commandant. It was the day she was informed that her husband had died in the men’s camp. As she sat in the commandant’s office, still reeling from the news of the loss of her beloved husband, Darlene asked if she could tell him something. He gave her permission to speak. She told the commandant about Jesus and His love for all people. She explained that Jesus had given her a special love that enabled her to not harbor hatred in her heart for her enemies. “That is why I do not hate you,” she told the man. He was moved to tears and hurriedly left his office.

Some years later, after the war was over, Darlene received the news that the commandant had been heard on the radio in Japan giving his testimony of how God changed his life and his heart so that he did not hate anymore. Her daily walk of love amid hatred and hardship had influenced the heart of a once hardened and hate-filled man.

Is it possible to love those who are hateful? With the love of God in your heart, it is possible! If we allow God’s love to operate through us, we will not become part of the tragic majority whose hearts will grow cold in the end times. But it is a choice we must make every single day to allow God’s love to “constrain us” from responding to evil in a commonly human manner. Contemporary society is hellbent on hating and berating those they view as intellectual, political or social enemies. This ought not to be the conduct of Christian believers who claim to love God. We possess the supernatural love of God and must choose to respond with its power.

Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. James 3:10

A man of God by the name of Bob Jones had a “near death” experience in 1975 when a medical emergency caused his heart to stop. He was clinically dead. Immediately he found himself in a line of people heading toward the throne of God. As he got closer, he realized that God was asking each person a single question. The question stunned him. God asked each individual, “Did you learn to love?”[2] Obviously that was the most important issue to God.

Learning to love the way God loves is to embrace a supernatural standard that is far above the standard of human love. Jesus described it in detail in the sixth chapter of the Gospel of Luke:

But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
bless those who curse you and pray for those who spitefully use you.

Therefore, be merciful just as your Father also is merciful. Luke 6: 27-28; 36

May God help us navigate this difficult season prayerfully and without our love growing cold.

[1] Evidence Not Seen: A Woman’s Miraculous Faith in the Jungles of World War II. Copyright © 1988 by Darlene Rose.

[2] Did You Learn to Love? Copyright ©2015 by Bonnie Jones.