Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Love, Biblical Style

On February 14th we celebrated Valentine's Day. When we think of Valentine's day, we naturally think of love. The word love is used over 250 time in the New Testament alone. The vast majority of those instances it is translated from two very closely related Greek words (agape and agapao) which basically mean guessed it; love. Digging a little deeper, we find affection, benevolence, and even charity. I had a pastor once who often said that "love is an action not a feeling." It would appear that technically he was wrong about that, but in application, I believe he was definitely on to something.

If we start to look at some of the verses which have the word love in them, we soon begin to see a sort of cause and effect type relationship where the love causes an action. One obvious verse that comes to mind is John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Cause and effect. The cause was that God loved the world; the effect was that he gave his Son; the effect was that we don't have to perish; the effect is that we can have everlasting life. That is love being carried out through an action!

There is a chapter in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 13) that is often referred to as the "love" chapter. But if that can be called the love chapter, then I think 1st John could rightly be called the "love book" or "love epistle." (and that give us the answer to the generations old question, "who wrote the book of love?") Here are only a few of the verses in 1st John that speak of love:

1 John 3:11 For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.

This verse very likely refers back to just before Jesus went to the cross when he said in John 13:34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

Back to the book of 1st John:

1 John 3:16-18 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

Here we see a cause and effect relationship of love clearly illustrated. We can see that God loves us because he laid down his life for us, and our love for each other should show itself in the same way; as a willingness to lay down our life for one another. John goes on to say that if you see your brother in need and have the means to help him, but won't, then God's love is not dwelling in you. As it says here, don't just say you love your brother by your words, show it by your actions.

1 John 4:7-11 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.

Did you catch that? Love is of God, and in fact God is love! Loving one another is one of the "proofs" that we know God. And here again, John goes on to name a cause and effect. God showed us his love for us by sending his Son into the world so we can live through him. And John makes it plain that the love came first from God. He didn't send his Son because we loved him, but rather he sent his Son because he loved us. And the natural effect is that since he loved us so much, we should also love one another.

1 John 5:1-3 Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

Here again, John lays out the notion that Christians should love each other. In this passage he states that one who believes Jesus is the anointed one, is born of God; in other words born again. And if you love the one who you were born of, you will love others who are born of him. That's natural, because you have the same Father. They are your brothers and sisters. John goes on to point out that this equation works both forward and backward. In chapter four he told us that loving one another was proof that we love God. Here he says that loving God is proof that we love God's children. But here he adds a little something, and that is "keeping God's commandments." The way that we show love to God is by keeping his commandments.

Now whether you want to include the ten commandments in here or limit it to the commands that Jesus gave when he was here in the flesh hardly matters. Either way we have all failed miserably at keeping them.

Luke 6:27 But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,
Luke 6:35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.

Those are only two commands of Jesus, and both of them having to do with loving others. Have any of us kept those commands? Have you always loved your enemies? Always? Maybe I should make that "have you ever?" I don't know about you, but I have even failed at always loving my friends and family. That puts me in the same boat with everyone else. I am a sinner.
But we have this promise:

Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

That's right, God loved us, and he didn't just tell us that he loved us and then left us to perish in our sins. He put that love into action. John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

If you haven't already done so, wont' you take the first step in returning God's love? Won't you turn from your sins and to Jesus Christ, believing that he paid the penalty that we each deserve?


Anonymous said...
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St. Lee said...

Funny how the those with a limited vocabulary (but who still manage to be both foul and blasphemous) are also generally too timid to post under any name but anonymous.