Definitions of the word love: 1) a strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties; 2) attraction based on sexual desire; 3) affection based on admiration, benevolence, or common interests; 4) warm attachment, enthusiasm, or devotion: 5) unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another
Love is what makes the world go around. Have you ever heard that said before? Through the years I have heard it many times. The question is ‘What do people mean when they use that phrase?’. I think sometimes they mean that as long as there is love then everything is ok. No matter what the circumstances, love makes it all acceptable. Well there may be some truth in that when taken in the right context and perspective. But the thing that must be considered is ‘What is real love and where does it come from?’. We will consider that question as we move through our discussion of love.
The word love is used very loosely in today’s society. We use the word to say we are fond of things such as seasons, foods, sports, movies, etc. instead of using a word similar to like or care for. We also use the word to describe our relationship with our spouse, family members and friends but with each use comes a varying degree of the depth of the word. I love college football. I love spring and fall. I love pintos beans and cornbread. I love my wife. I love my children. I love my grandkids. These are all examples of how we use the word but obvious with somewhat different meanings for each. The strength and depth for each are not the same.
In many instances love is one of those words that cannot fully describe what is meant by the one who voices it. For example, when I tell my wife I love her it does not fully describe my innermost feelings of how I really cherish her. Just to say “I love you” does not include a measure of depth of what I am really trying to say. I want to say that she means so much to me that I would do anything for her even to the point of dying. Just the word love does not say that in human terms even though we want it too. We use the word with good intentions but often it falls short of what we are trying. to say.
In spite of all that has been said in the above discussion concerning the word love, there is another word for love that comes from the original Greek language and has a verb and noun form. Agapao is the verb form of the word and agape is the noun form. This love is very similar to the meanings we have already seen but has a much deeper depth to it. Agape is generally the most often used word for love in the New Testament and carries with it a deliberate and purposeful action on the part of someone. In other words, it is not and emotional or impulsive action but is intentional in nature. The Bible tells us that love is an attribute of Holy God and goes further to say that God himself is love. 1st John 4:16 (NAS) states “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.”
God loves us much like a parent loves a child. God’s love for us is such that He made it possible for us to become one of His very own children so that we might have that father-child relationship and live with Him forever. This love is deliberate on His part and was proven by His actions. The Bible verse many people are the most familiar with is John 3:16. As this verse says “God so loved (agape) the world (everyone) that He gave (sacrificed) His only begotten Son (Jesus) that whosever (anyone) believes in Him (Jesus) shall have everlasting life.” Notice that His love resulted in a deliberate action and His action became the gift of salvation to us. The interesting thing is that some people return this love to Him and others choose not to.
This kind of love is what He has demonstrated to us and desires that we have that same love for Him. How then do we show that love for Him? By obedience to His commandments. Remember that agape love is purposeful and not impulsive or emotional. It manifests itself in our actions and our lifestyle. He also expects us to love others as He has loved us. The question again becomes “How?” First by sharing the gospel with others when we have the opportunity and by ministering to our Christian brothers with the gifts and talents that God has given us. Paul describes in 1st Corinthians 13 the nature of the love we are to have for one another and no stone is left unturned. It truly leaves the focus on others rather than ourselves.
We must always remember that God is the source of all our love. As someone else has said, “Loving God and loving other people are so interrelated that we cannot have one without the other.” John wrote in his first epistle the following words as he was inspired by the Holy Spirit: We love because He first loved us. Those who say “I love God” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from Him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sister also. (NRSV, 1st John 4:19-21)
May we all experience the love of God and in turn love Him and our brothers and sisters just as He has commanded. Amen and amen!