A number of months ago I was sending a text message out to a friend and I ended with “Love you!” I noticed that after I typed in the word “love” …I had actually typed in the word “live”.
Probably not much of a surprise since the letter “o” is sitting right next to the letter “i” in the keypad…and for those of you who may be wondering…it wasn’t an auto-correction. I had to take that off my phone because the auto-correction was auto-annoying! Never getting words right! Some of you may know exactly what I am talking about!
Well, after that moment, I noticed this switch in words happened quite often…actually every single time! …“live” kept appearing instead of ‘love”…so much so that I really sensed the Lord was trying to show me something.
I had to keep changing “Live” to “Love” and then it hit me one day that God created us…we are alive today…we are living today so we can love… Love God and Love others!
The passage in Matthew 22:36-40 makes this very evident. One of the Pharisees tested Jesus with the question in verse 36. The Pharisees, who had classified over 600 laws often tried to distinguish the more important from the less important. So this particular Pharisee characterized as “an expert in the law” asked Jesus to identify the most important law.
36“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Jesus’ response reveals that if we truly love God and others…we will naturally keep the commandments.
As Christians, so many times we worry about all the things we shouldn’t do instead of concentrating on all the things we should do to show our love to God and to others!
Love is more than just a feeling…an emotion…an affection. Many people in society throw this word “love” around so loosely without really understanding and demonstrating it. Unfortunately it’s a big reason why so many marriages end in divorce because couples are willing to say they love each other to on another but don’t back it up with action.
Real love requires action and has a lot to do with sacrifice. It is a selfless act.
God clearly demonstrated the greatest ultimate love…the kind of love that no human can top…through His greatest ultimate sacrifice…sacrificing his one and only son’s life on the cross…for you and for me.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 NIV
John 3:16…one of the most well-known Bible scriptures known by Christians and non-Christians…one of the most publicized scriptures at every televised sporting event…you can’t miss the guy holding up the sign!
Is yet a scripture that unfortunately many have overlooked and haven’t grasped…that the true meaning of love is sacrifice.
If sacrifice is a true measure of real love…how are you measuring up…loving God…loving your spouse…loving your children…loving your family (even your in-laws!)…loving your friends?
Is there action behind your “I love you” words? Is there sacrifice behind your “I love you” words? Or is it merely a feeling? Merely words?
Many of us are familiar with how the Bible characterizes love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-6.
4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Again, to truly express love as mentioned in this scripture…there must be action…the action of sacrifice. This sacrifice involves sacrificing our thoughts (what we really think)…our emotions (what we really feel)…and our will (what we really want to do). It is sacrificing our time, energy, and even money.
The Bible speaks of two types of love…phileo and agape. Both are Greek terms and appear at different points throughout Scripture. The Greek language also has terms for two other types of love…eros and storge…which do not expressly appear in the Bible.
Storge is an affectionate love, the type of love one might have for family or a spouse. It is a naturally occurring, unforced type of love. Some examples of storge love can be found in the stories of Noah, Jacob, and siblings Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.
Eros is passionate or sexual love (eros is the source of the English word erotic). While eros is important within a marriage relationship and is created by God (see Song of Solomon), it can also be abused or mistaken for storge love. The Bible is clear that sexual immorality (out-of-control eros) is a sin. (1 Corinthians 6:18; 1 Thessalonians 4:3)
Phileo refers to brotherly love and is most often exhibited in a close friendship. Best friends will display this generous and affectionate love for each other as each seeks to make the other happy. The Scriptural account of David and Jonathan is an excellent illustration of phileo love. Agape speaks of the most powerful, noblest type of love…sacrificial love. Agape love is more than a feeling…it is an act of the will. This is the love that God has for His people and that prompted the sacrifice of His only Son, Jesus, for our sins. Jesus was agape love personified.
As Christians, we are to love one another with agape love. Since phileo love involves feelings of warmth and affection toward another person, we do not have phileo love toward our enemies. However, God commands us to have agape love toward everyone.
This includes those whose personalities clash with ours, those who hurt us and treat us badly, and even those who are hostile toward our faith (Luke 6:28, Matthew 5:44).
In time, as we follow God’s example of agape love for our enemies, we may even begin to experience phileo love for some of them as we start to see them through God’s eyes.
And so love…just like other Christ-like character traits…must be developed.
Developing the character trait of love will help us develop the many other character traits that are bound by love.
12Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:12-14 NIV
Paul says that we are to “put on” love…first and foremost…above all other virtues. Love is the binding ingredient for us to develop Christ-like character.
It’s like making a burger…you add ingredients like salt…pepper…garlic…onion…sweet n’ smoky seasoning (my personal favorite)…some bread crumbs…an egg (the binding ingredient)…to the ground beef or turkey.
The egg is what keeps the ground meat and other ingredients all together and allows you to shape it into a burger!
Without the egg…we have no burger. Without love…we have nothing…we gain nothing.
1If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 NIV
We need to develop the Christ-like character of love first and foremost. And as the first commandment states…We are to love God first…We must learn to love God first. This how we will understand love and learn to love others…by loving God first!
Realizing that love is an action…love is a sacrifice…we can truly love the God who created us and love others…even our enemies…with the agape love we are to demonstrate!
We live to love!
- How do you define love? Is love a feeling?
- If sacrifice is a true measure of real love…how are you measuring up…loving God…loving your spouse…loving your children…loving your family (even your in-laws!)…loving your friends?
- Is there action behind your “I love you” words? Is there sacrifice behind your “I love you” words? Or is it merely a feeling? Merely words?
- What types of love are demonstrated in the Bible?
- How are you developing the Christ-like character trait love in your life?
- Do you find it hard to love your enemies…love those who have hurt you…love those who come against your faith in God? Do you demonstrate agape love
- Love is an action. Love is a sacrifice.
- As Christians, we need to develop the Christ-like character of agape love. This type of love is the noblest type of love. This is the way God loves His people.
- Developing this type of love, requires getting to know the One who created love and is our greatest example of love…God. Reading God’s word…studying God’s word…meditating on God’s word is the key to understanding what love is all about.
- Discipline yourself to spend time with God on a daily basis…reading His word and praying.
- Begin to see ways you can demonstrate sacrificial love to your spouse, children, family and friends.