Love, it is a word that is used in the English language for so many things. Most of which probably don’t really require the term “love”. For example,
“We love pizza.”
“We love our dogs.”
“We love the lake!”
“We love that outfit.”
“We love the mountains.”
“We love how you decorated the room.”
“We love our children.”
“We love our spouse.”
But, do we love pizza as much as we love our spouse? The reality is that we probably don’t love pizza more than our spouse (at least I hope that is the case!). Do we love our spouse as much as we love an outfit?
In short, the English language is a bit lame on the word “love.” Love encompasses a positive emotion, often giddy and mushy, about anything, with no distinction between the type of love or the character of love for the thing before us.
The Greek is not that way – there are at least three words for “love” and they have very different meanings.
First is Eros from which we derive erotic, or romantic love, sexual and physical; it is a love that desires to possess for personal benefit.
Second is Phileo from which we get Philadelphia and philanthropy, words that mean companionship and friendship.
Third is Agape love. This is the New Testament Greek word that describes God’s love for us. Agape love is the result of a decision that commits itself to the well-being of the beloved regardless of the condition or reaction of the one who is loved.
As Christians, we are to love as Christ loved us – we are to love with the self-sacrificing love that puts others first, no matter what, that puts others’ needs before our own, that grants us the privilege to serve rather than to be served.
“And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
Ephesians 5:2 from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”
John 15:12 from Jesus’ own words to His disciples.
“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
John 13:35 from Jesus’ explanation as to the importance of loving each other.
Following Jesus’ example, we are to give ourselves to others as we love others
- even if we think they don’t deserve our love.
- As sinners, we certainly did not deserve the love that Christ lavished upon us when He died for us on the cross of Calvary! See Romans 6:23.
- even if they don’t desire our love.
- When we were dead in our sin, we couldn’t ask for or desire help from Christ! See Ephesians 2:4-7. We all know that a corpse cannot do anything to become an “un-corpse.” When you are dead, there is no life in you, and you can’t do or desire anything. But Christ, in His love, touched us and claimed us as His own, even while we were dead in sin. We did not deserve that love. It was a gift of grace from God. Therefore, we should not be so judgmental as to think that we could withhold love from anyone!
- even if they dislike us.
- Scripture teaches that we not only disliked God and His Son Jesus Christ, we were actual enemies of God. See Romans 5:10. If Jesus died for us while we were His enemies, we can surely extend love to those to may dislike us! In fact, Jesus taught that we were, indeed, to love our enemies. See Jesus’ words in Luke 6:35.
Love is an action word. We choose to love; we choose to obey Christ; we choose to minister to others in His name; we choose to deny ourselves and to serve others. Love is not something you fall into or fall out of … it is a decision to commit yourself to the well-being of those you are called to love.
Now that we have made the decision to love others, TELL THEM!
We have had 4 friends who have died in the past 2 months, each of them being special to us in so many ways. We have known all of them for over 10 years, worshipping with them and learning of God’s love through their lives. Their lives took very different turns and experiences, but we were all unified through our Lord Jesus Christ.
- Don was an elder in our church, a tireless man who aided many and who died suddenly, without warning, his witness through the Gideons and in Bible study will be sorely missed;;
- Shirley was an incredible Bible teacher and a leader in women’s Bible studies for decades who suffered with ALS for years but her witness for her Lord remained constant;
- G. B. was a member of Bible-based fellowship group which included my husband and they met weekly for over 15 years; while he struggled with cancer, his death was unexpected and a surprise to all; and
- Claire was a lady with whom we worshipped, who was a close friend to me even before I met my husband, whose son was best friends with our son from preschool through grammar school, when she moved across country. She was beset with all sorts of physical ailments for decades but her faith in the Lord was solid and she praised Him for all her days.
Tell those you love that you love them. One day, they will be gone and you will have missed the opportunity to extend love to them in Jesus’ name.
Father, I ask forgiveness for ignoring the multiple opportunities You give me to extend Your love to others. I ask that You enable me to be more loving and that I would be more vocal about how I love my family, friends and those I come in contact with. May I bring glory to Your name, Father, because it is only through Your love that I can love others.