“This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:12-13) KJV
God is love. It is so important to Jesus that when He was asked to identify the greatest commandment, He said it was to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength (Mark 12:30 & Matthew 22:37-40).
Through the eye of love, Jesus willingly embraced the Cross. He died for us all while we were still sinners – He willingly lay down His life for mankind. Jesus’ teaching promotes love and mercy. We see an example of His teaching from the parable of the lost son, popularly known as ‘The Prodigal Son’. After squandering his inheritance, the wayward son came to his senses and returned home. The father showed us an example of walking in love by embracing his son as he allowed the out flowing of the divine love that had been shed abroad in his heart (Luke 15:20). The forgiving love of the father symbolizes the divine mercy of God.
Love is the heart of Jesus’ teaching. He teaches us to follow His example by being kind to the ungrateful and to those with evil intent. In Luke 6:35-36, Jesus instructs us to love our enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back.
What is Love?
The word is so popular that little boys and girls learn it before they hit their first birthday! Young girls crave to hear the words “I love you” and sometimes lose any sense of reasoning upon hearing these blessed words from their male admirers. It would appear that some adults cannot do without it. At times, we call it ‘love affair’ – that is a romantic or *** relationship between two people who are not married to each other. Out of such liaison may come a ‘love child’ - a person whose parents have not been married to each other. We even talk about love bite – a temporary mark left on a person’s skin by a partner during love making.
Collins Concise Dictionary & Thesaurus define love as ‘To have a great affection for a person or thing, to have a passionate desire for someone or an intense emotion of affection toward a person.
When we say “I love you” – It can take on different meanings depending on the context it is used and to whom it is directed. At times it would appear that we use the ‘word’ without knowing its meaning. In Matthew 22:37-40, Jesus admonishes us to love God with all our heart, soul and mind; and to love our neighbour as ourselves. That tells me that love requires real commitment that is not artificial but sacrificial and comes straight from our heart.
Biblical definition of ‘love’ can be divided into four categories.
1. Storge – This describes affection between member members of a family, for example between parent and children. In fact, parental love is often the means by which children actually open themselves to God’s love and come to understand it early in life.
2. Philia (friendship) – A Greek word that is more naturally used to describe intimate affection. We also see Jesus’ love for mankind revealed through His countless acts of compassionate healing. This friendship love is the least natural and the least appreciated in our society.
3. Agape – The word in Greek expresses the highest and noblest form of love which sees something infinitely precious in its object. This is the kind of love one has towards God and vice versa. It is good in all circumstances and it is protective. Jesus refers to it as the greatest commandments (Mark 12:30-31). This type of love is not based on feelings but on the will, on the conscious decision to love, irrespective of any unpleasant actions or reactions from others. Agape is the key to all successful relationships. It is sacrificial and unconditional love that enabled the Father to sacrifice His only son for our sinful world (Romans 5:8).
4. Eros – This describes a romantic love between people who are ‘in love’. It is the kind of love that exists between husband and wife, and it is *** in nature. It is usually based on feelings and extends beyond friendship and affection.
From the above descriptions of love, we could easily note that ‘love’ has different meanings and depends greatly on the context it is used. One thing to also note is that love is a command from our divine creator, hence it is mandatory and not subject to ‘self’ will. A command that must be obeyed at all times in order to enter fully into a relationship with God and man.
God wants us to love others primarily because He loves everyone and desires His love to be expressed through us. He gave us a natural capacity to love and instructed us to be a living expression of His nature because God is love (1 John 4:16) and whoever lives in love lives in God. Apostle Paul caught this revelation in 1 Corinthian 13 and declared that without love, all our accomplishment amounts to nothing.
Love is the missing link to accessing the finished work of Jesus on the Cross. This is because love requires the presence of a relationship that is not one-sided or based on fear of rejection. When you love someone you want to show the person that you care, and you do not hesitate to spend time with the person. In John 4:18, John defines fear and love as being mutually exclusive. Love is from God and whoever lives in love lives in God, and fear is from Satan, because it has to do with punishment or condemnation.
Having laid the above foundation about love, and as we are about to approach Christmas 2005, I would like all readers to know that love is not just the giving of presents that people will forget within a short period nor the emotional or *** attachment to one-another.
Before signing off, I would like to share with you the recipe for love. A recipe is a list of ingredients and directions for making a particular dish. A good chef needs a good recipe and hours of preparation to make that Christmas turkey taste good and edible. The Christmas pudding requires ‘real effort’ in preparation and feeding regularly with liquor. Likewise, love has an ingredient to which I want to share some of it with you all, and the sole purpose of enriching your love-life.
The Recipe 4 Love
1. Love must be sincere. It must be active, true love and not pretence birthed purely out of mere emotion (Romans 12:9).
2. Be devoted to one-another. This is a type of love to be shared within the family of God (Romans 12:10). It also requires that we honour one-another above yourself; meaning that we must walk in humility and prefer others. It takes a mind renewed by the Holy Spirit to do this, as we naturally operate by the code “Me, Myself and I” or “I’m alright jack!” Romans 12:1-2 admonishes us to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, and not to conform to the pattern of this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our mind.
3. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord (Romans 12:11). That is, we must have great enthusiasm, eagerness, keenness, passion, desire and fire in our belly to serve God and one-another.
4. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer even for those around you.
5. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality (Romans 12:13). The Christians has social responsibility to all people, but especially to other believers (Romans 12:13 / Galatians 6:10).
6. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse (Romans 12:14). This is in line with Jesus’ teaching in Matthews 5:44.
7. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn (Romans 12:15). It takes love to identifies with others in their joys and in their sorrows, and it is a Christian’s privilege and responsibility.
8. Live in harmony with one-another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position (Romans 12:16).
9. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody (Romans 12:17; Matthews 5:39-42, 44-45; 1 Thessalonians 5:15 and 1 Peter 3:9).
10. Feed the poor and hungry – “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink-” (Romans 12:20). Paul continues his admonitions by encouraging us to feed our enemy, if hungry and gives him food to eat-. My mind goes back to 2 Kings 6:21-23; 2 Chronicles 28:15, where a trapped Aramean army was given a great feast and then sent home at Prophet Elisha’s request. That is the kind of love that hurts the enemy more than a good disgraceful beating. Perhaps you could win him over or may cause him to repent and change.
Good News: The Lord would reward you for your acts of love, even if your enemy remains hostile.
I would like to leave you with this quotation from the book of Proverbs 3:34 “Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favour and good name in the sight of God and man. ”
Enter the New Year with love in your conscious and unconscious mind; and remember, there is no fear in love, perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18).
About the Author
The author is an encourager and counselor with a deep desire to see God’s people excel in their callings. He has an unquenchable passion for helping people to enter into their destiny. Akeem Shomade has just published a book titled ‘The Fear Factor’ – a self-help book designed to help people to recognize and overcome the fear factor in their lives and start fulfilling their goals / purposes in life. It is his prayer that the perfect love of Christ will cast out all the fears caused by cultural and theological differences. Check book reviews Check book reviews by clicking on the links below.