The motive behind your actions matter.
The motive behind your actions matter.
Love. L-O-V-E. A four letter word that has tragically lost its meaning in our world today. It has been reduced down to flowers, boxes of candy and a huge teddy bear on Valentine’s Day. Reduced to a some type of monetary gift to apologize for actions. Let’s be honest, in a lot of cases it has been reduced down to sex. But my friend, LOVE is not only a word: it’s also an action and a Person.
It’s important to first note that order matters. Love is the first fruit mentioned (just as 1 Corinthians 13:13 states that love is the greatest when placed in a group with faith and hope). It’s in love that we do everything. Everything comes out of the love of something. We have to ask ourselves: who does this thing or action say I love: God, myself, or the devil? Learning what true love is and how we fail at it all the time shows our humanity. It shows our need for a teacher, for a savior to pick us back up when we fall and guides us through this thing called life.
Matthew 22:37-40 says that Jesus unified all the commandments of God with one principle: love. He said if we love God and love each other, then we will do everything else that He commands, because everything comes down to love. Without love, the other fruits don’t mean much. Love brings everything together.
Many people don’t realize, but to really (humanly) understand love in the scriptural sense, we must understand that we use one word that has four meanings. Yeah, the English language will do that to you. SO let’s start with the question: what is love?
The four words for love in Greek (for our purposes) are:
Philia – friend love (like Philadelphia – the city of brotherly love)
Agape – unconditional love
Storge – affection (typically toward family or something close to you)
Eros – sexual or self-seeking love (not necessarily in a negative way)
The most famous scripture known to man is John 3:16: for God so LOVED the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but shall have everlasting life. LOVE: an action. A sacrifice. A selfless outlook on life and destiny. This love that God feels toward us is agape. There is nothing that we can do for God to love us less (or more for that matter). We do not need to earn His love. It’s already there. In a previous post, I talked about what I learned from reading the bible in 90 days. The overwhelming thing I grasped from it is God’s relentless pursuit of us. I can’t tell you how many times I read His steadfast love”. Though we mess up time and time again, he is always running after us. He won’t give up on us. There is NOTHING that can separate us from Him (Romans 8 will rock your whole entire world).
A common thing we tend to shy away from with love is that love loves truth. Love does not sugarcoat things. Love is not brash or harsh. Love does not lie to make you feel better. It tells the truth, graciously, kindly and effectively. Reflect back on 1 Corinthians 13. Verse six states that it does not rejoice in wrongdoing but rejoices in truth. So I ask you: when someone brings something to your attention that you are doing that is not pleasing to the Lord, what is your first response? Is it “hmm maybe they’re right. Lord, show me the error of my ways.” or do you become prideful and indignant and think “who are you to tell me that I am doing something wrong? who are you to say that I am living wrongly?” now granted there are ways, words and tones in communicating, and you must be aware of certain factors, but I believe this is the reason the world (and even other Christians) has such a problem with Christians saying that homosexual relations are wrong. That drunkenness is wrong. That using God as a personal genie to get what you want is wrong. That behaving, sounding and so uncannily resembling the world is wrong. We LOVE to be right and tend to believe that anything outside of our own line of thinking is wrong. There is a way that seems right to us, but leads to death if it doesn’t lead you to Christ. Love will show you the right way.
So what are the characteristics of love, according to scripture?
Patient (look at that! another fruit we’ll dig into in the weeks to come!)
Kind (another one!)
Rejoices in the truth
Do you possess these? Is this how you love your friends? Your enemies? Is this how you feel toward your children? Your parents? Your coworkers? Is this how you talk about your noisy neighbor? The person that cut you off on the freeway? Trump (ooh, I hit a nerve). Based on the Greek words and definitions above, do you often mistake one kind of love for the other? Do you place responsibilities on others based on where you perceive the relationship to stand?
So, if that’s what love is, what are the characteristics of what love is not?
Rejoices in others wrongdoings and sins
In order to effectively grow in love and be conformed into Christ-likeness, we must abide in the vine. Remember, the fruit of the spirit is not something we can obtain outside of spending quality time with Jesus. Remember in John 15, Jesus said that he was the vine and those who abide in the vine bear fruit. Flip forward to Galatians 5 again. The fruit are listed. If you look above starting in verse 16, you will see what we can do perfectly fine on our own. With no help at all, we are self-destructive. With Christ, we are reconstructive and begin to be conformed to His image.
We are to love selflessly. Think of the person you love the most. Why do you love them? What about them makes them lovable? What characteristics do they possess that makes this possible?
Now think of what makes them unlovable. Think about the things that are less than desirable. The things that get on your reserved nerve (I know you have one, because so do I).
Now imagine them and yourself in the eyes of Jesus. Though we mess up, do things wrong and break His heart, he still seeks after us daily to have a mutual loving relationship with Him. And we must see others through the eyes of Jesus.
True love is to be devoted when the other person has nothing to offer you. When you have to put your feelings and desires aside to help those in need, to show the selfless, unconditional love of Christ. James 1:27 illustrates this quite well.
In what ways can you serve your neighbor this week, and in turn serve the Lord?
Grace and peace
B3ar Fruit – LOVE https://youtu.be/1mgZmaoaKes
Scriptures to reflect on for next week on JOY: