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Love is Not Optional

As I studied the subject of love, I noticed in several scripture verses a strong connection between love and keeping the commandments. “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For THIS IS THE LOVE OF GOD, that we keep his commandments” (1 John 5:2; KJV). It’s interesting that the first commandment is to LOVE God and the second commandment is to LOVE others. In the disciple Mark’s gospel, we read that “there is none other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:31).

However, in the apostle John in his gospel quotes Jesus as saying: “a new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another” (John 13:34.  If you are wondering, like I was, why it is new, the answer is found in the second half of that verse; we are to love others with the same love that Jesus loved us. In the Old Testament they did not have the practical example of the earthly life of Jesus to follow, but we do. It gives us a whole new kind of love. The word used here for love is agape, God’s unconditional love for us and the love we are to use for others.

“He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him” (John 14:21). Wow, what promises!

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So, what is Love?

We hear much about the importance of the word, faith, prayer, praise, the fear of God, obedience, humility, repentance and the need for change in our Christian walk and so we should. But God’s cardinal commands are to love him with all our heart, soul and mind and our neighbor as ourselves (Matt 22:37-39). Jesus gave us a new command that we love each other as he loves us, by this he said the world would know we are Christians (John 13:34-35). In the great love chapter of the Bible (1 Cor 13:1-13) the apostle Paul taught that without love we are nothing and he emphasized that of faith, hope and love the greatest is love (1 Cor 13:13).

The Greek word for love that is used dominantly in the New Testament is agape (noun); God’s unconditional love and the love that we are called to love with. In 1 Corinthians chapter 13, this love is defined for us, take time to meditate on it. The apostle Paul wrote for us that God’s love is in us, poured in by the Holy Spirit (Rom 5:5) God demonstrated the extent of this love by allowing Christ to die for us (Rom 5:8.

We are called to love with our words (Eph 4:15); words that come from our hearts and are spoken in love. But love has to go beyond our words to actions, our deeds (1 John 3:18); love must be demonstrated, just as faith is not faith without corresponding actions (James 2:17). Think how you can share God’s love today; a gentle encouraging word, a kind spontaneous action.

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Love Your Enemies

In Proverbs chapter 24 and verse 17 we read that we are not to be happy when our enemies get what they deserve. That does not come naturally to us humans, right? However, it is repeated again in verse 29 of this same chapter that we are not to pay someone back for what he has done. It seems that even our attitudes are important to God; we must be careful what we are thinking.

So, what are we to do? The answer is found in Proverbs chapter 20 and verse 22 (KJV): "Say not thou, I will recompense evil; but wait on the Lord, and he shall save thee". If we leave the matter in God's hands, he will vindicate us and take care of things. The apostle Paul wrote in his epistle to the Romans that we should not repay evil for evil (Rom 12:17 - 21). Moses made it very clear in the book of Deuteronomy that vengeance belongs to God and he will repay (Deut 32:35).

“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matt 5:44).

These are all hard things to do and we can only do them by the power of the Spirit. One of the fruits of the Spirit is love (Gal 5: 22-23); even for our enemies. Let’s end with the greatest example of love for our enemies; the words of our savior Jesus Christ from the cross: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

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Love

“The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost” (Rom 5:5; KJV). In the Greek this form of love is agape (noun), an unconditional love. The word agape was not really used in the Greek until its use in the bible. The Greek verb phileo is the more commonly used word for love in non-bible Greek and is a brotherly love or affection that is dependent on our ability to love a person because of mutual attraction and feelings.

When Jesus asked Peter if he loved him in the 21st chapter of John’s gospel, Jesus used agapao (verb) but Peter could only reply with phileo. God commands us to use agape (John 13:34). With agape we can love the unlovable by faith. We may not be naturally attracted to some people but we are commanded to love (agape) them. Our greatest example of love (agape) is that of the Father for us: “For God so loved (agapao) the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16; KJV). Christ died for us while we were sinners.

 If you want to understand love (agape) then read 1 Corinthians chapter 13, especially verses 4-8a: “Charity (agape) suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth” (KJV). This is how God loves us and how we should love him and each other. Don’t get me wrong, we can have affection as well, but we must love all people with God’s unconditional love. Is that wow or double wow? Enough said.

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Check out our web site ( www.onthewayinlove.com ) for information on our book: “On the Way: Basic Christian Training”, including how to purchase it and also to see more encouraging Bible based blogs. Please recommend our book to others. 

A Mighty Man of God

“I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fufil all my will” (Acts 13:22-23; KJV). What was it about David that allowed the Lord to say these words about him? David had a great zeal for God (1 Sam 17:45). He was teachable, humble and feared God (Ps 25). David trusted God and had great intimacy with him (Ps 27). David loved to praise his God (Ps 34:1), desired righteousness, (Ps 51) loved God (Ps 63) and prayed and cried out to his heavenly Father (Ps 143:1). As we see in our main text, David was also obedient to the will of God.

David was; however, human and fell into the sins of sexual immorality and even murder in his affair with Bathsheba (2 Sam 11). However, when confronted by Nathan the prophet he repented and God forgave him (2 Sam 12). “And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the Lord. And Nathan said unto David, The Lord also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.”

We should look to the life and attributes of David, a mighty man of God. We should also be encouraged that God regarded David’s strengths and forgave such great sin. God loves us and will forgive us just as he did David. Be exhorted and encouraged.

Please pass this on. All right reserved.

Check out our web site ( www.onthewayinlove.com ) for information on our book: “On the Way: Basic Christian Training”, including how to purchase it and also to see more encouraging Bible based blogs. Please recommend our book to others.