I would like to consider two different types of love described by the Scriptures. One is a love of "fondness" which is a result of something in someone which draws out "tender affection". This is the Greek "phileo" But the type of love I'll be talking about is the Greek "agape" love. This is a setting of the will to make a positive difference to the object of the love.
A Divine Example - The Father gives the son - John 3:16
A Divine Example - The Son gives Himself - Gal 2:20
A Divine Example - The Holy Spirit Gives Power - Acts 1:8, Romans 15:13
A Divine Estimation - The Greatest Love - John 15:13, 1 Corinthians 13: 12-13
The Divine Essence - "God is love" 1 John 4:8
First there is the love that by giving manifests itself. We cannot be effective unless God's love is evident in our own lives. The following is a quote from Janet, my wife.
"When I was first saved, I followed the example set by other believers. I outwardly conducted myself as a Christian. A very close friend who had been saved before me just had love oozing out of her. I started to ask God to let me reflect him, that I might show his love. Changes began to occur. I wasn't doing things because I thought I should but because His love compelled me."
This changing is a process; ongoing until we are called home.
" Not as though I have already attained either were already perfect (or perfected): but I follow after. if that I may
apprehend that (or take hold) for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren. I count not myself to
have apprehended: but this one thing I do; forgetting those things. which are behind. and reaching forth unto those things, which are before. I press (the living bible says "I strain") toward the mark (or goal) for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."
It is a high calling for us to manifest God's love to the world. Mr. Vine says, Love can be known only from the actions it prompts. God's love is seen in the gift of his son.
1 John 4:9-10
9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. 10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
The word propitiation, before the New Testament would refer to someone doing something to appease or make amends to a god. In the New Testament man never brings God into favourable attitude or gracious disposition. God himself has dealt with sin. He can show mercy to the believing sinner in the removal of his guilt and remission of his sins through the appeasing sacrifice of Jesus Christ, His Son, which He initiated, and allowed. God's love was not caused by anything which we have done, rather he made a deliberate choice to love us; completely due to his nature.
Agape love expresses the deep and constant love towards entirely unworthy objects, this in turn produces and fosters reverential "love" in them towards the Giver, and a practical "love" towards fellow believers and a desire to help others seek the Giver.
Love is not stagnant, it is alive. Our love in action causes reaction. Have you ever walked by someone; given them a big smile and "Good morning"? Sometimes people are taken aback that someone noticed them and cared enough to greet them, showing them that they are significant. it's such a small way to show that you care, but it can make a person's day.
Let's see what love does and what love does not do in verses 4-8
Love suffers long... means to be patient or forbearing. In our lives we have so many opportunities to see numerous poor choices being made. We may try to help others see alternate other ways to deal with their situation but the ultimate decision is theirs. It's not easy to suffer long; sometimes you wish they'd get their act together. Probably a number of them have experienced that impatience in their lives. So many have been abused in one form or another. For us to show them something different has a huge impact ...Love suffers long
Love is kind... This is to be good, gracious, loving, merciful. This characteristic can be seen in the simplest of things. Holding the door for someone, giving food to a homeless person. Someone working in a city could take granola bars and give them to those they found sleeping, or begging on the street. A small thing but it means a lot to someone who is hungry. Or it could be making a meal for a shut-in, a person or family suffering through bereavement, or someone just home from hospital. In all our dealings with others, making sure they are comfortable, offering a refreshment etc. Small kindness is greatly appreciated ...Love is kind
Love envieth not... It does not wish to deprive another; It does not wish the same as the other. In our world today it seems life is not only about keeping up with the Joneses; It's about doing them one better. It's what people are striving for but it never has an ending. It never seems to fill the void.
Scripture says "For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it? (1 Corinthians 4:7 AV)
Our Heavenly Father has given us all that we have; so when we consider the source, how can we look at others we feel inferior to and envy them... how can we look at others we feel superior to and down our nose at them? It is harder to work at night when to light is so limited, and so others who are not given as much “Spiritual light” will find it harder to cover the same Spiritual ground in the same time. God gives, God withholds, blessed be the name of the Lord. ...Love envieth not
Love vaunteth not itself... or parades not itself; Does not boast or brag. It is so natural to want to tell others when we've done something that we consider great. We do this to try to impress people... "see, I'm OK... actually better than OK, you should really think I'm special. We want others to respect us...
Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips. (Proverbs 27:2 AV)
But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly. And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. (Matthew 6:3-6 AV). ...Love vaunteth not itself
Love is not puffed up... proud, arrogant, conceited ( putting on airs) You often hear the statement "But for the grace of God go I". I hope we all truly believe that. If not for God's matchless grace in saving us and then keeping and teaching us, we would be exactly the same as others we may be shaking our heads about, or looking down our nose at!
For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5 :6-8 AV) ...Love is not puffed up
Love does not behave itself unseemly... Philips - "has good manners" , doesn't act unbecomingly, disgracefully, indecently or dishonourably.
See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, (Eph 5: 15 AV)
Circumspectly is to walk carefully. It is so easy to fall into the language of the day. To speak about things that do not honour the Lord, or in a way that dishonour the Lord. ...Love does not behave itself unseemly
Love seeketh not her own... or does not strive for ones own advantage. We live in a society that is very "me" oriented. How is this going to effect me? What are my rights? We are to be servants as Christ was a servant. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. (Php 2:3- 8 AV)
The true servant; the Lord Jesus Christ, our perfect example ...Love seeketh not her own
Love is not easily provoked... or angered, or irritated. Have you ever had a "get the kid ... get the kid ... get the kid" moment? There is a story in the book "God Uses Cracked Pots" by Patsy Clairmont When I read that story, it reminds me to pray. Who else can calm us down, give us peace, help us to step back and take a deep breath. Of course again we have to look to the Lord Jesus as our great example. Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: (1 Peter 2:23 AV) ...Love is not easily provoked
Love thinketh no evil... NIV - "keeps no record of wrongs", The Living Bible - "will hardly even notice when others do it wrong" English Standard Version - "is not irritable or resentful"
What filter do you view the words and actions of others through? We could try our best to view them in the most positive light, or the most negative. We must always keep in mind the fact that we can judge someones actions, but we cannot judge their motive. How often have we been hurt by someone and then have trouble getting it out of our mind? There is a level of difficulty in being kind, humble, and patient. But when we feel that someone has wronged us, we can feel totally justified in being angry, resentful, and holding a grudge. We can get a full head of steam when our spirit has been wounded. Just as Christ paid for our sin, He has paid for the sins of others as well... even the ones they commit against us! We are forgiven." and we are to forgive. A simple statement, but sometimes a very difficult task. Some hurts are easier to forgive. If someone were to say they didn't really like the colour of your new carpet, you would first feel hurt, then quickly you would realize we all have different tastes ... I can handle this ... I can just forgive and forget But let's say someone says "Your son is a little troublemaker. He's always getting into mischief". Now that's a lot harder to just let go, and forgive. I can see a statement like that requiring real prayer before God, and maybe a number of times, but. ...Love thinketh no evil
Love does not rejoice in iniquity but rejoices in truth...
Beareth all things... or keeps and protects confidences.
Believeth all things... or is convinced when there is no evidence.
*Hopeth all things...8 or trusts when all the evidence points in the wrong direction, love still hopes for a positive explanation.
Endureth all things... or stands fast, holds ones ground, and waits even though the evidence continues to be poor.
Love never faileth... never dies out, disappears, or weakens.
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
(1 Corinthians 13: 12-13 AV)
We could sometimes think God's love is conditional on how we feel, act, or think ... or on the things going on around us.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? (Romans 8:35) Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:37-39)
Now that I've read all these wonderful things that true love should do, and should not do, I need to examine my life in light of this input and ensure my efforts to show love comply with this divine definition more each day, as the apostle Paul states
“Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3: 12)
Remember 1 John 4:8b "God is love"
If this is a love you would like to receive from God in its fullness, and be able to give to others…
“ Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved~ ” (Acts 16:31)