Friday, April 8, 2016

"The greatest of these is Love"

Love is counted as one of the greatest things in the bible to both give and receive.  God Himself identifies it as His chief characteristic.  "God is Love" 1 John 4:8.  Unfortunately, our modern culture uses the word itself to express a multitude of ideas.  For example, I could say that "I love my wife", and mean something very specific.  I might also say "I love a good cup of coffee".  Though the same word is used to express both ideas, it should be clear that I mean two very different things by my use of the word "love". 
The Greek language, with which the new testament was written, has the benefit of utilizing several words for love, whereas we, using English only have one.  The Greek has a word for brotherly love, romantic love, etc..  But the word expressed when The Lord describes himself is "agape" which describes a love that is self sacrificial to the highest degree.
Paul gives us a detailed description of love in 1 Corinthians 13, starting in verse 4:
"Love suffers long, and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself; is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never fails."  1 Corinthians 13: 4-8
This is not a picture of any human person, but a picture of God, demonstrated most directly by Jesus Christ.  Read over the life of Christ, especially the time leading up to the cross and it is very clear that He is indeed the perfect picture of love for all mankind.  Saying things like "forgive them, they know not what they do".  Is that not perfect example of longsuffering and kindness?
Given that clear picture of love, what is the takeaway for us as believers? 
Galatians chapter 5 addresses this issue further as Paul describes the works of the flesh vs the works of the spirit.  They are opposed to one another and each will yield certain attitudes and actions in the life of the believer. 
He commands "Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." Gal 5:16
This means that we need to live every day seeking to be led by The Holy Spirit.  Love's role in all this is that it is the natural result of a child of God who is seeking to walk in the Spirit. 
"...The fruit of The Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, gentleness, self control." Gal 5:22-23. 
Remember, this is not possible outside of possessing The Holy Spirit, which is available to all who have repented and put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ to forgive them of their sin.  Instead of putting forth our own effort, surrender your will to The Lord, seek Him daily, and to be led by The Holy Spirit and watch as he works in you to change your heart to love others and therefore fulfill the greatest commandments in scripture. (Matthew 22:36-40, Deuteronomy 6:5)