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GOD IS LOVE
The Love of God
Today the Lord had me in the Word studying love. GOD IS LOVE. What a beautiful thing! Through the years of listening and reading up on the various types of love, the most astounding is ‘agape’: the love of God. If there is no greater love than agape, some have ventured to believe a loving God would never judge anyone. And, to be Christ-like is not to judge anyone either. Just love. All you need is love. Love is all you need.
What’s even more astounding about agape love is that it is the only love that ‘loves enemies’. So, if we have no enemies, then everyone is our friend! Is that the result of applying agape love? Unfortunately, no. While the truth is what it is, agape love is the only love that will save souls from death, and for this reason, it is the greatest love.
Keep My Commandments
One of the biggest divisions between Jews and Christians is that of what laws believers are to observe, if they love God. Afterall, in John 14:15 Jesus said, “If you love [agape] Me, you will keep My commandments.” Hmmm. His commandments? Some people don’t think Jesus gave us commandments; the commandments came from God through Moses. Then, we have the rhetoric as to whether Jesus is God Himself in the flesh, or not. If He wasn’t God, what commandments was He talking about? All throughout the gospels, He quoted the 10 Commandments. Believe it or not, some debate is rooted in agape love.
If we look at Mat 22:36 an expert in the law asked Jesus, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?’ And He said to him, ‘You shall love [agape] the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. And second is like it: ‘You shall love [agape] your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets."
People have surmised that the first four of the ten commandments fall under the great and foremost commandment of loving God; the latter six of the ten fall under the second like it ~ loving man. There's truth to that, but let's dig a little deeper:
Observe the following passages:
1 John 4:7 “Beloved, let us love [agape] one another, for love [agape] is from God; and everyone who loves [agape] is born of God and knows God.” Is that true? People love others that don’t even acknowledge God, and some follow ‘another gospel’. There’s got to be truth in here somewhere.
Here lies the mystery. We are to love one another with agape love, for agape love is from God, no one else. Agape love is of the mind; it is a decision to show love to someone so that they might come to know that love of God. Consider Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates His own love [agape] toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
We were the enemies of God because of sin! Yet, Christ still died for us! If He loved us that much, surely He won’t now judge us, will He? That might make sense to the carnal mind and its understanding of love. The answer lies in WHY Christ died for us. Because we were sinners in need of redemption, to make us holy, without sin, so we can live forever in His love. So we could receive the Holy Spirit within us, enabling us to love others the way He loves us. This is how we can love our enemies! This is also WHY we love our enemies!
Rom 12:20 tells us, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Does that sound loving? To heap burning coals on his head? For a blessing, read the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37. In summary, a Jew was beaten, robbed and left for dead. The prideful Jewish leaders passed him by. Yet, a hated Samaritan (referred to as a ‘dog’ by the Jews) stopped to care for his ‘enemy’. To show love to someone who least expects it from you, is letting them experience the love of God!
There’s another type of love that is based in agape, but includes another element. It’s the Greek word phileo. While agape is of the mind, phileo is of the heart. It involves friendship and brotherhood. The State of Philadelphia is named after “Brotherly Love”. To get a great teaching about friendship and brotherhood, read Proverbs 18:24: “A man of too many friends comes to ruin, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
How can one with too many friends come to ruin? Have you heard of ‘fair weather friends’? It’s all a matter of the heart. True friends do stick closer than a brother. This is a deep, committed love. With this in mind, let’s observe Jesus’ words in John 15:13: “Greater love [agape] has no one than this, that one lay down His life for His friends.” The greatest love is agape, in that Jesus Christ died for us, while we were yet sinners. But, how do we know we are a friend of Christ? Jesus told us in John 15:14, “You are My friends if you do what I command you.”
Why is it important to understand the difference between agape love and phileo love? There is a line we, as believers, are not to cross. While we love [agape] our enemies, James 4:4 states, “You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”
Secondly, we are not to put the world in the place of God. 1 John 2:15 states, "Do not love [agape] the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves [agape] the world, the love of the Father is not in him."
Those who ‘love’ the world may not understand. They are loving the world from the heart [phileo], if not also from the mind [agape] ~ compromising the love [agape] of God for the love [phileo/agape] of man. See, you can’t keep the second commandment without keeping the first. Nor, can you keep the first commandment without keeping the second. It’s impossible. This is the wisdom of Jesus’ commandments! He is our first love, for we are His first love. It’s that of the Bridegroom and His Bride. Phileo even includes elements of ‘eros’ love ~ intimacy beyond mere friendship. In the flesh, this would include sexual intimacy; in spirit, it is pure unadulterated union.
The Bridegroom has called His Bride out of the world. John 15:19 states, “If you were of the world, the world would love [phileo] its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.” Do you see?
No Greater Love!
John 3:16 is the truth: “For God so loved [agape] the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
Agape is a two-way street, when it comes to salvation. 2 Thes 2:10 clearly states, “They perish because they refused to love [agape] the truth and so be saved.”
Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (1 John 14:6). Do you love Him?
If you love [agape] God, continue to love [agape] those who hate you, just as He loved us who once were contrary to His holiness. We truly love God because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). If we don’t love our enemies, they may never know the love of Christ. Surely, some will not understand agape love; that you would tell them the truth about how their sin separates them from God (Mat 27:46), yet they can be reconciled back to Him by faith in Christ Jesus’ shed blood on the cross and His resurrection.
Just plant the Seed, and know that God will bring the increase (1 Cor 3:7). He desires men everywhere repent (Acts 17:30) and come to know the One Who loves them so (1 John 5:20). He loved [agape] us enough to be betrayed, falsely accused, spat upon, have his flesh ripped open through floggings and wear the crown of thorns. He loved [agape] us enough to carry that cross to Calvary and feel the nails pierce through His hands and feet. And to even pray on behalf of those who put Him there, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” How can anyone reject so great a love?
Let us remember Your words, Jesus, in Luke 6:22, “Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because your reward in heaven is great!”
Abiding in the love [agape] of Christ by keeping His commandments (John 15:10) may cost you the love [phileo] of the world; yet, you will rejoice with all the children of God and the heavenly host when one lost soul is saved! He’s given us His love and each other as brethren and friends to lift each other up, pray for one another and await the coming of our King!
- HATED on Account of My Name
We need to remember that we are in the world, but not of it. John 15:19 states, If you were of the world, the world would love [phileo] its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates