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What is the Meaning of LOVE? Truth Is...
The Way of LOVE
Let's talk about Love. Love has many faces and facets, love is fascinating; but I would like to explore the depths and width of love as it is spoken about in the bible. You know Christian are the ones that use that word more than anyone else on earth. We claim to have the love of the lord which is the most dynamic of all loves there is. 1 Corinthians chapter 13 is the most quoted and well noted scripture on love; and so that is where we will start as a point of reference...Turn there with me in your bible...I'll wait!
Let's do this systematically so that there is a clear understanding. You know clarity in one's understanding is something that God really desires. We all feel that we love God do we not? We say that we love Jesus. Mark your place at 1 Corinthians chapter 13 as we will be reading from there quite a bit, and turn now to John 14:15,21. Here we see that Jesus tells us that if we keep his commandments he will show himself to us; he also says we will be loved by the Father. Many of us feel that we "see" Jesus in many if not all aspects of our life, but if we actually keep his commandments we will see him even clearer. Just like when you read the bible daily, the more you read the clearer the will and ways of God become to you; you gain a greater understanding. So too with adhereing to God's commandments. What commandments am I talking about? The first thing that pops-up into one's mind is the ten commandments; and you are not that far off! Actually, the ten commandments are a precurser if you will , or a model for all that Jesus taught while on earth. Now let's get back to 1 Corinthians.
In keeping the commandmentrs of God and Jesus, we find that the foremost of those are that we LOVE. That is the most important part of our worship as it is impossible to serve or love God if we don't have a natural and sincere love for one another; and that includes those who don't go to your church or are not your "friends"! If you read John 3:16 it says that God so loved the "world", that included the evil and the good. HE simply did what was needed to make a way for ALL mankind, even the ones who were not looking to please him, now if that's not love what is?
Ok! ! Corinthians 13:1: "Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal"...First off let's understand that the word "love" is often rendered "Charity" in many bible translations. It comes from the word philanthropia...the combined form of the words phileo and anthropos; what it means is a love for man...that's what 1 Corinthian 13 is actually talking about, true natural affection, real live love,lover for other people, the love of GOD...
1 Corinthians 13 is often used to get one's mate to cooperate, or to spur the congregation to one action or another. But The true purpose for this scripture is to give a clearer understanding, and clearer picture of Christ and the real love that God wants us to have inside of us.
Verse one says that even if we speak in tongues or whatever, if we don't sincerely love people then all we're doing is making a lot of noise! God may grant you gifts of the holy spirit by way of his grace, but the purpose of this is to use you for the glorifiction of his name and to further the working for the kingdom. That kingdom, is powered by and consists of GOD's love. In order to be a part of that kingdom we must have the love of the LORD within us. This love is the love spoken of at 1 Corinthians chapter 13. It is a natural love, not one that you can "claim" to have or have bestowed upon you because you do wonderful things just as righteousness cannot be; these are things that are or become not second nature, but your actual or true nature. Not just in you, but it is you. The second verse goes on to state that you can have all kinds of knowledge and faith, it even says faith that can move mountains! You would think a person having that sort of faith would be very much favored by GOD! But here in GOD's word it tells you that if that person does not have a genuine love for others he/she is nothing!
Well what about the great charities, the food banks and clothing drives and missions? What we see here is that these things are often done simply as a status symbal, or so that others can see you doing so-called works of the Lord and in his name.You know them, the one's who always tell you or somebody all the wonderfully nice things they've done for someone; or how they gave to this charity or that one...that's not you is it? That calls to mind Jesus' words at Matthew 7:21-23(read). This is again reinforced at verse three of 1 Corinthians 13 where it goes even further by saying you can give your body to be burned! A sacrifice of one's self as it were; and if the reasoning isn't because you have a genuine love for people, that sacrifice, those deeds and gifts are worthless, it will gain you nothing; certainly not God's favor. In other words, don't do things because you're supposed to as a christian. Let's read 2 Corinthians 9:7. Matthew 6:1,2 counsels us to not do acts of charity to be seen or given recognition as that only gains the praise of men; if that's what you're after, verse two there says that's all you'll be getting! Do these acts of charity or love because the Lord has nurtured a pure and sincere concern, compassion and natural love for others in you. If you don't feel that way and you claim Christ in your life' you believe that prayer works don't you? Ok then ask the Lord to teach you and instill it into you; to make it your nature. One of the main things a Christian has to do is make changes in their way of thinking anyway.
Verse 4 of 1 Corinthians 13 says that love does boast, it also does not envy; but the thing that really catches my attention is where it says that love, REAL love is long-suffering and kind. Remember now, we are talking about REAL love, GOD's love. The love that is natural, not something we make ourselves do or invent; it's what we are moved or compelled to do from our heart of hearts, the part of you that you have absolutely no control over and the part that tells what you really are and think. Why would it say that our love should be long suffering? Think about it, some folks really do push the envelope with you don't they? Even in church there are folks that are just not that easy to bear for more than five good minutes! Then there are the one's that take for granted your love. You have to abide these people and at times they may make you feel that you are truly suffering! But then remember the things about you that you only admit to GOD and often you won't even talk to him about it because you wish that HE would just see- it -but -not -see- it and help you get past it...yeah...Truth Is...if you want GOD to be patiently long suffering and kind concerning you and your mess....Ephesians 4:32 again... "forgive us our tresspasses as we forgive those who tresspass against us..." To clarify the difference between sin and a tresspass, to tresspass means to violate willfully, to overstep and go beyond where you know you are allowed. Tresspasses are the fruit of hard headed, stiff-necked defiance...doing things we know God doesn't like and then asking his forgiveness; we all do it. Does this help you understand clearer how deep our love for others should be?
For instance: we know that John 3:16 says that "God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son..."; but do you know that Jesus, the son, so loved GOD that he submitted himself a perfect human sacfrifice, even unto death...he was obedient even when he hoped for another way. Matthew 26:38,39. Do you have that sort of love for your fellow man? Not just those you have a regular relationship or a particular fondness for, but any man? Do you have the type and depth of love that if GOD told you to lay down your life for a complete stranger , that you would do it? That sobering thought should sink in when we are called upon to show love of any magnitude toward others. At least GOD isn't asking you to die! Do you love GOD as Jesus did? You should! You should also love your fellow man as Jesus did, to the point where you are willing to express that love when it may not be something you particularly want to do.
This can be applied when it comes to giving to the poor. Instead of trying to do GOD's job and determine what they will do with any financial help you could offer, let the love in you be your true nature and simply help them. Same thing for members of your congregation who you worship with; instead of talking about how ragged or old their clothing is, or bad their hair or their children's hair is; give them some of yours, offer to get their hair done or their children. You may spend a great deal on your own upkeep, share some of that! Jesus said that if your ENEMY requests your coat for you to give it to them, how much more so for someone who worships with you, or your neighbor...
Children, do you love Jesus? If so you will be obedient to your parents; even when you don't like what they tell you; especially when they tell you "NO", and that's not what you want to hear. Ephesians 6:1-3(read). Wives, honor you husband as you vowed before God to do. You may not always agree with his decisions but he is your head.1Peter 3:1. Let God control the outcome and trust him. Do not have the spirit of Eve, which was one of rebellion and the desire to be able to make decisions when it is not what God has given you to do. 1 COR. 11:3, 1Timothy 2:12. Husbands, read 1Peter 3:7 with me. We see that you must honor your wife as you would a "weaker vessel", no, not weak mentally or physically. The idea is that she is like a fine vase or piece of art. When one has an object such as that they cherish it and place it on a pedestal of sorts to be admired by all. Be thankful that God granted you a life's partner whereas many want that and many never obtain it. The same goes for your children.
These are things that as we have just seen are written in the word of GOD as instructions or commandments; and if you truly love GOD, if you rerally love Jesus, you will obey these commandments and instructions. You cannot please GOD if you do not!
This is the Way of Love:
It does not behave unseemly, which means indecently, vulgar, lustful, rude. Do you use bad language in church? Then don't use it at home or anywhere else. Often we engage in such behavior in an effort to "fit in" at work or in recreation; times we associate with non-believers. But how do we set an example or let our light shine by emulating behavior that is not of GOD? These are things however that we can take to God in prayer asking him to remove them from you. You do want to please him correct? Love doesn't seek it's own: it's not self promoting. Sadly, many people want to be noticed and go far out of their way to be. Whether in the the way we dress, talk or act, even the car we drive or home we live in. These things often get far out of hand and get you noticed but not in so positive a light, especially with the one who sees and notices all things. Does HE approve? Is it GOD like? Love does not think evil nor is it easily provoked. Do you find that you are easily offended? In this world it is so easy to get into a confrontation because everyone is hypersensitive and easily offended. Instead of looking for the good in people we often look in expectation of an insult , affront, or attempt to do us wrong. Although there is a great amount of these things occurring around us, we must remember things were also that way in the time Christ was here and he saw it and did not give in to it. He also admonished his disciples when he saw they did. If you are touchy, and edgy; if you are looking to defend yourself at all times when do you have time to defend your faith? If you LOOK for the negative in everyone then how can you minister to them? How do you love them?If you keep count of injury how do you approach GOD for forgiveness of your own? Jesus said we should love our enemies, well if that's the case you should love everybody! You can't get more clear than that!
Verse six: Love does not rejoice in iniquity but rejoice in truth. Do you cheer when someone who is perceived to be the "bad guy" gets what they have coming? Then what will they say when you get yours? The same applies when you feel you got away with doing something you KNOW you had no business doing, but go unpunished. This should sadden you and compel you to get on your knees and pray.
verse seven: Love bears all things, hopes all things,and endures all things. Turn to 1 Peter 4:8. It says we should have "fervent" love or charity toward one another. That denotes intensity in our love and compassion, just as Jesus felt for the people of his time. We are all in this together. At some time or another you want and need someone to be understanding toward and about you, you want them to overlook something you've done or said, to look past your imperfections and see the person you feel you really are and look favorably upon you. Ok, then you should be the same way to everyone else, because you can actually be that way to 10 people and not so with the eleventh one and that be the one GOD sent to test your love! Think about that. There is an accounting for all that we do is there not? It's easy to give up because doing things GOD's way can be difficult if we are not willing to surrender totally. You can't be worried about being taken in, mistreated or misused. Let God worry about that as HE sees what we endure for his sake. Can we suffer any worse than the first century Christians did? If you believe the word of GOD then you know that we should expect to be. So if GOD says be prepared to be mistreated, abused and misused, and we concentrate on stopping it from happening we find ourselves trying to block prophesy being fulfilled! Of course people will take advantage of Christians, but realize that the reason they do is because they expect you to emulate Christ. So if the world expects it, don't you think GOD does too? Let GOD be GOD, he will take care of it at the appropriate time. Hebrews 6:10 says that "God is not so unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shown toward his name and have ministered to the saints...and do minister. ; again turn to 1 Thessalonians 1:3 where it speaks of labouring in love and patience of hope in Jesus and in the sight of GOD. What it's tell you is that it's NOT easy to be a christian and GOD does see what you go through; but you still have to go through it in order to refine yourself, your faith, and your love. HE is trying to make a new you; one that relies on him and his judgement as well as his handling all aspects of your life...obedience. Let GOD be GOD, you be like Jesus and trust him.
Love never fails. No matter what talent or gift one may lay claim to, no matter what skill, ability or admirable trait we possess ; all these things can and will pass away. But the one constant, the one thing that will always be is LOVE because GOD is LOVE...Truth Is...