It is universally agreed that all persons need to love and to be loved. But,‘I Love You!’has become an overused, worn-out cliché that comes out of our mouths without any thought about its true meaning. True love has been diluted, convoluted and prostituted for so long, most of us can’t recognize real love when it hits us in the face. In order to know what love should be, we need to know how love first began.
Love is the essential foundational element of everything created, and it was God Himself who set love into motion. Creation was the first outpouring of love; it is evidence of God’s unselfish nature. In the beginning, love was expressed in an unsurpassed act of altruism. Everything created revolved around the only creation capable of loving Him in return. And it was all made for our delight. (Eden means delight). In the creation of man , when God breathed into Adam, it was the spirit of love that gave Adam life; animating him and filling him with the capacity to love. In the creation of Eve we were given the first example of sacrificial love–Adam had to give up a part of himself in order to establish a loving, lasting relationship with another human being. We are meant to do the same. God shows by example what love should be.
There are four Greek words that were used in Biblical times to describe love. Eros, being sexual love; philia, which describes close friendship or brotherly love; storge, referring to family love; the fourth is agape. God’s love is called ‘agape love’. The word agape is used to describe the selfless love of one person for another, without sexual implications (especially love that is spiritual in nature). Agape means to cherish; to esteem; to show charity; to be devoted; to respect; to be loyal; to have concern for. Agape love is the type that ‘seeks the highest good of the person cherished.’Agape love desires the good of the other; it gives without demanding anything in return.
It amazes me that we are unconditionally loved by the One who created us, and it is even more amazing that His lasting desire is for us to love Him in return. When you study the bible it is clear to see that God had a master plan for mankind from the beginning of time. Man was meant to have dominion over everything, and to enjoy a never-ending relationship with his creator. Even before Adam was sent away from Eden, God had formulated a plan that would give mankind a chance to regain what Adam lost. God’s plan of salvation meant sacrificing what He loved and cherished the most-but He did it anyway. The gospel of John tells us that,‘God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not die but have eternal life.’Christ is love personified.
When Jesus was asked what the most important Law of Old Testament was, He replied“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. The second most important is similar: Love your neighbor as much as you love yourself. All the other commandments and all the demands of the prophets stem from these two laws and are fulfilled if you obey them. Keep only these and you will find that you are obeying all the others.” Mattthew 22:37 (The Living Bible)
1 Peter 4:8 says that it is the ‘exercising ’of love which helps against our disobedience to God’s commandments. Exercising love restrains a man from dishonoring his parents, committing adultery, stealing, lying, cheating, being envious, assaulting, raping, judging, gossiping, abusing, abandoning, ridiculing, or murdering another human being. It also gives him the self-control to keep from doing anything that would disrespect or damage his own body, which is the temple of the living God. Our bodies do not belong to us, they were created by God to be used for His divine purpose.
To quote my husband,‘Love is an action word’. It is easy to say“I love you”. It is much more difficult to consistently show it. Love is the name of the game. Our Christian faith is meant to express itself through love. Is our faith evident to others?