By: FRANCIS BANDA
Merriam Webster’s Dictionary says love is a strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties. Love can also be defined as attraction, tenderness, and affection between lovers. It is an unselfish, loyal, and benevolent concern for the good of another like a brother does to his siblings and the Fatherly concern God bears for all mankind.
What does the Bible say about love and how should we love?
Deuteronomy 6:4-5 says “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength.” Herein lies a truth of all truths.
We learn that God loves us unconditionally through many properly detailed and infallible proofs in the Bible. God loves us so much that he rescued Israel from starvation when he sent them to Joseph in Egypt and later divided the red sea through Moses for His people Israel to cross on dry land as they escaped enslavement from Pharaoh.
This is exactly how we ought to love one another, “Unconditionally.” Joshua 22:5, “But take diligent heed to do the commandment and the law, which Moses the servant of the LORD charged you, to love the LORD your God, and to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and to cleave unto him, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.”
God is Love and Love indeed. Israel continuously rebelled and yet God always forgave those who loved and obeyed his words. In the New Testament, Christ says that those who love him obey his word. When you truly love someone, there is nothing inside you that would cause you to think otherwise about him or her.
Nevertheless, if you truly love the Lord with all your heart, mind, soul and strength, then everything inside you would want to obey His word and his commandments the greatest of which is LOVE.
John 1:1-2 says, “In the beginning was the word and the word was with God, and the word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.” God forged the universe with His word and the Blessed Holy Spirit of God has written these words in the hearts of men for centuries. God’s word does not change. It is the same yesterday, today and forever.
In Mathew 5:1, the Lord Jesus Christ says, “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one title shall in no wise pass from the law, till it be fulfilled.” Mathew 24:35, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, BUT MY WORDS SHALL NOT PASS AWAY.” This gives us enough proof that God’s love for us stretches far and wide unto ETERNITY.
There are four Greek words I would like to us to pay attention to; “Agapao-Agape,” and “Phileo,” “Apothiki or Storage,” “and “Eros.” “Phileo” Eros is love that is particularly felt within the body. It is a state of the heart and allows us to enjoy a deep and intimate relationship with the Father.
Storage love felt within the family and community. The church is the Body of Christ, and the Body of Christ is a profound community. The world defines “religion” as an important social institution in any thriving community but a community of Jesus Christ must bear this communal love to be complete. This is that love that compels us to be tied down by filial piety and love for our community and neglect God’s command to go and evangelize the world. Despite being a hindrance to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, it is also that dutiful force that drives us that pushes us to do good and care for others. It drives us towards heaven and closer to God.
Apothiki might also be described as a natural carnal love but it is powerful.
Phileo-which is to say love of the soul- is all about RELATIONSHIP. From times immemorial, mankind has perverted the truth about Christianity to suit the whims of his desires and schemes. Christianity and religion are two different things. God desires only to have an intimate relationship with His people or the church. The church is not some cult, or denominations, but people. We are God’s church; our hearts become the Temple of God if kept pure for the lord to dwell. It is not about artificial buildings and magnificent landmarks, and big followings and principalities, BUT relationship with God.
Phileo love shows us the kind of relationship God wants us to enjoy with Him when He says abide in me and I in you. Christ wants us to enjoy an intimate relationship with Him, that we might be one with Him as He is one with the Father, therefore, bringing us closer to Throne of God.
The Greek word Agape is used to describe love in the new testament of the Bible. Unlike the English translation of love, Agape is used in the New Testament to show faithfulness, commitment, goodwill, benevolence, affection, high esteem, and the welfare of others. Agape is a deliberate and powerful love, not an emotional and impulsive love. The King James Version describes this love as ‘Charity’, a word that we commonly use to describe an act of assisting the needy, rather than benevolent love.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 says, “ Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up. Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.”
Agape puts the ‘beloved first’ and sacrifices self- the body. This is how God loves us. He loves us unconditionally and wants us to emulate His example. “Freely its has been given thee, freely ye must give.” We must love one another just as the Lord loves us.
God’s love is not a sappy-sentimental feeling, not a repulsive half-dose love, and neither is it an emotional type of love. God is Love. He loves us because it is His NATURE to love and an expression of His BEING. God loves the unloving and the unlovable, the untouchables, the lowly and the rich, the pure in heart and sinners equally. His nature is LOVE and because He is perfect love, there is neither merit nor boundaries placed on His unconditional love.
God is love and His love is eternal just as His word is eternal. Agape is always shown by what it does. God’s love for us is placed at Calvary for all mankind to see. God is rich in grace and mercy. Ephesians 2:4-5, “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;).”
Because God is rich in mercy, He sent His only begotten son to free us from the shackles of sin. Christ paid the ultimate price and purchased us with His blood at Calvary. We did not deserve such a sacrifice but God saved us anyway. He did so because He loves us. This is the NATURE of the FATHER and He’s same yesterday, today, and forever.
God clearly shows us how much He loves us throughout scripture. Often times Israel rebelled and they were sent into exile, but there was always a remnant and God was always there with them. If God never loved us, we would have never known about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. We would have never heard of Daniel and Lion’s den nor would we have known of the Rock of all Ages on which we are all to build our strong foundations lest are crushed.
Christian ought to be known by their actions and what comes of their mouths. Matthew 7:16-20, “Ye shall know them by their fruits.
Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth-good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth-evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit; neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” So the question we should be asking ourselves is what does the world see from ME?
Christians have a mandate to show the Love that Christ plants in our hearts to the world. We ought to love one another in Agape, whether they are fellow believers (John 13:34) or bitter enemies (Mathew 5:44). Christ is the best and only model we should follow.
He has given us His peace, not as the world give, But as the father in heaven does; in true Agape. This love is not based on a feeling; rather, it is a determined act of the will, a joyful resolve to put the welfare of others above our own. It is a deliberate and powerful love.
Agape love does not come naturally to us because of our fallen Adamic nature. Yes, our fallen nature makes us incapable of producing such love because Agape can only come from the Heart of the Father in heaven. So how can we say that we don’t love truly because we don’t love in Agape When God alone bears this love?
Of course we can love truthfully, and of course we can bear Agape love if we know God’s heartbeat. When the precious blood of Jesus Christ transforms us, we become a new creation. The Blessed Holy Spirit of God comes in to dwell in our hearts and grows like a seed. People begin to see a change in us through our works and what comes out of our hearts (Romans 5:5 & Galatians 5:22). For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.
The Holy Spirit reconciles us with God and when we become one with the Father we possess this love which we MUST profusely shower unto the world for all eternity.
The Apostle Paul said he counted all things but dung for the knowledge and excellence of the lord Jesus Christ. Paul says Christian love is the most essential and greatest spiritual gifts there is. He was merely echoing the commandments that Jesus left for us.
The Lord Jesus Christ commanded us to love one another as well as loving the Lord our God with all our hearts, mind, and strength. We ought to love and live in peace with all peoples of the universe. Romans 12:1-18, “Recompense to no man evil for evil.
Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all me.” This is the way to put our faith in God and our love to practice in everyday life.
Which version are you using? What kind of English is ‘Love can is a strong affection’?