Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Wednesdays in the Word: LOVE Love love
This week I have been studying this topic of LOVE, and it has been such an encouraging week, especially after just studying the topic of communication. I left the communication study still feeling like I needed more application, but then when we moved into the topic of love, I felt like it all came together for me. In addition, we discussed the fulfillment of the law through love from Galatians chapter 6, at our church this past Saturday night. This also ties in with what Paul says in Romans 13:8, "Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law." I am looking forward to sharing some of what the Lord has taught me this past week about love. There is SO much in the Bible on this topic, but I will try to keep it somewhat focused and narrowed and discuss what specifically impacted me.
Contrary to what our culture says, love is NOT about me. In fact, love is servanthood. It may not be a popular message in our current culture, when we are living in such an individualistic and self seeking society. It probably wasn't a popular message even back in ancient Roman times when Jesus walked the earth. This week in Kay Arthur's "A Marriage Without Regrets" study, I looked at a variety of New Testament passages using the word, love. I specifically studied the Greek word, Agape and how it was used in many different verses, as well as the Greek word, Phileo. Agape basically means unconditional love....love that keeps going, regardless of how the object receives it and regardless of if they are deserving or worthy of it. It delights in giving. The Greek word, Phileo, basically means a companion type of love. Kenneth Wuest says, "It is a love that is called out of one's heart as a response to the pleasure one takes in a person or object." Through all the verses, I studied the commonalities that they shared; specifically the source of love, the object receiving the love, the behavior, the extent, and the circumstances surrounding the text. (per Kay Arthur's suggestion). I found that the source of Agape love always came from God. Sometimes the source appeared to be one believer to another, but when I would read the whole context surrounding the verses, I would find that the Spirit was providing the power to love in that way. The true source for Agape love was always from God or His Spirit and it was an unconditional and persevering type of love. It encouraged me that I don't have to try to love that way in my own strength, because there is no way I ever could. We are commanded to love each other with an Agape kind of love, and God gives us the power to do that.
I then went on to study 1 Corinthians 13 about the characteristics of love. I spent a couple of days praying over this list and thinking about it within my own life, especially considering my relationships with my spouse, my children, my church family, my friends, and just people in general. It was a great passage to end the study and I know the Lord is using it to cause change and growth in my life. I know this is an ever-popular verse that many people have memorized, but take a couple of minutes today and read through it again with a heart open to the Lord.
I also learned that love isn't always joyous and pleasant. Love is painful and uses discipline when needed. I will have to suffer and endure hardships but I can be thankful because I know that God loves me as His dear child and He uses it for my good. Hebrews 12:6 "because the Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes everyone He accepts as a son."
I think one of the biggest things that I am learning involves the body of Christ and how much we all need one another. Sometimes it becomes so natural in our culture to think of our own "personal relationship" with Christ, when really, I don't think that should be the focus. This life isn't just about me and my own relationship with God. To really love others with an Agape love, I need to be in close community and fellowship with them. How can we do this in our current culture? Just food for thought, but can we achieve this by simply showing up for church service every week? Can we achieve it by doing good things for others? How do we achieve close community and the ability to lovingly call out sin and confess our own sins if we are not knowing one another deeply? Is our primary reason for going to church to be filled up, fed, and to provide our kids with some teaching about Jesus? We really need to get in closer community and fellowship to truly be able to love the way we are commanded. I realize this could possibly be controversial or offensive to some, but I am honestly sharing what I am learning to help people examine their own hearts and lives. I have a lot to learn in this area, but I am seeing the priority of loving others with an Agape love that comes from the power of the Spirit.
1 John 3:16, "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers."