Monday, July 13, 2009

What is love?

Read 1 Corinthians 13:4a

When God tells us that love is patient, He means love endures a long time. Love helps us endure extreme hardships as we keep our eyes upon our Lord. It is longsuffering; with the focus on accommodating others and not ourselves so we can give others room to grow and time to accomplish the work that God is doing in them. When someone is abrupt with us or when someone treats us wrongly, we are called to be patient, because we cannot have everything our way all the time, every time. We cannot allow ourselves to become angry when others fail to live up to the expectations that we set for them. When our spouse or child, or boss, or coworker, or friend, or anyone else angers or disappoints us, we are not to give up on him/her. Because God is patient with us, He does not give up on you and me and God loves us; so, we are to show patience with others. We need not become angry, but be content, for this is love.

The Greek word for love is Agape, which means “self giving” and “sacrificial,” that is more concerned with others than self. It was used in Classic Greek literature to refer to someone who was generously favored by a god. It conveys the idea of a person giving all his or her love, or favor, to someone else other than one's self. It is a love that is not earned; rather, it is relational and given freely. It also refers to parents giving all of their love to their child. In the New Testament, agape love is used to make a similar point, as God gives to each of us all of His love. It is a love that is bestowed without expectations of a response from the other. It takes the initiative, as Christ did with us, and fosters the Fruit of the Spirit and brotherly love. Agape love is also the most common word used both as a noun and a verb in the New Testament. The greatest example of agape love is what our Lord Jesus Christ did when He died for our sins. God showed His love by taking our place and the wrath and punishment for our sins. He kindly took our interests over His and paid that price through His sinless life and His sacrifice on our behalf. Consequently, God's agape love gave us His forbearance and rescue from the punishment that we deserved. Rather than receiving what we should have, we received His favor without earning it. The word Charity, used in the KJV and other translations, is a poor word rendering and does not reflect the sacrificial nature of the Greek word (Mark 12:28-31; John 3:16, Matt. 22:34-40; John 3:16; 13:1, 34-35; 14:1; 15:9; Rom. 1:31; 5:10; 12:10; 1 Cor. 13; Eph. 2:4-7; Phil. 2:2; Col. 1:1-6; 3:12-14; 1 Thess. 1:3; 2:8; 3:6; 12; 4:9-10; 5:8; 13; 2 Tim. 3:3; Heb. 10:24; 1 John 4:7-12).

Keep in mind that this passage is also a character description of how God deals with us! God is patient—as in long-suffering—in exercising judgment so that people may have the time and chance to come to faith and repentance (Luke 13:6-9; Rom. 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9).

Jesus Christ is slow to lose patience with us. So, shall we do the same with others?

Does He use you in this way?

How can the application of this love help produce real change in your perceptions and behaviors?

How does the fact that Christ is personal and trustworthy show He loves you?


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