By Lanette Black, Writer and Intercessor for IWM
What is true love? I am not talking about eros, the passionate, romantic love that is often idolized in our culture. It is not phileo love defined as brotherly love, warm affection, or fondness. True love is agape, the selfless, sacrificial, unconditional love of our Heavenly Father. We are to reciprocate this amazing gift of love to God and share it with others. It is the highest and most powerful form of love. This is the love that God has for His children, that He sent His one only Son to the cross as a sacrifice for our sins for the redemption of our souls. Jesus was agape love personified. We think of love as a feeling. This true love is a choice, a deliberate act of the will to put others before ourselves. We only know true, unconditional love because God loved us first (1 John 4:19).
Love that is genuine can only come from God, for as scripture tells us, God is love.
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:7-8
The apostle, Paul instructs us in 1 Corinthians 16:14 to do everything in love. Why? Because the greatest two commandments are, first to love God with all our heart, soul and mind, and secondly to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:37, 39). When we truly live this love out in our daily lives, we represent the love of Jesus and draw others to Him.
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8
The Bible is God’s love story to us. He gives us everything we need to live an abundant life that honors Him. By reading His Word, meditating on it, praying and asking the Holy Spirit to illuminate it and follow its instructions, we are equipped and empowered to choose the way of love. We are given this beautiful love letter to navigate our journey of faith and glorify Him in all that we say and do. His unfailing love propelled Him to create us in His image so that we may have an intimate relationship with Him. His love is immeasurable! How can we not share that love with others!
It is not always easy to love others, especially those who do not agree with us, who treat us unkindly, or who may even hate us. We are fallible human beings, with all different types of personalities from different backgrounds and cultures. That is why it is so important not to rely on our feelings but instead choosing to love as our Father has shown us. As unpleasant as all of us are prone to be at times, He loves us in spite of our imperfections. He gave us the ultimate example of sacrificial love through Jesus. His love dwells within us and His Spirit empowers us to walk in this amazing, transformative love.
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Ephesians 4:2Regularly reminding ourselves the characteristics of agape love, will help us to fully grasp it and share it with others. We will not love perfectly as our Father does, yet we can choose to submit to Him, and follow His example by allowing the Holy Spirit to work in and through us. In loving our Heavenly Father and others well, we will bear much fruit and glorify Him. Jesus told His disciples (which is also a command for us), “Love each other as I have loved you” (John 15:12).
Let us meditate on how scripture describes the love that we are called to give.
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:1-7Thank You, Lord for Your amazing, relentless, unfailing love! We are so grateful that nothing can ever separate us from your love. It is beyond anything our human minds can comprehend! We are in awe of how much you love us and care for our every need. Your love comforts, strengthens and sustains us. We do not deserve it. We fail you every day. Yet, you love us anyway. You love us immeasurably and unconditionally. Thank You for sending Your Son as a loving sacrifice to die on the cross for our sins to give us eternal life with you. Thank You that You raised Him from the grave that we may have victory over sin and death. Despite all that we face in this life, Your love never wavers or dissipates. Your love endures forever. Help us to walk in that same sacrificial love, even when we don’t feel like it, even when someone is unkind or unloving to us. Help us to remember that you still love us, flawed and imperfect so we can still love them. Help us to extend grace and forgiveness towards others just as You do for us. I pray that every single person we meet comes to know Your beautiful, everlasting, steadfast love. Please purify our hearts, Lord, and strip away anything that hinders our walk with You. Help us to meditate on Your word, to embed it in our hearts so that we will glorify You in all we say and do. You are so worthy to be praised! We love You and we worship You and give you all the Glory! In Jesus’ Mighty, Matchless Name, Amen!