When I first thought about this series, I wanted to say that the world had taken the concept of love that God has given us and twisted it. For example, in the world outside of Biblical principles, it is said that a man and woman should not have relations until they love one another. But the Scripture teaches us that we should not be that intimate with someone until there has been a promise of til death do us part. When a man and woman give themselves to one another sexually, it adds a depth to the relationship so that if the relationship does not last, the damage is much, much greater than if they had never had sex. If a man loves a woman truly, he will not pursue a sexual relationship with her and vice versa. Again, the world would say that if parents love their children, they will work to keep them happy all of the time. We see this in a big way in our society right now. Parents use up all of their extra time and extra money trying to give their children everything and they don’t discipline them because they don’t want them to be unhappy. But the Bible says if discipline is not pleasant, but parents who don’t discipline hate their children because they are not preparing them for the real world one day. At first, it seems that the world has simply twisted the definition of what real love is. But that is not really the case.
If we go back to Biblical language, there were many different Greek words that all get translated into the English word ‘love.’ In the American society, the love that most relationships are based on would be the Greek word ‘phileo’ which is where we get the word Philadelphia which means brotherly love. This works out to be a conditional love. It is an ‘I will love you as long as you love me’ kind of love. And if one side fails to love, the other side no longer feels obligated to do so. And because we are all imperfect struggling to love without losing our patience and holding our temper, every relationship is in trouble. But there is another Greek word ‘agapeo’ that also is translated simply into the word love, but it means something totally different.
Agapeo is a love that never stops. It is a love that says, ‘No matter what you do, I will still love you. I will still honor you. I will still hope the best for you.” The Scripture says that God is love, but the word for love there is agapeo. God is agapeo. We don’t have a word in the English language that even comes close to the meaning of agapeo. And if God is love the source of it, this is real love, true love, a Godly love. This week I want to talk about Real Love.
The love of God is the only real love. Anything that does not fit into the definition of the love of God is not love. We still have romance and we can have passion, but these are exactly that romance and passion. Real love goes beyond romance and passion. Real love is what we need. Fathers need it from their fathers. Moms need it from their moms. We need it from our spouses, our friends. But it is not easy. In his letter to the Church of Corinth, the apostle Paul gives us a definition of agapeo. Love is patient Love is kind (1 Corinthians 13). So we know that agapeo is patient so this means that as soon as I lose my patience, I am not longer loving with agapeo love. I have slipped down to phileo love. As soon as I get upset and stop being kind, no more agapeo.
I hear you. You think I am saying that we are supposed to be perfect. Well, let me just say that I don’t know anyone perfect, but the Bible does call us to be Christlike and He was perfect for 33 years under some heavy temptations. This is the standard. My standard is to love like Christ-agapeo. My goal should be to strive for agapeo every single moment of each day. I should strive to never lose my temper. I should strive to always keep my cool.
Some of you are thinking to yourself that this is impossible, but before you go there, let me remind you that this love has been poured into your hearts by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). It is in You to give to Your spouse and everyone you come in contact with from the crazy drivers on the highway to the person who takes the last gallon of Blue Bell just before you can grab it yourself.
Everything good in our life hinges on our ability to love agapeo. It is learned. It is not natural. We must work at it. The better we do, the God in our life. The God in our life, the more power, more peace, more joy, better relationships with others, etc., etc., etc. Praise the Lord!
The Lord has given each of us His love through the Holy Spirit that it might change the way we love. If we will allow the love of God to change us and accept this standard, our life will be totally and completely changed for the better. You could ignore this teaching, but you could let it change your life, your marriage, your own contentment with life, your relationships with your children, your parents, your co-workers. It’s up to you!
1 Corinthians 13
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.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (NIV)
Heavenly Father, do not let me settle. I pray that You will help me not to give myself an excuse for not loving as You have called me to love. Help me not to be deceived by the way the world operates. I don't want a marriage like the world's. I don't want broken relationships. I don't want estranged relationships. Lord, pour your love into my heart with a double portion each day. Help me to love better each and every day. -Amen/
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