More About Love

 

About two weeks ago we saw that there are three major words in Greek for, “Love.”

1.      Phileo: Brotherly love or an affection for something.

2.      Agapao: The act of Agape. That is, a verb form of Agape.

  1. Agape: A deep inexpressible concern and caring. May contain emotion but the essence is mind and choice, definitely not romantic love in the Hollywood sense.

 

In first Corinthians, the 13th chapter every incident of love is the Greek term Agape. So we are not talking of romance or even great affection but rather a purposeful love that transcends mere feelings and tries to approach a more Godly level of love.

 

Often, when we try to define something, we turn to examples rather than words. If I try to  define the term “Beautiful woman” I could use a lot of language and still not do a very good job of communicating the meaning of the term. However, with a dozen photographs or so I could communicate the meaning rather well. Let me give you a few word pictures to make the point. Elizabeth Taylor versus Madeline Albright at their primes or the typical fairytale princess versus the typical fairytale witch. This is definition by example. There is also definition by attributes. Paul uses both in 1st Corinthians 13.

 

But definition by attributes has problems also. Consider something that has four legs. Animal, mineral or vegetable you might ask. Might be any of those I reply but let me give you some more attributes. It can be found in a person’s home. It has a flat surface on top of the legs. The legs are secured to the flat surface. It is usually about 15 to 18 inches high but can be up to twice that high. OK, what are we talking about here, a table or a bench or a stool? A few pictures would help, especially if the pictures showed the item being used. The more attributes listed the better the definition becomes. Well, Paul gives us plenty of examples or attributes of “Love.” Let’s take a look at them now.

 

(1 Cor 13:1 NIV)  If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

*   Paul compares speaking in a holy language to love and declares love to be the greater in the comparison as it will give substance to the language.

{2} 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 have not love, I am nothing.

*   Likewise, Paul again compares marvelous gifts and abilities to love and yet love is the necessary ingredient to make these things alive and worthwhile.

{3} If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

*   What Paul is suggesting here is that although sacrifice is a powerful act of giving it also fails to amount to much if not coupled with love.

*   In these first three verses I think we can see that love is what gives meaning to just about everything. It’s not surprising then that the scriptures declare, “God is Love.” (1 John 4:16 NIV)  And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.

{4} Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

*   Here begins  a list of attributes about what love is and is not.

{5} It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

*   The list continues.

{6} Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

*   And now Paul makes another comparison.  Love is not evil but Love rejoices in truth.  Jesus tells us this about truth. (John 17:17 NIV)  Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.

{7} It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

*   A key term here is, “Always.”

{8} 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.

*   Love never fails because God never fails. Remember, God is love.

*   Heaven and earth will pass away but God remains!

{9} For we know in part and we prophesy in part, {10} but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.

*   Love is perfect. It does not disappear. God is eternal!

{11} 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 childish ways behind me.

*   The subject is still, “Love.” Love, that is real love, love that is from God. Love that reflects God in us.

*   This love takes maturity. It is not about ourselves it is about others.

{12} Now we see but a poor 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.

*   The subject is still, “Love.” Although we love the best we can it is not the best there is.

*   We are still learning from God but there will come a day when we will not need to learn because we will have mastered the “Love” lesson with the help of, “The Master.”

{13} And now these three remain: faith (confidence and trust), hope (anticipation) and love. But the greatest of these is love.

*   And so Paul concludes that love is greater than any of the many things he has mentioned.

*   In fact it is love that is the foundation for every good thing.

*   (James 1:17 NIV)  Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

In Conclusion

Love is not about how we feel; it’s about how we treat others. It’s about how we treat our family and friends. It’s about how we treat our acquaintances. It’s about how treat those that love us and those that mistreat us. It’s about the way we treat those that work for us and those for whom we work. It’s about our entire worldview.  And above all, it’s about how we treat God. Here is the end of the sermon.

*   (John 15:12-14 NIV)  My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. {13} Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. {14} You are my friends if you do what I command.

 

How then should we love? Read the Word and you will find the answer. God is the answer. God is love