I am sure that many of you already know about the various meanings of the word Love, in the Bible. There is ‘eros‘ which is the physical or lustful attraction; there is the ‘phileo‘ love which is brotherly love such as a parent for a child; and there is ‘agape’ love which is the love of God that is supernatural. Our focus today is not on what kind of love but on the agape love that is to find a home in our heart and finds it’s expression in all directions.
First, we are to Love God back with the same love that He loves us. That means that we have no other gods that we hold in comparison to Him. He alone is God and there is none other like Him. Until we get to know Him we do not love Him. The more we get to know Him, the more capable we are to love Him, for God is Love.
The next area of our love that must be developed is to love one another. That is to love those of your family and those to whom you identify such as your church family. This requires some stretching and maturing. Sometimes we forget that our love for one another is not based on how we feel about the other person. It is not based on what they do for you but on their value which is not always apparent. Sometimes their value will not become apparent for a long time but love can’t wait till then. They need to be loved whether or not their value has appeared. The world will know we are Christians by our love. Love does what is best, not what is convenient, or easiest or even by what is desired. It is the expression of what erupts out of the heart from our concerns and understanding of the others needs.
The third direction of our love is focused toward our neighbors. That is those to whom we have contact in our everyday living. It includes those who cut in front of you in traffic, your fellow employees, the beggar, the down and out as well as the up and out and even your business acquaintances. You are to love them and seek for their good. This will take even more growing to develop a love that is ever a blessing. Some people are not easy to love. The negative, the critical, the depressed, the gossip, the one who never stops talking, the gossip, and on and on it goes. These people are all hurting and need your love. They come from all sorts of backgrounds and bad situations yet God loves them and we are to love them with His love, too. We have to learn to live with each other yes, but it is even more important to learn to love each other. This love will cover a multitude of sins.
Finally, we are to love our enemies. They are the ones who are not fair or merciful. They attack us and all we stand for. Sometimes they are from outside our world and come at us suddenly and without cause. Sometimes they are close to us and hurt us the deepest. Sometimes they are cruel and sometimes they are sly. It doesn’t matter what they attempt but what does matter is the attitude that you express when they do. They are expecting a fight but they are not expecting your love. These are the ones who have the least love in their lives. They have probably endured the worst treatment, have been taught the least, had the worst examples and come from the most dysfunctional families. They can only be won by love. To that they will respond. Not at first but they can be won if your love is real. They will cost you the most and they are the hardest to convince but they are some of the most loyal and dedicated of all. The apostle Paul comes to mind as a great example.
God is not looking to punish us but to redeem us. He paid the ultimate price so that we might have eternal life. To God, we are each worth more than the entirety of this world. There are a number of tools that God will use to reach the isolated and unloved, but the greatest of them is Love. Love is God’s chosen means of reaching the hearts of men. So how is your love growing? When you are loving, you are expressing the very nature of God.