Thursday, January 17, 2008

The perfect Gift

With Valintines Day just right around the corner, I thought I'd post about love.

I am not a material person; I could careless if I have a fancy car to drive. I am blessed if I get up and it starts and makes me through my day. I'm not into jewelry, if I get it I wear it, but it is not something I have to have. I love the simple gifts, the simple acts of love. How often do we sacrifice for other people?

I love the gifts my children make me at school. They come home hiding it from me so I don't see it until they want me to. Half the time I haven't a clue what it is, but they took their time out of there day to think of me. They sacrificed there time at school to draw me a picture or write me a poem. I love those gifts!!!
Don't we all just want to be loved by someone? To have someone cherish us so much that we know it beyond everything else. This reminded me of God's love. He sent His only son into this world to die on the cross for our sins. He loved us before we loved Him.

Here are some thoughts about love

Love does not hurt. Physical and/or emotional abuse are not a part of love.
It sure seems like we hurt the ones we love most.

Love is not manipulative, it should not be used to get others to do what you want. You should never give in to demands based on the, "You would do it if you loved me!" tactic.

I think teen girls fall into this line more than anyone else. I know I did!

Love is an intense feeling of caring for another person. It can take many different forms (romantic, friendly, familial) but it is always about caring.

I think our example is what did Jesus do for us on the cross. He gave His life for us.

If somebody asks you to do something that you don't want to do in order to "prove" your love they do not love you the way you might think they do. When you love another person you don't ask them to sacrifice a part of themselves in the name of that love.

Our example is still what Christ did for us on the cross.

It is very easy to confuse lust for love. The true measure of romantic love is commitment and trust not physical attraction.

See below for what the Bible says about love.

Sex is NOT love. Love is NOT sex. Sex can be a part of romantic love but it is never mandatory.

I won't touch this right now. This will be another daily devotion.

Romantic love can (and often does) fade. When it goes there is not always a reason. When somebody falls out of love with you it does not reflect upon your value as a person or your desirability.

This is also something else I won't touch right now. How can we fall out of love? This is another great daily devotion./span>

This is what the Bible says about love

The English word "love" has many different meanings. It can have affectionate, benevolent, strong liking, romantic, or sexual implications. The Hebrew word aheb, most commonly used in the Old Testament, had a similar range of meanings.

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. (NIV, Deuteronomy 6:4-5)

That love was to be shown by serving God and obeying His commands (Deuteronomy 10:12-13, Joshua 22:5).

The Israelites were also commanded to have sincere good will for each other:

Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD. (NIV, Leviticus 19:18)

New Testament

Two different Greek words are translated as "love" in the New Testament, and they have more specific meanings than our English word "love."

Agapao (verb) and agape (noun). This is the "Christian love" of the Bible. It means affection, benevolence, good-will, high esteem and concern for the welfare of the one loved. It is deliberate, purposeful love rather than emotional or impulsive love. Almost all of the New Testament references to love are agapao or agape in the original Greek. The King James Version of the Bible sometimes translates agape as "charity," but charity has now taken on the meaning of assistance to the poor rather than benevolent love.

Phileo (verb). This means to love in an impulsive and emotional way. It is seldom used in the Bible, but there is a play on words (lost in English) in John 21:15-17. Jesus says to Peter, "Simon son of John, do you truly love (agapao) me?" Peter answers, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love (phileo) you." Philadelphia is a related word meaning the love of brothers or sisters (e.g., Romans 12:10). It is often translated "brotherly love."

God's love for mankind
Love is one of the attributes of God and an essential part of His nature:

God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. (NLT, 1 John 4:16)

Our relationship to God is like the loving relationship between a child and parent. Like a loving parent, God knows and cares deeply for each of us:

Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? And yet not one of them is forgotten before God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are of more value than many sparrows. (NAS, Luke 12:6-7)

Like children, some of us return God's love, and some do not. Nevertheless, He loves all of us. God's gifts of love and salvation are freely offered to all, even to those who choose the path of wickedness instead:

He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (NIV, Matthew 5:45)

Related verses : Matthew 6:25-30, 7:8-11, Luke 15:4-7, John 3:16-17, 16:27 (phileo), Romans 8:38-39

Love the Lord your God
Jesus said our most important responsibility in life is to love God:

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?" "The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' (NIV, Mark 12:28-30)

We demonstrate our love for God by obeying His commandments and Jesus' commandments (Luke 11:28, John 14:21-24, 2 John 1:6), putting our trust in Him (John 14:1), maintaining a humble attitude (Matthew 18:1-4, Luke 18:9-14), and by prayer (Matthew 6:9-13, Luke 18:1-8).

Related verses: Matthew 6:24, Matthew 7:2, 10:37 (phileo), Luke 6:46-49, Luke 11:27-28, Luke 18:15-17, John 6:28-29, John 6:66-69, John 12:44, John 14:15

Love your neighbor
Our second most important responsibility in life is to love other people. Jesus went on to say,

The second is this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these. (NRSV, Mark 12:31)

In His Parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus explained that we should consider all the people of the world to be our "neighbors." Just as God loves all His people, so should we. Jesus calls us to extend our love even to our enemies!

You have heard that the law of Moses says, "Love your neighbor and hate your enemy." But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and on the unjust, too. If you love only those who love you, what good is that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect. (NLT, Matthew 5:43-48)

The apostle Paul said that Christian love is the greatest and most essential of all the spiritual gifts. Even faith is worthless without love!

If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. (NRSV, 1 Corinthians 13:1-3)

Paul went on to describe the nature of true Christian love in this beautiful passage:

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end... And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love. (NRSV, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, 13)

In another of his letters, Paul said loving our fellowman is the way to live by all the commandments:

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. (NIV, Romans 13:8-10)

God is the source of all our love. Loving God and loving other people are so interrelated that we cannot have one without the other:

We love because he first loved us. Those who say, "I love God," and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also. (NRSV, 1 John 4:19-21)

Related verses: Leviticus 19:18, Matthew 5:21-24, 5:38-39, 6:14-15, 18:21-35, 22:34-40, 25:31-46, Luke 6:27-31, 6:38, 10:25-37, John 13:34-35, 15:9-13, Romans 12:10 (philadelphia), Galatians 5:13-15, 5:22-23, James 2:8-9, 1 Peter 4:8-10, 1 John 4:7-21


Amel's Realm said...

WOW...this is such an extensive post, but I've enjoyed it thoroughly, Lori. THANKS for sharing and reminding me of the verses! ;-D

Kathy said...

These are some great thoughts about love!

Lori said...

amel's realm,

Your welcome! It was for me as well.