Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Love: What Is It?

Chuckle: "Why do we put suits in a garment bag and put garments in a suitcase?"
Quote: "An individual's highest fulfillment, greatest happiness, and widest usefulness are to be found in living in harmony with His (God's) will." --John D. Rockefeller, Jr.
    "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers" (I John 3:16 NIV).
Here, the word "love" is translated from the Greek word, "agape."  This kind of love can be defined as "God's kind of love" -- the kind of love that caused Jesus to sacrifice himself for us on a horrible Roman cross.  This love is characterized by actions, not mere words.  What did John mean when he said we ought to lay down our lives for our friends?  Fortunately, it is unlikely that most of us will required to give our physical lives for someone else as Jesus did for us.  Nevertheless, it seems John is saying we Christians should be willing to do so if called upon.
"It is our care for the helpless, our practice of lovingkindness, that brands (Christians) us in the eyes of many of our opponents. 'Look!' they say. 'How they love one another! Look how they are prepared to die for one another'" --Tertullian
You wouldn't hesitate to give your life for someone you love dearly -- like your spouse or your child.  Soldiers lay down their lives for their country, and often sacrifice themselves to save their buddies.  But is this what John is suggesting we do.  Not really.  There are many other ways we can lay down our lives for brothers and sisters.  Immediately after saying that we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers, John talks about using our material possessions to meet the needs of others.
"If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth" (I John 3:17-18 NIV). Then John let's the heavy hammer fall: "This is how we know that we belong to the truth (Christ), and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything" (I John 3:19-20 NIV).
This is how we will know that we have been saved and belong to Christ -- if we love and meet the needs of our brothers and sisters.  Up in verse 17, the word translated "pity" actually means to "shut out" or "close the door." If we see someone in need and shut the door of our hearts toward him, how can the love of God be in us?  We can say kind words to someone in need, but do nothing to meet his or her need and our hearts will condemn us for such a lack of agape love -- a love of actions.
In light of these passages, how does your love for others stack up?  I ask the same question of myself.  Are we inclined to feel sorry for someone in need, and maybe share some words of encouragement with him/her, or are we willing to lay down our lives and sacrifice something to meet his/her needs? "This is how we know that we belong to the truth (Jesus)."  Love is what God is all about and what we should be all about, as well.
Love, Jerry & Dotse  


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