Daily Devotional | What Is Love?

1 John 4:8 KJV
“He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.”

Everybody seems to believe that love is a good thing, and it is indeed. However, not all agree what love is. Is love that warm touchy-feely feeling a person has when he is with a familiar person? According to the Bible, love is caring in action. Love isn’t what we feel, but what we do.

The true meaning of love, as defined in the Bible, has been corrupted in the common usage of our English language and society. Most often, love is confused with infatuation – that elated, “high” feeling we get when we “fall in love.” This kind of “love” is something that lasts typically less than a year, and unless replaced by true love, results in broken relationships.

he Bible indicates that love is from God. In fact, the Bible says “God is love.” (1 John 4:8) Love is one of the primary characteristics of God. Likewise, God has endowed us with the capacity for love, since we are created in His image. This capacity for love is one of the ways in which we are “created in the image of God.” (Genesis 1:27)

The Greek language (the language of the New Testament) uses two different words to describe and define love. The most commonly used Greek word translated “love” in the New Testament is “agape.” This love is represented by God’s love for us. It is a non-partial, sacrificial love probably best exemplified by God’s provision for our rebellion:

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

The gift of God’s son as a provision for sin was given to all humans, regardless of who we are. God’s love is unconditional.

In contrast, our love is usually conditional and based upon how other people behave toward us. This kind of love is based upon familiarity and direct interaction. The Greek word “phileo” defines this kind of love, often translated “brotherly love.” Phileo is a soulish (connected through our emotions) kind of love – something that can be experienced by both believers and non-believers. This is in contrast to agape, which is love extended through the spirit. Agape love requires a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, since the non-regenerated soul is unable to love unconditionally. Agape love gives and sacrifices expecting nothing back in return.

Those who have studied the Bible and know about Peter’s character know that Peter was ruled by his emotions and often responded to situations emotionally, rather than thinking before acting. Sometimes this kind of response led to good things (e.g., Peter walking on the water to meet Jesus) – (Matthew 14:25-33).

Peter was quite proficient at expressing phileo love, and was probably very popular because of his dynamic character. However, God wants us to express both phileo love and agape love. Peter expressed this idea in his first epistle:

“Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love [phileo] of the brethren, fervently love [agape] one another from the heart…,” (1 Peter 1:22)

Believers in the churches of Asia Minor had already expressed phileo love, but Peter was encouraging them to fervently express agape love as well. If you are a Christian, you are encouraged to express both soulish, familiar love and spirit-led unconditional love. The goal of the Christian is to become “partakers of the divine nature.”(2 Peter 1:4) In Peter’s second epistle, he says that we are to behave with moral excellence. However, this is not enough. Christians tend to be characterized by non-believers as telling other people how they ought to behave. However, the Christian life should not be restricted to just moral excellence, but, above all else, should include both phileo and agape love:

“Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness [phileo], and in your brotherly kindness, love [agape].” (2 Peter 1:5-7)

The most famous biblical chapter on love is from (1 Corinthians 13:1-13). This is a description of agape love. It is described as being patient, kind, truthful, unselfish, trusting, believing, hopeful, and enduring. It is not jealous, boastful, arrogant, rude, selfish, or angry. True love never fails. The description perfectly fits God’s love toward us, and should be the way we love each other and God. However, I have never met any person who perfectly fulfills this biblical definition of love. The Bible says that this unconditional love is more important than everything else. All of these things, which are “good” things, will pass away. Only love is eternal, since love will be the basis of eternal life. In fact, when Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, He said, “You shall LOVE the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37)

If you are not a Christian, I hope you desire to express love as defined in the Bible. However, wanting to do so and attempting to do so in the power of your own will is guaranteed to fail. This kind of love is only possible through relying on the power of God, through faith in Jesus Christ. Even if you are a Christian, you will not succeed if you do not abide in Christ. May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ.

May God bless you today. Amen.

Scripture of the day: “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” — 1 John 4:10 KJV

Pastor Peter Okereke Jr.

The Living Word Ministries Inc.
Copyright Reserved, 2012.
(must be used with a written permission)
www.tlwmi.org

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About thelivingwordministries

The senior pastor and overseer of The Living Word Ministries Evanston, IL since 2010, the author of 'Living Victoriously' by Author-house publishers. My passion is present and lead others into Pure Praise, Pure Worship and Pure Word. This means that at our Church, the integrity of the Gospel is held to the letters, just as Jesus Christ preached and lived it. Come and join us, and God will surely Bless you mighty!
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