The old expression, “familiarity breeds contempt;” is perhaps never better of use when it comes to the subject of love.
Perhaps the reason why being familiar with love becomes makes it harder to understand regarding Biblical love, is because this is an everyday part of our lives, rather it is parental love, spousal love, the love of children and grandchildren, love of friends, love of country, love of possessions or professions, love of animals or relationships; love becomes difficult to deal with, Biblically speaking because of all these different applications and therefore different types of love are treated as synonymous when they are not.
The problem becomes when we use the word love in such a generic manner, in so many different situations, across so many different applications, yet as a single subject, rather than having different words which are more specific to the particular situation.
In regards to English words and their grammar, generalities create problems in communication, especially when it comes to the topic we refer to as love.
When God chose to manipulate situations to where He would communicate the New Testament concerning Jesus Christ in the Greek language, He did so because Greek is one of the most precise, exact languages ever known a man (See Endnote #1).
We often say that “the devil is in the details,” some thinking that detailed and specific plans or activities, and exactness are evil; yet this expression does not say this in any way.
What it is saying is that within details, things can be hidden that are not obvious in a more simplistic environment, yet this is not to mean that details are evil or wrong; details are good and life-saving.
Do you want vagueness in regards to how the Surgeon works on you on the operating table.
Do you want vagueness when you stand before a judge concerning your punishment, do you want to hear: “time served, or maybe life.”
This is why even within the English grammar we utilize Greek words within medicine, science, and law; because specificity is so important.
God and Almost?
And when it comes to Christianity and God, what destroys faith is the concept that God is not exact, sometimes He’s late, or sometimes He’s this way or sometimes He’s that way, or sometimes it just really doesn’t matter.
Jesus didn’t almost die for the sins of the world, you’re not almost saved, any more than you and I want to be almost cured of a disease, or almost found innocent of a crime, or were almost hired for a new job we really need.
Simple – Vague
A majority of the times, especially in the Old Testament a word that is meant for what is general, vague, lacking specificity or particularity; is the word simple, and is always condemned as seen in the following verses (just to name a few).
“How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge” (Pro 1:22)
“For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them.” (Pro 1:32)
“O ye simple, understand wisdom: and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart.” (Pro 8:5)
“Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him“ (Pro 9:4)
“The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going.” (Pro 14:15)
“The simple inherit folly: but the prudent are crowned with knowledge.” (Pro 14:18)
There are verses in the Old Testament, especially in Psalms and Proverbs which use the word simple in a different manner, NOT communicating that which is generalized or vague.
It uses the word simple to mean innocent or naïve.
Part of the problem with the English language is that it is much more vague than the Greek, where better translated words which are translated into the English simple, would be: naïve, innocent, lacking guile, or sinless.
Love in the Greek
Therefore, when we look at the Biblical understanding of the word love as seen in the New Testament, the Greek is exact to the point of utilizing different words which present the specificity of this most important word in human relationships. The four different words for this emotion are:
Eros– This Greek word, which is a verb form for love is a physical passionate love which is sensual in desire and longing.
It is sometimes referred to as a romantic type of love wherein logic and reason are never involved.
This type of love is never found in the Bible.
It appears that God chooses to never use this word with in His Revelation to man – more than just a sexual type of love, it is more seen as a perversion of love; only physical and sensual, where want and desire are not united with emotional response, nor unconditional acceptance.
It is a kind of taking love, never giving. We would say this is more of a sexual type of lust – it is a reaction type of love; sensual and sexual.
Storge– This Greek word, which is a verb form for love that falls along the line of affection, as in the natural sense of the word as felt within the family unit, as in the love for a brother or sister, for parents or a son or daughter.
We would say this is more of an unconditional type of love – it is a reaction type of love, emotional.
Phillia– This Greek word, which is a verb form for love has more to do with reason and logic where is an affection for a friend, and many times involves loyalty to friends, family, and community.
It is the feelings between friends based more upon the choice because of the interaction of people in a more logical manner. We would say this is more of a conditional type of love – it is a reaction type of love, emotional.
Agape– This Greek word, which is the noun form for love, is a word which means to love in the sense of being totally given over to something. It is God’s type of love wherein He puts the object of His affection above anything else.
This noun form of the word is what Jesus uses repeatedly in the Gospels as the type of love that believers are to have for each other, as well as the unsaved, and even their enemies.
It does not refer specifically to the emotion of love, but an action which displays love. What this means is you don’t have to have the emotion, to do the action.
Jesus was not telling his followers that they had to have feeling of the emotional attachment of love for their enemies, He was telling them that they had to do the behavior of love by putting their enemies before themselves – this is truly a godly function, yet to humans it is abnormal.
The Verb form of Agape
Unfortunately, within the church the verb form of this word for love, agapao has not been taught as distinct and different from its noun form, agape.
The verb form of the word, agapao is not necessarily Godly as it is not always used concerning that which is sinless, or self-centered. It is never used in connection with God necessarily, but with desire, and placing something as a highest aspiration, not necessarily the good of that of which it seeks.
It does not necessitate righteous motives, or even take into consideration What is best concerning the object of its desire. Whereas the noun form is godly in putting something before itself, the verb form can mean having the greatest desire for in an unrighteous manner, or for an unrighteous desire.
It is the verb form, agapao that is used concerning the desire for the highest seats (that of notoriety and prestige, based upon pride) by the Pharisees in the synagogues, which is not a godly type of love, it is a selfish type of love that simply puts the object as the greatest thing to be desired, as seen in Luke 11:43, which states:
“Woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye love [agapao] the uppermost seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets.”
Back to the noun form of the word, agape – This type of love is a love of the highest regard wherein the object of the affection is placed before the person in a righteous, self giving manner. We see this form of the word love used all through the New Testament regarding how Christians are to love each other and the ungodly. It is sacrificially putting someone else first, for their good.
It is the highest, most noble form of love in Greek. We would say that this is an unconditional type of love – an action type of love as seen in behavior, a choice, as compared to a response type of emotional type of love – this love is rational, discretionary, and what Christ commanded us to do, not feel.
It is this noun form of agape, God’s type of love that we are going to address today, I’m going to attempt to paint a picture to add more clarity of how we as believers can behave in this type of love, How we can pragmatically and righteously fulfill Christ’s command to us – to love one another, to put each other first, as an act of our will.
For years, I found myself conflicted Attempting to fully understand what Jesus repeatedly told His disciples, and by extension to all of His followers, for all generations, which included including me; that we had to love others – it was not a choice, it was a command – because I misunderstood this based upon the English understanding of the word love, and therefore thought that Christ was demanding for me to feel and emotion, as opposed to choosing a behavior.
Within the gospel, over two dozen times Jesus tells us to love others, and though it sounds passive in the English, in the Greek it is in the imperative, meaning it is a command and there is no choice allowed.
It is commonly, and mistakenly taught in many churches, by pastors that this type of Godly love (agape) is the type of love only achievable in the Holy Spirit, wherein the Holy Spirit overtakes us and overpowers our own will, to feel an emotional condition for someone we had not previously felt.
As if it is the Holy Spirit that would give us the emotional feeling of love for these people – which is wrong, whereas what Christ was saying was that it’s a choice of our will.
And while it is the Holy Spirit that motivates us to this choice, and enables us to fulfill that which we choose to do, it is NOT hocus-pocus; it is NOT like the Holy Spirit touches us on the top of our head, and we now feel a positive sense of regard for someone (Did the Holy Spirit create this type of love within the Pharisees to “Love the uttermost seats” ~ “Woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye love [G25, agapao] the uppermost seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets.” ~ Luke 11:43) , even if they are mean to us and hate us – this is mysticism, which is NOT what Christ is talking about (Please see Endnote # 2).
After years of trying to pragmatically figure out how to do the kind of love that Christ mandate, and attempting to understand how it worked in order to teach it, the Holy Spirit presented me with an opportunity to understand this most necessary commands of Jesus.
An Illustration About God’s Kind of Love
I was doing hospital chaplaincy, and walking down the hallway of the pediatrics unit, praying to God concerning the Holy Spirit teaching me how to understand this type of love.
As was my habit, after having walked through the pediatric ICU unit (which would drive me to tears because of the pain these newborns were experiencing), I would walk past the newborn glass display to attempt to feel joy to help me shake off the sorrow I was feeling, attempting not to carry the sorrow to the next hospital patient I would encounter.
I needed to put a smile on my face before I could continue through the hospital; and beautiful newborn babies, uncontaminated by the world, was just the trick.
The Elegant Lady
This one particular night as I was consciously thinking and praying to God to understand love, I was walking towards the newborns display.
In the hallway, looking at the newborns was this sophisticated woman.
She had beautifully tinted hair, French nails, a beautiful dress and high heels; yet at the same time she appeared quite unusual.
She was wearing a hospital robe over her beautiful dress, and her hair had some spots of blood on it that caused it to be stuck to her head.
Her makeup was running all over the place, and here she was leaning against the glass, crying with the biggest smile on her face.
I think I’m pretty intelligent, so it occurred to me that she must’ve just had a baby, maybe while she was out having dinner at a nice restaurant, and was now looking at her baby that she just delivered.
A Human Way of Thinking
To see the joy on her face, to me being a man so used to conditional love (meaning I love what is beautiful or appealing to me, or that makes me feel good; or good about myself), I had the thought this must be the most beautiful child in the world, based on her reaction.
Now again, as I was walking up the hall just before I observed this woman, praying and asking God to teach me about love.
As I got closer to the window, I was trying to figure out which beautiful baby she was looking at.
However, to my amazement, when I finally saw the object of her affection; I was shocked.
She was looking at the most ugliest space alien newborn I have ever seen.
Because of the pyramid shape of its head, it looked like one of the “Cone-heads” from the Dan Aykroyd movie.
It was multicolored, red, pink, and gray, and it was crying without making any noise.
In an instant, all at once I understood what Jesus was talking about when He commanded us to love.
Scriptures flooded my mind, and I was able to put words to meanings, and understand something that had been puzzling me for many years.
We all know John 3:16 ; however it was 1 John 3:16 that came to my mind and said it all (which I will get to in a moment).
The problem I had all my life was that I had allowed my cultural understanding of the word “love,” as experienced in 21st century America to define what God was saying when He used first century Koine Greek regarding His own definition of what love meant.
I had been taught that love was a feeling, an emotion.
And as all emotions, they are always in response to an activating event.
No one feels love without something first happening.
Whether it is in the use of eyesight when watching a beautiful woman, and the feeling of romance which leads to falling into love, wherein just as easily one can fall in love; they can fall out of love.
Whether it is loving a beautiful car that you would desire to own for yourself in order to feel joy and pride based upon prestige.
Love American style has always been a response to something else, because it was emotional; it was always a reaction, and not an action.
Biblical Love is a Choice, Not a Reaction
However, Biblical love, the love that Christ was talking about, is NOT an emotional experience, it is NOT a RESPONSE – it is an action generated by the mind, which produces a behavior of putting something for yourself; and to do so sacrificially.
Sure I understood the meaning of the three Greek words used for love in the Bible; yet in an instant I understood what it meant, experientially.
This type of love is what Christ was telling us to do, when he told us to love each other, He was telling us to perform a behavior, an action only made possible by a rational choice of the mind.
Again, Christ told us to do something, not feel something.
Sacrificially Putting Someone Else First
And based upon 1 John 3:16; we see that real love is a sacrificial act of putting someone or something before yourself, as the text states:
“Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” (See Endnote #3)
And the words, he laid down his life for us, expressed that He sacrificially put us first.
You can only perceive love after the act of love, the sacrifice of putting something ahead of the lover, after the act, not before it.
You see the way that we perceive love is explained in the word “because,” Because they do something that makes us feel good, because they are beautiful to make us feel special – love American style always has to do with the word “because.”
In America we love first (The emotional feeling), which is seen in our expression, “we fell in love.” Yet this is not what the act of love is.
Regarding God’s kind of word to represent love, it is the “how,” is, that we need to focus, How do we sacrificially put someone else first – how do we love them.
Love is a Choice, to PUT Someone ELSE Before ourselves – SACRIFICIALLY
You see what also came into my mind was Matthew chapter 6 where Christ is talking about doing alms, those love gifts that we give to others.
Jesus said was to NOT let your left hand know what your right is doing, to not sound a bell (this is a very pragmatic way that the Jews used to make sure that when a rich man walked through the marketplace and was giving out alms, that he would be able to disperse the coins to more than a few beggars), to be seen of men (See Endnote #4).
Love meant to be putting someone else first, but also it was a private affair; not to be done as to be seen of men – which displays the sincerity of the act of putting someone else first.
Now Back to the Baby
You see the reason I understood what love was when I saw that baby is because with my natural cultural training concerning love; when I saw the joy expressed by that woman concerning the baby on the other side of the glass, my natural instinct was to think this must be a beautiful baby, yet the opposite was true.
And what I felt like was as if the Holy Spirit was rushing thoughts and Scriptures to my mind wherein I gained understanding that for nine months this woman had sacrificially put this thing in her stomach first before herself.
It was apparent to me, based upon her apparel and hygiene, that woman was no doubt thorough in everything she did.
In my mind, I raced through how difficult it must have been to spend nine months with this creature growing inside her stomach.
And if she was committed to being a good mother, as she was concerning her appearance; that probably meant that she stopped drinking alcohol, Along with many other sacrifices that she made.
She no doubt changed her eating habits, cutting down on things that might be harmful to the baby. Making all kinds of changes in her life to sacrificially put this little creature first above herself.
She kept the baby that was growing inside of her (it wasn’t a fetus! Changing the name from baby to fetus doesn’t make something different; it just shows how evil men attempt to live with themselves in order to rationalize killing babies – and simply for the convenience of the mother, calling it a privacy issue. The last sign of every great society and empire before they die is when it rationalizes the murder of babies in the womb – it is a last sign of barbarous behavior which God cannot stand), not selfishly choosing abortion even as she saw her beautiful figure being destroyed, with her getting sick in the morning, feeling nauseous far too often, having her back killing her, feeling aches and pains more and more each day simply trying to move, and willingly doing all this for a little creature she didn’t even know.
Therefore, it did not matter what this little thing looked like, she had invested herself completely by sacrificially putting this little baby first; and afterward she would feel the emotions of love for the object of her affection (“Object of affection,” is an archaic expression to explain what love was back in the day when the cultural contamination we currently live in was not current – love has an object, yet it was “of her,” therefore this displays ownership. And back when this expression was used if you owned something, that meant you paid for it. Today we live in a society where we want everything free and easy. Yet during the time that this expression was used, men did not think this way. The point was whenever they paid for it they were invested, it cost them something, they had to sacrifice for it), no matter what it looked like.
You see when it comes to love God’s way, there are emotions, but they come when it is appropriate, after the sacrifice for it has been made – this is called nurturing (Meaning it is developmental, cultivating, fostering, growing, and progressive) love.
Much of what we refer to today as emotions are usually either affection, lust, which is desire; or romance.
And part of the problem that we currently have is that we feel it is normal that these emotions usually come first, though they haven’t been paid for, they haven’t been earned by investing in the object of the affection.
This explains why if a couple makes a commitment to stay together for life – eventually they will grow in love, at least if the man is godly and not evil (History has shown that prearranged marriages have much lower divorce rate than marriages we have in America, in fact prior to this century, even when women could be granted a divorce; the divorce rate in the world for prearranged marriages was very minimal, if that all).
This is because if you stay together long enough, and one party starts putting the other party sacrificially first, it becomes easy for the other party to do the same; and this grows the feeling of love. Now there are always exceptions to rules, evil men and women create these exceptions, and normally it is complete narcissism or self-centeredness that becomes the barrier to a person loving someone that has loved them first.
And true love does not come overnight, it takes time and commitment.
However, once you have two people sacrificially putting each other first; the emotion of love is guaranteed.
You see the correct process is to sacrificially put the other person first, then in time; if this is done in sincerity and not as eye pleasing – for eye service – to be seen of men, the person making the sacrifice feels the emotion of love because of the investment that they have made.
Many refer to this as nurturing love (which is what it does, when you put somebody first you are nurturing), which can be unfortunate because it seems to indicate that women who are the main nurturers of their children, and that is a special kind I love that only women know.
Yet within God’s type of love, which is a nurturing love; anyone exercise it by putting someone else first, with the outcome of feeling the emotional attachment that never leaves, because it is unconditional, not based upon the other person doing something or being something, but is based upon the sacrifice that is made for the object of their affection.
And while women are the best example of nurturing love, it is just as possible for a man to achieve the same sacrificial giving, with the emotional love of investment being the outcome.
This is why an evil man’s mother still loves them, having sacrificially placed them first as a child, this investment produces love in the invested, even if the person ends up doing bad things – again, this is referred to as unconditional love.
This is why out Capone’s mother, at the end of her life knowing that wrong that her son had done, loved him more than ever. He was a colicky baby, wherein she without ceasing, sacrificially put him first As a baby and young child, there was no condition to her love, it was based upon her total investment into him.
Love One Another
Now, Scriptures such as John 13:35 makes sense.
“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
It is not that believers always have an emotional feeling one for another, but because they have grown in the Lord and walk as Christ walked, And therefore obey his command choosing to do what he is told them to do by sacrificially put other believers first.
This is the hallmark of a true believer that has matured – they puts others first.
And yes, in time the emotional feeling of affection (Love) will come.
This is what God taught me one evening when I saw the sacrificial love of a mother for a child that did not deserve it, wherein for nine months yet sacrificially put this Baby first which was growing in her stomach, and it didn’t matter when she saw the object of her affection what it looked like; she was invested, and would love that child no matter what it look like or what it did the rest of the days of her life.
This is the type of love that God has for you when I.
This is why when we read the only chapter in the Bible dedicated to man, the 11th chapter of Hebrews, where the subject is the faith of men and women; never displays the sin that they did, only their acts of faith.
This is what God sees when he sees you when I through the glasses of Jesus Christ death on the cross for us, he sees us when we act in faith, yet appears to be blind to our sin. Otherwise how could he have anything to do with us. How could a holy God ever answer the prayers of ungodly men, and so orchestrate their lives even though they are evil – it is because he’s doing it for Christ, because of Christ’s sacrificial love in giving himself for us. And it is because of this sacrifice that what follows is an unconditional love for his children based upon his investment of his own son.
This is why we should feel secure, and this is why we should love one another.
1. The Greek Language as compared to the Hebrew Language
Both the Hebrew and the Greek languages have their own particular differences which are utilized by God, and which presents God’s message to man in a diversity of style and effectiveness that complement each other.
The Hebrew (Old Testament) language displays vividness, conciseness, simplicity and denseness, and is very poetic and therefore necessitates many more English words in its translation is due to its vagueness; therefore it has the ability to utilize puns, and many other rhetorical devices; which add color and nuances to the language beautifully.
Whereas in comparison, the Koiné Greek language (New Testament) is beautiful, rich, and harmonious, a very specific language, technical, efficient and effective; an excellent tool for vigorous thought and religious devotion.
These are characteristics which make Greek an excellent language for debate, philosophy, logic, and science, due to its strength and vigor; a language of argument with a vocabulary and style that penetrate and clarify phenomena rather than simply describe verbiage.
Greek takes many more English words to translate a single Greek word into English because of its specificity and exactness, yet for a different reason the Hebrew also needs many more English words to translate a single Hebrew because it is vague.
Greek is perhaps the most precise form of expression found in any language, far beyond the English, Latin, or Oriental languages.
This is one of the closest to perfect languages in man’s existence, making it more than appropriate as God’s tool of communication to man.
What we find in these 2 languages, is that the Hebrew language, which God used as mankind was coming of age, growing from a single man (Abraham), to a family (the 12 Tribes), to a nation (Israel); is vague, limited in its revelation in the same way that God limited his exposure to the human race in the time of the Old Testament by utilizing a single man, his family, and a nation that would carry his word to the rest of the world.
During this time it is as if God is seen as if from behind the veil.
Yet, when we see the Greek language, with its specificity and preciseness, a language that reveals in great precision in a way that would be synonymous with God’s revelation of Himself in the person of Jesus.
This is why many people think that there one God of the Old Testament that is a judge, mean and condemning; and another God of the New Testament, patient, loving, and sacrificial.
There is only one God, He simply chooses different ways to reveal Himself, He has chosen a progression in revealing Himself (The good side of this is that as God has patiently and slowly revealed Himself, He has been patient with man as well, even winking at his transgressions [“And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent” ~ Acts 17:30] – giving man a temporary acceptance through faith in God, as seen in the yearly sacrifice, prior to Jesus, but once Jesus has come; God specifically demands faith be placed in Him.)
In the Old Testament they knew the Messiah was coming, but didn’t know who he was.
In the New Testament God specifically revealed who the Messiah is, and that salvation can be found in no other (See Gal. 3:22-26).
Concerning the precision and methodical nature of Koiné (Greek: “common”*) Greek, it should be understood that Hebrew Old Testament Scriptures, were translated into the “common” Greek three centuries before the time of Christ, known as the Septuagint translation and was what Christ and the disciples used as their Scripture in their day (except for within the Temple and the synagogues, where the Hebrew translations of the Torah were utilized).
(*The common dialect, as opposed to Attic dialect. Koiné Greek is an ancestor of modern Greek, having come from the Classical Greek and mixed with local variances. And is the first supra-regional dialect in Greece, becoming the lingua franca for the Eastern Mediterranean and ancient Near East throughout the Roman period due to the prior conquest of Alexander the Great – 336 BC to 323 BC, and therefore became the common language of the known world ~ 300 BC to AD 300. Septuagint meaning: “seventy,” – the abbreviation LXX is found in your Bible margins when referring to it, and comes from the Roman alphabet symbolizing “70” – because seventy [72?] translators were used in its translation. It took fifteen years to finish the Septuagint, from 285 to 270 B.C., and was commissioned and paid for by the Greek King of Ptolemaic Egypt, Ptolemy II Philadelphus [285-245 B.C.], his father was Ptolemy I. Ptolemy I, was one of the four Greek generals of Alexander the Great, who after his death, slit up the kingdom of Alexander the Great; the Greek king of Macedon who became a world dictator. Ptolemy I and his son ruled the area of Egypt.)
This is why many times there is an inconsistency between our New Testament quotations of Old Testament passages, and the Old Testament passages themselves.
The reason that the two Testaments are not exactly the same is that our Protestant Old Testament is based upon the Hebrew Masoretic Text (The Hebrew Old Testament that was not codified until the 8th century A.D.), and Jesus and the disciples were quoting from the Greek Septuagint translation of the (Hebrew) Old Testament Scriptures, which explains the differences seen between the two (many Christian translators believe that the 8th century Hebrew Jewish translators used variant Hebrew words in the Masoretic translation to attempt to distance their translation from the Christian Bible which at the time used the Septuagint Old Testament; they believed Christianity was an evil cult), translations.
The supernatural outcome of having a (Septuagint) Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament is the ability to specifically understand the Hebrew words used in the Old Testament, as they could be laid next to the (specific) Greek, which would set up a parallel of translation effect.
So as to define the Hebrew according to the Greek; by thus setting aside the vagueness that was originally introduced, as well as gaining the ability to cross-reference each with each other, and have both of the Testaments comparable at the same time.
And in the process, acquiring greater insight into both translations; as seen in the New Testament quotes of the Old Testament which are made more precise and clear, and the Old Testament prophecies fulfilled in the New Testament with greater understanding.
It’s like God presented Himself in the Old Testament while still behind a veil to the Jews (“the Hebrews”), more mysterious and at arm’s length.
Yet, in the New Testament, Jesus revealed God in a more personal, detailed and intimate manner, in Himself (which is where we get the idea of: “having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour”).
We also have God presenting His written word in the specificity of the Greek language in the New Testament, and eventually (c. 280 BC) presenting a more precisely regarding the Old Testament as seen in the Septuagint.
Jesus Christ is the revelation of God the Father that was never seen before in such specificity (1 Timothy 3:16).
In the Old Testament we see the actions of God; in the New Testament we see this personality in the person of Jesus Christ.
Both of these languages are dead languages, meaning that they are permanently set – they do not change (which is important to us, in that consistency and uniformity are assured), and are therefore excellent tools for translation purposes with set meanings; even though our English is a living language, which is fluid – always changing; and therefore mandates a greater deliberation in translation.
How amazing is our God that He would specifically utilize two languages which are almost opposite of each other in order to fulfill His Will.
The one language He uses as He begins His journey with man from behind a veil, vague as He slowly, mercifully, but surely introduces Himself to mankind, utilizing a temporary year-by-year Levitical system to teach man that he is a sinner, awaiting the permanent substitute as seen in the person of Jesus Christ, the Messiah of Israel; the Savior of the world.
Jesus who was declared in a specific thorough language which gives great detail concerning the person of Christ who reflects the Father, wherein salvation is made specific concerning God’s demand that man placed his faith in God, wherein man accesses the grace of God for forgiveness through the atoning work of the cross.
Salvation comes only one way, God’s way.
Yet how miraculous it is to see how God even uses the languages He has chosen to symbolically display what He has literally written in His Word – our God is beyond awesome, there are no words to describe Him – all we could do is praise and glorify Him for His mercy and grace. Aman
2. Real Love, Not Hocus-pocus Love
How many Christians, think that the Holy Spirit is supposed to change them by overpowering their own will, to make them feel or do something that God has meant for them to do in submission to Him. And yes, at one time I was one of these types of believers, hung up on thinking that my feelings were supposed to lead me – now you know why I speak about being led by our minds and God’s Word; not with our feelings.
It’s because God took me out to the backside of the desert to learn this lesson, where His Word had to be my sole guide, to the point that I started to study the Greek of the New Testament in order to understand exactly what the Bible was saying, not based upon my English understanding of the words, but God’s intended Greek meaning of the words. The Holy Spirit is not sent to OVERPOWER us and make us feel different emotionally – He is sent to EMPOWER us [our mind] to desire to do God’s Will, and EMPOWER to perform God’s Will. “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” ~ Phillip 2:13.
Personal Note: For years I would pray that the Holy Spirit would empower me with a supernatural love, like water being poured on my head, an easy fix where the Holy Spirit did all the work, and all I had to do was pray, yet no matter what I did my feelings didn’t change for those that abused me. And what was worse, was that those that presented themselves as Spiritually superior Acted like this is what how it was supposed to be, that God change their heart, their emotions for these people.
The reality is, at least for the ones that were sincere and felt positive emotions towards her enemies, is that they followed Christ imperative and behaviorally put their enemies first, and once we do this sincerely – when we act out in our behavior putting someone before us, we become invested and as an outcome of this commitment, there is an emotional change within us that we feel positive emotional regard even for our enemies, but this isn’t hocus-pocus, this is the way God meant it to be – you make a choice of your will to put somebody first, and the outcome is that you feel a special kindred for the thing that you put before yourself – which explains why a mother’s love never dies, this is why evil men’s mother still love them in spite of the fact that they do evil things.
It’s because they put that child first for many years, getting up with a colicky baby, changing dirty diapers, time after time putting that child first. When you do this repeatedly, out of sincerity; then you will have the emotional love of this person or object that will never fail, and is not conditional. It is because this love is based upon your sacrifice and not their action.
3. Albert Barnes wrote concerning 1 John 3:16:
“We ought to have such love for the church that we should be willing to die for it, as patriot is willing to die for his country.
We ought to have such love for Christians as to be willing to jeopardy our lives to aid them – as in case of a pestilence or plague, or when they are in danger by fire, or flood, or foes.
We ought to have such love for the truth as to be willing to sacrifice our lives rather than deny it.
We ought to have such love for the cause of our Master as to be willing to cross oceans, and snows, and sands; to visit distant and barbarous regions, though at imminent risk of our lives, and though with the prospect that we shall never see our country again.
We ought to have such love for the church that we shall engage heartily and constantly in services of labor and self-sacrifice on its account, until, our work being done, exhausted nature shall sink to rest in the grave. In one word, we should regard ourselves as devoted to the service of the Redeemer, living or dying to be found engaged in his cause.
If a case should actually occur where the question would arise whether a man would abandon his Christian brother or die, he ought not to hesitate; in all cases he should regard his life as consecrated to the cause of Zion and its friends.
Once, in the times of primitive piety, there was much of this spirit in the world; how little, it is to be feared, does it prevail now!”
4. Understanding to “Not Be Seen of Men.”
Years later in counseling a newlywed, she complained that her husband had changed once they got married.
I asked how he had changed? She stated that he no longer gives her the TV remote, no longer watches love stories, does not open the door for her, or have talks with her all night long.
I explained that he hadn’t changed, that all these were simply the tactics that we men use to win over women.
It’s like he was Elmer Fudd, and she was the rabbit. He was using all the tools of the trade to capture her – he was doing all these things to be seen by her, as opposed to doing so out of his own sincere desire.
In counseling I would also advise men, when doing sacrificial acts of love, to do so in an honest attempt to not be seen or caught doing them in order to maintain the integrity of the act.
Otherwise they would simply be manipulating their wives into thinking that their love was real, when it’s only a game. That would be just like the Pharisees did whose self-promoting actions were the reason for Jesus admonishing us to not allow our “left hand to know what the right hand is doing.”
We humans are very skilled at making sure that others see us doing our alms or righteous acts – and if we do these to be seen of men – we are corrupted in the process.
Real love does not put on a show which adulterates the very act.
Sacrificially putting someone first cannot be done to be seen of men or it will not be worthy of creating biblical love.
The beautiful thing about proper love, Biblical style is that after the sacrifice is made, the natural feeling of love always comes forth due to the investment.