What Is True Love?

With the month of February we always think about “love”. Love has many meanings. Several 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 language. 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 love-This means to love in an impulsive and emotional way. It is seldom used in the Bible, but there is a play on words in (John 21:15-17) Jesus says to Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?” Peter answers, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Philadelphia is a related word meaning the love of brothers or sisters (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. (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 clears deeply for us.

 

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 11:28John 14:21-242 John 1:6), putting our trust in Him (John 14:1), maintaining a humble attitude (Matthew 18:1-4Luke 18:9-14), and by prayer (Matthew 6:9-13Luke 18:1-8).

 

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. (NIV Mark 12:31).

 

All People of the World Are Neighbors

In His Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), Jesus explained that we should consider all the people of the world to be our “neighbors.” The Jews and Samaritans were peoples of a different race, different nationality, and rival religions. They had despised each other for hundreds of years and did not even speak. But in the parable, a Samaritan man stopped to help an injured Jewish man and spent his time and money to give him the best care he possibly could. In the conclusion of the parable, Jesus says to, “Go and do likewise.”

 

Enemies Are Neighbors Too

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)

 

Sinners” Are Neighbors Too

In Jesus’ time, “proper” people looked down on those they considered to be sinners and would not associate with them. But, we are all sinners in our own ways (Romans 3:231 John 1:8). Jesus taught by word and example not to look down on, shun, criticize, judge, or condemn other people (Matthew 7:1-5Matthew 9:10-13Luke 18:9-14John 8:3-11). 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 the Lord is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also. (NRSV, 1 John 4:19-21)

Finally Jesus greatly stated the importance of love, saying love of God and love of fellowman are the most important of all the commandments. The apostle Paul said Christian love was the greatest and most essential of all the spiritual gifts. Throughout the New Testament, we are encouraged and commanded to live in peace with all God’s people (Romans 12:17-18) and commit ourselves to genuine love and caring for others (1 John 3:17-18). Those are the ways we can put our faith into practice in everyday life. When you meet a person on the street or where ever you may be, stop speak to them, show your love just by sharing a sweet welcomed word of hope and love.

May God bless you and your family in this month of sharing love to others. Increase your ability to make the effort to show that Christian love to all people.

In Love,
Rev. Edgardo
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