Moving Toward LOVE
"But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love." (2 Peter 1:5-7)
It is has been said that 'everyone wants to love and be loved'. We all have an invested interest in this four letter word and how it enriches our lives but we often forget that its true source, meaning, and intention come directly from God. Love represents who God is and what He desires for all of humanity at all times.
Unfortunately, Jesus warned that because "lawlessness would abound the love of many would grow cold" (Matt. 24:14). While the love of many in this fallen world is indeed growing cold, the love of self continues to grow stronger. This is why we must keep maturing in Christ and move toward a growing love for God and others.
1John 4:16 says, "And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. GOD IS LOVE, and HE WHO ABIDES IN LOVE ABIDES IN GOD, and God in him."
Since there is no word in the human language that can fully express the full scope of God's love, the writers of the Bible chose to use the word "agape" to express the highest affection of love and attributed it to God. This way of agape represents an "all in" kind of love that when lived out rightly, in its divine sense of meaning, depicts the enduring, sincere, sacrificial, and unconditional love of Christ.
The agape love of God is defined for us in 1 Corinthians 13 and was demonstrated to us on the cross of Calvary as written in Romans 5:8 in contrast to our selfish and sinful ways, "But God demonstrates His own "agape" love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
Since so many are living their lives with no regard to God and are unwilling to show any restraint to their selfish desires, we see the reason why lawless is abounding. Even one of Paul's own companions named Demas forsook him because he chose to "agape" this present world over Christ. Paul taught that love "does not rejoice in iniquity but rejoices in the truth" (1 Cor. 13:6). Therefore, those who love God must realize that "friendship with the world is enmity with God" (James 4:4).
Far too many people are confusing lust for love and love for lust. In our present culture, love is being reduced down to whatever makes someone happy or feels good. One person falls in love because another person looks good or makes them feel good. But if that same person no longer makes them feel good, they may quickly fall out of love. They do not realize that their iniquity is blinding their hearts and misleading them into a false sense of love. They say "love" but they might actually mean "lust".
True love acts in truth and obeys God. The Scriptures show a definite connection between moral rightness and truth with God's love. Even though sin might be celebrated in our world, it is always contrary to love and defaults into its counter part which is lust.
We must understand that it is because of God love that He forbids us to do evil. God alone is good and knows what is good and sets the standard for goodness...and this is all based on His holy and perfect nature of love. Therefore, God always knows what is best for us. If God says something is evil, it is because it is contrary to His character and nature and thus He only says NO to protect and preserve what He first said YES to.
When it comes to maturity, the way of the agape is the highest form of love. The Lord never wants us to lose this reality. This is why He points out in His first letter to the churches in Revelation 2:4 how they "left their first love". This happens when God's people are becoming too concerned with their own lives and their own way of feeling, thinking, and wanting. We must remember from where we have fallen and repent by doing the first works the Lord told us to do, which begins with a willingness to "deny self, take up the cross daily, and follow [JESUS]" (Luke 9:23).
Jesus sums all of this up by saying, “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.
May we not only be recipients of His agape love but conduits of this love as well!
Some KEY QUESTIONS to grow in Christ's agape LOVE
Are you deeply in love with Jesus at this present time?
In what way is the Lord asking you to love without being loved back?
How can you increase the level of love with which you live out your faith?
"Let all that you do be done with love" (1 Cor. 16:14).