My husband is the leader of our Altar Builders (church small group) and we were discussing what to talk about tomorrow. I suggested a study on the Fruit of the Spirit. He is going to let me take the reins tomorrow and teach which makes me a little nervous.
Of course I love the Fruit of the Spirit and what it represents. Hence the name of the blog. Once I went in depth into each aspect, I never would have imagined what I would find. I started with love which will be our focus tomorrow.
Love is basically the entry level position of the Fruit of the Spirit and by far the most important. If you do not love how can the others grow?
I looked up what love means on Dictionary.com, in the Strong's Concordance, and of course in the Bible. In our limited human understanding of love, alot of the definitions mean feelings and emotions. I found one definition that really stuck out to me: A deep, tender, ineffable feeling of affection and solicitude toward a person, such as that arising from kinship, recognition of attractive qualities, or a sense of underlying oneness.
How interesting. We love our spouse because of the underlying oneness and commitment we share, the underlying oneness we have with our friends is that we share things in common, the underlying oneness we share with family is blood and background. What about others in the body of Christ, we share the Holy Spirit. Even those we may think rub us the wrong way, we are to love them because of that oneness. Let's go a little further, what about the unsaved. Our oneness is that we are all sinners and we are created by a loving God. Christ died for them as well as us. We are called to love everyone, even people we don't feel are worthy of our love, but I'm skipping ahead, more on that in a moment.
When I looked up love in the Concordance, it is translated from the Greek word #26, Agape (uh-gah-pay). I love the word agape. In greek it means: love, benevolence, affection. When you just look up the word agape (uh-gay-p) it means wide open. Funny how the Greek meaning and the English meaning have a similar correlation. Benevolence means desire to do good for others while affection means fond attachement or devotion. Agape as the English term means wide open as in a gate, but just look at the wide open portion for just a moment. When we love how should we act and what should our heart condition be? We should be wide open to recieve and to give. Freely I recieve, freely I give.
The Greek Agape type of love does not have any physical conotation to it. It's not lustful, self seeking, or does not try to exploit. It speaks of a love that you give to everyone despite their willingness to accept it or the fact that they deserve it or not. Agape is more about the person doing the loving rather than the person being loved. This is how God loves us and how he wants us to love others. It's seeing everyone through His eyes.
A friend of mine really inspired me to study love because she said that love is neither a feeling nor an emotion. She asked me to read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7: 4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Yep, not a mention of feeling or emotion in there.
So if we are supposed to love everyone that we feel an underlying oneness with an agape love what does that mean? Being patient with them, being kind to them, not envying them, not boasting or proud, not being rude to them, not being self-seeking, etc. Whoa that is a tall order! But God wouldn't command us to do that if He didn't think we could do it. I know I fall short everday with everyone. Do I show love to the waitress who gets my order wrong, do I show love to the friend who is late, do I show love to the person who cut me off in traffic, do I show love to God when His plans and my plans don't match up? My poor husband alone has to deal with me being selfish, impatient, rude, score-keeping and so on.
All I know now after researching love is that I want to do all these things. I want to be a better lover to everyone, especially God.