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The Unique Goodness of Christian Love

Name the religion – Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, Christian or others, you will generally find love precious there. Even among agnostics and atheists you will find people who speak fondly of love. although they do not love God, they usually love – at least some, people. In general we love family and friends. Many even boast that they love their pets more than any of their family members. I have seen some families where this was completely understandable. We are creatures who tend to love, to love “love”.

Christianity talks about love in a way that is not common among humans or even other religions. You fail to involve strong Bible teachers in your Christian life and you may well lose that powerful difference. The power of this unique biblical love is not hidden in our English translations of the Bible, yet there is a notable problem with the translations.

The New Testament was written at a time when the Greek language was as common as English today. The Greek language has four main words translated “love” in our English Bibles. And one of those Greek words refers to the kind of love that God has for us, the kind of love that we have “poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit” when we embrace Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (see Romans 5:5 ). The nominal form of this Greek word is love. It may be surprising to know that this very common word in the New Testament is rarely found in Greek literature outside of the Bible, and yet it is.

Love love, God’s unique kind of love, is very different from the kind of love represented by the other three Greek words. Let’s briefly visit these three words in case you don’t know them: Phileo is the Greek word for that familiar strong love between close friends. In Proverbs we find reference to a “friend who sticks closer than a brother” (18:24), a perfect example of friendly love. Eros it refers to that romantic, even sexual, particularly passionate love. Storge it refers to a “natural love”, the love we normally experience in our family. It is worth noting that this word is found in Scripture only twice, and in both places, it is a different version of the word. In Romans 1:31 and 2 Timothy 3:3 we find the word “astorge“; the “a” before the word negates it. Thus in both places it refers to the absence of storge; people did not have this natural love even of their own family. In both places the text refers to a state among men where the loss of this “natural affection” was an important part of God’s judgment upon mankind. Save, is something that reasonably healthy people automatically experience, love for one’s family. As people move away from God, they become more hostile to Him, often adopting other affections that are destructive, even destroying the “natural love” of the family.

In these three loves we have just visited, the commonality is that the love we have is one based on attraction or personal reward. We choose friends, we love friends, largely by their attractiveness to us (physical and/or personality traits). We find them interesting or entertaining or energizing. Who can lose the personal payment Eros? And loving our family is automatic for most of us (natural). we don’t have to talk about it ourselves. Make a new baby in your family – love is instant and usually intense. You have a new grandchild in your life and the love is off the charts! This is a love that has an undeniable personal reward. It is a delightful kind of love that is related to the object of that love.

Love is different, thankfully different. Love Love is essentially one-way love, from the lover to the beloved. It is not related to the lovability of the beloved. This kind of love is firmly rooted in the heart of the one who loves. Although a response to this love is undoubtedly desirable, it is not required by its operation. Clearly, This it is God’s kind of love.

Listen to these words of Scripture:

John 3:16 (NIV)

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” God loved those of us in the world so much that He came to save us.

1 John 4:10 (NIV)

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” The Son’s mission for us was not a response to our love for God. we didn’t!

Romans 5:8 (NKJV)

“But God showeth His own love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Here again we are assured that even the final sacrifice of the Son for our sins was “while we were yet sinners,” that is, we were still committed to our sins to the core.

1 John 4:19 (NIV)

“We love because he first loved us.” This Apostle says that we can only cope because God first showed it to us personally. We were the first recipients of it, before making it available to others.

In all these texts the Greek word translated “love” is the noun “agapi” or its verb form. Jesus elevated this kind of love to its maximum. Hear His words: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:43-44). “Love your enemies,” he said. It is just what God has done. It is the astonishing truth of the Gospel which Paul declared unequivocally. Listen: “If, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” (Romans 5:10 NKJV).

This, my friend, is the love God had and has for you. It preceded your love for Him, by far. If you have worked hard enough to earn or deserve His love, give it up! NOW! You will NEVER work hard enough. Just humbly accept His love – incomprehensible, worthless. Stay amazed! Then you can work hard because you are dear

Honestly, some of the greatest work we have to do is to learn to love with His love. Listen: even the people we love with these other loves (which are rather natural and seemingly effortless) need this extraordinary kind of love shown to them—and not just from God, but from us. Family and friends can let us down and hurt us in a number of ways. Have you noticed; When they do, our natural capacity to love can be depleted very quickly. The good news of our faith in Jesus is that we have a supernatural source – agape, which cannot be exhausted.

If you have not yet received the love of God in Christ, talk to someone who can help you. He will bless you mightily. Once you receive it, increase your understanding of God’s grace. As you grow older, you should learn to use this important resource as well. Listen to this apostolic treatise on the greatness of God’s love, with open mouth love: “And I pray that you, rooted and established in love, 18 may have strength, together with all the saints, to perceive how wide and far and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know that love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:17-19 NIV). Note that “it is rooted and established in with open mouth“is first, then we grow in our “apprehension” of the greatness of God’s love. This is normal Christianity.

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