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Understanding Faith, Understanding Works, Understanding Love (3 of 3)
1 Corinthians 13:3
The Bible states, "Though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing" (1 Corinthians 13:3). Love is one of the foundational principles of the Christian life. In fact, we can say that love is the foundation of Christianity. Without love, nothing else matters. We can give all that we have and in the end it means nothing if our labor does not come directly from the love of God. Look at Matthew 22:
35 Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying,
36 "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?"
37 Jesus said to him, " 'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.'
38 "This is the first and great commandment.
39 "And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'
40 "On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets."
If we take Jesus' instruction to heart, living the Christian life is reduced down to two simple commands. Love God, and out of that love flows the love for our neighbor. If Christianity is so simple, why do people often fail to live out their faith? The love of God and human nature are contrary to each other. The Bible teaches that our human flesh is at war with God's Spirit and His Spirit is at war against our flesh (Galatians 5). Human nature is self seeking, God's love is self-giving. Human love ends when personal sacrifice with no hope of gain begins.
What is Love
The scripture uses several Greek words to describe love. The word philia means friendship and is often translated as love. God does not command us to show friendship because we naturally desire to have friends. The word 'love' that we are commanded to pursue is 'agapao', which means to actively care for or the act of loving. The word 'agape' is the love of God and means self-giving, sacrificial love.
Knowing the Greek words is not necessary, but understanding the biblical principles are. Only God has true, self-giving, sacrificial love. When we are in Him, His love flows through us and we actively love others. The love of God is in us and then we have a choice to act. Biblical love is an act, not an emotion. When we are loving God and allowing God to love others through us, we may find emotions and find happiness by touching the lives of others. However, the emotional feelings are not what drives love. There will be times when I don't feel like loving God. There are times when I don't feel like loving others. In Matthew 5, Jesus commanded, "But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you". We know up front that we will never feel like loving our enemies. The command is to actively love our enemies - not to just tolerate the ...
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