Jesus:

The Meaning of Love

The Author and Finisher of Our Faith

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Lesson Nine.. LOVE .. The Many Facets Part 2 (Click Here For Previous Lessons)

LOVE ... OF THE BRETHREN

In the last lesson I said I'd be in I John quite a bit as there's so much about how we're called to love in that letter to the believers. I'll begin with Chapter 2, verse 9. NAS

The one who says he is in the light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now.

To be in fellowship with God is to walk in the light, and be out of fellowship with God is to walk in the darkness. The word here is "agapeo" (25) Remember, that's the kind of love that is closely associated with the kind of love God has for us. It's not so much of the emotions as it is the head ... as in intentional, to love in a moral or social sense. It's a decision based on our love for God and walking in step with Him. Jesus gave a new commandment, which actually was an old commandment made new in Him, that we should "love one another as He loved us." How did Jesus treat people? Even the ones who were rank sinners, unaccepted by society, outcast, unlovable? He pointed out their sin, but He showed them love at the same time, not condemnation. He offered a way out of their sins. He chose to love them because God, the Father loved them, and He was here to do the will of the Father.

Chap 2:10,11 - The one who loves his brother abides in the light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

You know, we are to be known by how we love each other. Sadly, this love is not in practice in many of our churches today. Some have been blinded or do not know the Father still. Harsh words, but I believe true.

Chap 3: 10,11,14, 23 - By this the children of God and the children of the devil are known; anyone who
does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.
For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. ...
We know we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death.

Pretty strong words! But, on the other hand, the letter wasn't written to condemn but to reinforce the fact that we love the brethren if we're believers. We just need to know that the way to love each other is to treat each other as God would, and not to worry about 'feelings' to enter in. After all, to love is a commandment, and God would never give us a commandment we couldn't obey. I believe that as new believers, we should have these basics explained to us, and it would save us much heartache, worry, condemnation, and stumbling. And even some of us older (in the Lord) believers need to get a firm grasp on what it is to love each other, Scripturally! Of course, I'm not dismissing feelings at all ... feelings are a valid part of love, but often it doesn't begin with feelings .. but obedience.

In a generation of no absolutes, a lack of the reverence of character attributes like honesty, integrity, fairness, humility, manners, and a barage of teachings, philosophies, and thinking which promotes the "Anything Goes" attitude .. (if it's good for me, then it's good) what can we expect but a lack of knowledge of the basics of how to love one another?

The following is a portion of Scripture which will summarize the call to love the brethren. Following that, I've drawn a circle to show how this can be accomplished. I love illustrations. I'm a visual learner myself, and though I'm not an artist, I've learned to draw things to remember them better and emphasize a concept for better understanding. Sometimes it's just stick figures, but the point is there!

Chap 4:7-13 Beloved, let us love (agapao-25) one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves
is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for
God is love. (agape26) By this the love (agape26) of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only Begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, (agape-26) not that we loved (agapao-25) God but that He loved (agapao-25) us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved (agapao-25) us, we ought also to love (agapao-25) one another. No one has beheld God at any time; if we love (agape26) one another, God abides in us and His love (agape26) is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us His spirit.

Notice the different variations of the word in this passage? You see, HE CHOSE to love (agapao-25) us! Now, He expects us to CHOOSE to love (agapao-25) each other. And when the choice has been made
and we walk in it, then a higher kind of love (agape26) comes into play. You see, He commanded us to
AGAPAO and when we do, because HE abides in us, and we're obedient to HIM, AGAPE then is spread abroad in our hearts. He wouldn't have commanded us to LOVE if it were not possible and yes, an outcome of knowing HIM. Remember, the AGAPE kind of love comes only from God, and is only possible by God loving through us. But AGAPAO is our choosing to love. And if we abide in HIM, then we WILL.

Chap 5:1,2 Whoever believers that Jesus is the Christ is born of God; and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him. By this we know that we love teh children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments.

How many times are we devoid of victory or blessing because we refuse to be obedient? We refuse to forgive others or treat them kindly, or are willing to meet someone's need? We should STRIVE to choose to love others! It's work, at times, yes, even sometimes seemingly HARD work, but it's our duty and our privilege as the Children of God. I wonder if that's what it means by the phrase, "A Labor of Love" .. But, seriously, we need to be free of guilt in this matter. We need to be obedient, simply obedient. Our likes and dislikes should not enter in to this choice. But that's not akin to our fleshly nature, is it? But the more we walk in the Light as He is in the Light, the more our own lights can shine to the world, and they need to see us by our love for each other. Honestly, we need to work on this, because the world has seen us at our worst at times by our petty grievances over differing viewpoints, doctrines, ect.


Illustration:
God is in the center and we believers are on a line walking towards God.
We start out on the edge of the circle.
Now, observe the next circle:

See how as we've come closer to God, we've also come closer to each other?
And did you notice the you, me, and others are smaller? And not just because
there wasn't as much room to put the text images on the lines in this circle!
Of course, it's obvious that as we drew nearer to God, we drew nearer to each other!
And it should be noted that we became smaller, and that's as it should be!
Remember, John said, "He must increase, and I must decrease."
And as we come closer to God we won't want to push others off their line
by favoring ourselves or our little circle of friends (our favorites)
because the Love (agape26) of God (His kind of love) will be perfected in us!

I know this study has become lengthy, but I feel I must include some excerps on the subject from some inspired writers. In my research, I found some great tips to consider in how we love one another.

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Be certain that the more advanced you see you are in love for you
neighbor the more advanced you will be in the love of God, for the love
His Majesty has for us is so great that to repay us for our love of neighbor
He will in a thousand ways increase the love we have for Him.

Teresa of Avila (1515-1582)

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Has your brother been an occasion of trial for you?
Has your annoyance led you to hatred?
Do not let yourself be defeated
But triumph over hatred by love.
This is the way to do it:
Pray to God sincerely for him,
take responsibility of your trial on yourself,
bearing it with courage until the trial has lifted.

Maximus (580-662)

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Do not waste time bothering whether you 'love' your neighbour;
Act as if you did. As soon as we do this, we find one of the great
secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will
presently come to love him. If you injure someone you dislike, you
will find yourself disliking him more. If you do him a good turn,
you will find yourself disliking him less.

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963)

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My dear Friend, if we cannot think alike, at least we may love alike.
Herein we cannot possibly do amiss. For one point none can doubt
a moment; God is love; and he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth
in God and God in him. In the Name, then, and in the strength of God,
let us resolve, first, not to hurt one another; to do nothing unkind or
unfriendly to each other, nothing which we would not have done to ourselves.
Rather let us endeavour after every instance of a kind, friendly and
Christian behavior towards each other. Let us resolve secondly, God being
our helper to speak nothing harsh or unkind of each other. The sure way to
avoid this is to say all the good we can, both of and to one another; in all our
conversation, either with or concerning each other, to use only the language
of love, to speak with all softness and tenderness, with the most endearing
expression which is consistent with truth and sincerity. Let us thirdly resolve
to harbor no unkind thoughts, no unfriendly temper towards each other.
Let us lay the axe to the root of the tree; let us examine all that rises in our
hearts, and suffer no disposition there which is contrary to tender affection.
Then shall we easily refrain from unkind actions and words, when the very
root of bitterness is cut up. Let us fourthly endeavor to help each other in
whatever we are agreed leads to the Kingdom. So far as we can, let us always
rejoice to strengthen each other's hands in God. Above all, let us each take
heed to himself (since each must give account of himself to God) that he fall
not short of the religion of love, that he be not condemned in that he himself appoveth.

John Wesley (1703-1791)
From a letter written to a Roman Catholic Priest
Dublin, 18 July 1749

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I believe the last one says it all .. and more eloquently than I could have stated it. John Wesley, as you know, was a prominent Spiritual Leader in his day, and he evidently saw the need and chose to triumph over differences by a deliberate decision to implement the command to AGAPAO - 25 another. Don't you see "DECISION" written between every line? "Let us resolve" sort of gives it away! (smile)

The next lesson will deal with how to LOVE our enemies.
That will be one to tackle! Please pray for guidance for me as I do my research!

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I pray you're having a blessed New Year! And keeping the faith in love! And until next month (March-'03) keep in touch when you get a minute, and be sure to visit the new theme pages if you'd like. And I love it when someone signs my guest book. It lets me know who's visiting! And if you feel these studies have been a blessing to you, please recommend them to anyone you think might enjoy them too by clicking on the "Tell a Friend" banner below.

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Love In Christ,

Genelle

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