If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them
For many people, loving others is a nebulous concept. Fortunately, agape love is very clearly defined in the Scriptures. When love is used as a noun in Scripture, it is referring to character. For example: "God is love" (1 John 4:8
); "Love is patient, love is kind," etc. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8
). Love is the highest of character attainments: "The goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith" (1 Timothy 1:5
). Love is the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22
), the means by which a true disciple of Christ is identified (John 13:35
). The attention given to love in passages such as 1 Corinthians 13
and 1 John 4
reveals its importance to God in our interpersonal relationships, of which the family is primary.
Agape love is not dependent on the person being loved, but on the lover. You may like someone because of who he is; but you love him because of who you are. God loves us not because we are lovable, but because God is love. If it were any other way, God's love would be conditional. If you performed better, would God love you more? Of course not. God's love for us is not based on our performance, but on His character.
Love is also used as a verb in Scripture. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son" (John 3:16
). Used this way, love is grace in action. It is giving unconditionally to meet the needs of another.
If you say you don't love someone, you have said more about yourself than about that person. Specifically, you're saying that you haven't attained the maturity to love him unconditionally (Luke 6:32
). The grace of God enables you to love others in a way that people without Christ cannot. God doesn't command you to like your family, your neighbors and your coworkers because you can't order your emotions to respond. But He does instruct you to love them. You can always choose to do the loving thing and trust that your feelings will follow in time.
Prayer: Thank You, Father, for bestowing on me the greatest love of all by sending Jesus. Teach me to love others as You have loved me.
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