by Dr. Charles Stanley
February 9, 2007 – The Lessons of Love – Matthew 22:37-39
Jesus said the most important commandment is to love God and others. To live apart from this directive is to miss our reason for being. There are different types of love, as well as different degrees of intensity. For example, brotherly love--phileo in the Greek—is one type of caring. While agape— the unconditional love that characterizes God—is love of the highest order. Agape is a commitment that inspires us to help others find and pursue God’s plan for their lives.
John 13:35 reads, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” Jesus was saying His followers should be identifiable by their love for others. But people enter the world as selfish sinners with a limited capacity to demonstrate care and concern. So God must do something to enable them to show His love. By receiving salvation through Christ the Savior, a person becomes a brand-new creation, which allows the Holy Spirit to work in the believer's life, and through whom God can live out His life and love.
Natural, self-generated love is imperfect because it comes from a sinful heart. (Jeremiah 17:9) However, a heart filled with the Spirit is capable of practicing agape love. Believers are able to love even their enemies and persecutors because the Holy Spirit lives out God’s most important commandment through them.
Love that is selfless, patient, and kind is rare. And its sole source is God. We're unable to practice that kind of passionate care until we allow the Father’s love to flow through us.
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