Have you lost that loving feeling? Sometimes our love for others can run low if not become empty altogether. There are times where we have a hard time responding in love to others — our spouse, our parents, children, coworkers, etc. And yet the whole key to the Christian life is love — loving God and loving others. How can we truly live a life of love?
I want to teach you how to love by faith. These principles came from a man named Bill Bright, one of my heroes of the faith. First we must understand the nature of love. In the New Testament (and Greek language) there are several different words that we translate for love.
One of the words for love is eros. Eros is sensual desire. It is a love that it based more upon fleshly passion than commitment and character. To be honest, our world knows a lot more about eros than it does about true love.
Phileo is the term used to describe the love for a friend or family member. Philadelphia is called the city of brotherly love. That is what the word means as it stems from the root word phileo.
There is a deeper love that the Bible speaks of though, and that is defined by the word agape. Agape is God’s unconditional love. It is not just an emotion but is expressed through the act of one’s will. Agape is not based upon the worth of the one receiving the love, but it is based upon the heart and character of the one giving the love.
God calls us to love other people with this same type of agape love that He himself loves with. If we are going to truly love others with this type of love, several things need to be grasped and understood.
First, you must know and believe that God loves you unconditionally. God’s agape love is for you. His love is not based upon your performance or self worth. Scripture says, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us” (I John 3:16). The very reason we can talk about love is that God has given it to us. He defined it for us. Christians must get past the idea that God is merely tolerating us, and truly believe that God is completely committed to us in His love.
Secondly, we are commanded to love. Jesus called us to love our neighbor as ourself. He expects us to love others just as we are loved by him. To be honest, this is impossible for us to do. We cannot love others like God does which leads us to the third step: Recognize that you cannot love in your own strength. The bottom line is that we are quite often selfish as human beings. The reason that our relationships struggle is because of a lack of love. Our selfish motives often cause us to self-destruct. Humans simply cannot produce agape love. So what are we to do?
We can learn to love others with God’s love. Scripture promises that God can put this kind of love in our heart for the people around us. We must learn to ask God by faith to give us His love for others. Scripture lets us know that if we ask for something that is according to God’s will, he will answer it (I John 5:14,15). Do you think it is God’s will that you love others — even those you are angry with? Yes it is. God says, “Love them.” And he also says, “Let me help.” By faith, ask God to give you agape, his love, for those in your life. Love by faith. Is your marriage struggling? Bitter at a friend or coworker (or a rival)? God says love them. How? With his love! Love them by faith. And that’s the Word.
The Rev. David Yarborough is pastor of St. Simons Community Church. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 634-2960.