“Love: The Greatest Measure of our Maturity”
1 Corinthians 13; 1 John 4:7-21
February 12, 2017
Let us focus on first things first by loving God and one another fervently with a pure heart.
I. The preeminence of love: The greatest commandment and the greatest virtue.
II. The priorities of love: Jesus, Others, You (JOY)
III. The practice of love: bearing the fruit of the Spirit.
Valentines Day is just 2 days away – a day the western culture has set aside to celebrate love. But the world they live in – the world that surrounds us couldn’ t be more contrary to whole concept of genuine love. Our culture all too often reflects the description of the last days that Paul gives to Timothy in 2 Tim 3.1-7:
“ But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power… led away by various lusts, 7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
Into this world, God calls us to live, as Paul says in Philippians 2: “ without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted (perverse) generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world… ” (Phil 2.14-15)
In other words, it is our task to introduce real love into our culture. You and I are called to be love’ s channel. So let’ s look at the Word and ponder three things about genuine love: its preeminence, its priorities and its practice. .
The Preeminence of Love
Matthew 22.35-40 (ESV) 35 Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question to test Him: 36 “ Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “ You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Mark 12:28-34 (ESV) 28 And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “ Which commandment is the most important of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “ The most important is, ‘ Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘ You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Deuteronomy 6.4-9 (ESV) 4 “ Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[b] 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Notice that Matthew’ s version leaves out strength and adds mind. Mark’ s version includes strength (might) and keeps “ mind” .
Luke’ s version – Luke 10. 25-37
- has a lawyer apparently much earlier in his ministry, also tempting him and asking
- “ what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
- Jesus asks him for his conclusion from reading the law.
- He basically gives the answer Jesus gave in Mark, including the word “ strength” , adding the word “ mind” as well as second great commandment from Lev 19.18. had he heard Jesus’ teaching on this before – part of the test? .
- Jesus says “ you’ ve answered right – this do and live”
- He wanted to justify himself so he asks ‘ and who is my neighbor”
- Jesus gives the parable of the good Samaritan as an answer. Jesus answers the question backward, as it were, by emphasizing how to act neighborly (how to love his neighbor), rather than discriminating on who the neighbor is, which may have been the secret motive of the lawyer – who only wanted to love his own kind and not those he despised. Jesus apparently perceives his heart’ s bias and crafts a parable where the neighbor needing loving is the most despised race in his eyes. And then he makes the man answer the question: “ who was a neighbor” elicitng the answer “ the one who showed mercy” , thereby giving us our first item on the list of how to love my neighbor as myself . This is the second greatest commandment of the law – but as we shall see, Jesus raises the bar under the new covenant by giving to his disciples a New commandment that requires a greater love than this. After living among them as an example of how to love, he exhorts his disciples not to just love their neighbors as themselves, but to love one another the way He loved them. A whole new level of love way beyond their power to do in their own strength – but He promises the power of the Holy Spirit springing up within them to bear the fruit of this kind of divine love. .
- So today we will briefly explore three key commandments:
- The first and greatest commandment: love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength
- The second commandment: love your neighbor as yourself
- The new commandment: love one another as I have loved you have
Our focus will be on this new commandment and what it means practically. How do we love as he loved? As we work our way through a variety of passages, let’ collect answers to that question and then total up the list as a summary at the end.. The first “ how to love” item comes from the good Samaritan passage: by showing mercy. Jesus’ admonition to the lawyer , to his disciples and to us is: “ go and do likewise” . The problem is not in identifying the neighbor, but in showing compassion for him; being merciful; having a heart.
Key thought in our basic text : Love is preeminent
- The greatest, first and most important commandment is to love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. This should be the chief preoccupation of your life: teaching your children at all times, reminding yourself and your household at every opportunity.
- The second most important commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself.
- No greater commandments than these two on which all the law and the prophets depend (hang)
Let’ s look at the New Testament to see how it follows up on this emphasis on love’ s preeminence.
1 Corinthians 13.1-3 (ESV) If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, I gain nothing.
- No matter what gifts I have - and he lists 4 of the 9 which he delineated in the previous chapter. (tongues, prophecy, understand all mysteries and knowledge, faith; giving; sacrifice) chapter 12 list: word of wisdom; word of knowledge; faith; healing; miracles; prophecy; discerning of spirits; tongues; interpretation) – without love I am nothing
- No matter what acts of charity or faith I do, without love I gain nothing
- Love must be the foundation and the motivation of all I am and all I do. So you can see that love is more than just the service; it is more than just the duty – otherwise the duties enumerated here would suffice (serving, giving, prophecying, teaching , miracles; faith) – it is more than a commitment to be there and serve – it is certainly something else – for even if I give and serve to the point of laying down my life it doesn’ t count unless motivated by love. So what else is it? Based on this and other NT descriptions of love, it is: caring, compassion, tenderheartedness, it is heart. For God made it clear that it is the devotion of the heart he’ s after first… ..even though you may keep all the law and the prophets, as the Pharisees endeavored to do with all their rules and regulations, God’ s analysis may be, as it was to them,: “ their heart is far from me” . Notice the preeminence of the word “ heart” when it is mentioned first in both Deut and in Jesus’ quoting of that passage. And Deut follows up with : these words shall be on your HEART.
- Heart – (especially Hebrew word) seat of emotions seat of desire, inclination or will; seat of knowledge and wisdom – sometimes a synonym of the mind; so involves thought; seat of conscience and moral character (david’ s heart smote him – 2 sam 24.10) ; it is where the Lord looks (man looks on outward appearance, the Lord on the heart (1 sam 16.7) when evaluating us. It is the innermost part of the inner man. Thoughts are generated there – Jesus said: “ out of the heart comes murders, adulteries, etc. Thus it is the heart that needs cleaning (when David repents after committing adultery, he cries: “ create in me a clean heart” Ps 51.10). It is the heart that is initially redeemed as Ezekiel’ s prophecy about the coming new covenant indicates with the promise: “ I will take away the stony (hard) heart and give you a heart of flesh (soft) –36.26) The word was used to describe the innermost part of a thing.
- Soul – life, self ; essence; act of breathing; the inner self (of which the heart is the moral part); – personality, gifts, spirit, seemingly neutral – whereas the heart can be evil or good.
- Might - / strength
- Heb: power, strength used of horses, regimes; (David’ s reign; Jesus’ future reign “ spirit of counsel and might – Is 11.2); ascribed to God – ruling in might; deliverance comes from His mighty hand. Mighty acts. – very physical
- Greek ( ischus) – used only in Mark’ s version ability, Greek might; power strength
- Mind - Hebrew – none – ; Greek – dianoia – deep thought; imagination
Corinthians 13.8-10 & 1 Cor 13.11-13 (ESV) 8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Key thought: love lasts forever. the spiritual gifts are temporary and will pass away when their usefulness is over; our knowledge is partial – we see dimly now – but should be anticipating the day when we see face to face and our knowledge is complete. The gifts were given to help us grow up and mature - but they are not the goal. Maturity is the goal and when that goal is reached, we put away the temporary so as to lay hold of the eternal. We don’ t preoccupy ourselves with the temporary gifts, but with the eternal virtues which are the true measure of our maturity – and the greatest of the virtues is love. Therefore the greatest measure of our maturity is love. How are we doing in terms of loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength? How are we doing in terms of loving others as ourselves?
Prophecy and faith are again reprised here.
1 John 4:7-12 (ESV) 7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. … .10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
1 John 4:16-21 (ESV) 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “ I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot[a] love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
Key thought: the basis and reason for our love is rooted in the nature of God. He is love. Therefore He defines love. When we truly love, we are imitating God When He loved, He gave – sacrificially. When we love one another, He abides in us, His love is perfected in us. Our love for God is demonstrated by our love for one another. Love is the greatest virtue because it is who God is – it is His nature. It is the greatest measure of our maturity – because it measures how much like Him we are. Maturity is growing up to be like Jesus. When we see Him, we will be like Him , but our currenty state of maturity, and our reward, can be assessed by how well we love – how well we demonstrate His character and reflect His nature.
Definition of love:
- God’ s love - OT. Since John bases the preeminence of love on the nature of God, let’ s consider the kind of love God has. Hesed –(Hebrew) –God’ s love for us - which we are to imitate– 240 times in OT translated: loving-kindness, steadfast love, grace, mercy, faithfulness, goodness, devotion. Vines: “ It is not only a matter of obligation but generosity” Not just a matter of loyalty, but mercy” ; sums up the covenant relationship of God with Israel, being the one permanent element in the flux of covenantal history. His “ mercy” endures forever – conveying the idea of strength and permanence. Will not ultimately be abandoned even when the human partner is unfaithful and must be disciplined. Marital love often related to hesed, transending, but including the necessary legalities. Its final triumph is eschatological – and the word itself implies the goal and end of all salvation -history.
- Man’ s love - OT. Exhortation to love God and love neighbor as self: the word is Ahab – Hebrew –250 times in OT. Basic word have affection for; like; befriend; often has the sense of having a strong emotional attachment to and desire either to possess or to be in the presence of the object. ; used of love between parents and children; brotherly love or friends (which is the case here: be a friend to your neighbor – the kind of friend you’ d like to have).
- Love in the NT. Now we enter the world of the New Covenant – the New Testament understanding of love. Its key definitive word, which captures the very heart of the gospel is: Agape. This is larger than the ahab (man’ s love) Hebrew concept. It is more equivalent to hesed, the kind of love God has. The big change – the new commandment –is that we are exhorted now under the new covenant to do the impossible: to love as God loves. This is the new, higher standard for measuring our maturity: are we loving as God loved us? Agape is used in the NT to describe:
- the essential nature of God (1 Jn 4.8)
- God’ s love for Jesus (Jn 17.26)
- God’ s love for the world in general (Jn 3.16)
- God’ s love to believers (His chosen people) in particular (Jn 14.21) ;
- To exhort us to love one another (Jn 13.34)
- to highlight its perfect expression in Jesus as our example: 2 Cor 5.14; Eph 2.4; 3.19; 5.2.
- the fruit of the Spirit – Gal 5.22
- this kind of love expresses itself in obedience to God’ s commands: Jn 14.15, 21, 23; 15.10; 1 Jn 2.5;5.3; 2 John 6
- Vines: Used of God to express the deep and constant love and interest of a perfect Being towards entirely unworthy objects., which produces in them a reverential love towards the Giver and a practical love towards those who are partakers of the same.
- Another greek word used of love: Phileo – tender affection. Used of the God the Father toward Jesus, the Son, for the believer and of Jesus love for a certain disciple; it is used in John 21.15-17 to express Peter’ s cherishing of Jesus above all else…
To conclude our understanding of the preeminence of love – let’ s look at one of the most amazing prayers in the NT – Paul’ s prayer in Ephesians 3 -for the church:
Ephesians 3. 14-21 (NKJV) 14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,[c] 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man,
17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Key thought: to know the love of Christ is to be filled with the fullness of God. So Paul prays that we would be rooted and grounded in the love of Christ, able to comprehend the width, length, depth and height of that love. The ultimate measure of maturity (fulfilling the purpose for which we were created, achieving the goal of our faith) is to be filled with the fullness of God – which is equated here in Paul’ s prayer with knowing, comprehending and abiding in Jesus’ love.
In Summary: Love is preeminent – because love embodies the very nature and fullness of God and, as such, is the greatest virtue. Since our purpose and goal is to be like Him, love is the greatest commandment. As the greatest virtue and the greatest commandment, love becomes the greatest measure of our maturity.
The Priorities of Love
Our text highlights not only the preeminence of love, but its priorities as well. Jesus’ fulfillment of all the law and prophets required left us with a new covenant where the priorities are to love Jesus first, then others, then yourself. :
God gets the complete devotion of all you are – the first and greatest command. :
As God in the flesh, Jesus makes it clear that our ultimate devotion belongs to Him
Matthew 10.37-39 (ESV) 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
Jesus is preeminent in all things:
Colossians 1.15-18 (NKJV) 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. 18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence
Because He is preeminent in all things, we are to love Him preeminently. He is the first born; He is our first love. In terms of chronology (He first loved us), in terms of rank (He deserves first place in our hearts – which means, as it does with a spouse in marriage, that he gets priority with time, attention, devotion and affection. ) -
In Jesus letter to the church at Ephesus in Rev 2, he highights the importance of not leaving your first love:
Revelation 2.1-5 (NKJV) 2 “ I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. … 3 and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’ s sake and have not become weary. 4 Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place— unless you repent
Even when you have your theology straight and your labor is fervent and you are diligent with your works, He threatens to remove your place of ministry if your love doesn’ t maintain its priorities. There is a first love – and it is not your theology or your tireless labor: it is Jesus Himself. Your first work is to focus on Him. As with Martha, He admonishes that in all our busyness, we keep our priorities straight.
Jesus is our first love. Then comes the new commandment to love others as He loved us.
John 13.34-38 (ESV) 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
The new commandment is to love as Jesus has loved you; how has He loved? By laying down His life. Loving each other in this way identifies us uniquely to the world as Jesus’ disciples.
Notice the importance the NT epistles gives to this new commandment by exhorting us to love more earnestly and abundantly:
1 Thess 4.9-12 (ESV) 9 Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, 10 for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more,
Philippians 1.9-11 (ESV) 9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
1 Peter 1.22 (ESV) 22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;
Notice this kind of love is from the heart . The love born within us from the indwelling Holy Spirit is more than duty – it is heart felt, as it was so vividly demonstrated repeatedly in Jesus’ life. A memorable example is the raising of Lazarus. Knowing He will restore Lazarus’ life in just a few minutes, he still weeps with the others who are grieving through life’ s devastating heartaches… ..and when the crowds see this they say “ behold how he loved him” . --
1 John 2.9-11 (ESV) 9 Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. 10 Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him[b] there is no cause for stumbling. 11 But whoever 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… ..
1 John 3:10-11, 14-15 (ESV) 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. 11 For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.
14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
Loving your brother is actually evidence that you are in the light and not still in darkness and that you have passed from death to life.
1 John 3.23-24 (ESV) 23 And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. 24 Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God,[b] and God[c] in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.
This is His commandment: believe in Jesus and love one another; by keeping these commandments, we abide in God and He in us. We know this (and can do this) by the Spirit He has given us.
1 John 5:1-3 (ESV) 1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome
Everyone who loves the father loves those born of Him .
How do we love God? by keeping His commandments
What are His commandments: believe in Jesus and love one another as he loved you. .
Practice of Love
The new commandment is that we love one another as Jesus loved us How did He love?
John 15:12-17 (ESV) 12 “ This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants,[a] for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.
16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
How did He love?:
- By laying down His life – Jn 15.12-13; gave Himself up for us a fragrant offering and sacrifice – sacrificial love. (eph 5.1-2); 1 jn 3.16-18
- By choosing us to be His friends - extending friendship to us – by bringing us into His inner circle, where He shares God’ s secrets and we are empowered to bear fruit - – Jn 15.13-17
Ephesians 5:1-2 (ESV) 1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
1 John 3.16-18 (ESV) 16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
How do we love ? by laying down our lives for each other – begin by meeting needs you see your spouse, your children, your fellow members of the body, your neighbor has ; don’ t close your heart against him (not just a heart-less duty – involves caring and compassions. Love in deed and in truth (with the heart)
Philippians 2.1-5a (NKJV) provides some insight into the love we are to imitate:
2 Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus
How do we love each other? By having the same mind, the same love which was in Christ Jesus, described by Paul this way:
- Comfort of love
- Fellowship of the Spirit
- One accord
- One mind
- Not selfish
- Not conceited
- Esteeming others better than himself, Looking out for their interests as well as our own
James 2.8-13 (ESV) James adds to the list by encouraging us to:
- not showing partiality (v9)
- not committing adultery
- show mercy - adding that mercy triumphs over judgement – show the same mercy that Jesus showed to you (parable of the two debtors)
But the key list of pratical items describing how we can best love one another comes from
1 Corinthians 13.4-8 (ESV) 4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b] 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
How do you love others? By
- Being patient
- Being kind
- Not boastful
- Not arrogant
- Not rude
- Not insisting on your own way
- Not irritable
- Not resentful (not keeping a record of wrongs)
- Not rejoicing in wrongdoing (may involve being a corrective element to others )
- Rejoicing in the truth – with the truth
- Bearing all things
- Believing all things
- Hoping all things
- Enduring all things
For additional insight into the meaning of some of the greek words used in the above list: , :
- to be of a long spirit, not to lose heart
- to persevere patiently and bravely in enduring misfortunes and troubles
- to be patient in bearing the offenses and injuries of others
- to be mild and slow in avenging
- to be longsuffering, slow to anger, slow to punish
Kind: to show one's self mild,
Not envious: Not to be heated or to boil with envy, hatred, anger
Not boastful: Not a vain-glorious braggart
Not arrogant / “ puffed up” in KJV: to inflate, cause to swell up; be proud
Galatians 5.16-26 (NKJV) 16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. … .18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law… 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident [what love is NOT}, which are: adultery,[c] fornication… 20..hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders and the like… .
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law… … .25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
How do we love others? By walking in the Spirit and bearing His fruit – the first and key fruit being LOVE, love exhibits and manifests itself in these ways:
Finally – let go to Colossians 3.12-14 for a summary look on how to love others:
12 Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
How do we love others? By putting on the right apparel befitting God’ s beloved chosen ones. Here’ s what you are to wear, signifying how you are to relate to or engage others:
- Compassionate hearts – there’ s the BIG key – compassion and hearts; one of the key words for compassion describes the intestines or as the old KJV used to say “ bowels” . Notice how real compassion brings a sense of sympathy that you can feel in your gut. There’ s apparently a medical reason for that: Jordan Rubin says in his book The Makers Diet, that the intestines are often called the second brain by medical personnel because it has as nearly as many nerve endings as the brain). When you really care – when your heart is engaged in the life of others, you hurt when they hurt. You share in the suffering. This word was used often of Jesus when describing how He was moved to compassion when dealing with the multitudes
- Kindness -
- Bearing with one another where there is a complaint
- Forgiving each other- as the Lord has forgiven you – you MUST forgive
This passage summarizes its exhortation by saying “ put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”
Summary List of What Love Is and How to Love Others, based on a consolidation of NT exhortations to love one another:
- Be compassionate - comforting and consoling
- Be friendly – provide fellowship; include others in your inner circle
- Be affectionate
- Be merciful
- Be unifying – not divisive. Seek to live in one accord with one mind.
- Be humble-
- Be gracious - esteem others better than yourself - look out for their interests
- Be patient
- Be kind
- Don’ t be selfish
- Don’ t be conceited
- Don’ t be envious
- Don’ t be boastful
- Don’ t be arrogant
- Don’ t be rude
- Don’ t insist on your own way
- Don’ t be irritable
- Don’ t’ be resentful
- Don’ t keep a record of wrongs
- Don’ t rejoice in wrongdoing, providing correction if necessary
- Rejoice in the truth and with the truth
- Bear with each other through the complaints and bear each others burdens
- Believe God works all things together for good
- Hope in Him to the end
- Endure to the end
- Be Joyful
- Be at Peace
- Be good to others
- Be faithful
- Be gentle
- Be self-controlled
- Be forgiving - as the Lord has forgiven you
Your first priority is to love. Love God. Your second priority is to love: love others – and not just with any kind of love, but love as Jesus loved you. Most of us find this very difficult because we’ ve been self-focused, self-absorbed most of our lives. You don’ t need to focus on yourself: Jesus did that. He chose you, he had compassion on you; He layed down His life for you; he redeemed you; he cherishes you. No matter what your circumstances, you can’ t legitimately consider your life lacking in love – when the King of Love is your shepherd. So – go and love likewise.