by Ong Eng Boon
31 July 2011
I believed “LOVE” is the most recognizable word besides “SALE” in the English language. But what exactly is “LOVE”?
What is LOVE?
When you are young, it is kind of easy to fall in love. Sometimes you fall for someone because of her beautiful long hair, sometimes because she got a pair of big, dark eyes, sometimes just because of her certain posture and style. Suddenly you had an adrenalin rush, your heart starts pumping faster. But in reality, what you see in her? Nothing, because you knew nothing about her. If she doesn’t bother about you , doesn’t even look at you, at the end of the day you don’t have the opportunity to talk to her, without her knowing it, both of you go separate ways. What happen then? You feel lost, sad, you cry in your heart, you dare not tell anyone you fall out of love! But as the years passed and you had time to reflect , that is not LOVE. At that moment, you had some feelings for LOVE which is not LOVE at all!
This is what poets and romantics want you to believe that “falling in love” is just like an accidental tumble, is something that happens to you by chance, in an unguarded moments. It is exclusive and sometimes unpredictable. If you subscribed to such a view of love, you most likely will fall in and out from one disastrous relationship to another. Be careful, for falling is dangerous, painful and sometimes harmful experience.
Cambridge English dictionary defines love as “to have a strong feelings of affection for (another adult) and be romantically and sexually attracted to them, or to feel great affection and caring for (family and friends).” LOVE is a very strong emotion.
LOVE in biblical perspective expressed in Greek language can be expressed as follows:
Eros – This is physical, carnal, passionate, erotic, fleshly love.
Storge – This is natural affection – family, kin, the humbles of loves. We love each other simply because we are of the family.
Phileo – This tender affection and brotherly love.
Agape – This is a commanded love. This is in the will, not the emotion. Agape is the course of active good will even to enemies. We are to love even where we do not like.
How do we learn about LOVE?
Some of us here know more than others about this thing called “LOVE”, but we did not learn it by our own ingenuity. We learn “LOVE” from the pages of the scriptures, for God himself is the personification of LOVE, it descends out of heaven. So love is not discovered through scientific research, not through emotional trial and error but we learned of LOVE from God.
“Beloved, let us love one another : for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God send his only begotten son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 Jn. 4:7-10)
Walking in love
Our God is a God of love. Our lives need to be fashioned after God. All of us need to approach life with a lifestyle that is consistent with the teachings of the scriptures as it will ultimately determine our eternal destiny. But most people let their surrounding environment and circumstances determine their life. We are constantly influenced by family tradition, television, media’s, our social circle and education institutions of higher learning.
Most people of the world pursue a way of life that is chiefly concerned with fame, fun, pleasure, and power. Some people who live life indifferently merely exist .
Our lifestyles eventually will become our habit. This will lead us to certain patterns of living and finally become our lifestyle.
Have you ever considered the kind of lifestyles adopted by Jesus? His way of life can be summarized by this statement found in Rom. 15:3 “For even Christ pleased not himself”.
And we are to walk in Him “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in LOVE, as Christ also hath LOVED us, and hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God a sweet smelling savour.”
“As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him.” (Col.2:6).
So as a follower of God, I want to walk in LOVE and the way of love, God’s love should become our lifestyle.
Love Is The Factor That Binds Us Together With Others
The love to which Jesus calls us is the love which he embodied, it is the highest form of LOVE, Agape love. Agape is to be practiced even toward those who count themselves among our enemies, toward whom we may feel nothing positive whatever. We are to love even where we do not like.
“For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die ; yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners. Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5:6-8).
So we need to practice LOVE even as Christ Loved us, How do we practice LOVE? It is not something of our own imagination. The apostle Paul in 1 Cor.13 :4-8 detailing to us what is real meaning and characteristic of LOVE.
“Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not its own, is not provoked, taketh not account of evil; rejoiceth not in unrighteousness, but rejoiceth with the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Love never faileth…..” (1 Cor. 13:4-8)
Not only we need to practice love, we need to participate in love our relationship with each other. We who are husbands, wives, sons, daughters, brethren, friends, neighbors, even enemies are to practice and participate in love in our home, in the classroom, the office, the local congregation.
1) Home – The love of my family
The home is one of the oldest institutions ordained by God (Read Gen. 2:21-25). Basically the family unit comprises of the Husband and Wife, Parents and Children.
(A) Husband and Wife
Scriptures teach us clearly that “husbands are to loved their wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” (Eph.5:25). So what must husband do? Besides labor outside to provide for the family, I believed you must asked “is there anything I can do for the one I loved?” and not “what are the things my wife can do for me?”
A married woman greatest need is her husband. Husband must learn to fulfill her needs. Husband, you need to do 3 things for your wife : (1) tell her you love her. (2) Do something to help her. On a more practical side, probably washed dishes, take out the trash, put the cloths in washing machine, hang the clothes, fold the clothes, iron your own clothes. (3) honor her and praise her from your heart. The principle of treating your wife is “therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.” (Matt.7:12)
By the same principle, wives are to love their husbands (Tit. 2:4). We all need to be loved and love others. The most intimate relationship is between husband and wife. So wife need to learn to be a helpmeet to their husband. There is a saying “Behind every successful men, there is a virtuous wife”. Wife must remember not to try to correct your husband after marriage, this is the mistakes most wife make. If you can’t changed him during courtship, what makes you think you can change him after marriage?
You know why I say that? If your husband is not a Christian, you wish that he become a Christian. But he is not going to be a Christian or change certain of his behaviour just because it is your wish or your constant nagging. The bible provides us the answer in 1 Pet. 3:1-2
“likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.”
It takes all three loves to build a marriage : the physical (eros), the friendly (Phileo) and the commitment by choice (agape). It takes all three, but many marriages fail because of a lack of agape. This is where the young fail in marriage. They certainly not fail in the physical. They may not even fail in being friends. They fail in the fact of making a choice and abiding not with that choice.
Agape is a commitment, a decision, a permanent binding in marriage. People age and the physical takes a back seat. The friendly part is wonderful, but there is nothing unique or exclusive about being friends. But in agape love the man and woman leaves their father’s house and committed to one another permanently (what God has joined, let no man put asunder). It is determine by the will and sustained by the will. The eros will lose its joy, the philos may become strained, but man rely on agape.
(B) Father and Mother (Becoming Parents)
Not only men and woman found companionship in one another, once they are in a marriage relationship and starts having children, they become parents.
Children normally look for 3 basic needs in their lives. They want to feel important, feel safe and feel being love. If we love our kids, we would want to give the best to them. Our first responsibilities is to “bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4)
The most precious thing parents can give to their children is a Christian home – home filled with love and practice biblical principals. Besides leaving them with some inheritance (2 Cor. 12:14b), parents need to teach the children about God. Timothy learned the scriptures from young from his grandmother, Lois and mother, Eunice.
“When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.” (2 Tim.1:5)
“And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures , which are able to make thee wise unto salvation though faith which is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Tim. 3:15)
This will ensure that when they grow up, they will come to know God and love God. Parents need to be examples to their children. Bring them to attend Sunday school and worship together. But don’t forget, home is the beginning point where the children come to know God.
Children also have responsibilities towards their parents. In Eph. 6:1,2 God says :
“Children obey your parents in the Lord : for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise
Please remember even though you have married and have your own family, you are still your parents’ children. As such, you still have certain duties towards your parents. If you loved your parents, even you don’t lived with them, you will constantly think of their welfare especially when your parents are old and need physical help. Whenever they need our help we need to be there for them for they are there for us when we needed help when we are young.
“But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” (1 Tim.5:8)
2) Love Towards Brethren
Jesus said, “ By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (Jn. 13:35)
The church is also known as the house of God (1 Tim. 3:15). God is our heavenly father and we are all brethren in Christ. Our love towards one another is not in words only, but also in deeds.
“But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in Him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” (1 Jn. 3:17-18)
“I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love……” (Eph. 4:1-2)
“Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Gal. 6:2)
3) The Love of My Neighbour
Eight times in the N/T the bible says “Thou shall love thy neighbor.” We call it the royal law or the golden rule. A lawyer came and said, “In the law, what is the first command?” (Matt 22:36-40). Jesus answered him by referring to the first and second commands.
Who is our neighbor? In Luke 10:25-37 Jesus answered this question. Our neighbor are not only those who lived next door to us but those who we come into contact daily in classroom, office, LRT, buses etc. What is the principle of love thy neighbor? At every opportunity help others.
“As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” (Gal.6:10)
4) The Love of My Enemy
Jesus said in that great sermon on the mount, “Ye have heard that it was said, thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy : but I said unto you, love your enemies, and pray for them that persecute you.” (Matt. 5:43-44)
No other philosophy on earth advocates what Jesus taught. Loving an enemy means I will be good regardless what he does.
Romans 12 says we are not to seek vengeance because vengeance is God’s business. Paul says,
“Avenge not yourselves, beloved, but give place unto the wrath of God : for it is written, Vengeance belongeth unto me; I will recompense, saith the Lord. But if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink : for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:19-21).
As Christians, we to chose to do the will of God; chose the way of life ; commit yourself to this thing called LOVE; which is God’s love.
“Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life” (Jude 21).
As for our friends, why don’t you consider the LOVE of God? Why don’t you open your heart to the reality of God’s love?
(This article is based on various publications from the brotherhood. The writer does not claim originality)