Today, the word love is used very loosely by people in expressing themselves. It is used to advertise anything from toothpaste to automobiles; not much regard is given to it.
What is love? Love as defined by Oxford Dictionary is a strong feeling of deep affection for someone or something; it also defines it as having a strong affection or deep tender feelings for someone or something. The English language seems insufficient to define love adequately. But the Greek language has three words that help us define the various aspects of love. Eros love is romantic and passionate. It inspires a romantic climate in which you can express physical intimacy with your spouse. It yearns to possess the beloved (Songs of Solomon). It loves because the beloved is attractive and worthy. It cannot be sustained over a period of time unless the other forms of love accompany it. Philia love is the close friendship that cherishes the beloved. There is a mutual sharing in a best friend relationship, where each can communicate their thoughts and dreams. Philia love is reciprocal, each expects something from the other. It allows your spouse to share in your innermost feeling, that is the real you. This love also can fade. Agape love is concerned with the highest welfare of the beloved. It is an act of will and does not depend on feeling. It is unconditional, productive, sacrificial, humble, a choice and a total commitment. Since God is the source of agape love, it persists when others forms of love fades. The word of God made us to understand that love (agape), is the bedrock of all relationships Jn13:34. According to Wycliffe Bible Dictionary, “love is not a mere sentiment but a voluntary self-dedication to the point of self-slavery”. In short, love is fellowship between persons, based on acts of self– sacrifice. Such love is willed, deliberate kindness, extending even to enemies ( for whom one has no personal affection). In Matt22:37-40, Jesus told us of the great commandment whish is “to love God with all your heart, soul, and mind; and also to love your neighbor as yourself. He summed up all moral obligations in the word love, expressed in twofold direction God and neighbor. The quotation in Matt22:37 is from the Jewish Shema (Deut6:4-5) which all Jews repeated twice daily. It represents the essence of Judaism, namely that the knowledge of God precedes knowledge of oneself or of others. The Shema not only defines the Person of God in terms of His Unity, but it also defines the nature of relationship that God’s people are to have with Him and with one another. In Jn13:34-35, Jesus gave a great commandment to His disciples as His new commandment for them. This was to be the standard by which His disciples are to be known; the love of Jesus. The servant like, selfless love that Christian display towards one another witnesses to the world that they are true disciples. The issue of unity in marriage and any other relationship is love; Christ love for us and our willingness to love others as the Lord loves us. This new commandment presses us beyond our natural human inclinations to the need for Christ’s inspiration. Christ love for us is not dependent on a quality in us that makes us loveable; Christ is love, and He loves us regardless of our strength or weakness; and if we are created in His image, we also must be love. If we want to love like Him, then we must ask Him and the Holy Spirit will give us the enablement, the power to love like Jesus. We cannot do it on our own, we need His help in order to succeed. Love is not a matter of sentiment alone, but practical concern, blessing, prayer and positive wishes for wellbeing extended to friends and enemies alike. Just as God indiscriminately sends rain and sunshine upon the just and the unjust, so as Jesus disciples, we must be indiscriminate in our extension of love to friends and enemies. Jesus speaking in Matt5:48 “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect”. The emphasis in the command to “be perfect” is not on a flawless moral nature, but on an all-inclusive love that seeks the good of all. Instead of following the example of sinners who love only those who love them, we are to be like the Father in also loving those who do not love us. The Bible says “Be ye followers of God…..….; follow after that which is good Eph5:1; 1Thess5:15. As children of God, purchased by the Blood of Jesus, love is to be the guiding principle in our relationships not only with fellow believers, but with unbelievers as well. In Rom12:9-21, Paul mentions many specific duties that are to characterize transformed living, but love is the dominant note in all the exhortations. Hospitality is the fruit of a transformed, spirit filled life. It is the off shoot of love. It is showing an interest in others and giving ourselves to loving and supporting them even as God does to us Phil2:4. Leaders are to be front runners in the practice of hospitality 1Tim3:2. In Rom12:18, the scripture gave us one vital principle for living a transformed spirit filled life; because some people may remain violently opposed to us, they will reject all efforts of love towards them, there will be times when all efforts towards love fails. However, we are to make certain that we are not at fault, when peace breaks down in such relationships.
CHARATERISTICS OF LOVE.
Love suffers long. Suffer means to endure something that is not pleasant, love will feel the pain and keep on going Deut10:12; Deut6:5. It endures for long, it goes out of its way not to demand its right. You must suffer for love Jn3:16, your love for God will make you pass through the most unbearable situations.
Love is kind. Love is kind 1Cor13:4, that is caring. Kindness is an action, you exhibit kindness when you express care. You need the help of the Holy Spirit in order to express kindness to people. Kindness is a considerate act. When situation brings you in contact with satanic agents, show kindness, that is the love of God. Love them that hate you. You have the right not to show kindness to those who have done you evil, but a higher law says you must show love to them Matt5:44-48; Rom12:20-21. You remain imperfect, as long as you have shown hatred towards satanic agents. For you to have complete power over satanic agents, God has to see complete love in you.
Love is tender and temperate. Tenderness is an action, if you cannot say that an action is tender, then do not take it. Love is temperate, it is controllable. Anger is the result of a lack of control over ones emotions. Anger is a feeling of hostility, it is the opposite of love. It does not permit the manifestation of love. True love cannot get to the point of rage, which is violent anger.
Love does not retaliate. When you retaliate you have broken a principle which says “vengeance is of God”. Instead of taking vengeance ourselves, we should hand it over to God Rom12:19.
Love is not proud or boastful. To boast is to blow ones trumpet. Excessive talking about ones achievement and glory is being boastful Pr25:14. Perfect love is not proud and boastful. Any thought or speech that makes us to be exalted above others is pride and it does not show love. The manner in which you transmit what you know makes you either humble or proud.
Love is compassionate and always believes the best. When you are in love, you do not walk in suspicion. Love does not suspect. Love sees beyond the immediate circumstances and the person to compassionately relate to the lost, the hurting, the distressed, etc. Truest compassion is only found in the nature of God because only God knows the full depth of an individual’s pain, need and suffering. Christ likeness calls us to learn Jesus’ Heart of love, which is a heart of compassion, a depth of sensitivity, that can be worked in us through the Holy Spirit, reconditioning our hearts to be able to sense the pain of human bondage and weep with those who weep Heb13:1&3; Rom12:15.
Love never fails. Love does not forget, it does not lack knowledge When love lives in you and you in love, you will never lack knowledge; for love has an ability which is inherent knowledge. The people perish not only for lack of knowledge Hos4:6, but for lack of love. When the people walk in love, they will walk in knowledge. The spirit behind love is the Holy Spirit Gal5:22, which is the Spirit that knows all things Jn14:26. Love will fail, if it does not know. Anybody who loves will receive the Spirit of knowledge. The Spirit of love works hand in hand with the gift of the word of knowledge and the Spirit of knowledge.
In conclusion, we can say love is everything. Fulfillment in life, marriage and ministry can only be manifested through love. So go and love one another as Christ had loved you; for greater love has no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends Jn15:12-13. As dear Children of God walk in love Eph5:1-2.
Husbands love your wives, just as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself Eph5:25,28. Wives, we are seriously advised to be submissive, love our husbands and our children Titus2:4.
In marriage relationship, all three forms of love are necessary. Partners should be best friends, passionate and romantic; this is what keeps the marriage alive and vital; but the glue that holds them together is Christ like love (agape), which doggedly loves when you do not feel romantic and is friendly on those days you do not want to be anybody’s best friend.
Real love means giving and not taking; it means being vulnerable and open. Nowhere in marriage relationship, is there room for self protection or selfishness.
It is not love’s purpose to manipulate or outdo the partner. Love’s sole purpose is to build one another up. Go forth and enjoy the dividends of love.
Eccl4:9-12 “Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow; but woe to him that is alone when he falleth, for he hath not another to help him up. And if one prevails against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken”.
Let us concern the threefold cord that binds people together in relationships. Though the above verse is often quoted during wedding ceremonies, but it applies to all relationships. In marriage especially, the threefold cord is the husband, wife and the Holy Spirit.
The Scripture says in Mal2:15 “And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore, take heed to your spirit and let none deal treacherously in your relationship“. It is interesting to note that for every godly relationship, God expect godly seed. Therefore, make your friendship a healthy one based on godly principles and nothing else.
When two people enters into a relationship whether in marriage or in normal friendship, they automatically enters a covenant whether they recognize it or not.
We all know that apart from holy matrimony, there are other relationships we keep in church, office, school, family and business. In every godly relationship, there is one invisible partner (Holy Spirit) which is the cord that ties the relationship together.
When the people involved in this relationship are bound together by God’s principles and allowed the relationship to be based on God’s Word, then, the Holy Spirit which is the cord brings to bear faithfulness, forbearance, honesty, consideration, harmony, peace and joy which will culminate in open door of blessing from above.
In our society today, it is sad to note that not all relationships are bound together by God’s Spirit. It is amazing what ties or bind some people together.
Let’s take a closer look on some relationships we keep, you will discover the underlying cord. For example, two women who are against their mothers in law, their binding cord might be hate or bitterness; two employees who are against their employer might as well be joined together by a cord of unforgiveness.
Other cords that bind people together includes: womanizing, partying, prostitution, gossiping rebellion, etc… Any relationship that is not promoting the kingdom of God is certainly promoting the kingdom of darkness.
TYPES OF RELATIONSHIPS
The common relationship serves to benefit oneself. These benefits may be in the form of money, glory, self—worth, rewards, etc. The relationship flourished as long as these benefits are flowing.
There is another form of friendship, which is not common. This is a relationship with no hidden agenda, it is the God’s type of relationship that flows with agape love, and it serves for the benefit of another.
We all desire this type of relationship, but very few people are willing to pay the price for this type of relationship.
Let’s consider some examples of relationships in the Scriptures.
1. Ruth and Naomi
(Ruth 1:16): Ruth and her mother in law; the cord that bound together was the cord of love, despite their cultural difference and religious background, they had undying love for each other. Pro17:17.
2. David and Jonathan (1Sam20:3-4, 16-17): King Saul knew the bond between his son Jonathan and David was a bond of love, so he kept his wicked plot against David’s life hidden from his son. Jonathan was ready to sacrifice everything for the relationship he had with David Pro18:24.
3. Daniel and his Friends (Dan2:17-19): Danger was looming over the land but Daniel and his companions decided to seek heaven’s intervention. Note they did not gather to murmur nor complain; neither did they gossip the king nor curse him. Pro15:4.
1Kgs13:18. A prophet lying to a fellow prophet.
1Kgs3:19-20. Two friends switching each other’s blessing.
Lk22:47-48. Jesus betrayed by a friend’s kiss (Judas Iscariot).
1Kgs21:10. Jezebel ordered the murder of Naboth by his kinsmen.
Acts6:10-14. Stephen murdered by the men of the synagogue
Acts23:12-14. Jews bound with an oath to destroy Paul the Apostle.
Every relationship worth having should be bound by the Spirit of God. Instead of that relationship being a weight that will lead to destruction, it should help the people involved withstand evil and a threefold cord is not easily broken.
In a nutshell, real friendships don’t just happen and they are not maintenance free.
For us to have valuable relationships we should ask ourselves some questions like: How would you describe your friendships? What is God doing in both of you, individually and together as friends? How can you help each other become all God wants you to be?
A relationship based on godly principles and sealed by the binding force of the Holy Spirit will be refreshing, peaceful and never burdensome.
Finally, Matt18:19-20 emphasizes the dynamic power available in prayer of agreement. So, let us utilize this mystery for our advantages and for the enhancement of God’s kingdom.
Let the Holy Spirit help us choose our friends and partners.
- The Priorities of a Godly Husband. (covenantfamilyaffairs.wordpress.com)
- The Christian Marriage (covenantfamilyaffairs.wordpress.com)