Love, a word that comes and goes but few people really know what it means to really love someone is part of a song by Kirk Franklin.
Many times, we have tried to define and redefine the word ‘Love’. It means different things to different people, from attraction, to lust, to emotions, to affection, commitment, self-love.
The Greeks have several meanings of love;
– Storge: affection
– Philia or Phileo: friendship
– Eros: sexual, erotic
– Agape: unconditional, divine, selfless
– Ludus: flirtatious, playful, casual, uncommitted
– Pragma: committed, long-standing
– Philautia: self-love
– Mania: obsessive, possessive, addictive, dependent
But we know that God is Love Himself therefore, every right kind of love must emanate from the love of God. The love known as ‘Agape’ which is perfectly described in 1 Corinthians 13.
‘Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely. Love does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.’ Vs 4-7
This article will focus on some areas of love that Christ brought to us:
- Love for our neighbors.
- Love for our enemies.
- Love for our neighbour, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ there is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31
Jesus said we should love our neighbour as ourselves. Loving your neighbour as yourself is found eight times in the Bible showing how important it is to God that He not only repeats Himself, He makes it a command. And not just one in a list of many commands, Jesus coupled this command with loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. To love one’s neighbour as yourself, it starts with first knowing how much God loves us, loving ourselves through the eyes of God then, we can know exactly how to love our neighbours. Our neighbours mean everyone around us and loving our neighbours involve:
– showing compassion, which means being willing to help to the extent of our ability when there is a need to meet.
– looking out for the well being of others, In Philippians 2:4 it says, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
– serving our neighbours out of kindness and not out of duty.
– making allowances for people’s humanness. Love is not easily offended or critical.
– sharing in their joys and sorrows. The Bible says we are to “rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15).
– being forgiving just as we have been forgiven (Matthew 6:14-15)
- Love for our enemies. “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:43-48
Hating an enemy is what comes naturally, especially because they have either wronged us or we have a perception that they don’t love us. To love our enemies, we need supernatural help and grace to enable us. We also may need to understand the revelation that we were God’s enemy when He first loved us and made us His friends hence, it is a command from our Heavenly Father to do the same.
Additionally, loving our enemies releases the redemptive and transformative power of love. Proverbs 25:21-22 says ‘If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; For so you will heap coals of fire on his head, And the Lord will reward you. This does not mean that you should be friends with an enemy or allow them harm you but your heart towards them must be full of love. Loving our enemies entails:
- showing your enemies, the genuine respect that every human being deserves.
- not judging them and giving them the benefit of doubt. Jesus said, ‘Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing’.
- Praying for them and forgiving their actions.
- Being kind to them instead of paying them back based on their actions.
Oh God, help us in our lives and in all of our attitudes, to work out this controlling force of love, let us join together in a great fellowship of love and bow down at the feet of Jesus in the name Christ, we pray. Amen.
-Dr. Amamilo Ifenyinwa