Summary: We have been called to love. Twelve times in the New Testament we are expressly commanded to “love one another”. Loving one is more than just words; more than just saying “I love you brother”. What is this thing called “love”?
Called to Love
Galatians 5:13-14 “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”
Paul in writing to the Christians in Galatia tells them of the great freedom we have in Christ Jesus. But Paul realized how easy it is to abuse this truth and to use this liberty as a license to sin and an excuse to sit back and do nothing. Paul warned against becoming entangled in sin and self-indulgences. We have been freed from servitude to rituals and religious legalism. We have been freed from servitude to sin. But we are not free from all restraint. Our call to freedom is a call to serve both Christ and others, to serve through love and not by constraint. We have been called to love. Twelve times in the New Testament we are expressly commanded to “love one another”. Loving one is more than just words; more than just saying “I love you brother”. What is this thing called “love”?
I. Love Defined
A. Agape – is never used in the Bible to refer to romantic or sexual love for which the Greek word eros is used. Nor does it refer to close friendship or familial/brotherly love, for which the Greek word phileo is used. Agape love refers to a unique love that is distinguished by its nature and character.
B. In contrast to the sexual love of eros or the friendship expressed by philos, agape described a selfless kind of love that involved giving without expectation of anything in return.
C. John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
D. 1 John 4:7 “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.”
II. Love Demonstrated
A. Demonstrated in serving
1. Galatians 5:13 “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”
2. It is possible to do good, to serve the Christ and the church, to live a separated life and to be doing it all wrong.
3. Agape love does not serve to be seen.
a. Matthew 23:1-5a “Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying: "The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do to be seen by men.”
b. Matthew 6:1 “"Take heed that you do not do your alms (charitable deeds) before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven.”
B. Agape love does not serve to be elevated
a. 1 Timothy 6:3-5 “If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself.”
b. There are many people who claim to be Christians, but they are simply using God for personal gain. As long as God treats them well, as long as they feel good, as long as life is reasonably comfortable, they come to church and live as Christians.
c. 1 Corinthians 10:31-33 “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.”
2. Agape love does not serve to be gratified
a. Serving will make you feel good, at times. But we should not serve to receive self-fulfillment or self-gratification.
b. Those who are serving to feel good, gain status, or get the praise of men will lose heart when success and praise are not found.
c. Matthew 23:11-12 “But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.”