Summary: What it means when God says he loves you and you love God - how agape love is and acts.
May 13, 2001 Romans 12:9-10
Agape is not superficial. It is shown by hating evil and binding yourself to the good, by tenderly loving each other with a brotherly love.
Richie Cunningham had been watching her walk by his house for days. Every day a certain neighbor gal walked by, the more he noticed her long dark hair - her gentle smile - her soft features - they were all things that beckoned his heart to go beyond the living room window and meet this girl of his affections - he was “in love”. After days and seeming months of expectation, he finally decided to try and break the barrier - to tell the girl how he felt. So one afternoon he planned it just right. At 3:15, he went out and started drawing his feelings on the sidewalk. That way, when she walked by at 3:30, he wouldn’t have to tell her to her face. He thought, “What would be cute? What would be an indirect way of showing her my feelings?” Finally, he figured it out. He would draw out an eye, a heart, and then a female sheep - a ewe. His heart seemed to be jumping through his chest as this specimen of beauty walked by. She stopped, looked, and said, “oh, you love sheep, that’s nice”. She didn’t get the meaning of the message he was trying to convey.
Today is Mother’s Day. Most people, on this day, find some way to express a special appreciation to their mothers and tell them they love them. Some express this with flowers. Some with email. Some with a dinner. There are a variety of ways to tell someone - “I love you.”
In a similar way, God talks about love in His book. It’s interesting to hear the many religions to talk about the love of God. Some interpret it to mean acceptance. Others interpret it to mean a feeling that God has toward us. Just as Richie’s message of love was misinterpreted, so is God’s message of love. What does it mean? Today we will look at that word, and
Learn the True Language of Love
I. By knowing what it is
The Greek Bible has a variety of words for love. There’s eros - which is the love of attraction - the more sexual kind of love. There’s storge - the family love that a child has for his mom or dad. There’s fileo - a friendship kind of love. There’s a variety of examples of “love” in the Bible - some are good - some are bad.
One example of bad “love” is the story of Amnon. He fell in “love” with Tamar, the sister of Absalom. He was so in love that he became sick. Out of this intense “love” he then proceeded to rape his half sister. Then 1 Samuel says that Amnon hated her with intense hatred. In fact, he hated her more than he had loved her. A strange kind of love indeed. It is similar to the love of the Pharisees - Jesus said, they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; 7 they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them ‘Rabbi.’ It is a love that is driven by selfishness - what it can do or does for me - how it makes me feel.
All of us are familiar with this kind of love. It’s that kind of love that drives weak young men to tell girls they are attracted to, “I love you! If you really loved me, you’d have sex with me tonight.” It’s that kind of love that makes young women blind to the faults of their boyfriend. Sure, he’s not a Christian. Sure, he’s got a drinking problem. Sure he cheats on me. But he says he loves me, and I LOVE him. That kind of love drives children to tell their parents, “I hate you!”, when they don’t give them what they want. It’s that kind of love that is driving ½ of married couples to say, “you know what, you just don’t make me feel good anymore. We don’t have that same old spark. I don’t love you anymore.” He’ll excuse his love with, “She doesn’t work. She doesn’t clean.” And she’ll say, “He doesn’t spend any time with me. He doesn’t talk with me anymore. ” Even dogs have more devotion than that. It’s a pathetic love - based purely on emotions - the devil’s love.
This is even the kind of love we often show toward God. We love God for what he does for us. We love God because He gives us health. We love God because he sent His Son Jesus to die for us. We love God because He created us. It is based on what God GIVES us. But once things get a little ugly - God takes our health, we get a little irritated. Once he takes our income, we start to flare our nostrils. We think, “God, what do you think you’re doing! Don’t you LOVE me?”