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Summary: Passionate love must be our priority, protective and practical, adding love to brotherly affection.

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I read a story about a woman who told a friend that she wanted to get a divorce. She was full of hatred toward her husband. “I just don’t want to get rid of him. I want to get even. Before I divorce him, I want to hurt him as much as he has hurt me.” Her friend suggested an ingenious plan, “Go home and act as if you really love your husband. Tell him how much he means to you. Praise him for every good thing. Go out of your way to please him. Make him believe you love him. After you’ve convinced him that you cannot live without him, then drop the bomb. Tell him that you’re getting a divorce. That will really hurt him.” So, for two months she showed love, kindness, listening, giving, reinforcing and sharing. Then, her friend called her up. “Are you ready now to go through with the divorce?” She exclaimed, “Divorce? Never! I discovered I really do love him.” Her actions had changed her feelings. Motion resulted in emotion.[1]

Here we see that love is not just a noun. It is more of a verb. It is not just an emotion. It calls for action. This morning we will look into the last character quality in “Our Pursuit for Our Growth” series. Let us read 2 Peter 1:5-7. “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.”[2] Last week, we talked about “brotherly affection.” We saw that a transformed life leads to transformed relationships. We are to love with a pure and passionate love. This morning, as we study “love,” we will dig deeper into one of the verses I quoted last week. “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.”[3] Let us pray…

In the Greek, the word “love” in 2 Peter 1:7 was “agape.” If you remember, the Greek word for “brotherly affection” was “phileo.” So, we are to add “agape” or “love” to “phileo” or “brotherly affection.” Actually, there is not much difference between “agape” and “phileo.”[4] These words are synonymous or really close in meaning. It’s like “huge” and “large” or “tiny” and “small.” But since Peter wrote that we are to add “agape” to “phileo,” he must be emphasizing a key difference in meaning.[5] According to the Bible Exposition Commentary, “When we have brotherly love, we love because of our likenesses to others; but with agape love, we love in spite of the differences we have.” Phileo love is reciprocal. It is a mutual love. I love you because you love me. I love you because I like you. But agape love is sacrificial. It is a unilateral love. I love you even if you don’t love me in return. I love even if I don’t like you. According to the Bible Knowledge Commentary, “Whereas brotherly kindness is concern for others’ needs, love is desiring the highest good for others.” Someone pointed out that we were never commanded to phileo one another but we are commanded to agape each other.

With that in mind, let us read again 1 Peter 4:8. “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” We already saw that the adjective “earnestly” describes “the taut muscles of an athlete who strains to win a race”.[6] We are to love all-out. We are to give it our best shot or our best effort. In short, our love must be passionate. Now, how do we know if we love passionately?

First, passionate love must be a PRIORITY. Circle the phrase “above all” in 1 Peter 4:8. If we are passionate about loving a person, we make that person our priority. Note that it says “keep loving”. It is in the present tense. That means we must it our lifestyle to love. It is a commitment to love. It is also in the active voice. That means we must be intentional in loving one another. It is never accidental. It is a choice to love.

Love must color everything we say or do. That’s why it is possible to serve in the church and not love the Lord and the people we are serving. Without love, service becomes a duty. It is possible also to attend worship services and not love the Lord and even the people who are attending with us. Without love, attendance becomes a burden. Love must be the reason why we do what we do or why we say what we say. Passionate love must be a priority.

Second, passionate love must be PROTECTIVE. Look at the explanatory clause at the end of the verse: “since love covers a multitude of sins.” Peter here quoted Proverbs 10:12. “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.” Note how hatred and love colored everything. We stir up trouble because we have hate in our hearts. We cover the offense because we have love in our hearts. The Contemporary English Version goes like this: “Hatred stirs up trouble; love overlooks the wrongs that others do.”

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