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Summary: Learning about the power behind agape love.

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WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THE WORD "LIFE," THE WORD "LOVE" IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ABSTRACT TERM IN THE ENTIRE BIBLE.

LOVE, OF COURSE, WAS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT ELEMENTS OF THE TEACHING OF JESUS.

LOVE IS WHAT DESCRIBES THE NATURE OF GOD, PROVIDES THE BASIS OF CHRISTIAN ETHICS, AND MANIFESTS THE OBJECT OF CHRISTIAN FAITH AND THE CULMINATION OF CHRISTIAN HOPE.

LOVE IS THE BASIS ON WHICH GOD DEALS WITH HIS CREATION AND IT IS THIS VERY LOVE THAT WAS SHOWN TO US THROUGH THE INCARNATION AND DEATH OF JESUS CHRIST.

BOTH OLD AND NEW TESTAMENTS PAINT A VIVID PICTURE OF THIS LOVE THAT ORIGINATES FROM GOD. BECAUSE GOD IS LOVE AND LOVE IS GOD WE CAN BE ASSURED THAT THIS HIGHEST FORM OF LOVE IS AN UNFAILING LOVE.

HAVING A HEALTHY DEFINITION OF THIS LOVE IS CRUCIAL TO UNDERSTANDING THE CENTRAL MESSAGE OF THE BIBLE. WHY? BECAUSE THERE ARE VARIOUS KINDS OF LOVE AND DIFFERING DEGREES OF THOSE VARIOUS KINDS.

IN THE OLD TESTAMENT THE TWO GREATEST KINDS AND DEGREES OF LOVE ARE ’AHAB AND HESED.

’AHAB IS A HEBREW VERB THAT OCCURS OVER 200 TIMES IN THE OLD TESTAMENT TO SIGNIFY A "SPONTANEOUS AND OUTFLOWING LOVE.

IN HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS IT IS THE TYPE OF LOVE THAT UNITES TWO OF THE OPPOSITE SEX TOGETHER IN MARRIAGE LIKE THE LOVE OF JACOB AND RACHAEL (GENESIS 29:18).

THE TYPE OF LOVE THAT BONDS PARENTS WITH THEIR CHILDREN SUCH AS ABRAHAM AND ISAAC (GENESIS 22:2).

THIS HEBREW VERB HELPS US UNDERSTAND THE LOVE WE MUST SHOW TOWARDS GOD. IT IS THIS VERB FOUND IN DEUTERONOMY 6:4-5 THAT SAYS, "YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIGHT."

IT IS ALSO THIS VERB THAT COMMANDS US TO LOVE OUR NEIGHBORS AND TO TREAT STRANGERS EQUALLY AS OUR NEIGHBORS.

AN EXAMPLE OF THIS VERB IS FOUND IN LEVITICUS 19:33-34, "DO NOT EXPLOIT THE FOREIGNERS WHO LIVE IN YOUR LAND. THEY SHOULD BE TREATED LIKE EVERYONE ELSE, AND YOU MUST LOVE THEM AS YOU LOVE YOURSELF…."

THE SECOND WORD, HESED, IS A HEBREW NOUN THAT OCCURS OVER 250 TIMES IN THE OLD TESTAMENT TO SIGNIFY A "DELIBERATE CHOICE OF AFFECTION OR KINDNESS." THIS NOUN CAN ALSO BE TRANSLATED AS THE ENGLISH WORD "MERCY."

IN HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS IT IS THE TYPE OF LOVE THAT INITIATES UNREQUESTED ACTS OF LOVE AND SERVICE FOR ANOTHER PERSON.

SEVERAL ACCOUNTS INCLUDE SARAH AND ABRAHAM (GENESIS 20:13), JACOB AND HIS SON JOSEPH (GENESIS 47:29), AND RUTH AND NAOMI (RUTH 3:10).

THIS IS THE TYPE OF LOVE THAT IS NOT FORCED OR COERCED. ONE WHO RENDERS THIS LOVE DOES SO WILLINGLY AND NOT OUT OF SELF-INTEREST. IT COMES OUT OF A WILLFUL COMMITMENT TO THE ONE BEING HELPED.

THIS NOUN IS ALSO USED TO TELL US THAT WE MUST HAVE AN ACTIVE CONCERN FOR THE WELL-BEING OF ALL THE PEOPLE OF GOD, NOT JUST THOSE KNOWN PERSONALLY TO EACH OF US, OR ONLY SOME SPECIAL INTEREST GROUP OR TARGETED AREA OF OUR COMMUNITY. ALL PEOPLE MEANS ALL PEOPLE…WE SERVE EVERYONE.

THIS NOUN ALSO SIGNIFIES THE GREATEST OF ALL LOVE AS GOD LOVED US SO MUCH THAT HE ESTABLISHED A NEW COVENANT WITH US BY SACRIFICING HIS ONLY SON JESUS IN ORDER TO RESTORE OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM.


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