Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Looking at Love

If I give away all that I have, and if I give up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.”

We are familiar with the idea of “love” being a fruit of the Spirit, and love as a term gets tossed around all the time in society. In fact, today people will justify and defend anything under the guise of “love”. But what precisely is the Scripture talking about when it speaks of “love”.

Love in the Scripture is not an emotion. It's not a feeling. In fact the feelings that we associate with love would be summed up under the idea of “eros” (from which we get “erotic”) and was considered to be a form of madness or insanity in the ancient world. When you run on your emotions, you tend to do silly or crazy things. When the Scriptures speak about love, that's not what they mean.

Most often when the Scriptures speak of love, they are referring to a selfless act done for the benefit of another. This is wrapped up in the idea of “agape” - it is to give without thought of repayment. It is to wash the back of one who fundamentally cannot wash your back. But even focusing on love as my work or the ideal way that I ought to work fall short. Paul can speak of works of generosity in 1 Corinthians but still speak of us not having “love”.

The answer is this: John says in his 1st epistle that “God is Love.” When we speak of love as a fruit of the Spirit, we aren't talking about a quality in us or a description of how we act: Love is a description of God. Christ Jesus your Lord loves you completely and freely – not on the basis of what you do for Him, but simply because He delights in you and caring for you.

And this is what the Holy Spirit does – He gives you Christ Jesus. And as a forgiven and redeemed child of God, Christ Jesus dwells within you – Love Himself dwells within you and then wells up and springs forth from you (see John 4 and the idea of springs of living water for more on this). God's own love comes forth through you for the good of others. Indeed, this is why Paul will say in Galatians 2:20 “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” This is what the fruit of the Spirit is – God's own works springing up in you so that you are a Christian – a “little Christ”. A part of His own Body – doing what His Body does and being who He Himself is: Love.

As a Christian, you will love. It will happen. Why? Because Christ Jesus has loved you, and forgiven you, and redeemed you, and sanctified you. You love because you have Love Himself – Christ Jesus.

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