By Tope Banso.
“And now I want to urge you, dear lady, that we should love one another. This is not a new commandment, but one we had from the beginning. Love means doing what God has commanded us, and he has commanded us to love one another, just as you heard from the beginning” (2 John 5-6 New Living Translation).
Two Greek words for love in the New Testament are phileo and agape. Phileo means “to have ardent affection and feeling” for someone. Agape is often described as unconditional love but it’s also “primarily a love of the will rather than the emotions.”
Agape is the love God has for man and is the same love that He wants His children to have. Agape love is emphasized a lot in the New Testament. And it is only by the help of the Holy Spirit that anyone can walk in this kind of love. Love is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22).
Other Greek words for love – eros and storge – do not appear specifically in the Bible. Eros is romantic or sexual love. Storge is natural, familial or family love, and it only appears in compound Greek form, philostorgo, in Romans 12:10.
Love is God’s command and it’s not a new commandment (2 John 5). It’s both in the Old and the New Testaments. To love is not a suggestion or a piece of advice; it is a commandment, and a commandment doesn’t require debate but obedience.
The Bible says love your neighbor as yourself (Leviticus 19:18, Matthew 22:39, Mark 12:31, Galatians 5:14, etc.). Jesus raised the bar and said love your enemies (Matthew 5:44, Luke 6:27, 32-36).
In John 15:17, Jesus said, “I command you to love each other” (New Living Translation). Love is a command – a royal command. James 2:8 says, “Yes indeed, it is good when you truly obey our Lord’s royal command found in the Scriptures: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (New Living Translation).
You must not love your friends only but your enemies also. Probably misinterpreting Leviticus 19:17-18, a Jewish sect was teaching that people should love those who love them and hate their enemies. But Jesus corrected this wrong teaching saying love both friends and enemies; bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:44-45).
Jesus said in Matthew 5:20 that except your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. He said if you love those who love you, you’re not better than the tax collectors who do the same (verse 46).
Only if you obey Jesus’ command to love both friends and enemies, are you an obedient child of God. Galatians 5:14 says, “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (New King James Version). In other words, love is the shortcut to obey all of God’s laws! Love is the greatest! It’s greater than faith and hope (1 Corinthians 13:13).
If you’re born again, God’s kind of love has been poured out in your heart by the Holy Spirit given to you (Romans 5:5). Yield to the Holy Spirit and walk in love.
●Banso, an Abuja-based minister can be reached via email@example.com,
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