Recently I read a story about a 78 year old lady, Aleida Huissen, from Rotterdam, Netherlands, who had been smoking for 50 years.
And for 50 years she’s been trying to quit. Every attempt failed, until…
Until Leo Jansen entered the picture. The 79 year old proposed marriage with one condition. Aleida had to quit smoking.
“Will power never was enough to get me off the tobacco habit,” Aleida said. But, “Love did it.”
While this story has a bit of humor to it and I haven’t been able to verify its veracity, it does illustrate an element of truth about love. Love moves people to action. Love motivates. Love works. Love changes people.
For the past several weeks, I have been both preaching and writing on the virtues from 2Peter 1:5-7
To grow spiritually and to be a partaker of God’s divine nature, the apostle affirms that we must lavishly add to our faith moral excellence. Knowledge. Self-control. Perseverance. Godliness. Brotherly affection. And love.
C. D. Hamilton says that we should not “view these qualities as compartmentalized or separate from one another. There is a close interrelation between and among them.” He further suggested they involve “a progression and ascending scale of spiritual development.” Barclay likened it to climbing a ladder one rung at a time.
The Greatest of these is love
If the top rung is love, Jesus’ response to the question “What is the greatest commandment?” is more than a theological answer. It is relevant and practical to daily living. Love God with all of our being. And love your neighbor as yourself.
As noted, in almost every lesson on love, the Greeks had different words that are translated “love” in English. The word “agape’” is universally defined as a love of the will. It seeks the highest good of others. It is sincere, active interest. It’s beyond emotion. Rather it’s directed by the will and the intellect. It is deliberate. One writer called it “unconquerable benevolence…invincible good will.”
Agape’ describes the character of God. “
God is love (I Jn. 4:7-9). His universal love includes all of humanity. His sacrificial love sent Jesus to die for our sins.. His love is undeserved and unearned by us, his feeble and fallible creatures. His love involves His mercy, grace, and goodness beyond anything that we can intellectually or emotionally fathom. Yet, He calls on us to ever strive, although imperfectly, to His epitome of love.
(1) Love is a matter of choice. It’s something I decide to do. The Bible commands “put on love (Col. 3:14). If love was beyond my control, then God could not and would not command it.
(2) Love is a matter of conduct. It involves how I act. How I live. How I treat others. John, the apostle of love, exhorted, “My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.”
The Importance of Adding Love to Our Faith
(1) Love is at the heart of all relationships.
Not only our love for God, as seen in our respect for His Word and obedience to His commandment, but our love is demonstrated daily in the manner in which we treat our family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, brethren, and even our enemies.
Elizabeth Barret Browning began her great sonnet, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” Divine love issues itself in concrete tangible ways. Respect. Acceptance. Forgiveness. Patience. Kindness. Civility. Unselfishness. Humility. Encouragement. Harmony. Hospitality. Benevolence. And service to all people, especially those in God’s Family.
(2) Love is the motive of all Christian deeds.
Why do I do what I do? Is there a hidden agenda? A selfish reason? A carnal desire? A worldly ambition? The pressure of coercion? Paul admonishes “Let all that you do be done with love” (1 Cor. 16:14).
(3) Love is the character of the Christian walk.
“Walk is love” (Eph. 5;2), speaks to our behavior. Our conduct. Our integrity. It is living in a manner that is commensurate and compatible with our divine calling. It means following in Jesus’ footsteps. Molding our hearts and minds in manner pleasing to Him.
(4) Love is the basis of gospel preaching.
Too often we place a greater premium on what we say, rather than how we say it. Both are important. And required. The Bible says “speaking the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15). While God’s truth should never be compromised, neither can the attitude of love in which we proclaim it be disregarded.
Finally, remember this. Your love will be strengthened when you fully accept and imbibe God’s love, and sincerely express and exhibit it in all your relationships.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman