Sunday, July 15, 2007

That 'Love Thy Neighbor' Thing... (Part 3)

That "Love Thy Neighbor" thing... I meant it.

Well of course He meant it! Duh! It was one of over six hundred commandments that He absolutely meant! Not to mention all the prophets that He sent and spoke through. It's not as if He slipped and accidentally commanded some things and sent out words that He didn't really mean! He was dead serious.

Again, here are the two commandments on which hang all the Law and the Prophets:

"You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength." (Deut 6:5)

" shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Leviticus 19:18)

Not that this will be a complete study - far from it - but in this post I want to take a look at what it really means to love. In the next post we'll look at a couple of parables that illustrate real love in action. As you read through this, think about how well you're doing in living out the two greatest commandments. (There's a reason for all this!)

When reviewing these two commandments, Jesus uses the word "agapao," which is simply the verb form of the noun, "agape." Agapao and Agape are not "emotional love," "physical love," "brotherly love," etc. Rather, we're talking about love from the will, not the emotions, and it's God's very nature. When John reminds us twice in 1 John 4 that "God is love," he says, "God is agape." In case you don't already know where I'm eventually leading to in all this, as a teaser I'll just say that the commands to "love" are commands to love with the agape nature of God - to love as God loves.

Yeah, how's that working for you?

Agape is used in "The Love Chapter" - 1 Corinthians 13. Many couples pick this scripture to be read during their wedding (probably with each partner having high hopes that he or she will somehow actually live these "qualities" out in their marriage, or at least expecting that their partner will). :) Anyway, if we're to agape God with all our hearts, souls and strength, and if we're to agape our neighbor as ourselves, then here's what it looks like, according to the words from this chapter:

Agape is patient
Agape is kind
Agape is not jealous (does not envy)
Agape does not boast (does not brag)
Agape is not proud (is not puffed up, is not arrogant)
Agape is not rude
Agape is not self-seeking (does not seek its own)
Agape is not provoked (is not easily angered)
Agape does not take into account a wrong suffered (keeps no record of wrongs)
Agape does not rejoice in iniquity (unrighteousness) but rejoices with the truth
Agape bears all things (always protects)
Agape believes all things (always trusts)
Agape hopes all things (always hopes)
Agape endures all things (always perseveres)
Agape never fails

(Exact words taken from the NKJV, NIV, NASB)

You've perhaps heard the above "principles" taught week after week. So, how's that working for you?

Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4 - Part 5

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