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  • Writer's pictureRob

The Seventy-Second (Love)

I hope your week went well. Ours was very...reflective, I'd say. Sara Gene is continuing to get better by the day, and able to do more and more things without her muscles getting tired as fast, which is great! We thank Yehovah every day for helping in her recovery. When Sara Gene's mom went back home, after helping us so much with Sara Gene's recovery and around the house in general (and we can't thank her enough for that!), we had one of those moments, over the course of a few days, to think back over what we just experienced for the past month. It was very humbling to remember all the support and love we received from all our family and friends. What that meant to us, we could never fully repay, and we love and thank everyone for it. We also thank Yehovah every day for you who He has put in our lives. There is truly a purpose for every person you meet. It doesn't matter if it's in passing and they have a terrible attitude or if it's for a lifetime and it's in love and kindness.

This week, we're looking at a topic that, as I thought back, I'm surprised I haven't been led to write about yet. It must not have been time yet! I'm sure you have heard love talked about quite a bit if you've listened to pastors (or priests or preachers, whatever is your fancy!) over the years. There may be some things in here that are familiar, but I hope there's something new to you that touches you. In no means is this going to be an exhaustive study, so please don't think this covers the entirety of the topic of love! Let the Holy Spirit lead you through your own study of this topic as well, so He can show you what God's message of love is for you in scripture.

If there's a list of languages that are in order of the most descriptive of love, Greek has to be top of that list. With its nine different terms for love, there's a word that describes every type of love there is. It's no wonder God used the time when ancient Greek existed for when His Son was sent to show us who He is. Because He is love! (1 John 4:8)

Now, out of the nine types of love in the ancient Greek only three are actually written in scripture and one is alluded to. That's still more than I can say for the English language where we're relegated mainly to using adverbs, like "brotherly," or words that don't really give the idea of love, like "friendship." We're going to look at some key passages and see what type of Greek word for love is used in them.

The first passage is about our love for God, spoken of by His Son. Jesus told us the greatest commandment is to love God with all our heart, soul and mind (Matthew 22:37). In this verse, the type of love used is agape. It's the same type of love He tells us to have for our neighbor (Matthew 22:39). It's an unconditional love. One which requires or expects nothing in return.

This is an interesting, and even radical, concept in this day and age. Imagine if the world operated this way. Imagine every person on earth loving each other regardless of what they think they might get in return. Even to the point where it may be a detriment to them! Well, that's exactly what Jesus tells us to do. He even used the same Greek word, agape, when telling us to love our enemies (Luke 6:27). Imagine America giving agape love to, say, China!

Scripture also gives us more detail into the love for God Jesus tells us to have. John tells us what this love is: to keep God's commandments (1 John 5:3). I think I've mentioned before that I'm in a couple groups on Facebook that discuss biblical things, and every so often the subject of keeping the commandments comes up. Recently, I had a discussion with someone on keeping the Sabbath and I was reminded of this verse.

I have to say that having children was one of the most life changing experiences I've had this far. In fact, after the Holy Spirit brought me back to Yehovah (another life changing experience, mind you!), I started to look at a lot of the things given to us in scripture through the eyes of a father. One of those things is the commandments. I hear a lot of Christians explaining their way through not having to follow the commandments, and while I disagree with them I certainly don't judge them for that view. But, when I read a passage like 1 John 5:3 and I look at it through the eyes of a father, I imagine my children understanding that there's something I've told them to do, but they get nothing from it if they do it.

For those of you with children, or even those that have worked with certain adults, you likely understand the type of children/people that won't do anything if they don't get something out of it. Sometimes, the thing they get out of it is not being yelled at or chastised for not doing it. Other times, it's an allowance (or a pay raise for adults). But how good does it feel when you ask someone to do something and they just do it! For me with my kids, I can tell you from experience that it's heart warming, and it even makes me want to do something for them!

That's exactly what John is talking about in 1 John 5:3. Previously, for those that kept the law it was accounted to them as righteousness. They attained righteousness through the law, so in order to have that righteousness they followed the law. At Christ's death, the requirement to follow the law to attain righteousness was abolished (Ephesians 2:15). So, following Yehovah's commandments from that moment on is truly a sign of agape love for Him. You get nothing in return for keeping them.

Other types of love in the Bible are philo, storge, and eros, with the next most used type being philo, or "brotherly love" (Romans 12:10, 1 Thessalonians 4:9, Hebrews 13:1, 1 Peter 1:22, 2 Peter 1:7). This is the type of deep love between very good friends. In 1 Thessalonians 4:9, the Thessalonians were told there was no need for them to be written to about brotherly love because they learned from God to agape love. For completeness, storge is family love, like that between siblings or parents and children, and eros is sensual, romantic or lustful, love. The compound word including a form of storge is translated to "devoted" in Romans 12:10. Eros however, doesn't appear in the Greek text, but the idea of it is found in 1 Corinthians 7:8-9, when Paul talks about it being better to marry than "burn with passion."

As I close, it's important to point out one more key verse about love. Jesus tells us what's coming, and we can already see it as I alluded to at the beginning of this writing. As we get closer and closer to His return, we will see more and more agape love disappear (Matthew 24:12). That's why it's more and more important that we, as Christ's body, exhibit this type of unconditional, absolute, without expectation, love. In my opinion, it is, by far, the most significant sign that we are His, and possibly the only sign that provides a deep, meaningful, long-lasting impression to unbelievers.

Shabbat Shalom and God bless you!

-Rob and Sara Gene

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