LEARNING TO LOVE
John 13:34, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.”
“I John take thee Mary to be my wedded wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, in poverty and in wealth, to love and cherish till death do us part.”
The honest truth is very few people who make those vows really love each other because most people are wrapped up in attraction at youth and it is difficult to love. Please allow me to help you how to fulfill that promise at the altar. You said to love and to cherish now that means you and I must learn how to love. This is a very simple truth and yet profound.
There is very little real love in the world. People make such idiotic statements like, “I just don’t love him any more!” Yet, God said, “Love never faileth.” Most of us have never learned to love. There are more than two words in the Greek for “love” but I would like to focus on two.
· Agape-This is the kind of love that we are supposed to have but most of us do not which is based on the “lover.”
· Phileo-This is the kind of love most of us have which is based on the “object.”
Phileo is where one says, “I love you because you are pretty. I love you because you are sweet. I love you because you are kind.” Basically one loves the object because of what the object does to them. Phileo in essence is an attraction. Agape is where one deeply, unselfishly, and totally without reciprocation says, “I love you.”
It is vital to for our well being that we learn to love. In Deuteronomy 6:5-6 and six other times in the Scriptures you will find the greatest commandment is to love God and the second greatest commandment is to love one another. One commandment says “Thou shalt not kill” while a greater commandment is to love. One commandment says “Thou shalt not steal” while a greater commandment is to love. One commandment says, “Thou shall not commit adultery” while a greater commandment is to love. The greatest of all these commandments is to love! Certainly this deserves our attention as God’s creatures.
I Corinthians 13:13, “Now abideth faith, hope, and charity and the greatest of these is charity.” The English word “charity” in Scripture is not a mistake. It gives emphasis to the meaning of the word “love.” When we think of “charity” we automatically think of “giving.” Thus love in action is the greatest of these!
Romans 13:18, Love is a debt that we owe to each other. I owe you a debt and that debt is to love you. Hold it! I’m talking about real love. I am not talking about “attraction.” I am talking about real honest to goodness, unselfish, and no need for reciprocation “love.” I owe you a debt of real love and you owe me a debt of real love and we owe each other the same debt of love.
In I Corinthians chapter 13 verse one it tells us love is more important than talent. It is more important that you love than to possess a beautiful voice for singing solo’s with, and more important than to be an accomplished pianist. This truth is more important than your daughter’s entire piano lessons put together.
In I Corinthians 13 verse 2 it tells us that love is more important than knowledge. Thus is appears it is more important to teach your child to love than for your child to go to school for an education. Some of you will say “Amen” to that but your life does not reflect it! I can prove it! The average parent does not spent one hour a year teaching their child how to love, but you send them to school for 40 hours a week to learn Geometry, Algebra, English, and History, but my Bible says that love is more important than knowledge. Sit still! Say Amen or O-me! I Corinthians 13:13 it says love is more important than faith! Ouch!
John 15:12 we are commanded by Jesus to love! Do not miss this there is a command from Jesus Himself to us to love. I mean real love or Agape love, which is the real love given to us by our Heavenly Father!
In Romans 13:8 it says that love is the fulfilling of the law. If you love you will have no other gods before Him, not make graven images, not steal, not kill, not commit adultery, and not lie. Thus love is the fulfilling of the law. It sounds to me like love is very important.
In Galatians 5:22 it mentions the fruit of the Spirit. There is a long list of the fruit of the Spirit and the first one mentioned is love! Thus that means that love comes before peace, before joy, before longsuffering, before gentleness, before goodness, and before faith etc.
In I John 4:8 it says God is love! So you cannot know God unless you really love! You cannot have a Phileo love and know God because God is Agape love. God’s love is not based on the object but the “lover.”
That is why most Christians do not understand God, the Scriptures, the preacher, the teacher, the youth pastor, or the sermons, because basically most Christians and God are on different wave links. They are on Channel 2 while God is on Channel 7! Wait a minute! No, don’t run to your TV and turn to Channel 7 to find God!
In I John 3:14 the assurance of our salvation is brought about by love. “We know that we have passed from death unto life because we love the brethren.” If you Phileo the brethren that explains why you feel the need to get saved every year when the Evangelist comes to town because there exists no assurance of salvation via Agape love. “If you are good to me I will be good to you and if you are bad to me I’ll be bad to you.” “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch your back.” When this happens you lose your assurance of salvation.
Assurance is built up in the heart of the believer because he Agape’s the brethren. He is the one with the smile on his face! He is the one nodding his head up and down signifying agreement with the preaching and teaching of God’s Word! God is not teaching that you are lost because you lack “love” for the brethren He is saying that you lack Agape love for the brethren. These with the Agape love are the ones who shoot their hands up real high when asked by the preacher, “How many of you are saved?” Why, because you have absolute assurance of your salvation because you Agape the brethren and not Phileo the brethren! When your salvation is a question mark in your own mind you cannot effectively win souls to Christ.
“If you require a certain dress code for the choir and for the schools I’ll take my husband and leave this church and leave this school! I’ll show you! I’ll teach you! I’ll put my child in a public school!” You are a real Einstein!
“I just hate her” and that is why you have doubts about your salvation at times. The Bible does not say we are to love the good brethren. It says we are to love the brethren. It doesn’t say we love the separated brethren it says we are to love the brethren! It doesn’t say we are to love the attractive brethren or the righteous brethren it simply says we are to love the brethren.
The Scripture says in John 13:35 “By this shall all men know you are my disciples because you have love one another.” What is it that the world is supposed to see and thereby say that he is a Christian? “Preacher he must be a Christian because he doesn’t have long hair! Preacher she must be a Christian because she wears modest clothing!” Hold it! Both are true standards of the Scriptures but the distinguishing mark of a Christian is love. Not Phileo but Agape love totally dependent upon the lover and not the object!
“Preacher he must be a good Christian because he doesn’t drink liquor, smoke, cuss, dip, or chew, and goes to church every Sunday!” That is all well and good! Those are correct lifestyles for a Christian but the Bible says that the distinguishing mark of Christianity is love! What is the distinguishing mark or factor for a child of God? AGAPE LOVE!
· I am commanded to love God according to Deuteronomy 10:12
· I am commanded to love my neighbour as myself according to Matthew 19:19
· In Luke 10:30 I am told who my neighbour is in the story of the Good Samaritan
Here is this Good Samaritan who comes down the road and he sees a man and he doesn’t know him. The man has been beaten, robbed, and left for dead. Now who is this man?
· He was a man of another religion
· He was a man of another race
I’m not to love false religion according to the Scriptures but I am to love those duped by false religion. This man was a half-breed, poor, lower class, and a part of a hated race yet he was to be loved!
The first greatest commandment is to love God and the second greatest commandment is to love my neighbour. The poor, destitute, people of other religions, people of other races, and it is not to be Phileo but Agape love.
In Ephesians 5:25 I am commanded to love my wife. In Luke 6:27 I am commanded to love my enemies. So are you by the way! This is not a preference or a request it is a command! In Matthew 5:46 I am to love those that hate me. In Colossians 1:4 I am to love those in the family of God. Wait a minute! I’m talking about real love and not a Phileo love. This is to be Agape love!
I have given y0u the lofty position of love in the Scriptures. Then I have given you a list of the people God commands you to love; your neighbour, your wife, your enemies, and those that hate you! I, like you, want to obey God’s command this greatest commandment second to loving God Himself. I want to obey that commandment: the commandment to really love my neighbour, my wife, my enemies, and my friends.
· Understand that I am commanded to give Agape love
· Understand God never commands me to do anything that I cannot will to do
· Understand I cannot just decide to give Agape love
· Understand I can decide to do what leads to Agape love
God says to us love your enemies but I cannot all of a sudden discover I have an enemy and then say to myself, “Ok, love him!” Hold it! I am commanded to love him! I can will to obey that commandment to Agape but it does not happen in an instant. Not in one day!
I cannot decide to love but I can decide to do what leads to love. I go to the doctor. I’m sick! I go home and I decide to get well! Now, the decision to get well doesn’t bring with it wellness. A man has pneumonia and he says to his wife, “I’ve decided to get well!” He cannot decide to get well but you can decided to take the medicine that will make you well over time.
You cannot decide to Agape love but you can decide to do what will help you to learn to love. I cannot decide to get well and succeed but I can decide to take the medicine that will make me well eventually. The Bible medicine will cause you to Agape love and not Phileo love someone.
90 % of the Christian world has Phileo love. 90 % of the Christian world are Dr. Spock prodigies. They are nothing but left over flower children form the 60’s Woodstock Hippy generation who has never really loved in their entire life.
That is why most of our children in the Christian world look like they have been smoking dope when it comes to the things of God, the preaching, the standards, the songs of God, and the soul winning. They swoon at the worldly teen singers while sleeping during the preaching of God’s word. When they see the punks, the thieves, the drunkards, the dopers, the sex perverts, on their TV they are mesmerized and enthralled by them.
Just in case there is someone reading this chapter that really desires to Agape your wife, your husband, your children, your enemies, and your friends then pay attention. I’m not talking about liking your wife as long as she meets your needs. That attitude just shows you don’t love her anymore than you do a toad frog! I’m talking about real, Bible, godly, and Agape love. All of us have to know the medicine that will lead me to have real Agape love over a period of time.
YOU SERVE TO LOVE
“I Mary take thee John to be my wedded husband, to have to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, in poverty and in wealth, to love…” The truth is Mary Phileo’s John but doesn’t Agape love or really love John then! She is IN love but that is dangerous because if you are IN love you can get OUT of love. It is hazardous to your life to FALL IN LOVE! It sounds like an accident. If you FALL you can get back up.
Here is what the wedding vows ought to be! “I Mary take thee John to be my wedded husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, in poverty and in wealth, and to learn to love…”
John 21:15-17 the story is told about Jesus speaking to Peter! Watch this! Jesus asked Peter the question, “Lovest thou me?” In the use of the word “love” Jesus was saying, “Agape thou me?” Peter answered, “Thou knowest that I’m FOND of you!” Peter used the word “Phileo.” By the way, this is the type of love we all start out with. It is human nature. I can prove it! You young men who are dating a 110-pound young lady: let her gain 100 pounds and see if you don’t cancel the wedding? Between the time you propose and the time the wedding is to take place let your fiancé go from a 110 pound beauty to a 350 pound beast and see how much really love her. I’d bet you would cancel the wedding!
Jesus said to Peter, “Lovest (Agape) thou me?” Peter in essence said, “You know I’m attracted to you.” Jesus fed the 5,000 who would not be attracted to that! He raised the dead who would not be attracted to that! He healed the sick who would not be attracted to that! He opened blind eyes who would not be attracted to that!
Then Jesus said to Peter, “Feed my sheep!” What was Jesus teaching Peter? He was giving Peter the medicine of serving in order to change his Phileo love into Agape love.
“Peter do you love me deeply? Peter do you have real love for me?” Peter answered, “I’m fond of you!” Then Jesus responded by saying, “Feed my sheep!” What Jesus was saying to Peter if you will serve me by serving my people that Phileo will be changed into Agape.
Just in case you really want to Agape someone I would suggest you serve that someone! Just in case you want to change that outward attraction into a deep abiding Agape love then you must serve! By the way it takes time for the medicine to begin to work. It doesn’t transform from one to the other over night!
Young married lady and young house wife that Phileo will wear off after awhile. His feet will soon stink! His stubbornness will soon show up! His breath will soon smell! His underwear will miss the clothes hamper. Oh, it’s just a matter of time until Phileo loses its glow and warmth. I would suggest to you that you get into the habit of loving to take care of him and love serving before Phileo takes the summer off!
Hey, young married husband! Its just a matter of time before she gets tired of doing the dishes, cleaning the house, doing the laundry, fixing the meals, and changing the diapers. I would suggest that before Phileo flees that you love serving her, helping her, taking care of her, and treating her like a queen. You cannot live off of the Phileo of being the recipient of her serving and expect you to have Agape for her.
That is why Jesus said to Peter, “Feed my sheep!” If you desire to obey God and really love your wife, husband, children, enemies, and friends then serve them. I did not say let them satisfy your needs. I am saying you satisfy their needs. One will only learn to love to the extent that one learns to serve!
A wife said to me in counseling, “I don’t think I love my husband!” Wait a minute! What she was saying was she has quit serving her husband. A husband says to me in counseling, “I don’t think I love my wife anymore!” What he is really saying is, “I’ve quit serving my wife!” No one quits loving you only quit serving!
There are dozens of wives sitting in the average congregation in America who are starving for physical attention from their husbands who are loved deeply by their wives but the reason for the lack of physical attention is because the husband has quit serving His wife.
The answer is to quit being selfish and decide to serve each other so that you can learn to love each other. Other wise it becomes a base relationship and a bickering relationship with each fighting to be served instead of fighting to serve!
Jesus was telling Peter if you will forget your needs, forget yourself, and feed my sheep you would end up really loving me.
The Good Samaritan did not love his neighbour before he poured the oil and wine in or before he took him to an inn. He loved him AFTER he had done those things! Here is a man bleeding, beaten half to death, and you say, “I thing I’ll love him!” No sir! However, when you have invested your time into someone’s life and all of a sudden you find yourself loving that somebody you have learned to love! It has gone from Phileo to Agape.
90 % of you reading this chapter know what attraction is, what Phileo is, what “like” is, and what attractiveness is, but the reason you do not know what real Agape love is because you have never really served any one without expecting any thing in return!
If you desire to obey God’s command to Agape your wife serve her. If you desire to obey God’s command to Agape your husband serve him. If you desire to obey God’s command to Agape your children serve them. If you desire to obey God’s command to Agape your enemies then serve them. If you desire to obey God’s command to Agape your friends then serve them. Serving does not mean giving them what they want rather it means giving them what they need!
Someone says, “We’ve decided to leave our church!” No, what you really mean is your wife and daughter decided to leave your church because you have quit serving your church and are expecting your church to serve you!
· I have given you a list of things the magnitude of Agape love
· I have shown you the importance of Agape love
· I have shown you the position of Agape love
· I have given you a list of people we are supposed to Agape
· I have shown you that we cannot decide to Agape and it happens instantaneously
· I have shown that we can decide to do that which leads to Agape