Follow the Way of Love

By Scarlett Stough

 

God created us to learn to have natural affection for those who are close to us. Children who grow up treated with the kindness of familial love learn to treat others with brotherly kindness. A person who is completely devoid of natural affection is an abnormal human being. (II Timothy 3:3 KJV) This person has been damaged by the sins of this world.

We are all born with the capacity to develop natural affection (philadelphia, the Greek word for fraternal love). (II Peter 1:7) It is a gift from the Creator God. As sunshine and rain, he gives the capacity for it to all whether they know him or not. John recorded Jesus saying, “If you belonged to the world, it would love (phileo) you as its own.“ But agape (the Greek word used in the Bible to describe divine love) is possible only when we undergo the new birth. (John 3:3-8; Galatians 5:22-25; I John 4:7-8) We can not by our own mental effort talk ourselves into achieving this divine love which loves even those who do not love back. However, just as we learn natural affection from those who love us, so we are given this divine love by receiving it from the One who has and who expresses divine love. Jesus said, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.” (John 15:9)

Every characteristic listed in II Peter 1:5-7 can, to some degree, be developed in any person whether or not she is born of the Spirit--except for love of the agape kind. This love is a gift to those who receive the Holy Spirit and is produced within them by the Holy Spirit. (I Corinthians 12:29-31; 13:13; I John 4:12-13)

Also, we must remain (abide) in Jesus for this fruit, this gift of the Spirit, to increase in our lives. (John 15:1-17) The Holy Spirit in the believer who obeys God causes all of these qualities listed in II Peter 1:5-7 to mature in us. But we are not robots programmed to do as we are told. We are responsible to put these qualities into action. (II Peter 1:10-11) We can not create agape within ourselves, but we do choose whether or not to obey its requirements.

God has shared his divine nature with us so we can be effective and productive citizens of his kingdom. (II Peter 1:3-8) The more we love by the power of the Holy Spirit, the more God’s love in us will increase and the more effective and productive servants of God we will be.

Love hidden is worthless. (Proverbs 27:5) Love is the light that shows people who God is and how to find him. (Matthew 5:14-16; John 13:34-35) Love is most effective when preached by our way of life and how we treat others whether or not we use words. Truth without genuine, God-given love pushes people away from God. But genuine love in action is the greatest evidence of the existence and presence of God. (I Corinthians 13:1-3; Revelation 2:1-7) Knowledge without love is just so much hot air. (I Corinthians 8:1)

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts….(I Corinthians 13:13; 14:1)

 

 

For the Scripture References and related Bible Study Guide, go to Bible Study Guide: And to Brotherly Kindness, Love.

 

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