Training for the Cross - Bible Study

Monday, October 12, 2009

Learning To Love

"A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" (John 13:34-35).
The Californios - Photo by Mary Williams Hyde


Greetings, fellow lost and seekers of His righteousness!!!

Thank God that the time that I have been away from the keyboard this last month or so has brought about some new revelation to some old trials that I seem to deal with in my flesh on a daily basis. Thank God for His love which defines His grace and mercy, or is it the other way around?

So, love for one another.
What is that?
How do we get that?
Why is it easier to have compassion for some and not others?
First of all what is love?

One definition of love is 'ahab,' (ah-hahv). To have affection for someone, to like, to be a friend, love romantically, love of ideals or pleasures (Psalm 97:10).

Another is 'phileo.' It has a similar meaning as the first: to be fond of, cherish, take pleasure in, have a personal attachment for (John 21:15).

Another is 'agape.' It means an undefeatable benevolence and unconquerable good will, always seeking the best for another, no matter what. It is self giving, asking nothing in return and doesn't consider the worth of its object (Romans 5:5).'Agapeo' is the verb of 'agape' or the act of it (John 3:16).

So, here we are back to the question of: Why is it easier to have compassion for one and not so much for another?

We see that the definition for love in Psalm 97:10 is a description of a general love we have for those things we desire or appreciate. The same with 'phileo,' it is a love by chance. I love God, I love my wife and children, my mom and sister. I love a good steak, I love the feel of a good horse under me or an easy swinging rope etc..... Are you getting the picture?! These things are all love that we can experience and feel of in our FLESH! So even in our flesh we are capable of love by chance to a certain degree.

'Agape' refers to a love by choice, to the will rather than the emotion. It does not need chemistry, affinity, or a feeling. John 3:16 starts out with, "For God so loved (agapeo) the world...."

That means He loves everyone unconditionally that He created. Even the person we see in our work or down the road or around the corner, who through the eyes and understanding of our flesh may be a dork or doesn't fit in to our presence or is different in appearance or even may go to a different church or have a different gift or talent or, better yet, doesn't worship like we do.

How long is our nose or has it become the plank that protrudes from our eye? Haaa, we often think this is just for unbelievers and yet there is no reason for them to be aware of it. This is for us, who claim to have a love ('agape') for God, but can only by chance muster some 'phileo.'

Ohhhh, sweet Jesus, a REVELATION!
Then are we capable of 'agape' in our flesh?
NOT A CHANCE!
How then are we capable of 'agape' or 'agapeo'?

Ahhh, there it is, the heart of our topic today.
It has to be a surrendering of our will! Something that in our flesh we are not capable of. This surrender can only take place by the help of the Holy Spirit.

In John 13:34-35 Jesus says, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

Jesus is not speaking of 'phileo' here, He is speaking of 'agape.'
If this is a new commandment, how then are we to attain it?
We know that we can not fulfill the law.
This then separates 'phileo' from 'agape' and flesh from spirit.
If we can not obtain this love in the flesh, then the only way we can accomplish it is through the Spirit. It then has to become something we desire by a surrendering of our will.

Christ's love is not capable or inspired by our human qualities or flesh, it is grace motivated.

If then this is a commandment and something we are to do in His name then, in John 14:14-18, Jesus says we are to ask it in His name and He will send the Spirit as our helper to abide with us and help us to accomplish God's glory.

We see an example of this in John 21:15 when three times Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him and Peter's reply is, "Yes, Lord I love You."
Jesus asked Peter if he had 'agape' for Him and Peter answered that he had 'phileo' for Him. 'Phileo' was all that Peter was capable of in the flesh, because he had not received the Spirit yet. Later in his writings, Peter makes reference to 'agape' and 'agapeo,' but it wasn't until after the filling of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2.

In John 21:15, Jesus tells Peter to feed His lambs (meaning those that are new in Christ, new believers).
In verse 16, He says, "Tend My sheep" (take care of His people, meet their needs physically, just as He had). Notice He said sheep not lambs.
In verse 17, He says, "Feed My sheep" (meaning spiritually through discipleship and scripture). Once again He said sheep not lambs.
Do you see it!
Precious Royalty! Do you understand it! It is imperative that we see that there is a maturing here. As we look at verse 18 we see why.

In verse 18, "When you were younger (lambs), you girded yourself and walked where you wished (meaning we are operating on our own strength, equipping ourselves, doing what we please, fulfilling our own flesh), but when you are old (sheep), you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish."

With that maturing we will surrender our will to that of our Father's (1 Timothy 2:8).
He will equip us and give us boldness (Acts 4:31).
He will care for our needs, give us strength to endure those tribulations, through the Spirit, as we surrender our will for His, glorifying Him (2 Thessalonians 1:4-5).
Without this taking place there is no way we can "Follow Him" as in verse 19.

Brothers and sisters, this wasn't just for Peter. This is for every one of us to FOLLOW HIM with every being of our spirit!
That can not be accomplished without a maturing of the Spirit within us, a surrender of our will, a crucifying of our flesh!

Father,
Thank You for Your wisdom. Thank You that Your Son could be our example of 'agapeo.' Lord, I lift up those that call you King, that you would fill us with a new desire to seek Your will for our lives and give us this 'agape' love for those around us that we might fulfill Your greatest commandment and glorify Your name in our maturity.
Amen

On a side note, when the Romans were getting ready to crucify Peter, he requested that he be crucified upside down because he didn't consider himself worthy to be crucified the same as his Lord Jesus.

May the maturity you find to FOLLOW HIM glorify His name as the Spirit anoints you with his love! (1 John 1:5, John 14:23-24)

Ty Van Norman

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