I raise this question because it is about the most important question one can ask. “Do I really know how to love my brother?” We might not limit that question to just our spiritual brethren, but also to our own families: our mate, or children, and relatives…not forgetting our friends as well. This is a really weighty matter, one not to be taken lightly. After all, “God is love” (I John 4:7), and we are to emulate Him in every way, since He is our Creator and our true Daddy, as it were. We need to honor Him with everything that we are.
I am currently zeroing in this issue of love in its various nuances, and am finding out just how short I fall from the perfect love that the Maker shows…the love that He is, the I AM of Exodus 3:14, the embodiment of all that is good wise, wholesome, humble, perfect, and free, the one that has lived forever, and always will be. It has become clear that you cannot just look up all of the words in Hebrew and Greek, read their definitions, and say that you have a grasp on the meaning of love. It takes understanding the words in context, and then seeing how our Creator has approached the concept from several angles. Love is not simple to understand for us humans with an untamed nature, though it is indeed quite simple to understand and practice once a person has the mind of God. Of course, maintaining that mind at all times is our greatest challenge. Our human nature has a tendency to get in the way!
What are these various approaches that God has used to give us a better view of what love is? I have identified several, and I have outlined them below for your consideration. With each one of these you can delve into a deep and rich Bible study. I am doing that myself. I predict that it will open your eyes to the comprehensiveness of our heavenly Father’s and Christ’s characters…which we know are the same, for if you have seen Christ you have seen the Father (John 14:9).
- Love is implicit in the Ten Commandments.
- Love is a fruit of the holy spirit.
- Love is laying down your life for your brother.
- Love is Elohim choosing to multiply Himself.
- Love is maintaining a proper governmental relationship among the ecclesia.
- Love is the least being the greatest, and the last first.
- Love is shown in marriage.
- Love is revealed throughout the creation.
- Love is the fount of health and fulfillment
All of these items put together—for none of them can be separated—constitute the nature of love: humble, kind, gentle, moderate, faithful, joyful, peaceful, patient, good, self-controlled, and willing to sacrifice of oneself both in a literal sense, as Jesus did on the stake in payment for the sins of all mankind, and in a figurative sense by sacrificing of one’s time and energy to help those in need who cannot help themselves: widows, orphans, the homeless and destitute, and those otherwise caught between a rock and a hard place (true religion; James 1:27). A person with God’s mind will find these things easy to do; they will be second nature to him, what he really is.
When speaking of love I always come back to Jesus washing the disciples’ feet the night He was betrayed…even the feet of Judas Iscariot who later that night did the dirty work. Jesus literally placed Himself in the position of a servant, a menial servant who in the world’s eyes is of no repute. Notice that Jesus said, “Do you know what I have done to you?” after washing their feet (John 13:12). Then He said that He is indeed Teacher and Lord—He failed to mention at that point that He is also creator of things—both visible and invisible (Colossians 1:16), but as Teacher and Lord here He was WASHING THEIR FEET! He showed that to be great in the Father’s eyes one must humble himself to the point of having absolutely no reputation in the world’s eyes! And, we know who the god of this world is, who creates the hierarchies that defy the love of God. Our heavenly Father and Jesus Christ turn the order of the world upside down. We need to do likewise.
This is the same rationale behind doing good and kind deeds to our enemies. It literally heaps coals of fire on their heads (Romans 12:20), and in the meantime you are showing them an example of how they themselves ought to be, and witnessing the truth in a very powerful and comprehensive way.
Recall that shortly after Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, they were arguing over who would be the greatest in the Kingdom of God (Luke 22:24). They simply did not understand what Jesus had just done only minutes earlier that night. The spirit of God had not revealed to them this loving nature as yet, so He had to explain to them how the world’s gentile leaders lord it over their subjects…but for them as His disciples it was not to be so. The greatest was to be the least, the servant of all, just as He had shown by washing their feet.
We have a big job ahead of us to come to understand God’s love and personal concern for each one of us. It is worth every bit of effort to draw closer to that understanding, and to put away our fleshly, selfish nature. There is no better time to start on that quest than right now!