HEREIN IS LOVE
By John C. Carpenter
 
There are several kinds of "love" mentioned in the Greek text in the New Testament. Here is a list of the Greek words with their respective meanings: Agapao - to love in a social or moral sense from the heart, or to willfully love as a matter of principle or duty; Agape - love, affection, benevolence, love feast, or charity; Phileo - to be a friend, fond of an individual or object, affection, personal attachment, sentiment or feeling, and is considered to be a love of the head or intellect; Philarguria - avarice, covetous, fondness of money or silver, or love of money; Philoteknos - fondness of one's children, maternal or parental love; Thelo - to choose, prefer, wish, desire, intend, will, or please; Philadelphia - fraternal affection, or brotherly kindness or love; Philandros - affection or love of a wife for her husband; and lastly, the Greek word Philanthropia - refers to kindness or benevolence toward, or fondness of man or mankind. The two Greek words we are concerned with in this issue are "Agapao" and "Agape."
 
GOD'S DEFINITION OF CHARITY
 
The apostle John said, Herein is love [charity], not that we loved [moral, social, sacrificial] God, but that he loved [sacrificially] us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins (1 John 4:10). The Holy Spirit, through John, is telling us how God views charity. When God says "herein is charity," it is like God is saying here is how I view and define charity, here are my standards for charity, here is the best example, evidence, or demonstration of charity. God makes it clear that because of His deep love for us, He sent His Son to be the propitiation [atonement] for our sins. From God's viewpoint, charity is best defined and expressed by what God did for us [sending His Son] because He loved [sacrificially] us, and not what we did or do for Him, or because we love Him. This kind of deep moral, social, sacrificial love of the heart is the same kind of love that a parent has for his or her child, a love so strong that he or she is willing to go through anything, even death, to save the child from harm or destruction. This is Godly love with Godly charity.
 
GODLY LOVE ALWAYS LEADS TO CHARITY
 
Jesus Christ revealed to us a very important spiritual principle when He said, For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16). Notice that God so loved [sacrificially] that he gave. "Agapao" love is Godly love [deep, heartfelt, unselfish, giving, moral, social, sacrificial love], the kind of love God has for mankind, and the kind of love that God expects us to have for Christ and for our fellow man. The result of this deep love was that God gave his only begotten Son to die for our sins, and thus save the world. Love [Agapao] always leads to charitable giving [Agape]. The apostle John discussed this relationship between love and charity when he said, Beloved, let us love [sacrificially] one another: for love [charity]is of God; and every one that loveth [sacrificially] is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth [sacrificially] not knoweth not God; for God is love [charity] (1 John 4:7-8). John is exorting us to have sacrificial love for one another, for this love leads to charity [giving], which is of God and is God's way. He clarified that everyone that has sacrificial love is spiritually born of God and knows God personally, because those truly born of God will always have sacrificial love for others. The spiritual principle and the relationship between love and charity is straightforward: If one has moral, social and sacrificial love, and as a result, charity, one knows God; and if one knows God, one will certainly have moral love and display charity, because charity is God's way. Paul said to the Galatians, I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me (Gal 2:20). He also said to the Ephesians,Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it (Eph 5:25). The apostle Paul told us that charity edifies [confirms, builds up] and is considered greater than even faith and hope (1 Cor 13:13). He exhorted us to Follow after[pursue] charity (1 Cor 14:1) and Let all your things be done with charity (1 Cor 16:14). Paul also explained it's significance sayingThough I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal" [a noisy vanity] And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing [insignificant] (1 Cor 13:2). Even though we may have mighty spiritual gifts, tremendous knowledge, and even great faith, but do not have charity, we are as a noise that accomplishes nothing and are totally insignificant in God's view. The apostle even said that if we give everything we have to feed the poor, and even agree to give our body to be burned [destroyed], this is unprofitable if we do not have charity (1 Cor 13:3). Paul told Timothy that the end [goal, purpose] of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned (1 Tim 1:5) and instructed him to be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity (1 Tim 4:12). The apostle Peter told us that charity was one of the spiritual qualities that would cause us to neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Pet 1:8), and that it was so important it would cover the multitude of sins (1 Pet 4:8). God considers charity essential, and the relationship between Godly love and charity [giving] is solid. Where you find one, you find the other.
 
DOES GOD REALLY EXPECT US TO LOVE AND GIVE?
 
Moved by the Holy Spirit, the apostle John said, In this[act of God] was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him (1 John 4:9). Through John, the Holy Spirit is saying that the act or best expression of God's charity [which resulted from God's agapao love] for mankind was the fact that He sent His only begotten Son to be the propitiation [expiation, atonement] for our sins [guilt]. In fact, God specifically said, "Herein is love [charity]." But does God really want us to have sacrificial love, and as a result, charity, for others? John quickly gave us the answer by saying next, Beloved, if God so loved [sacrificially] us,we ought also to love [sacrificially] one another (1 John 4:11). Not only is sacrificial love desirable, but Jesus Christ even commanded us to love and give saying, A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love [sacrificially] one another; as I have loved [sacrificially] you, that ye also love [sacrificially]one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love [charity] one to another (John 13:34-35). Christ is saying that we should sacrificially love one another because this kind of love requires charity [giving], and that by seeing our charity towards one another, all men shall know that we are disciples of Christ because we are loving and charitable, as Christ is. Jesus Christ clearly explained, Thou shalt love [sacrificially] the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love [sacrificially] thy neighbour as thyself (Mat 22:37-39). In these verses, Christ commands us to have "agapao" [moral, social, sacrificial] love for the Lord thy God, and to love him with all of our heart, soul, and mind. He says this is the most important and greatest commandment. Secondarily, Christ commands us to have this same "agapao" love for our neighbor [fellow man]. How is this love to be expressed, and what is the evidence that we have this kind of love? The answer is that we will be charitable. We are to do as Christ did, to give our life for others. The apostle John summarized this idea saying, Hereby perceive we the love [charity] of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren (1 John 3:16). Christ told us Greater love [charity] hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13).
 
WHO MUST WE LOVE?
 
Since sacrificial love must have an object, who are we commanded to love, and what are we commanded not to love? God has instructed us in the Scriptures to love our enemies (Matt 5:44), our sons and daughters (Matt 10:37), our neighbor (Matt 19:19), the Lord thy God (Matt 22:37), those that do not love us (Luke 6:32-33), Jesus Christ (John 8:42), one another (John 13:34), our friends (John 15:13), all men (1 Thess 3:12), righteousness (Heb 1:9), the brethren (1 Pet 1:17-22), life (1 Pet 3:10), and the children of God (1 John 5:2).Husbands are also instructed to love their wives (Eph 5:25). Scripture instructs us to not love darkness (John 3:19), the praise of men more than the praise of God (John 12:43), men more than God (John 21:15), the wages of unrighteousness (2 Pet 2:15), the world (1 John 2:15), the things in the world (1 John 2:15), or our own lives more than God (Mark 8:35; Rev 12:11).
 
LOVEST THOU ME MORE THAN THESE?
 
God does expect us to love others, but of all the sacrificial love God instructs us to have, there is one love that stands above and is more important than all the others - our love for God. After rising from the dead and now dining with His disciples, Christ summed up possibly the greatest issue in all of Christianity when He asked the Apostle Peter, Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas,lovest [sacrificially] thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee [more than these]. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs (John 21:15). In context it is difficult to determine exactly who or what the Lord is referring to by "these." He could be referring to all of the disciples who surrounded the Lord at that time, or the Lord could be referring to the tremendous number of fish which the Lord had just helped the disciples catch. In either case, I believe the Lord is asking Peter, as He eventually does all of us, “Which is more important to you, people and things, or me? Do you love [sacrificially] Me more than these?" Elsewhere, the Lord said, If any man come to me, and hate [love less] not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple (Luke 14:26). Christ expects us to love Him more than our father, mother, wife, children, brethren, sisters, and even our own life. He made it clear that No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate [love less] the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon [self] (Mat 6:24). Many interpret "mammon" to be money, but the Lord clearly defines mammon for us in the next verse when He says, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? (Mat 6:25). Mammon is descriptive of our own life, our self, our desires and needs. Money is important in meeting these wants and needs, but our life is what Christ is referring to here. The Lord makes it clear we cannot serve God and self; we must choose who we will serve and love most. In the Old Testament, Joshua gave the nation of Israel the appropriate question when he asked, And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve (Josh 24:15). God will at some point in our lives bring us all to that question of whom we will serve and love most - God, or men and things. Lastly, Christ tells us that we must place our own lives last [least important] and Him first [most important] if we are to inherit the Kingdom of God. He says, And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. But many that are first [place themselves as most important] shall be last [least important to God]; and the last shall be first (Mat 19:29-30). [See article, "In The Last Days".]
 
WHAT ARE WE TO GIVE?
 
Since God exorts and commands us to give as a result of our love, what are we to give, what are we to do? As you walk daily with the Lord, He may require you to sacrificially give of yourself physically, socially, materially, emotionally, financially, spiritually, or some combination of these. This is prayerfully between you and the Lord. The scriptures, however, give us many specific examples of what God may ask or require us to give, and He always expects us to "Let love [charity] be without dissimulation [hypocrisy] (Rom 12:9). We are instructed to show sincere charity by responding to those that ask of us (Matt 5:42), ministering to those in need (Matt 10:8), giving to the poor (Matt 19:21), giving alms [compassionate deeds] (Luke 12:33), giving glory to God (Luke 17:18), giving all that we have unto the poor (Luke 18:22), responsibly paying our taxes (Luke 20:22-25), by giving ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word (Acts 6:4), by responding to servants of the Lord (Acts 13:16), by giving God the opportunity to take vengeance rather than taking it ourselves (Rom 12:19), by meeting the needs of our enemies (Rom 12:20), by giving ourselves to fasting and prayer (1 Cor 7:5), and by not offending anyone or the Church of God (1 Cor 10:32). Additionally, masters should give unto their servants (Col 4:1), we should always give thanks for other believers (1 Thess 1:2), we should give thanks in every thing (1 Thess 5:18), we should give time to reading, exhortation, and doctrine (1 Tim 4:13), and we should always be prepared to give an answer to every man that asketh why we have hope through Christ (1 Pet 3:15). Lastly, we should, as Christ did, give our lives as a ransom for many (Matt 20:28; 1 Tim 2:6).
 
PERFECT LOVE CASTETH OUT ALL FEAR
 
The apostle John said, There is no fear in love [charity]; but perfect love [charity] casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love [charity] (1 John 4:18). The context of these verses begins, though, when John said, Beloved, let us love [sacrificially] one another: for love [charity] is of God; and every one that loveth [sacrificially] is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth [sacrificially] not knoweth not God; for God is love [charity]. In this was manifested the love [charity] of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love [charity], not that we loved [sacrificially] God, but that he loved [sacrificially] us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved [sacrificially] us, we ought also to love [sacrificially] one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love [charity] one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love [sacrificial] is perfected [manifested and displayed] in us. Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love [charity]; and he that dwelleth in love [charity] dwelleth in God, and God in him (1 John 4:7-16). In these verses, John not only shows us the close relationship between love and charity, but instructs us to sacrificially love and have charity for one another because: (1) when we have love that results in charity we know we have been born again and know God (1 John 4:7); (2) when an individual is born again and knows God, God's love [charity] is perfected [displayed] in us and God gives us His Holy Spirit (1 John 4:13); (3) because we have His Holy Spirit we dwell in Him and He in us (1 John 4:13); (4) because we dwell in Him and He in us, we confess that Jesus is the Son of God and came in the flesh (1 John 4:15); (5) because we make this confession, we have known and believed the love [God gave His son] that God hath for us (1 John 4:16); (6) because we have known and believed, as He is [charitable], so are we [charitable] in this world (1 John 4:17); and lastly, (7) because we have love [charity], we may have boldness (1 John 4:17) rather than fear (1 John 4:18) regarding God's judgment of us in the day of judgment. The apostle John concludes these thoughts saying, There is no fear in love [charity]; but perfect love [charity] casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love [charity] (1 John 4:18). John is explaining that boldness (v. 17) and fear (v. 18) are two possible emotional reactions that we may have "in the day of judgment" (v. 17) regarding our own judgment by God. John told us, And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love [charity]; and he that dwelleth in love [charity] dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our love [charity] made perfect [manifested and revealed in us], that we may have boldness [confidence] in the day of judgment: because as he is [charitable], so are we [charitable] in this world (1 John 4:16-17). John is saying that God is loving and charitable, and if we are loving and charitable this means we are dwelling in God, and He in us. Because God's love is made perfect [manifested] in us and we are now charitable like God, we can have confidence and boldness in the day of judgment, rather than fear, of God's judgment because God expects us to be as He is [loving and charitable].
 
EXAMINE YOURSELF AND TRY OTHERS
 
The apostle Paul said, Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? (2 Cor 13:5). Although Paul is talking in context here about whether Christ is present in us, one aspect of the self-examination of our faith should be an effort to determine if we are living according to God's standards and principles. Regarding the principles of love and charity, we should examine ourselves to see if we are in fact giving and charitable. As the apostle John said, If we love [charity] one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love[moral, social, sacrificial love] is perfected [manifested] in us (1 John 4:12). Charity is the symptom that should be present if we have moral and social love for others. Paul explained this same truth when he said, But the fruit of the Spirit is love [charity], joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, and faith (Gal 5:22). The Lord verified this need to examine the fruit by saying,Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit (Mat 12:33). By God's standards, a charitable tree is a loving tree. If we are charitable, we know that we have moral and social love, and if we have moral and social love, we know that we truly know God and are within the faith of Christ. If we are not giving and charitable, we do not have moral and social love for others, and do not know God, for God is love [charity]. Scripture also instructs us to "try," or examine others, particularly ministers, to determine if they are truly in the faith. The apostle John said, Beloved, believe [trust, have blind faith in] not every spirit, but try [discern, examine, prove by testing] the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world (1 John 4:1). In this statement, John not only warns us there are many false ministers in the world, but consequently instructs us to examine and test the spirits [spiritual life, mental disposition, and vital principles] of others, particularly "prophets" [ministers]. Many believe that the "spirits" we are to "try" are evil or demonic spirits. John not only uses the terms "prophets" (1 John 4:1), "them" (1 John 4:4), "they" (1 John 4:5), "he" (1 John 4:20), and "whosoever" (1 John 5:1), but also refers to individuals "who hate their brothers" (1 John 4:20). All of these references seem to imply that John is referring to the spirits of men, and not demons. How are we to "try" the spirits of men, what criteria do we use, what questions are we to ask, what fruit are we to look for, when we examine others? I believe John gave us the answer when he said, For this is the love [charity] of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous [burdensome] (1 John 5:3). In this context, God commanded us: (1) to believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ (1 John 3:23), and (2) to love [sacrificially] one another (1 John 3:23). The first commandment to believe on the name of Christ is beyond the scope of this issue on love. Along with the first commandment, this second commandment to morally, socially, and sacrificially love one another is the criteria we are to use to "try" the spirits of other men. Because love always leads to charity, we are to look for charity. If charity is present, then Godly love is present, and if Godly love is present, then God is present. John told us, He that loveth [sacrificially] not knoweth not God; for God is love [charity] (1 John 4:8), and If a man say, I love [sacrificially] God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth [sacrificially] not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love [sacrificially] God whom he hath not seen (1 John 4:20). God expressed His love [moral, social, sacrificial] for us through the charity of giving and sending His only Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Likewise, God expects us to express our love [moral, social, sacrificial] through the charity of keeping His commandments to believe on His son and love [sacrificially] one another. God says that if we keep His commandments, we do those things that are pleasing in His sight (1 John 3:22). Examine yourself, and try others, to determine if charity is present. Jesus Christ first explained the principle of charity saying, For God so loved [sacrificially] the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16). The apostle John understood the importance of love and charity writing, Beloved,let us love [sacrificially] one another, for love [charity] is of God (1 John 4:7), Beloved, if God so loved [sacrificially] us,we ought also to love [sacrificially] one another (1 John 4:11) and Hereby perceive we the love [charity] of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren (1 John 3:16). May we all lay down our lives for others, for as John so appropriately said, "herein is love."  AMEN.
 
 
THE CHRISTIAN HERALD
                                                           A Judeo-Christian Bible Study
 
"Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me: thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of
mine enemies, and thy right hand
shall save me"
(Psa 138:7)





 
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