By Deolu Akinyemi
I grew up learning that the true quality of Love is giving, giving sacrificially. That you love someone, then you are willing to give to the person. I was taught that if you love God, you show it by giving to him, and that God demonstrated His love towards us, by giving His son for us. Love is giving.
This sounds so good and so right, until you really look at scriptures and realize this is a carefully sugar coated lie. Giving can be one of the ways to express love, but love is far from giving. You can give all you have, even give yourself up to be burned and still not have love. Love is one of those words that we need to teach believers, as it’s been wrongly defined, and because we don’t know what love is, the practice of love is scarce in the earth.
Let’s examine love in a few points:
1. Our most popular verse on the concept of love is everyone’s memory verse: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Looking at this on the surface can make it look like love is giving, but reading carefully to the end, we’ll realize the the objective of love, is everlasting life. God loved the world, he gave his only begotten son, so that – everyone who believes has everlasting life. Whatever you give, whatever you believe and whatever you do, if the objective is not eternal, it’s not love. Love is spelt Eternity.
2. The most concentrated chapter in the Bible on the topic of love is 1 Corinthians 13. It’s an amazing love profile decked with attributes of love that are impossible for the flesh. Can you imagine my favorite – “Love does not want what it does not have,” meeting that standard would require a significant paradigm shift. This book starts with a most scary introduction. It takes on the expressions of love, and smashes them on hard concrete. “If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, ‘Jump,’ and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I have gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.”
Love is clearly beyond saying, believing and doing, it’s who you become. Your giving, preaching, believing and sacrifice may be termed in human terms as love, it doesn’t score the mark with God. With God, love has the eternity of the loved at heart. It doesn’t give up on their eternity, doesn’t consider itself first, etc. The attributes of love clearly find definition in Jesus Christ and what he came to do on the earth. Jesus is an embodiment of Love. Love never fails, it is eternal.
3. There are two conversations that Jesus had that shows what love is. One is not linear, but one is very direct. The direct love is in John 13. Jesus is rounding up his work in the earth, and calls his disciples together and gives them a New Commandment. John 13:34-35: “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.” What is new about this commandment is that Jesus takes it a step further in clarity, it used to be love your neighbor as yourself, but now that I have shown you what love is, love your neighbor as Jesus has loved you. This takes the definition of love to a new level, makes love Christ’s expression while in the earth. You and I should become curious about, how did Jesus love his disciples, and whatever it is that he did, needs to be our modus operandi. How did he love his disciples? How does this love show us to be Christ disciples? It a nutshell Love is Discipleship.
4. Jesus reinforces this thought again in John 15:12-17. He explains how he loved them.
a. He says he laid down his life for his friends. At this point Jesus had not died, but he had put his life on the line for them. Spent time and life discipling them. He had journey with them, took risks with them.
b. He has brought them from subordinates and servants to friends. He did this by sharing with them everything he is doing, and once a servant knows everything his master is doing, he’s no longer an apprentice, he has become a colleague.
c. He made known to them the counsel of God. All the things he heard from his Father, he made known to them.
d. He chose them, they didn’t choose him, and he gave them a commandment to go ahead and bear fruit. They should pay it forward. Jesus modeled love to his disciples for three and a half years as discipleship. If you love someone, you will not care only about their 90 years, when their never ending zillion zillion years is at stake.
5. Love is anything right that you do with the eternity of the person in mind. Love is anything right that you do -giving, not giving, preaching, not preaching, giving a cup of water, taking a cup of water, asking for help, giving help, praying, debating, sacrificing, with the eternity of the person you are doing it to in mind. Love is spelt Discipleship.
Do you love like Jesus loved? Or have we invented a new kind of love that is different from God’s own? Do we celebrate generosity and call it love? God does not score on the same scales we score on. At the end, God is true and every other standard, a lie.I’m writing because I love you.