Posted: February 15, 2016 in Basic Training

Heart hands

“Love in a Scriptural sense is not a soft, sentimental emotion. It is a deliberate act of my will. It means that I am willing to lay down my life, lay myself out, put myself out on behalf of another.”

Phillip Keller


The defining characteristic of God and of the Scriptures is love. The Bible cannot be properly understood unless we first understand that every teaching, every principle, and every application of the Scriptures must be filtered through the lens of love.

Matthew 22:34-40 – In this passage Jesus explains that the most important commandment in the Scriptures is to love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength, and then to love people as yourself. When saying that all the law and the prophets hang on these 2 commandments Jesus was no doubt alluding to the cross. Jesus hung on a tree in a perfect demonstration of love. Jesus loved God the Father by perfectly submitting to His will, and loved people by laying His life down to purchase our salvation.

Hand on Cross

What is Love?
We often struggle to define love because in our current culture it has been given so many different meanings. We love everything from our friends to our car! We tend to think of love primarily as an emotion rather than a choice. In the Greek language of the New Testament, different kinds of love were given different words so as not to confuse their meaning.
Sorge = affection
Eros = sexual love
Phileo = friendship
Agape = unconditional, sacrificial love attributed uniquely to the person of God

1 Corinthians 13:4-7; Galatians 5:22-23 – In these verses agape love is defined. Love is first and foremost the definitive characteristic of God Himself (1 John 4:8). Since God is love (agape), only God Himself in the person of the Holy Spirit can produce this in us and through us. (Galatians 2:20)

1 Corinthians 13:1-3 – In this passage we see that there is only one way that we as believers can measure our spiritual temperature. The Bible says that even if we do great miracles, lay down our lives, or give away all we have to the poor, if we don’t have love we are nothing. Only love gives us a true measure of our spiritual growth and maturity.

“When I have learnt to love God better than my earthly dearest, I shall love my earthly dearest better than I do now…When first things are put first, second things are not suppressed but increased.”

C. S. Lewis

Live inside the circle. Be transformed!

Sample questions:

1. What did Jesus say is the most important teaching of the Sciptures?
2. How did Jesus demonstrate love for God and people? What are some specific ways you can imitate Jesus?
3. What is unique about agape love as opposed to other kinds of love?
4. Put your name in the place of the word “love” in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Where do you see the greatest need for improvement? In what areas has God brought growth?

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