True Beauty Part II Kay Keith Peebles 12/23/16 16.49
The Beauty of God’s Love
I was in high school when my Sunday school teacher made a statement to our class which I have never been able to forget. He said, “Your actions speak so loudly, I can’t hear a word you are saying.” It was a profound message which has caused me to ponder it’s meaning my entire life.
We will not be judged by our intentions. We will be judged by our actions. Everyone has experienced some kind of brokenness in their lives. It is true that brokenness can influence our actions contrary to our intentions. However, for us to deliver a pure message to others, our actions must substantiate our intent.
There is more than one meaning to the word love in relation to human beings. The New Testament Greek more clearly defines love by using 4 distinguishing words: phileo, eros, storge, agape. There is a different type of love in a friendship (phileo(a)- tender affection) than in a romantic relationship (eros). The love of a parent to a child (storge) is much more powerful than the love of an adult to another person’s child and yet in English we use the same word “love”, to describe them all. We often equate the word love with an ideal which is elusive and generally unrealistic since we are imperfect and self-seeking in nature. Because of our limitations, we judge “love” by our terms and not by its true meaning or purpose. Love then becomes imperfect, unsatisfying and deeply hurtful at times. Love comes with an expectation or a demand from another person which rarely fulfills its need. Conditional love is fickle, unfulfilling and temporal. It is often cast aside and deemed unattainable.
The subject of love is as painful as the grave or as joyous as a newborn baby. The search to find love is as strong as life itself and as elusive as a snow leopard. True love would be impossible to find without knowing its true source, God. His love is so great He sought us and loved us even while we were still sinners. The beauty of God’s agape love can never be experienced without an intimate knowledge of its Creator. Love is not ambiguous nor is it simply a feeling. True love is a choice empowered by divine character which is imparted by God alone. 1 John 4:8 “He who does not love has not become acquainted with God [does not and never did know Him], for God is love.” The Greek word agapao (verb)/agape (noun) used in this verse describes God’s love toward Jesus, humanity in general, and all those who believe in Salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ. [Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words]. God expects us to share this same agape love among our fellow believers. John 13:34 declares, “I give you a new commandment: that you should love (agapao) one another. Just as I have loved you, so you too should love one another.” (Emphasis mine). Believers are walking in the “proof” of their conversion by extending this agape kind of love. John 13:35 confirms, “By this shall all [men] know that you are My disciples, if you love one another [if you keep on showing love among yourselves].” Walking in agape love is a commandment in which God has charged His people to excel.
God also requires believers to also extend agape love toward all men. 1 Thessalonians 3:12 explains, “And may the Lord make you to increase and excel and overflow in love (agape) for one another and for all people, just as we also do for you…(and for what purpose?) So that He may strengthen and confirm and establish your hearts faultlessly pure and unblamable in holiness in the sight of our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah) with all His saints…” (Emphasis mine.) Therefore, walking in God’s agape love toward all people is the evidence that we belong to God, and we have been abiding in the “Beauty of His Holiness”. God’s agape love flowing through us to others is the litmus test of our true Salvation birthed out of daily abiding in His presence.
1 John 4:9-12 “In this the love of God was made manifest (displayed) where we are concerned: in that God sent His Son, the only begotten or unique [Son], into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love; not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation (the atoning sacrifice) for our sins. Beloved, if God loved us so [very much], we also ought to love one another. No man has at any time [yet] seen God. But if we love one another, God abides (lives and remains) in us and His love (that love which is essentially His) is brought to completion (to its full maturity, runs its full course, is perfected) in us!” (Continue reading to the end of the chapter).
God’s agape love cannot be faked. It cannot be duplicated by the flesh. It is impossible without abiding in Him. Man’s love is conditional. Most divorces come from “violated expectations”. We say we love our spouse, but we place expectations upon them with conditions. If they do not meet those expectations, we give up and get a divorce. Others confuse love with being in agreement on certain issues. When disagreement arises, actions demonstrate a complete lack of love. That is not God’s agape love! God’s love demonstrated by Jesus is sacrificial. It is not self-seeking. It seeks the benefit of its recipient.
God gave us His manual on agape Love. It is 1 Corinthians Chapter 13. It is read at most weddings but rarely heeded. Many seek to walk in the authority and power of God, but few are as zealous to walk in the Love of God. The Apostle Paul wrote about the Spiritual Gifts God has given to the church in 1 Corinthians 12 and 14. Between those two chapters, He conspicuously placed Chapter 13 which is called “the Love Chapter”. He ends chapter 12 with a strong emphasis upon our seeking the “highest and best way”. “But earnestly desire and zealously cultivate the greatest and best gifts and graces (the higher gifts and the choicest graces). And yet I will show you a still more excellent way [one that is better by far and the highest of them all—love (agape)].” (Emphasis mine).
God’s agape love is a fruit of the Holy Spirit’s presence in our hearts. (Galatians 5:22-23). When it is abiding in us, we will not become easily offended. We will not gossip about other’s actions, we will not place blame and we will not divide ourselves into factions. We will not consider ourselves better than others and it will be very difficult for us to walk in pride. We will be unable to live contrary to His Word and speak untruth.
Those who abide in the agape love of God will not fear because His love has been perfected in them! 1 John 4:18 “There is no fear in love [dread does not exist], but full-grown (complete, perfect) love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror…”
We must ask ourselves, “Do we have the love of God dwelling in our hearts? Is there evidence of our soul conversion to the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Do we abide in Him habitually? If so, our words and our actions will align with God’s agape love for all. Of course, there is grace for our shortcomings, but God’s love should be our highest and most sought after character trait. Extending God’s agape love to others is the only way we can possibly make the Jew jealous enough to seek their Messiah Jesus and the unbeliever hungry to know God. (See Romans 11:11).
It is a good statement to ponder, a great question to ask ourselves. “Do my actions speak so loudly that others can’t hear a word I am saying?
I would like to leave you with a beautiful Christmas Hymn I sang in church years ago:
Love Came Down at Christmas by Christina G. Rossetti, 1830-1894 (Irish Melody)
Love came down at Christmas, Love all lovely, Love divine;
Love was born at Christmas; Star and angels gave the sign.
Worship we the God-head, Love incarnate, Love divine;
Worship we our Jesus, But where-with for sacred sign?
Love shall be our token; Love be yours and love be mine,
Love to God and all men, Love for plea and gift and sign.
May the Lord God Almighty bless us with His greatest gift of all, His unfailing, unconditional agape love in and through the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. May we receive it and hold it securely in our hearts sharing it with all until that day He fulfills that love through our eternal life with Him in heaven.
Merry Christmas to all!