The Greatest of These is Love

The Greatest of These

Ephesians 3:17

Introduction

: My New Year theme/topics: Unity, Rooted and Grounded and today Love. 

‘That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love’. (NKJ)

1 Corinthians 13:13, ‘And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love’. (NKJ)

So let’s take a look at LOVE a little closer.

Transition

: What we describe as love is differentiated in Gk. By various expressions.


Phileo


is the most commonly used word, indicating a general attraction towards a person or thing. In the foreground stands the meaning of love for one’s relatives and friends. Philadelphia (phileo) and adelphos (brother), but the whole area of fondness is salso included with gods, men and things as possible objects. Philia accordingly, denotes love, friendship, devotion, favour; and philos is a relative or friend. It comes to denote concern, care and hospitality. It is love of things in the sense of being fond of. 

By contrast


eros


is love which desires to have or take possession. It denotes love between man and woman which embraces longing, caring and desire. (The Greeks’ delight in bodily beauty and sensual desires found expression of ecstasy.  


Agapao


, originally meaning to honor or welcome, in the classical Gk. The least specifically defined word; it is frequently used synonymously with

phieo

without any necessary strict distinction in meaning. 

In the NT, however,

agapao

and the noun agape have taken on a particularly significance in that they are used to speak of the love of God or the way of life based on it.

There is another word in the Gk.,


stergo


= means to love, feel affection, especially of the mutual love of parents and children. It can also be used of the love of a people for their master. It is less common for the love of husband and wife, and does not occur at all in the NT, apart from the compounds


astorgos


(Rom. 31:1; 2 Tim. 3:3). 

Transition: It is agape that is used in Ephesians 3:17. 

Let me take me peak at love from three different different angles.

1. Love & Hate

• Love and hate represent for the Eastern sensibility two of the basic polarized attitudes to life.

• The phenomenon of love is experienced as a spontaneous force which drives one to something or someone over against itself.

In the NT, ….

1 John 4:16b-21, ‘And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. 17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. 19 We love Him1 because He first loved us. 20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can1 he love God whom he has not seen?’ (NKJ)

• This, as well as many other parts of this letter, seems levelled against the Jews, who pretended much love to God while they hated the Gentiles; and even some of them who were brought into the Christian church brought this leaven with them. 

• It required a miracle to redeem Peter’s mind from the influence of this principle. See Acts 10.

[Whom he hath seen] We may have our love excited toward our brother,

1. By a consideration of his excellences or amiable qualities – a love from expectancy and delight.

2. By a view of his miseries and distresses – a love of compassion and pity.

[Whom he hath not seen?] If he love not his brother, it is a proof that the love of God is not in him; and if he have not the love of God, he cannot love God, for God can be loved only through the influence of his own love. See the note at 1 John 4:19. The man who hates his fellow does not love God. He who does not love God has not the love of God in him, and he who has not the love of God in him can neither love God nor man. 

Applicatio

n: This is a very difficult dilemma.


Question


: How is loving someone possible (as opposed to hating someone) when an offense is massive?

Question

: Does God really expect me to LOVE my abuser?

• What He expects is that you LOVE HIM, His Ways, His Plans, His Word and His Works enough to be able to get through, beyond and above anything or anyone else.

• As we do so, our capacity to move from hate to love begins to change. I

• It can be viewed (love) from a different perspective (as grace and mercy).

Application: You might be thinking/saying to yourself, ‘Im not there, not even close!’ Start the journey! Make strides!

Transition

: We take our cue from the opposites between hate and love by recognizing God’s love for us and how it was and it demonstrated.

2. God and Man

• God’s love was initiated by Him. – ‘For God so loved…’

• God’s love is unconditional.

• Never exhausted.

We then as humans, having found this type of love reciprocate that toward Him.

• Despite circumstances.

• Limited but developing.

• Inconsistent but determined. 

Transition

: Having experienced God unconditional and never exhausted love, we are called then to be about the business of doing the same.

3. Man and Neighbor

In a further sense, love is understood as lying at the root of social community life. 

Mark 12:28-31, ‘Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving1 that He had answered them well, asked Him, “Which is the first commandment of all?” 29 Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: `Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. 30 `And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength1.’ This is the first commandment2. 31 “And the second, like it, is this: `You shall love your neighbor as yourself1.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (NKJ)

By the way, this was not a new thought / commandment. 

In the Levitical Law, 19:18, `You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.’ (NKJ)

Question

: So what does being ‘rooted and grounded in love’ look like?

1 Corinthians 13:1-13

• Patient

• Kind

• Does not enny

• Does not boast

• Is not proud

• Does not dishonor others

• Not self-seeking

• Not easily angered

• Keeps no record of wrongs

• Doesn not delight in evil

• Rejoices with the truth

• Always protects

• Always trusts

• Always hopes

• Always preservers

Conclusion

: Everything action, every motive, every attitude, every everything must be rooted and grounded in Love!

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