1 John 3-5, Psalm 37
My daughter, Elizabeth, was a working professional actress for many years, primarily from the age of 8-18. She was on Broadway, TV and movies. If there was one word which was thrown around more than any other in that industry was love. They loved her, us, each other, the sunset, certain foods, other actors, producers, directors, etc. But the love that they exemplified was the opposite of the love that John speaks about here. When talking with them they rarely looked me in the eyes but instead were scanning the room for someone more important. If they found out someone had religious or political views that differed from them theirs, this love turned into vehement hatred in seconds. If someone else got the part they wanted , they also were no longer loved. Many are surprised with the stories rising to the surface now of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, etc. But none of this surprised me since their love was never really love but lust. Lust takes, love gives. Lust is self-centered, while love is others centered and more significantly God centered.
The overriding theme in chapters 3-4 of 1 John is love. We read in 1 John 3:11, "For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another." He goes on in verse 18, to say, "My little children, let us not live in word or tongue, but in deed and in truth." He then says in verse 23, "And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment." The Mosaic law has 613 laws or commands (365 negative, 248 positive). Jesus reduce this number to two in Matthew 22:37-40. In English we have one word for love: love. This can be used for loving God, your spouse and your favorite baseball team. In the Greek, there are four words for love used in Scripture: Storge used for natural empathetic love as between parents and children, Eros used for sensual love, Philia used for brotherly love and friendship, and Agape which is the word used throughout 1 John. Agape love is not based on the merit of the object. It is a consuming passion for the well being of others, desiring only good for the object of that love. It is unconditional love, which continues to love the other even if that individual is unresponsive, unlovable and unworthy. The word, Agape, is used over 320 times in the New Testament.
This letter should humble us all. For this is the type of love we should all strive for, but if we are completely honest we don't come close to that type of love which was modeled so perfectly in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus commanded us to, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Matthew 22:39). If you want to see a beautiful picture of love, read Jesus' words in a John 15:12-13, "This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends." Jesus indeed exemplified this for us, as Paul wrote in Romans 5:8, "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." In addition to His actions, if you want to see the pure heart of love, take the time to Read John 17, slowly. See the the pure love of Jesus in prayer as He pours out His love in prayer.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: