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I’m your host AMBrewster and this is part 5 of our Family Love Series.
If you’re just joining us, please check out episode 469 so that you can work through this series from the beginning.
And if you’re back to hear part 5 — all about the Family Love God expects to find in our homes — I welcome you.
And — you know what — I’m proud of you. Quite often I take it for granted that God’s people desire to grow in their knowledge of Christ, to be challenged by His Word, and to grow. But practical experience has shown me that most professing Christians actually aren’t interested in growing in the ways that really matter.
So, I’m glad you’re here, and I’m glad that you are interested in hearing what God’s Word has to say about how you’re supposed to love your kids and how they’re supposed to love you and each other.
But before we dive in, I’m really excited about the number of new likes and follows we have on social media. Our Instagram page has grown a lot recently, and we’re always adding new followers to Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. We even have a decent showing on our LinkedIn page.
Regardless of which socials you frequent the most, I’d encourage you to like and follow, comment and share Truth.Love.Parent.’s content. Our social media goals are to promote biblical thinking when it comes to the family, keep you updated about the the cultural events that affect parents, family, and children, connect you with timely information about TLP’s giveaways and resources, and we even like to have a little fun from time to time.
So, check us out and engage. You’ll be glad that you did.
And — speaking of resources and giveaways — I hope you and your family are taking advantage of our free episode notes, transcripts, and related resources for this series.
I want this series to be a valuable part of your family’s discussion concerning how we are and are not supposed to be loving each other.
Now, let’s talk about Real Love.
So far we’ve learned that eros may look like love, but it only does nice things to get something out of us. It’s lust. It’s selfish. It’s idolatry, and unfortunately, it’s the best the world can do without God.
And — believe it or not — I’ve read articles and talked with people who actually argue that eros is exactly how love should be.
Jessie Ware wrote a song called “Selfish Love.” In it she proclaims:
“Baby let's be honest about this. There’s only room for one in your heart. So tell me darlin', why are we like this? I must admit that I kind of like it. Oh, you're acting sweet. I know what that means. All these games we play Always end the same.”
And she continues, “Selfish love, why do I do these things? I break you down, just to get my way. Selfish love, darlin' you do it too. You tell me lies and I bend the truth. And I, I know That I can't get enough Selfish love.
And then she finishes with, “Baby now it feels like we're dancing, Dodging bullets, now ain't that romantic? Take what I want, but you want me to take it. I only give love when I want to make it.”
In a similar fashion, Paul Hudson wrote an article entitled, “Why Falling in Love Should Be the Most Selfish Act of Your Life.”
Here are a few extended quotes:
“Here’s something that will surely upset some of you: Loving is not a completely selfless act. Romantic love, the way we know it, is an invention. It’s an unrealistic creation depicting perfection. The problem is that we aren’t perfect and neither is love.
He also claims, “The idea that to love means to be utterly selfless is a joke. Human beings are never completely selfless because it goes against our nature. We have evolved, as animals, to survive, which necessitates us looking out for ourselves first and foremost. How do you know you love someone? When you want him or her.”
Then he lists a bunch of reasons people “fall in love” that basically deal with things we want out of the relationship. And then he says: “As you may have noticed, all that I have mentioned thus far revolves around you as the lover. The fact is that you are all that really matters in the equation. We fall in love with the only things that we can fall in love with: the things that affect our senses.
And he finishes with,“We know that we love people for the way they look and act. Why is that not enough? What more do we want or expect that would make love any more beautiful than it already is? You love a person because the way that you interpret that person, you find to be beautiful. You find him or her to be beautiful people and, because you are an egocentric being, you want that beauty for yourself.”
I’m not making this stuff up.
When you deny God’s purpose and plan for your life, then you have to make up your own way. And we all know when we treat people well simply because we benefit from it. And, if for some reason we’re deluded and think that we really, genuinely love the other person, then just look how you respond when the person you claim to love does something you don’t like. All of a sudden, you act very unlovingly. That’s because — in that moment — your “love” was fake. It was eros.
On the other hand, storgē is nice. It’s the natural affection we inherently feel for people close to us. However, it is relatively superficial in that it’s not rooted in anything conscious. We feel a natural bent toward spending time with people, and it’s never romantic in nature.
And then’s there’s phileō. This love is superior in that it’s supposed to be conscious — though it may not always be. It’s a companionable love that exists in relationship. But it’s also a conditional love. If you stop receiving love from the companion, your phileō will shrivel up.
Not only that, but phileō has many inherent issues associate with it. You can think you’re in a phileō relationship, only to find out you’re not. And you can phileō the wrong things for the wrong reasons.
And — in the end — none of these loves requires any type of spiritual life or maturity to experience them. That means that they can all be used as an act of self-worship.
So, right now, it may seem like our choices for family love are selfish, superficial, or fraught with pitfalls.
But, that my friends could not be further from the Truth. There is a love that — when compared to the other loves — is like the sun to a candle.
It’s powerful, pure, unconditional, and glorious. It’s the veritable love of God Himself . . . in us.
In the Bible, the Greek word used to communicate this love is agapē.
Eros doesn’t show up in the Bible anywhere. Versions of the word storgē show up three times. Even phileō is only used just over twenty times.
But agapē and its other forms are used over 300 times in the New Testament!
Now, we can’t possibly look at all of those today, so what we’re going to do is survey them and draw general truths that will help us understand why agapē is so fundamentally different from the others.
And then next time we’re going to zoom in and look at practical ways we can grow agapē in our family.
So, today I’m going to go about things a little differently.
Okay, so there are many different ways to define agapē. Nearly everyone has their own understanding. Some of those definitions come from the way the Greek word was commonly used. Most of them tie in the biblical concepts.
So we’re going to start by looking at the basic definition of the Greek word, but we’re going to find that this love doesn’t sound too special. Remember, this word was commonly used by the entire Greek-speaking culture. It wasn’t made up to communicate a uniquely spiritual reality. At the same time, God did choose to use this word, but He also chose to explain how He wanted us to understand the word.
So, we’ll look quickly at the basic, technical definition, then we’ll trace the origin of True Love, we’ll look at the recipients of True Love, and then we’ll check out the Characteristics of True Love so we can then discuss a biblical definition of True Love.
Alright, let’s start with the technical stuff.
Here are five unique things about the Greek concept of agapē.
In John 3:19 Jesus tells us that, “people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.” The word used here for love is the verb form of agapē, agapeō.
In II Timothy 4:10 we’re told that Demas agapeō-ed this present word and deserted Paul.
II Peter 2:15 tells of Balaam who agapeō-ed gain from wrongdoing.
And I John 2:15 warns us not to agapeō the world.
And then we learn that not only can it be used in a selfish way, but even Christ-honoring agapē can fade away.
In Matthew 24:12 Jesus tells us that agapē can grow cold.
And Revelation 2:4 we learn that the Ephesians abandoned their first agapē.
So, we see that — in the Greek — the basic word “love” can still be pretty flexible. But these are only a small handful of the many times the word is used, and the picture God paints for us of the True Love He wishes us to experience so dwarfs the observations we just made that we just need to move on and revel in what True Family Love is supposed to be.
So, from now on, I’m going to try not to use the words agapē or agapeō. I’m also going to try to avoid the word love by itself.
From now on, when referring to this unique love, I’m simply going to call it True Love.
Now, I know even that phrase has been tainted. When someone says “True Love,” I can’t help but picture that scene from The Princess Bride where the priest utters, “Wuv. Twu Wuv will fowō you foweva.”
But I think it’s imperative for our families that we define words the way God does. The world has absolutely no cohesive, final, and authoritative definition for anything. Nowadays, words mean what people want them to mean — which means they mean nothing.
But God’s unchanging Truth allows us to have a working and decisive definition of this ever important term.
Okay, so, now, let’s discuss The Origin of True Love.
Now, this point and the next are going to be a review from Part 1 of this study. I think it’s so important to revisit some of those points now that we have a better understanding of what love is. When we first talked about it, the word “love” was still undefined.
So, now when we say that God Himself is the origin of True Love because God Himself is love, we can appreciate it that much more.
God didn’t say He was eros or storgē or phileō. He claimed that His very nature was True, Divine Agapē.
Do you remember why it is God can expect us to love?
1. God can command us to love because of the nature of love.
True Love is volitional. It’s not an emotion, it’s not a feeling. It’s not something into which we fall. The object of our love doesn’t have to be lovable.
2. God can command us to love because He is love.
Now, even though we haven’t yet seen the extremely high biblical expectations for True Love, I’m sure we can still appreciate the seeming Mount Everest of the True Love God’s commanding us to climb. That’s why it’s a comfort to remember . . .
3. God can command us to love because He’s powerful.
But we’re also going to find out that not only is it a comfort that God will help us out if we struggle having True Love, we need Him to have True Love in the first place. We can’t do it on our own. It’s impossible for anyone in your family to truly love anyone else without God.
4. God can command us to love because we’re forgiven . . . or at least, we should be.
Now, in regard to today’s episode notes, I’m not going to reinvent the wheel. Instead, I encourage you to look back to the notes from Part 1. Remember those? They were some of the most robust and Scripture-filled notes Truth.Love.Parent. has ever provided.
They will help you understand the necessary origin of True Love.
Now, let’s discuss The Recipients of True Love.
This too will be a short review.
1. We’re commanded to love God.
Do you remember the twelve proofs that we have truly love God the way we should? That’s a list we should post in our homes because we constantly need to be working on it.
2. We’re commanded to love our neighbor. That includes the people sitting next to you.
But instead of rereading the same verses we looked at last time, I want to check out some new ones.
Ephesians 5:25, 28, 33, and Colossians 3:19 command husbands in particular to love their wives. Let’s stop here for just a moment.
The Bible doesn’t specifically command women to agapē their husbands. In Titus 2:4, Titus is told to encourage older women to train the younger women to philandros their husbands and philoteknos their children.
The Bible doesn’t specifically command children to agapē their parents or siblings either.
But husbands get three commands in three verses and a fourth in another book. Why is that?
Can we be blunt?
Men, can you handle it?
I know, we often act like babies when it come to acknowledging our faults, and our pride can get in the way too easily.
But — here’s the thing — we are often so unloving.
We’re dictatorial, selfish, unkind, impatient, and ungentle,
We actually have to be commanded by God to agapē our wives — our helpers, our other halves.
Young men listening to me right now, the same goes for you.
Now, let’s be fair. The reason we’re having this conversation in the first place is that we all need to understand love. We all are commanded to love everyone. And I’ve met many, many women who were terribly unloving. That’s why all people everywhere are commanded to agapē. We all need God to do it, and we all need to be growing in it.
I just think it’s important for the male ego to be reminded that — according to the Bible — we need a little more focused instruction in this area.
Moving on, so the dads can stop sweating . . .
I Peter 2:17 tells us to love the brotherhood.
II John 1:5 commands us simply to “love one another.”
We can’t escape the fact that having storgē or phileō for the people in your family is simply not enough. We are commanded by God to have True Agapē Love for everyone in our lives.
And that includes . . .
3. We’re commanded to love our enemies.
And we looked at a bunch of passages in Part 1 that illustrated that, so we can move on.
So, now I want to look at the Character of True Love and — in so doing — come up with a solid Definition of True Love.
Let’s consider eight Truths about True Love:
1. True Love flows from, is empowered by, and must return to God.
Romans 5:5b, “God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
It comes from Him.
II Corinthians 5:14, “For the love of Christ controls us.”
It only works when God’s in charge of it.
I Thessalonians 4:9b, “You yourselves have been taught by God to love one another.”
We couldn’t have learned it any other way.
II Timothy 1:7, “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love.”
Again, it comes right from Him.
I John 4:19, “We love because he first loved us.”
It would have been impossible to love God had He not loved us first.
So, we see that only God-worshippers can exercise this highest form of love.
Unlike storgē and phileō, True Love is not accessible to unbelievers. That means, if you’re listening to the sound of my voice right now, if you do not first choose to submit to Christ and follow Him, you will never be able to truly love anyone.
I hope that’s a significant reality for you.
So, if God is the source of True Love . . .
2. True Love is the proof of genuine faith in God.
John 13:35, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Galatians 5:22, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love.”
Now, because True Love comes from faith in God and the power of the Holy Spirit, and because it must permeate all we do, it needs to conform to God’s will at all times.
3. True Love is evidenced by obedience.
In John 14:15 Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
John 14:21 the Messiah says, “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me.”
In John 14:23, 24, the Son of God commands, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word,” “Whoever does not love me does not keep my words.”
In John 15:10, the incarnate Christ tell us, “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love.”
Romans 13:8 says, “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.”
Romans 13:10 proclaims, “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”
In I John 2:5, the disciple who Jesus loved tells us that, “Whoever keeps [God’s] word, in him truly the love of God is perfected.”
Later, in I John 3:18, we learn, “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”
And in II John 1:6 we’re told very clearly, “And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments;”
Friends, we can’t escape it. If we’re sinning, we’re not loving. If we’re disobeying, it’s impossible to love.
We do not love when we do not obey. And since the opposite of love is hate, then we must conclude — no matter how uncomfortable it may be — we hate the person we disobey. That includes human authorities and God.
But True Love will strive to obey in all things.
And that’s because . . .
4. True Love must permeate all we do.
I Corinthians 16:14, “Let all that you do be done in love.”
That was pretty straightforward.
So, if were loving and obeying in all we do . . .
5. True Love does the right thing even when it’s hard.
Hebrews 12:6, “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”
Like we saw last time, if we truly want to be loved, we need to accept the correction of God. And if we truly want to love, we should be willing to be used by God to correct the people in our lives.
But, if that weren’t challenging enough, in addition to having to correct the ones we love, there is something even harder that True Love constrains us to do.
6. The greatest proof of True Love is that a person would sacrifice his/her life for his/her friends.
John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”
Romans 5:8, “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
We’re going to talk about this point in much more detail later this month, so I’m just going to slide to the next point even though there is so much more to discuss here.
But one observation we can make is that . . .
7. True Love has the best interest of others as its highest priority.
Romans 12:10 doesn’t use the word agapē, but the principle is clear in the second part of the verse: “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”
Romans 14:15 illustrates this for us more specifically when it says, “For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love.”
This is just one simple example, but it gives us a clear example of the extremes to which we should be willing to go to prefer others above ourselves and outdo each other in honor.
And because this is the True Love of God, and because we’re sinners . . .
8. True Love never stops growing.
Philippians 1:9, “And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more.”
So, with all that said, let’s end off with a simple, yet solidly biblical definition of True Love.
True Love flows from a relationship with Christ whereby it is empowered to want and work toward God's greatest good for the one loved regardless of how it’s treated.
I know we’re going long, but let’s break it down quickly.
1. True Love is impossible outside of a relationship with God.
2. True Love wants and works toward nothing more than God’s best interest to be fulfilled in our love’s life.
3. And I added “regardless of how it’s treated” to sum up that there are no ulterior motives, there is no selfish posturing. It’s purely and simply motivated by God, through God, and to God.
True Love is an all -consuming passion for the well-being of others. It seeks nothing else but God's best for the one loved.
My friends, this episode is glorious, but hard. It’s exciting, but convicting. It should fill us with hope, but also fill us with a gigantic weight of responsibility.
To that end, we have our Episode Notes and Transcript at TruthLoveParent.com. And we have a whole other episode next time that will detail the finer points of True Love for our homes.
Obviously, since True Love desires God’s greatest good, then we need to understand what God’s greatest good is.
If we don’t know God’s plan, then we can’t know what’s in the best interest of the ones we love.
But let me give you one practical way to show your love today: you can share this episode with your family and friends.
I’m serious. People need to hear about the amazing, liberating, and dynamic True Family Love. All it takes is a click to expose your friends and family to these Truths.
And I encourage you to tell your parent-friends about Truth.Love.Parent. No one can parent the way we should if we don’t know God’s will. And Truth.Love.Parent. strives to take God’s Word and apply it to our parenting in clear, practical ways.
Listen, we all need God’s Truth.
In fact, based off what we learned today, anyone who parents while ignorant of God’s will is being unloving in their parenting. It’s in every child’s best interest to be brought up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. That’s loving parenting.
So please share this episode with everyone you know.
And if you believe that you or members of your family need serious biblical help in learning to love the way God commands, please contact us at Counselor@TruthLoveParent.com or call (828) 423-0894.
I hope you’ll join us next time as we once again open God’s Word to discover how to thrive in life and godliness.
To that end, we’ll be discussing how to grow true family love.
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