God’s Glorious Love
(article by Don Hester)
When Jesus was questioned by one of the experts of the Jewish law with the question of … “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”…. Jesus responded…”Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:34-40. Jesus was quoting from the Old Testament Law and commandments: Deuteronomy 6:5, and Leviticus 19:18.
We all are familiar with the Apostle Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth where in chapter 13 he defines the manifested outcome of possessing God’s divine level/type of ‘love’, which is called Agape ‘love’..which is a ‘love’ of type that ‘is’ God and comes from God. Paul is saying that the most excellent way to express the glory of God is to receive and express this ‘love’ of God in an out-bound way to people that we come in contact with in our life. This level of, type of love expressed in our lives demonstrates our love for God and for people and is a clear demonstration of His glory.
Paul wrote about how this level/type of love ‘can be’ manifest and expressed in and through our lives in 1 Corinthians, chapter 13:“Love is patient and kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
This level/type of ‘love’ has a distinct purpose, function, and meaning. Agape is used to describe the love that is of and from God, whose very nature is love itself: “God is love” (). God does not merely love; He is love itself. John is saying that God and His love are the ‘exact-same’…expressed as an idiom…one cannot be deducted from the other. God-is-love is an equivalent. Everything God does flows from His love. God’s love is His glory. God’s glory is revealed in His love.
The type of love that characterizes God is not the ‘falling-in love’, human/emotional/sentimental feeling such as we often hear portrayed. God loves because that is His nature and the expression of His being. God loves the unlovable and the unlovely, not because we deserve to be loved or because of any excellence we possess, but because it is His essential nature to love and He must be true to His nature.
Agape love is always demonstrated by what it does in action. My wife Jeannie has a wonderful little saying… “love is an action verb.” God’s love is displayed most clearly at the cross. “But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved” ( ). We did not deserve such an act of love from God, “but God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” ( ). The Bible says we are the undeserving recipients of His lavish agape love ( ). God’s demonstration of agape love led to the sacrifice of the Son of God for those He loves.
We are to love others with agape love, whether they are believers () or enemies ( ). Jesus gave the parable of the Good Samaritan as an example of sacrifice for the sake of others, even for those who may care nothing at all for us. Agape love as demonstrated by Jesus Christ on the cross is not based on a feeling; rather, it is a determined act of the will, a joyful resolve to put the welfare of others above our own.
When we come to faith through God’s provision of Agape love (Jesus) we are better able to love everyone around us. Agape love gives us the indwelling of God’s Spirit which comes to live inside us and He gives us the ability to love deeper..to love better…to love ‘more’….for our spouses, our kids, and all of the people that come in and out of our lives. And in ‘so doing’ we are demonstrating that we have experienced the ‘love’ of God through Christ Jesus and that we are loving Him with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind and thus we experience and express the type of love that is the love of our Glorious God.