In the previous article, I mentioned the life of the early church and two necessary qualities that must characterize believers: humility and purity. In this article, I look at three more needed qualities.
The third area of my five finger prayer is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13 states, “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” NKJV. Jesus gave us two important commandments – to love God and to love our neighbor as ourselves. A genuine love for God will lead to a love for others. God is love and we are most like God when we practice love.
There are essentially three types of love that we typically refer to: agape – unconditional love; phileo – brotherly/friendship love and eros – romantic or erotic love. With the exception of eros, we see the other two types of love demonstrated in the life of Jesus. He loved the disciples to the extent that He died for them. He had an intimate friendship with Peter, James and John and an even more special friendship with John.
However, we will not look at brotherly and romantic love; we are going to talk about agape. Unconditional love involves a commitment to the well being of all people, particularly those who are in the household of faith. There will be something in us that wants to see all believers succeed and enjoy the fullness of God’s blessings. Unconditional love involves generosity. We are generous toward those whom we love. We cannot and will not hold back when we see our brothers and sisters in need. There is no selfishness in love, no preoccupation with self-preservation.
Unconditional love includes a willingness to die for others. Jesus suffered the humiliation and pain of the cross because He loved the church. He died as an expression of the love of God. John 3:16 makes this clear: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. This truth is communicated in Romans 5:8 – But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. This tells us something powerful about love: love willingly sacrifices itself for its enemies. A mother may graciously lay down her life for her child, but would she be willing to die for someone who abused her? This in no way justifies abuse, but Jesus willingly laid down His life for all people including those who abused Him.
Unconditional love involves forgiveness and living at peace with others. When we forgive, we let go of our anger and ill feelings toward those who have hurt us or have hurt those that we love. Louvores de Adoração Embracing God’s love for us enables us to do this. Forgiveness has the power to bring about inner healing and deliverance. To state it differently, forgiveness results in spiritual, emotional and physical freedom. Harmonious relationships are important to God. If persons are antagonistic in spite of our best efforts to reconcile with them then our responsibility is to forgive them anyway. We never have power over others, only ourselves. Some of the things that are killing the church are unforgiveness, anger, bitterness, unresolved conflict, division/separation, judgment and offense. We need to eliminate these from the church if it is to be healthy and God-pleasing.
Unconditional love causes us to empathize and identify with others. We rejoice when they are rejoicing; we weep when they are weeping. Believers must never be callous, insensitive and indifferent; that is the spirit of the world. We must not be dominated by a jealous spirit, envious of the success of others. Realistically, we do not typically feel another’s pain. Even where we have gone through a similar experience, we have different ways of responding to pain, so we will not be fully able to understand what the other person is going through. However, we can be there to support in tangible ways through our presence, a hug, financial help or through encouraging words. The point is that we must care enough to be in the picture. Rejoicing with others means that we will be genuinely happy for others’ success joining with them in thanks and praise.