Bible Ballistics: Vol. 8 No. 03 What Is Real Love???
As we celebrate Father’s Day today, I can’t help but think of my own godly Father, and that makes me smile, even though he’s been gone for 25 years! Love doesn’t have an expiration date! My father was a quiet man, yet one who lived what he believed—he walked the walk, he didn’t just “talk” the talk! One of the biblical Greek words that is translated “love” is ‘agape’, which means benevolent love; it means selfless love, which always acts or behaves in the best interest of the recipient of that love.
My father was one of the best examples of this god-like kind of love. But what does it look like? How does that kind of love act and respond?
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13 (Jesus even laid down His life for His enemies-See Romans 5:1-11)
As Jesus spoke these words, He was about to lay down His life for His disciples, for the world—for you and me! While we know that Jesus laid down His physical life, He shed His blood for our salvation, I’d like to talk about this concept from a different perspective. People can be willing to die for others; our military men and women pledge themselves to give “all” for the defense of our nation; local people make that same kind of commitment to our fire and law-enforcement departments. Yet there is something more. The question that I’d like us to consider is not just, “Are you willing to ‘die’ for someone/something?” but “Are you willing to give yourself to ‘live’ for others?” Are we willing to sacrifice our personal desires, comfort, and convenience for the benevolent good of others.
We often think of this in regard to true Christian living and martyrdom but do we apply it to our living relationships with others? I’ll have to admit, I don’t always make the grade in this area, but my father was an example of selflessness that took me many years to appreciate it fully. While Jesus left us the greatest of all examples in giving His life’s blood for us: He also gave His ‘living’ in often foregoing His own personal desires to meet the needs of those around Him. He kept on going when He was tired, when He was ridiculed, when He was weary and perhaps even frustrated with the unbelief of those around Him. Jesus gave Himself for others, to serve and minister to them that they might see truth and come to salvation in faith, and we are called to follow HIS example. What are we “giving”? How are we “behaving” toward others?
“Let nothing be done through strife
but in lowliness of mind
let each esteem other
better than themselves.
4 Look not every man on his own things,
but every man also
on the things of others.
5 Let this mind be in you,
which was also in Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in the form of God,
thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
7 But made himself of no reputation,
and took upon him the form of a servant,
and was made in the likeness of men:
8 And being found in fashion as a man,
he humbled himself,
and became obedient
even the death of the cross.” Philippians 2:3-8
Jesus laid down His life for us, and we are called to lay down our “self” life, for a life of “selfless” service to Jesus and others; to give of ourselves that others may come to “life” in Jesus. We are also called to humility; to servant-hood; to obedience to our Father God (as well as our earthly father); as we die to our selfish desires and live to God through the power of The Son! When I see the needs of others, my thoughts should go to God, asking ‘What can I do?’ We are living in a culture that has been, and still is, teaching others to focus on “Who will meet my needs?”; rather than “What can I do to help?”! We are to be living unto Jesus and serving others, and we can only do that when we “die” to self!
“I am crucified with Christ:
nevertheless I live;
yet not I,
but Christ liveth in me:
and the life which I now live
in the flesh
I live by the faith
of the Son of God,
who loved me,
and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20
I watched my father live this out in his life with my mother, with us children, and with others. While he had very strict rules about lending and borrowing (he seldom did either); while he wouldn’t loan you his tools, he would come do whatever repair work you needed to have done. While he wouldn’t loan out his mower, he would come mow your lawn if you needed it. He also had strict rules about others driving his car, but if you needed a ride he would escort you wherever you needed to go. He gave of himself to meet the needs of others as he had opportunity.
In the case of my mother he almost always did what pleased her. Many thought he was a “hen-pecked’ husband, but what they didn’t realize was that my mothers happiness and pleasure meant more to him than anything else. He often gave up his desires to please her even when it cost him financially. My father would serve others because He loved serving Jesus in any way that he could. While he was a man of few words, he was a man of selflessness and kindness in every way, and to everyone. What he taught me about self-sacrifice by his life and actions are a priceless heritage and I thank God for His blessing of a godly, honorable, honest and generous father.
He lived out the “fruit of the Spirit” in his daily walk, and I thank God for the things I learned from him. And one of the things that I learned is that you can do a lot of talking, but if your actions don’t match your words, you haven’t really said much worth listening to. I learned that “laying down your life”, doesn’t mean just “dying”, in an even greater way, it means living a life of selfless love in action. Living a life that gives of ‘self’ to secure the good of others to the glory of God. And one can only do that when we have God’s love within us.
“Therefore being justified by faith,
we have peace with God
through our Lord Jesus Christ:
2 By whom also we have access
into this grace
wherein we stand,
and rejoice in hope
of the glory of God.
3 And not only so,
but we glory in tribulations also:
knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
4 And patience, experience;
and experience, hope:
5 And hope maketh not ashamed;
because the love of God
is shed abroad in our hearts
by the Holy Ghost
which is given unto us.” Romans 5:1-5
When we come to Jesus by faith and repentance, we receive God’s love via the Holy Spirit—we receive the ability to share God’s love with others from within. We also receive the ability to grow in grace and truth by the Holy Spirit of Jesus. You might want to note that we don’t grow in the “fruits” of The Spirit, but in the “fruit” of The Spirit!
“But the fruit of the Spirit is
against such there is no law.
24 And they that are Christ’s
have crucified the flesh
with the affections and lusts.
25 If we live in the Spirit,
let us also walk in the Spirit.
26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory,
provoking one another,
envying one another.” Galatians 5:22-26
Sometimes doing what is best may mean that we are misunderstood. Real love, godly, ‘agape’ love does what is best for the other person—not what indulges their sinful flesh, and that isn’t always welcome! But I thank God that I have had a wonderful example from my parents and especially my father. I knew the security of truly “unconditional” love and forgiveness from one of the godliest men I ever knew. I am married to another!
If you still have your parents (Especially your father) with you, take time and let them know what they mean to you. If not, then thank our heavenly Father for all that He is and all that He does in providing for us, especially for Jesus who actually gave HIS all for us; and for the blessing of godly parents.
Happy Father’s Day! May our lives bring honor to our Heavenly Father and to our earthly fathers and mothers.
“Honour thy father and thy mother:
that thy days may be long
upon the land
which the Lord thy God
giveth thee.” Exodus 20:12
We are all blessed beyond measure, may our lives reflect our gratitude in all we do!!!