I have recently decided to do a study on love and its context in the New Testament. As an FYI, the word love is in 506 verses in the Bible, and 184 of those verses in the New Testament.
Before we start digging into the first time it appears in the NT, we should define love. Actually, we need to let God’s Word define love, and He does that through the Apostle Paul in 1Corinthians 13:
1Corinthians 13:4-6 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
These 3 verses tell us what love is, and what it is not.
First, what love is not:
· Does not envy
· Does not boast
· Is not arrogant
· Is not rude
· Is not irritable
· Is not resentful
· Does not rejoice at wrong doing
What love is:
· Rejoices with the truth
Jesus flipped the script in the Sermon on the Mount when He said, “BUT I SAY”!
Matthew 5:43-44 "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
Let’s rewrite the last part of verse 44 with love defined:
Be patient and kind to your enemies. Do not be prideful, rude or resentful with them. At the same time, with this patience and kindness, do not rejoice at wrong doing, but rejoice with the truth.
Our culture labels Christians intolerant and unloving when the Truth of the Gospel is shared, yet we are told in God’s Word that true love rejoices with the truth.
WOW! Let that sink in – talk about flipping the script.
As if that is not convicting enough from Jesus, He brings it to a whole new level in verse 46:
Matthew 5:46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?
In that culture tax collectors were the most despised and hated people among them, yet the tax collectors love those who love them.
We are called to love the most despised and this love will result in an eternal reward; why else would Jesus say there is “no reward” for loving those that love you if there were NOT reward to love those who hate and persecute you.
Because there is no sacrifice in loving those who love us, there is no effort or difficulty. On the other hand, put your pride aside and love those who hate you, love those who persecute you, love those who mistreat you – not quite so easy anymore – now your loving as Jesus loved and there is great reward for that.
Die to self, love sacrificially.
Help us Lord!