Today we are taught that love is a feeling, measured in extremes. Love is understood as affection or romance — and in order to be worth the investment, it should be maintained at an emotionally high level. In contrast, the Bible teaches that love is self-giving.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus says: "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" (John 13:34-35). To love biblically is to give of ourselves. Biblical love is centered more in the will than in our feelings, and it is more concerned about giving than receiving.
But biblical love cannot be self-manufactured. It is something that is poured out from what God has poured in. As Paul wrote in Romans, "God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given to us" (Romans 5:5). We are taught this love from God Himself (1 Thessalonians 4:9), and it is something in which we are to be unified (Philippians 2:2), and fervent about (1 Peter 4:8).
In 1 Corinthians, we find the remarkable attributes of biblical love: "Love is patient, love is 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" (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).
Biblical love is not easy to understand or to express faithfully, but it is always easy to identify. As we pray for self-sacrificing expressions of love, we will see transformation in our lives and in the lives of those we encounter. Love will then become something we seek to give — not something we merely seek to have. This will introduce us to new opportunities to express love and a willingness to engage with others.
Leading The Way strives to operate from this paradigm — that the love of Christ will be seen through our messages so that people around the world can be transformed. We will never know how many millions of people God has touched through Leading The Way. Many of these are imprisoned by hate and bitterness, searching for temporal love when God's love is what they really need. A listener in Turkey expressed it this way:
I was very surprised to hear what you said about fear on your program. You say fear comes not from God but from Satan. But we are always told to fear God — that if we don't do what he wants us to do, we are told that he will punish us. I understand that your religion's approach to Allah is very different than what I have learned about Allah. I would like to learn more about Christianity.
As God has poured His love into your heart, we want to thank you for pouring that same love into the ministry of Leading The Way so we can proclaim the Truth of God to the whole world. We eagerly anticipate the day when we will worship together before the throne of God with others "from every nation, tribe, people and language" (Revelation 7:9). Until that day, Leading The Way plans to continue proclaiming the uncompromised Truth.
Excerpted from My Journal, a monthly devotional magazine from Leading The Way with Dr. Michael Youssef.
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